Visalia's Music Festival at Rawhide Stadium
By Jordan Venema
Photos: Juan Verduzco
If you missed last year’s Tastemakers Festival, mark your calendars: On October 17, the Visalia musical festival returns to Rawhide Stadium, but with a bit of a makeover and more of a mission. So if you’re big on firsts, consider this year’s festival a second opportunity for the first go-round: Tastemakers isn’t just changing; it’s improving.
Festival coordinator Aaron Gomes says last year was an opportunity to work out the kinks. While last year’s festival also featured music and food, it relied heavily upon vendors, such as local artists and craftsmen. For 2015, Gomes and the event committee decided to simplify things. Says Gomes, “I didn’t really have an identity for the festival last year, and therefore people didn’t really know what they were going to get.” But this year, he says, “We just really honed it all in.”
As founder and director of musical nonprofit Sound N Vision, you could assume Gomes knows a thing or two about music. So when he says Tastemakers “decided to whittle it down to what we do best,” there’s little room to doubt what he was talking about: “Music, man, and good food.”
Doing things right, Gomes reached out to other likeminded individuals – community tastemakers, if you will – and shrunk the planning committee to a handful. “The group is half the size of last year,” says Gomes, and includes Sound N Vision Board Member Marc Dwelle, Pita Kabob’s Chafic Dada, Dana Galante, and representatives from Tioga Sequoia and 4Creeks Creative.
“It’s a rock show now,” says Gomes, “with good craft beers and good food” – with the likes of Quesadilla Gorilla, Pita Kabob, Planing Mill and Tioga Sequoia. And with everything coming right out of the valley, Tastemakers is “really celebrating the creative types in the community.”
As such, Tastemakers’ lineup will feature some familiar names: Strange Vine, Slow Season, Gospel Whiskey Runners, Dirty Limbs, Evelyn and Light Thieves. Headlining the event will be the Los Angeles band Wand, since “we didn’t want to decide on one local band to end it,” says Gomes.
Not only will the event feature a more concentrated lineup of rock ‘n’ roll, but at a fraction of last year’s price. Tickets start at $5 (compared to $25 previously), and offers full access to the event.
Ticket sales will fund nonprofit Sound N Vision’s latest venture, which may help extend its free music classes from summer to year-round.
“Finally, after years of dreaming about year-round music classes for free, I finally got everything organized to the level where this summer we’ve got a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club, and we’ll have a Fresno location, Visalia location and Tulare location this fall,” he says.
“So this music festival is supposed to pay for my music instructors,” he continues. “I buy the instruments – the guitars, the drums, that kind of stuff – and I pay my teachers by the hour, and I just factor all that out for the three sites, then fundraise all year to keep that going.”
Even though the festival will be more affordable, Gomes and company have come up with some creative ways to raise additional funds to support these music classes: By selling tickets through crowdfunding website, Indiegogo.
While tickets will start at $5, there will be other tiers of payment, explains Gomes. “Ten, 20, 50, 100 dollars, whatever… $5 gets you a ticket to the show, at $20 you get a six-pack of tickets, at $50 you get a hand-screened poster for the show (as well as six tickets).” Basically, the more you pay, the more you get, and the more music gets to kids who need it. Affordable tickets and a great lineup are the ingredients for a rocking concert, but with proceeds going to help out kids in the community: that’s a recipe for success.
Tastemaker Festival • www.tastemakerfestival.com
October 17, 6-11pm • Rawhide Baseball Stadium
300 N. Giddings, Visalia