Do call it a comeback.
Modesto's original do-it-yourself independent music festival is back with a vengeance. The Central Valley Indie Fest returns after a two-year hiatus with more bands and new venues. Shows will run daily from Thursday to April 19 in various locations in Lathrop, Stockton, Modesto, Merced and Sonora.
Event co-founder Anastasia Rego said bringing Indie Fest back for its fifth year took coordination and cooperation with promoters and businesses from across the region.
"This year, we were on track a lot earlier because we had a lot of help and prep time, so we're definitely going annual again," she said. "We've had such a positive response from musicians, business owners, promoters. For me, it is exciting. I was kind of depressed about it for a long time, thinking, 'Nobody cares about this.' But then when we started going out, it was like we hadn't been gone for two years."
This year, some 65 bands will play in more than 20 shows during the festival's 10-day run.
While the festival fizzled out for a couple years as organizers worked on personal projects and familial obligations, staging a comeback proved easier than expected.
"People seemed very excited to have it back and were very excited to hear that it was so inclusive across the valley," said Tina Braaten, Indie Fest's new marketing creative coordinator. "There are so many nice people who work within the music scene here, it's been a blessing to run into such cool, down-to-earth people."
Among the artists and promoters working with Rego and Braaten to bring Indie Fest back this year were event co-creator Robert Brown, Stockton's Middagh Goodwin, Sonora's Mike Miller and Merced's R.C. Essig and Moon Trent.
Brown, who also is holding a CD-release party for his "The Worst of Robbie Giant" on April 14 at the Fat Cat as part of Indie Fest, said people will be impressed with the diversity of music this year. This year's lineup includes metal, blues, punk, rap, hip-hop, alternative, rock, bluegrass and Americana.
"I hope it opens people's eyes to all the different music and that people are aware that if they want to help make the scene, they can," Brown said. "Hopefully, people will meet new contacts and everything will grow."
Almost all the bands are from the region and include new names and familiar favorites. Popular area acts include Modesto Area Music Association Award winners and nominees E.A.R.L., Arcane Empire, Fat Skeleton, El Olio Wolof, Good Luck Thrift Store Outlet, Dave Hanley Band, Joelle Maddyson, Jon Valenti, Femmebotz, Anthem and Soup.
Rego said she received more than 500 inquires from artists wanting to play Indie Fest. Local artists were given preference in scheduling.
Every night of the festival features at least one all-ages show. Some events also have raffles offering everything from gift certificates to a "rock 'n' roll makeover" complete with free tattoo. Also new this year are performances like the Indie Girls cabaret between acts April 13 at the Fat Cat.
Rego said she hopes to make Indie Fest more of a year-round presence with shows and an ambitious plan for a new nonprofit group called the Children's Music Collective of Modesto. Some proceeds from the shows will go to funding the program aimed at getting children ages 5 to 12 into music by providing workshops, instruments, lessons and more.
"From the beginning, what I've wanted to do is to work with new people and promoters," Rego said. "That way, the crowds get better, the events get better. We want promoters to show off their best events and their skills during the week of Indie Fest. We want people to go, 'Wow, there is a good show every night.' "