Joshua Tehee

Tastemakers Music and Arts Festival has greater purpose worth supporting

To be clear, there is an ulterior motive behind Tastemakers Music and Art Festival.

On the surface, the annual festival – Saturday, Oct. 17, at Visalia’s Rawhide Ballpark at Recreation Park – is an ultra-hip celebration of the Valley’s food, music and art culture. Seven bands will perform and gourmet quesadillas, pizza and craft beer will be served. A half-pipe will be set up for a skate demo.

But the festival’s bigger purpose is to fund Sound N Vision Foundation’s free youth art classes. It’s why the event’s ticketing is being done through the crowdfunding site Indie Go Go, hoping you’ll feel generous and kick in more than the $5 ticket price.

Looking to get tickets in Fresno? Go to Tioga Sequoia’s beer garden at 745 Fulton Street.

“Every year, this event should pay for another year of classes,” says SNV founder Aaron Gomes, a guy whose work should be familiar to those who read my column. The organization has been running summer classes for the past five years, but just last week launched year-round classes in Visalia and Tulare. The festival could become a reliable funding source to keep those classes going.

Of course, this is just Year 2 and it takes at least three years to establish an event like this, Gomes says.

Already, organizers are learning what works, he says.

Last year, the festival had a diverse lineup headlined by Nick Waterhouse and his eight-piece rock/soul ensemble. It was a good show, but it did little to establish a sense of identity for the festival.

This year’s lineup skews heavily toward rock and relies mostly on local heavy hitters. That includes the ever popular duo Strange Vine, Visalia’s Gospel Whiskey Runners and Slow Season, plus Dirty Limbs, Light Thieves and Evelyn. Only after organizers had the local talent secured did they look for a headliner with a shared sound.

They found it in the Los Angeles-based psych-rock quartet Wand.

The festival also features an all-star lineup of local food options from some of Visalia’s favorite spots, including the gastropub Pita Kabob, The Planing Mill Artisan Pizzeria and Quesadilla Gorilla. Fresno’s Tioga Sequoia brewing company has its craft beer on tap.

Each participant was specifically chosen for what it represents in the community, Gomes says: “It’s a way to bring together all the different tastemakers in the Central Valley.”

What he means are those people who are really good at their craft and passionate about advancing the area’s culture.

“They are all allies,” Gomes says.

In year one, it’s an experiment. It takes three years to figure out.

Aaron Gomes, SNV Foundation

Tastemakers is not the only music festival this weekend.

Summer Sweat Vol. 3

While summer is officially over if you follow the calendar, downtown is heating up for the third installment of downtown Fresno’s Summer Sweat block party. The mega outdoor concert on the Fulton Mall features more than 30 local, regional and touring bands from across genres. Be sure to see: Zee Will, Beastmaker, B. Wash, Raw Fabrics and M! Details: Noon to 1 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, Fulton Mall in Fresno. Free. All ages.

Fresno Fest

The overlooked and underground Chinatown Youth Center has been the hub for Fresno’s punk and hardcore scene. It’s been 10 years since the venue hosted its first Fresno Fest. It celebrates with a day-long, all-ages concert with more than a dozen local bands, including The Velisha, Glamour Tronic, Sci-Fi Caper and headliner Pinky Swear, which is reuniting for the show. Proceeds from the event go to the neighborhood’s Special Projects fund. The goal is to raise enough to repaint and reinstall 10-plus benches and trash cans in the Chinatown area. Details: 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, at Bing Kong Association Hall, 921 China Alley. $5. All ages. 559-201-8696,

Spanspek Music and Art Festival

Also celebrating a 10-year anniversary is the Spanspek Festival in Orosi. The festival will showcase independent local music on three stages, along with live collaborative art and installations. Spanspek has become known for showcasing up-and-coming talent and this year’s lineup continues the tradition. It includes roots-rock trio Lance Canales & the Flood (whose album “The Blessing & the Curse” is making inroads on European music chart); Sanger rapper Kooleidoscope (recently featured on NPR’s AltLatino podcast) performing with a live band made up of members of the Dinuba hip-hop collective Roach Collection; and a DJ performance from Valley DJ/producer Jukebawks (he has worked with local rappers Fashawn, Zee Will and Gentle Jamie). Details: 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, Orosi Memorial Hall, 41645 Road 128, Orosi. $5 All ages.

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee

Tastemakers Festival