Three years and going strong and Modesto's live, independent music series just keeps evolving.
What started as a small monthly show has become one of the area's signature events.
Off the Air celebrates its anniversary on the exact day of its first show three years ago, with a concert at 8 p.m. tonight at the Deva Cafe.
Performing at the all-ages show will be Travis Vick, Two Sheds and Frog the Man. Manteca's Vick will also release his new EP, "Player Piano." Tickets are $5.
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Off the Air creator Greg Edwards has seen his idea grow over the past three years. The shows have gone from one a month to at least two if not three, from only 21-and-over to only all-ages shows. Edwards said the series has taken on a life of its own in the past year.
"When I started, I was just thinking about trying to do another show. I was just getting my feet wet," he said. "Now it's just something I do; it's become a part of me, doing shows and promoting music."
Off the Air's switch to all-ages over the past year was deliberate. The series' original home, the Fat Cat Music House & Lounge, is an 21-and-over club. But Edwards said he kept hearing from young fans and musicians who wanted a chance to participate.
"The over-21 shows at the Fat Cat were always good to me, but I really wanted to reach out to the whole community," he said. "I wanted to get the young kids excited about making music and not just making music but playing music at a venue. I wanted it to be all-encompassing."
Already, the switch to all-ages has been a big success. Shows sell out consistently and people are often turned away at the door. Instead of a late-arriving crowd as in years past, the fans come early and eager.
"These kids are so into the live music," he said. "They are so amplified."
That excitement translates to the bands as well. More and more groups locally and from out of town have asked to play, highlighting the solid reputation the series has among artists.
In the next year, Edwards said his goal is to bring in some bigger names and more established touring acts to compliment the homegrown talent.
"It's crazy, it's fun," Edwards said. "Having these all-ages shows at these start-up venues feels so grass-roots and community-oriented."
Elsewhere around the Scene:
Laugh with Willie Tyler & Lester Thursday at Black Oak Casino. The ventriloquist and his dummy, Lester, got their break in 1972 on "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In." He has performed on "Late Show with David Letterman," "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and "American Bandstand." Tyler has appeared in "The Parent 'Hood" and "The Jeffersons." Also performing will be Robin Cee. Show is at 8 p.m. in the Willow Creek Lounge. No cover. Call 877-747-8777...
The Modesto Nuts are looking for a few good performers.
Modesto's professional ball club wants singers, dancers, jugglers, face painters and more to apply to perform. Tryouts for national anthem singers will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at John Thurman Field. Applicants will be seen on a first-come basis; preregistration is available online. Performers and anthem singers can call the Nuts office at 572-4487. ...
And finally, be sure to catch the Oscar-caliber films coming to the State Theatre.
This week, see Cate Blanchett's Oscar-nominated performance in the Bob Dylan tribute "I'm Not There."
The following weekend, see more of this year's Oscar nominees as all five animated short films and all five live-action short films will screen consecutively.
Catch animated shorts "I Met the Walrus," "Madame Tutli-Putli," "Meme Les Pigeons Vont au Paradis," "My Love (Moya Lyubov)" and winner "Peter & the Wolf" at 7 p.m. March 28 and 7:30 p.m. March 29.
Then see live-action shorts "At Night," "Il Supplente (The Substitute)," "Tanghi Argentini," "The Tonto Woman" and winner "Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)" at 3:30 p.m. March 29 and 7 p.m. March 31.
Tickets are $8, pre-6 p.m. matinees are $6. Call 527-4697.