By Jordan Severns
A city’s culture is nothing without its music scene, and a city’s music scene is only as good as its curators. Fortunately for Modesto and its music scene, it has Modesto Unplugged providing classy, intimate concerts and music festivals at which to enjoy music—both local and from afar—right here in downtown Modesto.
Modesto Unplugged began as the Modesto Unplugged Music Festival in 2012. When creator Aaron Rowan realized that Modesto didn’t have a folk music festival, he sought to rectify that. He then coordinating a delightful weekend of tunes including folk, bluegrass, world music, and even musical theater. Unlike many festivals, it happens on a single stage at a time, in segments of five or so acts, taking place at venues all across downtown Modesto. In more recent years, the festival has been stretched out to occur over the course of a month.
Some notable performers who have been featured in the past include Rebecca Lomnicky (a Scottish fiddle champion), Rebecca Pidgeon (singer-songwriter and actress), and David Mahler (U.S. National Hammered-Dulcimer Champion). Once a year, Modesto Unplugged sponsors a songwriter to attend the Yosemite Songwriting Retreat. The first artist sent there, Modesto’s own Effie Passero, was recently seen in the Top 24 of the most recent season of American Idol!
The festival has taken 2018 off, but Modesto Unplugged also hosts year-round programming. Coming up very soon, on Jul. 11, is a world music jam featuring special guest Liesel Roy Haldane, a sitar player, banjo player, and singer-songwriter from the Bay Area. It will be held at the Barkin’ Dog Grill from 7 to 9 p.m.
Later this year, on Oct. 28, Americana band The Clydes will bring their infectious stage presence, memory-haunting songs, and instrumental wizardry, which has delighted audience around the globe, right here to Modesto! Their energetic and unique tunes can be heard at 3 p.m. at the Moon & Sixpence Art and Music House for $15 per ticket.
If you’re looking to liven up your summer and autumn with unique musical experiences you won’t soon forget, presented in a classy venue by hosts who care about their artists and the arts as a whole, look no further than Modesto Unplugged!