Open Mic Night at the Queen Bean - Marcelo Guitron

by Tasha Williams

This past Sunday evening at 6pm, I felt a little heavy hearted with the stresses of life, so I paid a small cover charge to get into The Queen Bean coffee house for “Open Mic Night” in Modesto, California.  It turned out to be more enjoyable than I had expected!  

Located at 1125 14th Street in downtown Modesto, The Queen Bean is a fabulous little coffee shop where great coffee, sweet treats and wine (if that tickles your fancy) are all served inside.  Outside is a covered and beautifully set covered patio scene where “Open Mic Night” unfolds every Sunday.  Because this weekly event is open to all ages, each artist is asked to perform “CLEAN” material due to the fact that children may be present.

Kevin was our host for the evening and the audience loved him!  He was the life of the party and his dry sense of humor and sarcastic comments were a real hoot!  

As I sat and listened, I was very impressed!  Not only did our Emcee make a lasting memory, but I was struck in particular by a couple of the artists and their performances as well!  However, during the moments I was impressed most, an uncontrollable sadness came over me.  My grief is rooted in the fact that here in the central valley,  so much talent goes unnoticed!  Regrettably, (more often than not), these talented people never get the recognition they deserve.  Here at Valley Views Magazine, we are on a mission to change that unfortunate fact!  Our goal is to continuously spotlight fresh, unknown central valley talent!  We feel it’s important for our readers to know WHAT’S OUT HERE!

Speaking of “What’s Out Here” -- two music groups stood out that Sunday evening so when they finished their performances, I went over and chit chatted with them a bit.  Each group was completely different than the other, yet both groups really moved the crowd.  There was a singing/rap duo called “The Dilla” with two 18-year-old members named Zaee and Craig.  While both young men can sing, Craig was the real standout of the two.  He is a triple threat.  Craig played the guitar, rapped and sang.  Though he was the shy performer of the two (even during my interview) his singing voice was phenomenal.  His melodic vocals really complemented Zaee’s raps but every time Craig joined in to sing, his vocals took each song to a whole new level!

I was not yet seated when the next performer began his set.  I had ventured off inside The Queen Bean for yet another sweet treat.  While I was inside waiting for my warm and gooey cinnamon roll, I heard this incredible voice come through the speaker.  In my mind, I was thinking to myself, “WHO IS THAT?”  His voice had me hooked from the first note that came out of his mouth!  When I arrived back to my seat, a stranger informed me that the singer was called Marcelo Guitron.  Guitron is the lead vocalist/guitarist for the band NESTA but was instead performing solo that evening with two of his friends backing him up.  Jimmy Sanchez was on the drums and Teresa Ali was assisting with vocals.

Guitron’s voice has what I would call a “Throw Back” sound.  His vocal quality is impeccable.  To hear him belt out his songs is like listening to a perfect mix between rough and rugged and soft and smooth.  His sound made me feel like I was in the throws (pun intended) of the 1950’s and 1960’s.  

Marcelo Guitron’s voice made me feel as though I was watching a black and white show LIVE, in full on color – AND FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME!  It was thrilling!  His sound is a bit Rock and Roll, with a pinch of Soul and Folk and then marinated in Reggae, adding a wonderful twist to a truly unusual sound!  Even if I tried, I could not categorize his sound in any way!  When I spoke with Marcelo afterward, he told me that he calls his music Reggae.  That is just fine for him, but I still stand firm on choosing NOT to categorize him at all.  His sound is one of a kind and uniquely his own.  In fact, he is so good that I refuse to put him in a box of any kind!

I enjoyed all the songs Guitron sang but one song deeply resonated within.  It was a heart-felt, thought provoking showstopper called “Time’s Tuff” and it really moved the crowd.  The lyrics depicted how hard the economy is right now and the difficulties many people are facing while searching for employment and barely being able to afford their mortgages and rent.  As the three of them sang the chorus together, Marcelo Guitron’s voice held the crowd mesmerized.  We were hypnotized by the honest and touching delivery in which he was expressing the lyrics.  

During the next song, Marcelo got the entire audience involved with some crowd participation.  He actually did some “call and response” by asking us to repeat what they were singing back to him.  He called out, “La dee da dee dee.”  We followed suit by repeating, “La dee da dee de.”  Then, (when he felt that we had it down), he shut the music off and allowed the crowd to listen to each other singing the “call and response” we had just learned.  It was exhilarating!  

By the end of the night, it felt like everyone in the audience was holding hands and smiling in unity.  But that night, it was Marcelo Guitron who helped us feel that way in our hearts.  And for me personally, after arriving at The Queen Bean feeling heavy hearted,  I was grateful.  I was at peace.  MY SOUL HAD BEEN FED!

I would highly recommend you check out The Queen Bean every Sunday, from the hours of 6pm to 10pm!  It is my hope that you’ll get there on an evening where you can experience the sounds of Marcelo Guitron yourself!  Otherwise, look him up on Facebook!

His band, NESTA will be opening for THE TOASTERS on February 2, 2014 at Heroes on 9th Street in Downtown Modesto.  If After seeing him perform as a solo artist, with only two background singers, I am quite sure his band is to die for!

If you would like to see your band or favorite artist featured in Valley Views Magazine, please email Tasha Williams directly at or call (209) 681-8384.