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HE'S MONEY -- When Calaveras County resident Dennis Sanfilippo won a $33 million California Lottery jackpot in 1992, he had big plans.
Sure, he bought a couple of Dodge Vipers for road respect. And he invested in some real estate. Mostly, though, he wanted to parlay his winnings into success in his lifelong dream: the music industry.
Last week, Sanfilippo -- a onetime garage-band musician -- went to Nashville, Tenn., to help rock legend Eddie Money go country on Sanfilippo's Big 7 label, which was named New Music Weekly's Country Label of the Year in 2007.
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They debuted the remake single of "Gimme Some Water," with Grammy winner Vince Gill doing backup vocals. And Money has redone two of his early rock hits, "Two Tickets to Paradise" and "Hard Life," that also will be on his first crossover album titled "The Other Side of Money." It's due for release in about six months, Sanfilippo, 56, said.
Shortly after hitting his jackpot 16 years ago, Sanfilippo met blues keyboard legend Deacon Jones. They formed a friendship, Sanfilippo's new Big 7 label produced Jones' "Jone$en for Money" in 2002. Eddie Money performed on three tracks of the CD, which includes cuts by Gregg Allman, Lester Chambers and John Lee Hooker. Last year, he signed Money as well. After all, it made perfect sense.
"You think about it," Sanfilippo said. " 'Jone$en for Money,' Eddie Money and me winning the lottery -- it's all about money."
Now, with Money aboard, Sanfilippo is living his dream.
"I waited a long time (for success)," he said. "From when I was first in bands as a kid in high school -- it took a long time to get here. It wasn't like
I was just jumping into the music thing."
It took many years and a winning lottery ticket to make it happen.
You can see video clips of Money by visiting www.big7records.com.
ATTENDANCE MILESTONE -- The Gallo Center for the Arts drew its 100,000th visitor recently. From its soft opening Aug. 18 through March 8, a total of 105,597 people have enjoyed the center, Executive Director Dave Pier said. Somewhere between 10 percent and 20 percent of those were freebies, he said, which underscores the center's pledge that it would be accessible to everyone.
"I think we've actually done really well," Pier said.
Local performing companies such as the Modesto Symphony Orchestra and the Townsend Opera Players have enjoyed sellouts, and the Townsend players added two shows of "Porgy and Bess" in February.
The center will close for maintenance in July. Even so, he believes attendance will top 125,000 and perhaps even 150,000 in the center's first full year.
HENRY'S MARCH -- Little Henry Johnson has made a big impact in Turlock, where they've raised $13,000 for Henry's March on Saturday at California State University, Stanislaus. The event will benefit the Children's Craniofacial Association. In January, I wrote about Henry, 5, who was born with Apert syndrome. His fingers came fused together, and he's had numerous operations to separate them as well as surgeries to rebuild his head, with more to come.
The Johnsons are fortunate: Their insurance covers the vast majority of his medical bills. His mom, Rachel Johnson, organized Henry's March -- a 5-kilometer run or walk -- to benefit other families who will need help as their children receive treatment. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a children's 100-meter dash at 8:30 and the 5K race at 9. Visit www.myspace.com/
henrysmarch or call Rachel Johnson at 664-0500 for more information.
RAY'S RIDE -- In May, I wrote about Kristen Taylor, a schoolteacher in Modesto who had to delay her wedding for
a year while she battled melanoma. Now her father, retired Modesto police Detective Ray Taylor, plans to bicycle across the country to raise money for research for melanoma, and for the birth defect spina bifida, which afflicts his 3-year-old granddaughter, Grace Glaros.
He plans to start his 3,106-mile ride March 30 in San Diego and reach St. Augustine, Fla., whenever he can, hoping for a 100-mile-a-day pace.
He is paying his own expenses, so all donations will go directly for research at University of California at San Francisco's melanoma center or the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. For more information, visit Ray Taylor's web page at www.raysride.org.
HELPING HANDS -- Members of Turlock High's Class of 1965 will meet for a collective 60th birthday celebration with a twist:
The event will double as a fund-raiser for Bob Holloway, whose motorcycle shop in Denair has been the target of two raids by the FBI in recent weeks. His classmates will be accepting donations on his behalf, according to the event's flier.
This gig could resemble Connie Corleone's wedding scene in "The Godfather," when FBI agents were taking down license plate numbers outside the main gate.
THE VERDICT -- Mark Geragos lost high-profile cases while defending actress Winona Ryder for theft and fertilizer salesman Scott Peterson for murder. But as a plaintiff in a civil suit, Geragos last week won a $20 million judgment against a charter jet operator who used hidden video camera to spy on Geragos and then- client Michael Jackson during a flight. Does that make Geragos a better victim than attorney?