Davis residents can enjoy quarterly concerts featuring acclaimed nationally touring pop, folk and rock bands and individual musicians who might not otherwise stop here for a show. This niche in the performing arts scene is being filled thanks to the efforts of the Davis Live Music Collective.
“Our goal is to bring to Davis the highest-quality live music acts that we can, so that folks in Davis who love great music have an opportunity to hear these groups perform,” said Kyle Monhollen, one of the primary organizers of the collective. “We target bands that are looking for an extra date… they’re going to be driving through Davis anyway!” The idea is to support a diverse, high-quality music scene in Davis by curating, hosting and promoting events.
Another goal is to involve friends who enjoy live music to help finance, promote and attend events.
Organized in 2011 over discussions at kitchen tables and in coffee shops, and drawing inspiration from the long-standing local tradition of house concerts featuring touring artists, the Davis Live Music Collective staged its first concert in 2012 at the Odd Fellows Hall in downtown Davis. Other concerts have taken place at the Veterans’ Memorial Theater or local food-and-drink establishments. Bands that have been presented by the Davis Live Music Collective include Dave Alvin and Camper Van Beethoven (both of whom have recorded a number of well-regarded albums over the years) as well as newer indie rock outfits like Typhoon and Mother Falcon (the latter is an ensemble with 13 classically trained musicians, including one who plays bassoon). Another performer was Ben Sollee, who plays a classical instrument in a non-classical setting — Monhollen described Sollee as “a very soulful pop cellist.”
The Davis Live Music Collective also plays a role in the annual Davis Music Festival, held each year in June.
The collective functions much like a co-op. There’s a quarterly membership fee of $25, and members also agree to purchase five tickets for that quarter’s member-sponsored event at $15 per ticket. Given the collective’s roster of some 20 members, that translates into a base audience of around 100-or-so concert attendees, “which is about halfway to a sellout audience in most of the venues that we use in town,” Monhollen said. And that audience is then expanded through further ticket sales to non-members. Since the collective is a nonprofit group, the idea is to break even financially on each event. The collective is modeled on the successful “Friend of Bob” music co-op in Lafayette, Indiana (an area that is home to Purdue University), for some 19 years.
At the time they join, members don’t necessarily know the identity of artists who will be featured at the next quarterly event sponsored by the collective. Currently, the collective is booking for the fall and winter concert slots later this year. (It’s somewhat similar to a group like Sacramento’s B Street Theater, which sells subscriptions, but doesn’t identify all of the plays that will be presented during the yearlong season at the outset.)
“We focus a lot of energy on each of the four shows we organize annually,” Monhollen said. “And we go the extra mile for hospitality… we give the musicians the all-star treatment. Most of the bands we present are playing smaller clubs and community centers, not big venues” — so the personal touch is important.
The Davis Live Music Collective also networks with larger presenters like the Mondavi Center — members of the collective sometimes get perks like pre-sale opportunities for Mondavi-sponsored events. Other perks involve the chance to get T-shirts and posters related to collective-sponsored events.
Prospective members can find membership information as well as learn about upcoming concerts by visiting the collective’s website, www.davislivemusic.com.
Monhollen said, “So far we have exceeded our own expectations, supporting more than a dozen shows big and small as we finish our third year. As an organization, the Davis Live Music Collective has proved to be a successful talent buyer, event planner and local promoter, as well as a small but respected community organization connecting people to excellent music.
“As individuals, Davis Live Music Collective members are having a whole lot of fun!”