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Ceres residents make cut for talent show
The talents of at least four Ceres residents will be scrutinized at the "Valley's Got Talent" show set for Friday and Saturday at the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto.

Modeled after the popular "America's Got Talent" TV show, the local version of the show will pit 23 acts against each other for a $1,000 grand prize and two $750 cash awards for runners-up. The winner also will get a spot as an opening act to a big name entertainer.

Jenna Mills of Ceres is one of the nine vocal soloists who will be competing.

The largest collection of Ceres residents will be represented in the 11-member New Hope Church Band based in Turlock. Members of the church praise band are from mostly Turlock but three are from Ceres - Jerry Serrano, son and drummer Joseph Serrano and stepson saxophonist Daniel Casares.

Jerry Serrano saw the call for talent entries in a local newspaper and decided that his band may have a great shot at it.

"We feel we have a talented group," said Serrano. "It will be a thrill for me, being able to play at a beautiful venue like the Gallo Theater with my two sons."

Serrano submitted a CD of the group performing "Falling In Love With Jesus." Judges likes what they heard and included them in the cut of finalists of about 180 entries.

Valley's Got Talent will be staged at 7 p.m. Friday and repeated at 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $8, $12, $15 and $19 but anyone hoping to get tickets should call the center at 338-2100 to see if any are available.

New Hope will perform the "Sweet Presence of Jesus," a jazzy Christian praise song in the vein of a Junior Walker.

Music is an outlet for Serrano, 58, who spends his days working as a furnace worker at Pilkington Glass in Lathrop. The Bay area native who's lived in Ceres for 20 years loves playing the bass guitar as well as adding vocals to the band. His thoughts are more about exposing his sons and the group's young people to potential talent scouts in the audience.

"These kids are talented enough," he said. "I'm excited about it. We have a good shot. It's a thrill and I'm proud to be playing with my boys. I have a feeling other things could come up from this. It's good exposure for them. For Fred and me we're the oldies and we're just having fun."

Both Joseph and Daniel attended Virgina Parks Elementary, Mae Hensley Junior High and Ceres High School where they were influenced by music teacher Ric Campero. Daniel graduated from CHS in 2003, Joseph in 2009.

Daniel, 25, is a free lance musician who is a 2007 San Francisco State graduate. He just returned from touring the Virgin Islands with a band from San Francisco.

Joseph, who is now studying at Modesto Junior College, also went on a two-week music tour with his band in the western United States.

"Both boys were influenced by the style of music that I played," said Jerry. "I grew up and played music in the Bay Area region in the 1970s and 1980s. We played music by bands like Tower of Power, Average White Band, and Chicago."

Members of the fledgling church, which numbers about 100, will be on hand supporting the band.

"We have a lot of people coming," said Jerry's wife, Rosanne Serrano. "We have four coming the first night and six the second night. I think they (band members) are great. They really are talented."

Judges include Modesto native and actor Robert Ulrich, the casting director of Fox Television's hit series "Glee," among numerous other Hollywood credits, and his wife, actress Kim Johnston Ulrich, a Ripon native who has starred in the soap opera "As the World Turns."