Artists of all styles and sounds will invade San Luis Obispo as part of KCPR’s Fall Flood Festival this Saturday, Sept. 25. The festival is a two-day event featuring more than 20 artists, including Zion I, Dengue Fever, Quinn DeVeaux & the Blue Beat Revue, Bottle and Little Wings, to raise money and awareness for KCPR.
Shows at Cuesta Park, Kreuzberg, CA and the San Luis Obispo Art Museum will last from Saturday afternoon to nightfall. Sunday, there will be shows at Kreuzberg, CA and Linnaea’s Café from noon to 10 p.m. The big show, featuring more renowned artists, will be at SLO Brewing Co. that night.
Dengue Fever’s drummer and producer Paul Smith said he chose to participate in the festival because of the atmosphere.
“There is a certain energy in the air because of the amount of people,” he said. “You’re also dealing with the climate which can be exciting or difficult, depending on the fans’ attitudes.”
Carver Cordes, an indie buyer for Rasputin in Oakland, Calif. and a Cal Poly alumnus, began organizing the festival this past summer, mostly by himself, and putting a lot of his own money into it.
“I’m going out on a limb here, leveraging money if it doesn’t work out,” Cordes said. “But I want to do this every year.”
The festival will feature local bands along with nationally touring artists with local roots. Kyle Field of the Little Wings will play three sets throughout the weekend.
Neal Losey, air staff instructor at KCPR and music director at Public Radio KCBX, assisted Cordes with the festival. Losey has known Cordes since he was a student at Cal Poly, when they worked together at BooBoo Records.
“I’ve just helped here and there where I could,” Losey said. “I hesitate to take any credit for helping. Carver is doing all the heavy lifting. It is hard to do from a distance and I’m amazed he is pulling it off.”
While the air staff instructor is usually a student, Losey felt his experience in radio — he has worked at commercial and non-commercial stations for more than 20 years — might help the new DJs. He volunteered for the position last year and decided to do it again this year.
“KCPR has taken pride in playing bands that people don’t know yet,” Losey said. “That will likely happen with some of the bands at the festival.”
Losey said he hopes this festival can happen again.
The festival was named after a Little Wings song, “Fall Flood,” from their fourth album “Little Green Leaves.” After more bands signed on, Cordes said he felt “flood” was appropriate.
For Cordes, getting the Little Wings to play meant connecting 20 years of underground rock music.
He also wanted the festival to take place in the fall, so all the incoming freshmen could learn about KCPR straight from the get-go.
“I don’t want the students to be seniors before they realize, ‘Hey, we have our own station here,’” he said.
Quinn DeVeaux & the Blue Beat Review, one of the many bands featured at the festival, is no stranger to the San Luis Obispo area.
“I have played with Port Obrien and Vetiver at SLO Brew and had a great time,” DeVeaux said. “Everyone danced and had a good time. We went to a house party afterward with a few floors of drinks and music going on.”
The band describes their style as a combination of gospel, rock and New Orleans Blues.
“It’s classic rhythms for the modern age,” DeVeaux said. “We just mix it all together and stretch into a pizza pie for everyone to eat and to leave your troubles behind.”
DeVeaux said he chose this festival because of its promoter, Cordes.
DeVeaux said he was a “good guy to gather ’round.”
Inspired by events like Coachella and South by Southwest (SXSW), Cordes wanted a festival with varying artists, where different sounds and styles could be heard.
“I want it to be as eclectic as KCPR’s programming,” Cordes said.
A former DJ at KCPR, Cordes has a deep connection to SLO and the station. Growing up in Oceano, Calif. during the mid-90s, he didn’t get KCPR’s signal at all. It wasn’t until one weekend, when his normal station went off the air, that he started channel surfing and stumbled upon it. The first KCPR event he attended was the Earthfest show at Chumash Auditorium in 1995, when he was a senior in high school. The following year, he became a student at Cal Poly and immediately applied to KCPR.
When he found out a reunion was in the works, he wanted to get involved, said Cordes.
“For me, the gold standard was the 1999 reunion where hundreds of DJs got together and partied like it was then.”
Cordes wanted to have another event like this, but because universities have been selling their campus licenses, he felt the stakes had been raised.
“I never want to see this happen to KCPR,” Cordes said. “Instead of waiting for something like this to happen, I propose we show the university that KCPR has strong community support and that we don’t want it go anywhere.”
All proceeds will go to KCPR. Tickets can be purchased at Boo Boo Records or online.