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First-Time Bands Performing This Year
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A host of new bands will be taking center stage at this year’s Oakdale Chocolate Festival starting Saturday, May 18 and going through Sunday afternoon.

Music Chairperson Victoria Sutton Krippner said she is looking forward to this year’s entertainment and that the audience will enjoy the variety of acts performing.

“It’s going to be exciting because it’s all new,” Krippner said, comparing to past years. “They are all local bands showcasing their talent.”

Krippner, an Oakdale High School grad, has been music chairperson at the festival for the last 10 years. Her endeavors and quality of music booked for the event have had the festival nominated for MAMA Awards by the Modesto Area Music Association for the last five years in the “Best Large Event” category going up against the X-Fest and Blues Festival in Modesto.

The Highway 99 Party Band kicks off the music entertainment at 11 a.m. on Saturday with a great mix of classic R&B, Blues, and Rock.

Highway 99 formed in the fall of 2008 by three members that previously played together in another band for more than five years. The trio teamed with other musicians who have performed with the likes of The Temptations, Mic Gillette from Tower of Power, Bobby McFerrin, and Cold Blood, and began polishing their horn-driven sound.

Cowboy solo artist James Lawry follows at 1:30 p.m. with a sound that is fused with modern country and groove rock.

Lawry hit the music scene as a solo artist in 2013 with his well-crafted music and song lyrics that appeal to all ages and demographics. Combined with catchy choruses and his modern twist on the classic cowboy image, he is one of country music’s newest found treasures.

 “The first time I saw James perform, I was amazed by his talent and charmed by his smile,” said Krippner. “His voice and style are comfortable like your favorite pair of old jeans. I was sold on the spot and booked him immediately.”

The music of Third Party closes out the day on Saturday, performing tunes from all decades from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Chris Murphy, Gary Nelson, Chad Johnson and Brett Hughes play a little of everything from the Beatles and Rolling Stones to Eric Clapton, Foo Fighters and 3 Doors Down.

Third Party has been known to play for hours with the crowd having a blast. The band likes people to dance and have fun when they play, but they can also “play it cool” for a mellow gathering, too.

Sunday’s sweet sounds start at 11:30 a.m. with CallBox performing acoustical rock, blues, and jazz.

Described as a folk, rock, and “experimental” band, CallBox members Vicky, Jimbo, Navaz, and Al Sisco take listeners on an acoustical journey with their songs.

Sunday’s entertainment concludes with the music of Soul Heart taking the stage from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Soul Heart consists of two artists, Alex Lucero, the lead vocalist and guitar, and drummer and vocalist Johnny Shatswell. The group plays all types of genres, such as the blues to 70s classics of Credence Clearwater Revival and popular tunes of the 90s.

They duo has been together since 2011 and has performed at various venues in the California Central Valley, including opening for Eddie Money at the Sierra View Music Festival.

The bands that play at the Chocolate Festival do so at no cost to organizers.

“The performing groups are very generous at heart,” said Krippner.