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Merced band Whisky Row among leaders in Gallo Center contest

Whisky Row of Merced is among the favorites in a contest to find an opening act for country singer Phil Vassar during his April 21 performance at Modesto's Gallo Center for the Arts.

The band Southern Bend from Ceres is the favorite among voters so far after one week of voting in the contest, which is co-sponsored by the Modesto Bee. A panel of judges from the center will determine the local act that will perform a roughly 15-minute opening set that evening. The judges will take into consideration the public vote in the contest.

Twenty-one acts, from solo singers to multi-piece bands, have entered. Along with Whisky Row and Southern Bend, the five acts with the most votes include Greg Scudder and the Beer:30 of Ceres, the Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit of Oakdale, and Amelia Varni of Modesto. (The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit recently participated in an interview with the Merced Sun-Star's Off the 99 podcast. The episode can be heard here: http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2010/03/06/1339705/off-the-99-exploring-the-music.html.

Vassar is on tour promoting his sixth album, "Traveling Circus." He has written several chart-topping songs for himself and for country artists Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Jo Dee Messina and Collin Raye.

To vote, you must be a registered user in the contest area, which you can reach at www.modbee.com/contests. Registered voters may vote once each day in the contest.

Voting will close April 9 and results will be sent to the Gallo Center. Vassar's concert will begin at 7 p.m. April 21 in the center's Mary Stuart Rogers theater.

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