April 3, 2014

Modesto Unplugged Music Festival gathers artists for weekend of sound

The Modesto Unplugged Music Festival strums into its third year with a mix of local and touring artists.

Things will be anything but mum at the upcoming Modesto Unplugged Music Festival (MUMfest for short) this weekend.

Now in its third year, the event returns with a weekend’s worth of live music from local performers and touring artists. The festival adds new visual arts and songwriting components this year as it continues to grow.

Festival organizer and Modesto music promoter Aaron Rowan said he launched the festival in 2012 to give music fans and players an alternative in the area.

“This is just a chance to feature some less frequently showcased performers from this area and from around California and beyond,” he said. “And also a chance for them to be able to connect with each other.”

This year’s festival will feature 25 groups and performers from the area, across California and even as far away as Colorado and Nashville, Tenn. There will be five showcases throughout the weekend at different venues downtown, with multiple artists on each bill. Each concert will have a visual arts exhibit highlighting work from area artists.

True to the festival’s name, the acts are largely unplugged. While there will be basic amplification, the lineup skews away from electric guitars. Genres range from indie rock to folk, country and bluegrass.

Rowan said he also tries to pick more listener-friendly venues, instead of bars, for the concerts. This year’s venues will be Café Deva, Queen Bean Coffeehouse, Center Stage Conservatory and the Peer Recovery Art Project Gallery.

Also new this year is a songwriting competition, which will be performed and judged at the closing-night concert Sunday. The competition attracted 40 entries from across the country.

The five finalists are Doug Adamz from San Francisco, Francesca Bavaro from Modesto, Mary Bue from Duluth, Minn., Rozanne Gewaar from San Francisco and Sheryl Thirlwall from San Francisco. The winner will receive $150, and all the finalists have been invited back for the 2015 MUMfest.

“Going into the future, a major focus of mine will be on the cultivation of new songwriting talent,” Rowan said. “That is a big reason we put this contest on.”

Music schedule:

• 6 to 10 p.m. today at Café Deva ($10): The Daughters Rea, The Hot Dark, Nathan Ignacio, Mondo Mariscal, Rachel Rivero.
• 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Queen Bean ($5): D Henry Fenton & The Elizabethans, Doug Adamz, Josephine Johnson, Cooking with Turf, Steve Eulberg.
• 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday at Center Stage Conservatory ($15): 5 Cent Coffee, Darlin’ Clementine, The Dustbowl Children, Patty Castillo Davis, Silver Mendez
• 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at Peer Recovery Art Project ($10): Boscoe’s Brood, Dirty Cello duo, Hushed & Guilty, The Poor Valley Band, Sparrow Grove
• 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Center Stage Conservatory ($15): Cottonwood Creek, Katie Hell, McCoy Tyler Band, Ray Tarantino, The Valley Forged supergroup, performances by the top five finalists of the songwriting contest.

A complete schedule of the visual artists and other information is available on the festival’s Facebook page.

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