The Modesto Unplugged Music Festival is getting a little help from its friends.
For its fifth annual event the live music showcase, known as MUMFest for short, is partnering with other community arts organizations to put on a sprawling smorgasbord of acoustic sounds. Also, instead of focusing on a weekend’s worth of shows, the festival will stretch through the month of April.
Concerts begin Saturday, April 2, and will be spread over close to a dozen venues across the city, with the final show Saturday, April 30. The festival is working with groups such as Sunday Afternoons at CBS, Townsend Opera and the Modesto Community Concert Association to put on some of the shows.
MUMFest founder and area music promoter Aaron Rowan said the expanded schedule coincides with an expanded roster of performers.
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“Over the years, MUMFest has been upping the game – not in quality, since we’ve always had that, but as far as the overall texture of the music. It’s increased,” Rowan said. “We’ve moved away from just singer-songwriter acts to work with more full band, bluegrass acts and world music sounds.”
This year’s lineup includes award-winning songwriters, master instrumental and performers from China, India, South Africa and beyond. The schedule includes some 25 acts spread over the course of 14 shows.
Highlights from the month-long festival include:
▪ Sunday, April 3: Six-time Northern California Bluegrass Association female vocalist of the year winner A.J. Lee performing at the Center Stage Conservatory ($15)
▪ Sunday, April 10: Sunday Afternoons at CBS partner show featuring the world music ensemble Jaffa Road Congregation Beth Shalom ($25 general; $20 student/senior)
▪ Tuesday, April 12: Townsend Opera partner show featuring cast member of the company’s upcoming production of “Dead Man Walking” performing selections at Deva Cafe (price TBA)
▪ Wednesday, April 13: Classically trained Indian singer Kamini Natarajan will lead a musical meditation session at Peer Recovery Art Project (free; donations accepted)
▪ Sunday, April 17: Modesto Community Concert Association partner show featuring Canadian banjoist Jayme Stone at Gallo Center for the Arts ($15-$30)
▪ Sunday, April 24: Longtime Stevie Wonder and “Arsenio Hall Show” keyboardist Victoria Theodore performing at Gottschalk Music Center ($15)
▪ Friday, April 29: Uncle Lonny Presents partner show showcasing singer-songwriter Livingston Taylor, James Taylor’s brother, at the State Theatre ($22-$32)
Other shows will highlight local and regional talent, including Neil Buettner, Red Dog Ash, Patty Castillo Davis and the closing night show, which includes Marie Maxfield’s Chamber Orchestra, Funstrummers Ukulele Band and Oakdale High’s Steelin’ The Beat steelpan ensemble.
“I would just hope we can introduce the people to some sounds they’ve never considered seeing live before, just like has been done for me by these great fellow presenters I have the honor of working with,” Rowan said.