Dolores Welch was up bright and early this morning to make sure the two blankets she set down Wednesday afternoon were still front-and-center on the lawn in front of the Mancini Bowl stage at Modesto's Graceada Park.
The 46-year-old Modesto trumpet player will be on that stage for her 32nd season with MoBand, which kicks off its Thursday evenings summer concert series tonight.
"They're still here," she said.
In fact, while it's typically hard to find a place to park a blanket anywhere near the concert bowl inside Graceada Park by mid-Thursday mornings, there was plenty of space available as of 7:30.
"It's pretty empty," Welch said, surveying the scene. "But the first one is always light. Give it a couple of weeks, and it will be packed."
Welch will take a heavy heart on stage tonight. Her husband, J.R. Welch, who played trumpet alongside her and was a well-known area musician, died in January from colon cancer.
"I spent more than half the rehearsal on Monday night crying," she said.
She knows, though, she'll have plenty of support tonight.
There will be "family" in the band, and the blankets she set down this morning will be home to her parents, three sisters and niece.
"It's a family thing," she said of the Thursday night concerts in the park. "It's great to see all the people you haven't seen for a year."
This year's theme, "Groovin' Since 1919," celebrates the concert series' 90th anniversary. The concerts begin at 8 p.m.
— Tonight: "Peel Out!" — music from the 1950s and '60s to help accelerate Modesto's Graffiti Summer celebration
— June 18: "Groovin' " — relaxing music plus songs with a Latin flavor and songs that bring back memories
— June 25: "Thanks, Frank" — a look back at music MoBand has performed over the past 90 years, with a tribute to founder Frank Mancini
— July 2: "Patriotic Salute" — annual Fourth of July celebration
— July 9: "Legends Nite" — music reflecting the nation's heritage and community spirit and start August National Night Out and French horn reunion— July 16: "Summer Reruns" — crowd favorites during the season