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Music fundraiser Festival on the Green features top-name performers

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From page A9 | October 09, 2013 |

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Rita  Hosking, seen in a 2011 photo shoot as part of her "Burn," will perform Saturday in Central Park as part of Festival on the Green. Rik Keller/Courtesy photo

There’s a party in Central Park this weekend that’s been four years in the making.

Music Only Makes Sense and the Davis High School Blue & White Foundation are hosting the first Festival on the Green from 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday. Nine bands will perform on two stages in  Central Park in Davis.

Scheduled to take the stage are Be Calm Honcho, Cherry Royale, Extra Classic, Kingfisher, Sea Train, Midi Matilda, Radiation City, Rita Hosking and Cousin Jack, and The West Nile Ramblers.

In addition, there will be food, a beer garden and live art. Tickets are $18 and available at showclix.com/event/fotg2013. Proceeds benefit music, art and performing arts programs in the Davis schools. For more information, visit davismusicfest.com.

Danny Tomasello, founder of the annual Davis Music Festival, organized the Festival on the Green. In 2009, Tomasello was approached by Blue & White Foundation director Marty Morse to help put on a fundraiser called Concert on the Green.

“He and I have been friends for many years,” Tomasello told The Enterprise. “We were always comparing notes on touring bands and one day he asked if I’d help with this concert idea he had for a fundraising event. I hadn’t ever done anything more than buy a ticket when it came to concerts, but I accepted his request and we pulled it off with a $300 budget.”

A couple of years later, Tomasello planned to expand the idea to downtown and add multiple venues, which became the first Davis Music Festival. The third annual Davis Music Festival happened in June with more than 60 bands on 15 stages.

In 2012, Tomasello saw the opportunity to increase the size of Concert on the Green after talking with booking agencies for DMF.

“I approached Karen Mattis, current vice president of the Blue & White Foundation, and we went to work on the idea of bringing it downtown,” he said.

Central Park was the perfect location.

“We wanted to come downtown and figured it would be easier for the student population, it’s a good place for people to congregate and there’s plenty of room,” Tomasello explained. “There’s a built-in stage, so we might as well use it.”

And Festival on the Green — which has a fantastic line-up — was born.

“We’re really happy with it,” Tomasello said. “Rita Hosking and Cousin Jack were the first act booked. Rita was touring in Tennessee in June and couldn’t play DMF. I was thrilled she was free to play this.

“Andy Lentz, a phenomenal fiddle player, plays with Cousin Jack. He’s also playing with The West Nile Ramblers, our local western garage rock stars.”

West Nile Ramblers, Be Calm Honcho and Extra Classic were three of the most talked-about bands from this year’s Davis Music Festival. Kingfisher and Sea Train are two high school bands that will split an hour.

“They played at the Celebrate Davis! event in May and were really good,” Tomasello said. “I was super-impressed with them and what better than to have high school bands at a high school fundraiser.”

Cherry Royale are a funk band from Oakland by way of Louisiana.

“Everyone needs more funk in their lives,” Tomasello said. “Radiation City are terrific. They’ve played at Sophia’s before and people were stoked.

“When we talked about bands, Karen Mattis suggested Midi Matilda,” he added. “She saw them open for Duran Duran and became a fan. I got a chance to see their set at Outside Lands Music Festival and they were a blast!”

In addition to the music, there will be artwork painted live by Gary Christensen, a local artist and Davis High graduate.

“Gary’s live graffiti art will be rad,” Tomasello said. “We also have a performance art idea brewing from some folks tied with the new Third Space Theory. I suspect it will be a great addition.”

Festival on the Green is more than just entertainment, it also benefits the local community. Fifty percent of profits will go to the Davis School Arts Foundation and 50 percent will go to the Blue & White Foundation.

“With Concert on the Green, all proceeds went to the Blue & White Foundation,” Tomasello said. “I didn’t go to DHS, so I’m not a member of the alumni association. A lot of people associated their fundraising efforts with athletics (building the new high school stadium) so our efforts weren’t all that well-received in the music and arts community. Rightfully so.

“However, now that it’s built, they’re doing a lot of other things,” he added. “They just sent the Madrigals abroad, for instance.”

Which is why he started the nonprofit, Music Only Makes Sense.

“MOMS can choose beneficiaries supporting music and the arts,” Tomasello explained. “It was a better fit for bands and musicians to get involved with something that gave back to their community.”

MOMS is giving their half of the proceeds to the Davis Schools Arts Foundation because “they manage the grant process much better than we could.”

Tomasello assures that this festival will be a good time for all and hopes there’s a large turnout.

“I’d love it if a thousand people came out,” he said. “There are a ton of options where we live, so who knows. Of course, this is the best thing happening within a hundred-mile radius that day.

“We’re doing it to raise money and provide an awesome event for Davis,” he said. “I can only hope that people come out for it.”

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