Merced 125th anniversary concert set for May 3

04/25/2014 12:00 AM

04/27/2014 1:05 PM

When it comes to throwing a party, it’s always a good idea to include thunderous rhythms, melodious vocals, screaming guitars and bombastic beats to get things started.

That understanding isn’t lost on the folks responsible for putting together the upcoming show dedicated to celebrating the city of Merced’s 125th birthday.

The city will hold a free concert in Courthouse Park with a variety of bands and performers from 4 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, May 3. The headline acts include local blues favorite Mike Hammar and the Nails, Columbian musical group La Sonora Dinamita, De Mina Vazquez and Reno’s Buster Blue.

Psychedelic band and local music legends Crystal Syphon are also scheduled to perform during the event. Crystal Syphon were among the most popular bands to emerge from Merced’s 1960s music scene. Back then, they made several appearances around the state, including three at San Francisco’s Fillmore West, sharing the stage with stars like Bo Diddley, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead and Santana, among others.

The May 3 event will also feature a wide variety of local music acts, like Cottonwood Creek, which is fronted by Scott Little and Maggie Watkins.

Tom Price, founder of Downtown Life Magazine and a co-organizer of the event, said the committee putting together the celebration was keen on creating a concert experience that will appeal to diverse tastes. Price said organizers plan on having two separate stages for performances, along with food and a beer garden. “This festival is for Merced,” Price said. “We want to do something that a lot of people will attach themselves to and remember for a long time.”

Price, who’s lived in Merced since 2007, said the festival is also a great opportunity to showcase and take pride in the local talent and spirit the city has to offer. “Merced is special because of the people,” Price added. “It’s the reason I am still here. I stayed because there are so many fantastic, amazing people here that supported me and embraced me.”

Price also said although the band Buster Blue are from Reno, in recent years they’ve established a strong following in Merced, and in many ways have begun to view the city as a second home. “It’s one of those bands you know you can book, and you know it’s going to be a party because they get people moving, because the music is incredible,” Price said.

For more information about the city’s 125th anniversary celebration, see the Facebook page titled “Celebrate Merced: Past, Present & Future.” You can also call the city manager’s office at (209) 385-6834, ext. 1, or email

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