Friday, January 30, 2015

Davis Music Festival: 2 days, 65 bands, 13 venues

Recent UC Davis graduates Andrew Jilwan and Dorothy Chung kick up their heels to music from the Armadillo Stage at Second and H streets downtown during last year's Davis Music Festival. This year's event, which runs all day Saturday and for limited hours Sunday, is bigger and better — featuring 65 bands at 13 venues. Proceeds benefit the Davis School Arts Foundation. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise file photo

From page A1 | June 18, 2013 |

That’s the ticket

What: Davis Music Festival, featuring 65 bands; proceeds benefit the Davis School Arts Foundation

When: 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday

Where: 13 venues around downtown Davis

Tickets: $25 in advance at Armadillo Music, 205 F St.; $30 at the door; for a $15 upgrade, hear JD McPherson at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Mondavi Center

Info: For a complete schedule and map, visit

The annual Davis Music Festival, now in its third successful year, has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 2011. This year, 65 bands will perform at 13 venues throughout downtown Davis on Saturday and Sunday. Hours are 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Attendees purchase a wristband, which allows them access to each venue, including Bike Forth, Central Park, City Tavern at Bistro 33, Davis Art Center, Delta of Venus, Little Prague, Davis Odd Fellows Hall (upstairs and downstairs), Pence Gallery, G Street Wunderbar, Sophia’s Thai Bar, Vini Wine Bar and the Armadillo Music Stage. Tickets, $25 in advance or $30 on the day of the festival, are available at Armadillo Music, 205 F St. in downtown Davis, or at

Most venues are all-ages, but bars become restricted to patrons 21 and older at 9 p.m. Saturday.

For a $15 upgrade, attendees can see JD McPherson at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Mondavi Center on the UC Davis campus; tickets also are available at A singer-songwriter and guitarist from Broken Arrow, Okla., McPherson is known for a retro sound rooted in the rock and roll, rhythm and blues and rockabilly music of the 1950s.

The number of bands in the 2013 festival is extensive, including local and Bay Area acts, ranging in style from rock, folk, electronic and metal.

Many of these critically acclaimed acts could headline their own show, including Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express, John Langford, John Vanderslice and McPherson. This is also your chance to support amazing local talent like Doombird, Boco do Rio, Surrogate and Misner and Smith.

There’s also music for the kids from local bands The Hoots and Music Matt, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Davis Art Center, 1919 F St.

For a full list of bands, schedule and more, go the Davis Music Festival website or download the new festival app.

“We did a better job this year of having bands fit better in their respective spaces,” founder Danny Tomasello said. “We’re creating more vibes in each space as opposed to it being more scattered like in years past. You don’t have to run around.

“You still can, and I encourage that, but you can also just post up if you don’t feel like it. We did a good job of catering to the fan that wants to chill in one or two places.”

The Davis Music Festival is all volunteer-run. Sara Eley, Tomasello’s right-hand woman, has been an integral member since day one. She named the festival volunteer force the “Awesome Patrol.”

“I kept seeing this guy at shows,” Eley said. “We had a monumental beer and blanket session at the ORMF show a few years ago. I saw the sparkle and zest in Danny’s eyes that I also shared.

“I knew this guy was going to make some moves and I wanted to make them with him,” she added. “As a longtime Davis resident, music supporter and show-going record collector, I wanted to contribute. Music is universal. It’s a pretty big deal and it’s core. I think what we’re doing is pretty important.”

A major bonus factor of the festival is that proceeds benefit the Davis School Arts Foundation.

“Both my kids have gone to school in this town,” Eley said. “They’re 10 years apart. Through that, I’ve watched a very different education for both of them. Nick had music in the classroom. He had a penny whistle, he had chorus three times and week and had the opportunity to have strings.

“With Ethan coming through years later, what is available at the school sites is hugely different. I thought, ‘Wow, I totally want to be a part of this crew throwing a party to make sure our kids have what they need to solidify the music I’m going to see in five to 10 years,’ ” she said.

“Because if we’re not teaching our kids music, there’s not going to be any shows for me to go to. What we’re doing is amazing in that respect.”

In addition to the hard-working volunteer force, the Davis Music Festival wouldn’t exist without local sponsors like Armadillo Music and the Davis Live Music Collective.

“We’ve got a lot of new sponsors this year,” Eley said. “Mondavi reached out to the Davis Live Music Collective to host JD McPherson. They’re paying for the band and sound. Livestrong contacted us and said they wanted to be on the same weekend as us, which is huge.”

The Livestrong Challenge, a series of bike rides to raise money to fight cancer, happens Sunday, which was a happy coincidence with the festival.

“They were glad last year that people had something to do,” Tomasello explained. “If you’re not from Davis, and your buddy is doing this ride, and you want something to do during the day, this is a good way to see our town.”

Tomasello asked Livestrong organizers if they’d want live music during the race. “They said they’d love to but just didn’t have the local resources to make that happen,” he said. “So we set up bands to be in Central Park.”

Playing in Central Park from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday are Joy & Madness, The Nickel Slots and Zapato Viejo.

If you haven’t attended the past two festivals, this is the year to go.

“The range of bands we have is pretty juicy,” Eley said. “We have a handful of DJs this go-round. We have a punky garage thing happening at Bike Forth. The metal venue at G Street is really exciting.

“It’s a little bit magical,” she said. “Helping the kids, helping the downtown businesses; there’s that element that is really enduring and special. Our town of Davis is really invested in the arts. I feel lucky. There is a lot of room to grow and I feel Davis is ready for it.

“Five years from now, Davis is going to be a tour stop for bands along the way,” Eley continued. “It will be built into tour schedules.”

Added Tomasello, “It’s already happening. We’re on their radar now.”

— Reach Landon Christensen at [email protected]



Landon Christensen

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