School of Rock? In Rancho San Diego, they have a College of Rock.
Homegrown live music from seven bands is coming to Cuyamaca College with the return of the Coyote Music Festival from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 26.
Now in its sixth year, the free outdoor festival named for the school’s mascot has retained its eclectic vibe, with a host of young talent playing everything from coffeehouse acoustic pop to Tejano rock.
The mostly young crew of volunteers is a reminder that the event is actually a class assignment for students enrolled in Music Industry Studies, a transfer degree program unique locally to Cuyamaca College that focuses on the practical aspects of developing careers in the music industry.
A combination of classes in music, technology and business helps students develop as musicians, learn to operate and use the college’s recording studios, work with bands to create demos and other promotional materials, and to plan and produce concerts and festivals with multiple stages.
The Coyote Music Festival is the culmination of a semester-long project that teaches students all the production aspects, including planning, auditions, promotions, staging and sound engineering. The class called the Music Industry Seminar is a course so rich in content that students are able to take it up to four times, each year learning a new aspect of putting on an event of the music festival’s scale.
While handling every meticulous detail demystifies the process, it also is an eye-opener for students who learn firsthand the amount of work behind putting on a concert, said Taylor Smith, head of the college’s performing arts program.
Smith teaches the seminar course, along with Annie Zuckerman, a Business Office Technology instructor at Cuyamaca who teaches the marketing and promotions aspect of the event.
The up-and-coming local talent will be showcasing all original music on two stages on Cuyamaca’s grand lawn. With the many trees planted over the years by students and instructors every Arbor Day, plenty of shade is available. Picnic blankets, lawn chairs and coolers for the family-friendly event are welcome.
New this year is a vocalist and songwriter on piano: Nick Valentini, a North County product who’s currently attending UCLA and plays solo under the name, NatiVe.
Trained from the age of 6 in classical piano, Valentini migrated as a sophomore in high school to jazz and pop music and has played solo in UCLA’s famed Spring Sing, an annual competition dating back to the 1940’s, and with the Los Angeles band Street Hearts. Last fall the band performed at the Roxy in West Hollywood.
Three of the acts are making return appearances: the acoustical upbeat sounds of 18-year-old singer/songwriter Raelee Nikole; the electronica music of Digital Lizards of Doom; and the Boondock Brothers, a Hendrix/Zeppelin-influenced trio that has performed at notable San Diego venues, including House of Blues, and whose tunes have been played on local rock radio.
Also playing at the Coyote Music Festival are the Tejano band Flower Animals; Mockingbird, whose members include the husband and wife duo of Tara and Diego Alvarado on vocals; and the blues/rock band Rabbit Fever.
Early in the semester, each band selected to be showcased is assigned a student liaison who serves as the primary contact for the class, coordinating such details as figuring out equipment needs and helping with publicity and promotion.
“I think all the students were as helpful as they could be,” Nikole said, adding that she enjoyed the experience so much she decided to audition again this spring.
“At the end of the day, it is a class and everyone is learning. The outdoor festival is awesome and there are a lot of things to do – face-painting, food, places to sit down on chairs or blankets. So many music genres held the audience’s interest as well. There was something there for everyone.”
Along with the music, vendors selling crafts and a food truck, “Gameday Eats,” will be a part of the festival.
Here is the schedule for the bands:
- Noon–12:30: Flower Animals
- 12:35–1: Nick Valentini
- 1:05–1:35: Rabbit Fever
- 1:40–2:05: Raelee Nikole
- 2:10–2:40: DLOD
- 2:45–3:10: Mockingbird
- 3:15–3:45: Boondock Brothers
— From a GCCCD news release