Thursday, July 24, 2014

From rock to roots to reggae, Davis Music Festival has it all

From center left, Davis residents Greg Yarris, Trecia Ehrlich and Larry Guenther dance during The West Nile Ramblers' set at the 2011 Davis Music Festival. Rik Keller/Courtesy photo

From page A1 | June 19, 2012 |

That’s the ticket

What: Second annual Davis Music Festival, a benefit for arts education in the Davis schools

When: 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday

Where: Seven venues throughout downtown Davis

Tickets: $20 in advance at Armadillo Music, 205 F St., and online at; $25 at the gate

A full day of music and a good cause, to boot. What’s not to like about that?

Organizers say last year’s inaugural Davis Music Festival was a success, and they’re hoping to build on that with Saturday’s second annual event, which benefits arts education in the Davis public schools.

Forty-six bands will be playing from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. at seven venues throughout downtown Davis — Delta of Venus, 122 B St.; Sophia’s Thai Kitchen, 129 E St.; Odd Fellows Hall, 415 Second St.; G Street Wunderbar, 228 G St.; Luigi’s, 213 E St.; Little Prague, 330 G St.; and the Armadillo Music Stage, on Second Street between G and H streets.

For $20 in advance or $25 the day of, attendees will obtain a wristband that allows access to every venue. Tickets are available at Armadillo Music, 205 F St., and For a full list a bands, visit the website or

The Davis Music Festival is sponsored by the Davis Live Music Collective and the nonprofit organization Music Only Makes Sense. MOMS’ goal is to raise funds for the benefit of arts, music and performing arts programs in Davis’ elementary, middle and high schools.

“I wanted profits to go to local music programs and performing arts departments in schools,” festival founder Danny Tomasello said. “A lot of musicians really benefited from their music teachers and appreciate the opportunity to give back a little.”

This year, MOMS teamed up with the Davis Live Music Collective. The collective is a group of people who committed to purchasing blocks of tickets to raise funds to bring in bands that otherwise would skip over Davis on tour.

“With 30 members (of the collective), we can offer guarantees and pay for venues and sound,” Tomasello said. “Perfect timing with what I envisioned with MOMS.”

The first Davis Music Festival featured 20 bands on five stages. This year’s lineup is twice the size.

“When all five venues were interested again and Luigi’s and G Street Wunderbar opened, it looked like a good opportunity to grow,” Tomasello said. “This year we have both levels of Odd Fellows Hall and we’re putting up a stage on Second Street. We’re blocking off the area between G and H, so both streets are fully accessible.”

Instead of a genre-specific festival, the Davis Music Festival features a wide range of musical styles — rock, folk, bluegrass, hip-hop, electronic, metal and more. Festivalgoers can dance to Tha Dirt Feelin, head-bang to Evil Plan and mellow out to Misner & Smith.

With so much variety, how did the schedule come about? “A band has to draw a paying crowd of its own on any given night,” Tomasello explained. “Also, no cover bands, ever.

“Scheduling was difficult,” he said. “Everyone on the committee put together their dream schedule and we collaborated on which bands shouldn’t conflict or start too early or late. Even more frustrating is having to decide who to see now!”

While every band is worth checking out, some acts you don’t want to miss are Sacramento’s trip-hop-inspired Sister Crayon and folk-rock See of Bees; So Cal’s bright, infectious indie-rockers Opus Orange; San Francisco “string-metal” band Judgment Day; and Oakland’s bluesy, dance-floor shaking, California Honeydrops.

An avid music fan, Tomasello originally set out to recreate the vibe of festivals he’s been to, like Coachella and Outside Lands.

“The original idea was to have it at Central Park with bands rotating sets on two stages,” he said. “But that was a bigger risk and logistical nightmare with permits and security. DMF turned out to be more like SXSW, which is funny because I’ve never been to that.”

(SXSW — South by Southwest — has been going strong for 25 years in Austin, Texas.)

In addition to homegrown music fans, the festival may attract some of  the 2,000 cyclists who’ll take part Sunday in the Livestrong Challenge, which benefits cyclist Lance Armstrong’s cancer research foundation.

“We are all excited. The downtown merchants are getting ready to welcome visitors (for both events),” city of Davis Public Relations Manager Bob Bowen told The Enterprise.

In the end, this festival benefits everyone.

“We’re letting small-venue and bar owners run their normal business and allow us to pack the place one day a year,” he said. “Another fundamental basic of this fest is that we don’t ask for any freebies. We want it to make sense for everyone, from musicians to sound engineers to vendors and venue partners.

“The goal is to have a great time and make enough money to pay our bills and give a nice donation.”

But most importantly, “I want everyone to wake up on Sunday and say, ‘That was so fun. I definitely want to be part of that again next year!’ ”

— Reach Landon Christensen at

Landon Christensen


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