'Off the 99' podcast: Promoting Valley music becomes calling to Modesto resident

Modesto resident and indie rock concert promoter Greg Edwards doesn't mind competition in the concert production world -- in fact, he welcomes it.

Edwards, 36, is founder of Off the Air, a production company that puts together monthly concerts with mostly Central Valley indie-rock musicians at Deva Cafe in Modesto.

The way Edwards sees it, the more competition from people putting on music events, the more Edwards can enjoy live local music, he said.

Although small and fragmented, the Central Valley indie-rock music scene is growing. And there's a lot of room for average music fans to become integral parts of the local music scene.

"Out here in the Central Valley, there's so much amazing music and there's so much opportunity, and I really wish people would take better advantage of it," Edwards said. "A lot of people complain about how there's not a lot to do here. Even though there might not be a lot to do, you can show people they have the power to create something to do."

One solution Edwards conjured to improve the Central Valley music scene is to create a comprehensive blog about all the music happenings in the Valley.

He left it as a challenge to any devoted music fan.

Last month, Edwards tried his hand at actual music production with the CD release of "Portraits," a compilation featuring new and original work by 32 musicians, many of them Central Valley natives.

Some of the songwriters include: All Smiles, also known as Jim Fairchild, formerly of Grandaddy; Shelley Short; Silver Darling; Built Like Alaska; Mike Sempert of Birds & Batteries; Garrett Pierce and Travis Vick.

The initial CD release party took place mid-May at the Cafe Deva and featured a photo exhibit with portraits of the artists by Doug Holcomb of Nine by 9 Photography.

Download the audio file.

To buy "Portraits" or find out more about the CD release events, visit http://32singers32songs.blogspot.com/.

Reporter Jamie Oppenheim can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or joppenheim@mercedsunstar.com.