Marijke Rowland

A quiet way to make some noise, MUMfest turns 6 with monthlong festival

Gaelynn Lea will perform at 7:30 tonight at MUMFest.
Gaelynn Lea will perform at 7:30 tonight at MUMFest. Modesto Unplugged Music Festival

Six years of keeping it quiet has been making noise for MUMfest.

The sixth Modesto Unplugged Music Festival returns with a lineup of folk, Americana and country talent befitting its acoustic roots. The brainchild of area promoter Aaron Rowan, the event narrows its focus this year. The monthlong festival opens Friday, March 31, and runs through April 30 at various Modesto locations.

The series of concerts opens with Gaelynn Lea, the winner of the 2016 NPR Tiny Desk Contest. Lea is a classically trained violinist and songwriter from Minnesota who also does public speaking as a disability advocate. Born with osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease, she has been playing violin for more than 20 years and is known for her improvisational style. Other acts booked this year include three-time Western Music Association female performer of the year Juni Fisher, six-time female vocalist at the Northern California Bluegrass Awards AJ Lee and popular touring bluegrass performer Rita Hosking, who closes out the festival.

Rowan said after five years of organizing the annual event, he has been able to grow, learn and strengthen his connection with other area promoters and the music community. Through his Music at the GMC series, which launched last year, he has positioned himself as a premier purveyor of intimate showcases. But he wanted to draw a distinction between the Gottschalk Music Center shows, which have included an eclectic array of world music, and the festival.

“It’s been nice to be able to keep the very intimate feel (of the festival),” he said. “Americana and country and roots music is what brought me into booking acoustic shows in the first place.”

The full schedule for the festival is:

▪ 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 31; Gaelynn Lea and Liz Ryder, Gottschalk Music Center recital hall; $15

▪ 7 p.m. Saturday, April 1; AJ Lee & Jesse Fichman, Band Of Lovers and Amanda Lopez; Cafe Deva; $10

▪ 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 5; Marirose & The Gypsies and Michael Gilbert Ronstadt & Serenity Fisher; Gottschalk Music Center recital hall; $10

▪ 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 8; Peter Daldry and 2 Pisces; Gottschalk Music Center recital hall; $15

▪ 3 p.m. Sunday, April 9; Cooking With Turf, Jessica Malone and Old Soles; Gottschalk Music Center recital hall; $15

▪ 7 p.m. Saturday, April 15; Modesto Unplugged Members Revue featuring Alzara & Brother Spellbinder, The Poor Valley Band, Lisette & The Loudmouths, Jason Winfree & Keith Davis and Boscoe’s Brood; Cafe Deva, $10

▪ 3 p.m. Sunday, April 16; Juni Fisher; Gottschalk Music Center recital hall; $15

▪  7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 22; Hannah Jane Kile and Liz Ryder; Gottschalk Music Center recital hall; $10

▪ 7 p.m. Sunday, April 23; Rita Hosking & Sean Feder, The Dustbowl Children and Cole Hinkle; Center Stage Conservatory; $15

For more information, call 209-543-5306 or visit

Elsewhere around the Scene

Hughson High alum Jennifer Jolliff took home best young actress for web performance at the new Young Entertainer Awards in Hollywood this month.

Now in its second year, the Youth Entertainment Awards honor young actors. The award show was held at Universal Studios’ Globe Theater on March 19.

Jolliff was honored for her work in the Youtube webseries “Sisters.” She also wrote, cast and directed the series, which debuted online last year. The series consists of seven three- to six-minute episodes. The 2012 Hughson High graduate was a former member of The Bee’s Teens in the Newsroom program and has performed with Sierra Repertory Theatre, Playhouse Merced, YES Company and Center Stage Kids in the past. ...

Central Valley music veteran Moon Trent has released his sixth solo album.

The project, titled “Undercut,” is also the 20th released on his personal indie label, timmi-kat ReCoRDS. The Merced-based musician describes the 13-song album as ranging from punk rock to lullabies, and even includes an a capella track. He worked with two producers in studio; Dan Hong of San Antonio and Nicole Ridge of Merced. “Undercut” is available on iTunes and CDBaby. ...

And finally, from the All Roads Lead To Modesto files, some locals might remember that the late Chuck Berry, who passed away earlier this month, had played his guitar just like ringing a bell in town.

Bill Slayter, from Zorch magazine, sent me a copy of an old poster from Graffiti Fest ’88. Berry headlined the event held at the Modesto Junior College stadium, which was part of the city’s longstanding and continuing celebration of “American Graffiti” and classic car culture. Wolfman Jack hosted the show, which also included Sha Na Na, Freddy Cannon, The Shirelles and The Rivingtons.

And how much did it cost to see the Godfather of Rock live and in person? A cool $8.50.