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Manteca band plays Lockeford winery
The 209 All-Stars play a show at the Beach Hut Grill in Stockton. They’re playing today and sunday in Lockeford, and will return back to the South County on Feb. 26th when they play at Eagle’s Nest Harley Davidson from 12 to 4 p.m. - photo by Photo Contributed
Tim Helbling and his funky style will be on display today when he plays the Stama Winery at Vino de Piazza in Lockeford.

The winery - located at 12470 Locke Road (Highway 88)   - is conducting a “Wine & Chocolate Wekend” today and Sunday from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. complete with gourmet brownies, white chocolate and wine.

To reach the winery which is 35 minutes away, take Highway 99 north to Exit 255 for Waterloo Road/Highway 88 toward Jackson. It is a 14.3 mile drive.

It’s just one more performance for the professional musician that played more than 130 shows last year throughout Northern California – bringing the unique sound of his 209 All-Stars to fans – and another chance to play almost a dozen different genres and Top 40 hits ranging from Johnny Cash to Michael Jackson.

But while he pieced the band together, Helbling doesn’t enjoy being considered the band’s leader. He  would rather be referred to as one of the members of the jam-style group that has built somewhat of a cult following from all of their local (and mostly free) shows.

“We try to play a little bit of everything, but stay away from the typical bar band songs – you’re not going to hear us playing Mustang Sally or Play That Funky Music,” Helbling said in a previous interview with the Bulletin. “And I don’t really think of myself as the band leader or anything like that. We all bring out unique style to the table, and that really comes out when we play. If we can look out and see people singing along, then we know that we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing.”

The band itself consists of Helbling on vocals as well as the acoustic 12 string and electric six string guitars; Rudy Escajeda on vocals, saxophone and keyboard; Brandon Michael on bass guitar; Justin Jones on Lead Guitar and Jim Ayala on Drums.

Last year the band got the chance to help kick-off the 2010 San Joaquin County Fair with a performance on the side stage on opening night to bring their music to the throngs of people that flood through the gates for the week-long exposition.

For the rest of the month the band has gigs lined up throughout the regions, and will return back to the South County on Feb. 26 to play Eagle’s Nest Harley Davidson in Lathrop from noon to 4 p.m.

Helbling – who dedicated himself completely to his music and makes his living off of his live performances – says he gives his all when he steps up to the microphone, and hopes to win over new fans with each new venue they add.

“Getting to entertain people is one of the best jobs that you can possibly have, and I’m just glad that I’m able to do it,” he said.

For more information, or to hear samples of the 209 All-Stars, visit their MySpace site at