Davis Music Fest to rock out Downtown

On June 22 and 23, a South by Southwest (SXSW) style experience will come to Davis for its third iteration.

The Davis Music Fest will feature approximately 40 artists playing at venues all over town, including Central Park, Delta of Venus and Sophia’s Thai Kitchen.

Danny Tomasello, the director of the Davis Music Fest as well as the nonprofit Music Only Makes Sense, used the music festival SXSW as a model for his festival.

“We’ll use any venue that has the manpower to run the show and coordinate volunteers. We put the bands in that space and get volunteers for three hour shifts. As long as we have the venue doing the work, we’ll work with them,” Tomasello said in a phone interview.

The headlining artist, bluesy rock musician JD McPherson, will perform at the Mondavi Center, marking the first time the Mondavi Center partakes in the Davis Music Fest.

According to Tomasello, the Mondavi Center reached out to the festival’s organizers.

“The Mondavi Center was interested in being involved in the festival and they suggested JD McPherson, since they thought he would be a good fit for the festival,” Tomasello said.

McPherson expressed excitement about playing at the festival.

“We have played a few festivals and they’re always a good time,” McPherson said in a phone interview. “It’s interesting to see folks who haven’t seen us before. I also love that part of the country, so we’re real excited to play there. It’s a beautiful place.”

The way the lineup came to be was through a booking committee, musicians contacting the festival, as well as fan input. The general criteria, according to Tomasello, was that the bands “could sell tickets on their own, even for a few bucks.”

The festival organizers wanted to select local artists as well as musicians that Davis music fans wouldn’t see normally.

Alicia Murphy, a fourth-year hydrology major, is one of the festival’s performers. She will play at Sophia’s Thai Kitchen at 6 p.m. on Saturday, and she views this show as the beginning of a four month tour.

“I’ve always wanted to play at Sophia’s,” Murphy said. “Playing there is a big deal for me because it’s a hot spot in town. It’s got a hot vibe, nice lights and nice drinks. I’m pretty stoked.”

While marketing the festival and reaching out to the public, Tomasello experienced support from the community.

“People know about us. I’ve gone to the Davis Farmer’s Market to promote the festival and people have come up to me and told me that they had a blast before. People have bought me beers and have high-fived me in the street,” Tomasello said.

Murphy hopes that people come out to the festival.

“It’s a good opportunity to bar hop, get a taste of the local music scene and to just enjoy the town for what it is.”

JOHN KESLER can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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