The Yosemite Music Festival took place last weekend at the Mariposa Fairgrounds and showed off the broad array of musical talent that the foothills, and California, have to offer. From country and rock, to reggae and techno, the festival brought all types of music lovers together.
The roots of the festival trace back to Merced and a once-popular all-ages music venue, the Fatty Mocha.
Organizer and band booker Adam Finney, 32, of Mariposa and a teacher at the high school, use to make trips to Merced as a teenager to check out bands at the Fatty Mocha. “I used to go down there all of the time to see shows. It was really cool for me and my friends,” Finney said.
In 1999, Finney helped organize a benefit festival for the Fatty Mocha at the Mariposa Fairgrounds. “So that’s where I kind of cut my teeth,” said Finney of the start of his foray into booking festivals.
The next year, Finney tried to book an event at the ranch of local craftsmen Chuck Carter, 65, which didn’t work out. Instead, Finney held the event at Mariposa High School as part of his senior project.
Then in 2002, while Finney was in college, he hosted a small party at Carter’s ranch. Carter built the stage and took care of the grounds, while Finney booked the bands. That small party grew to 700 people and 15 bands last year, the last time the festival was held at the ranch.
With fire and the growth of the event being concerns, the festival was moved to the fairgrounds. While some festival veterans were disappointed in the venue change, Carter felt good about the move. “Talking with people who were a little bit apprehensive about having it at the fairgrounds, I think we’ve convinced them that this is a great venue,” said Carter.
Beyond the venue choice, Finney said he’s trying to bring back the live music culture that existed when more all-ages concert clubs existed. “One thing we’re keenly interested in is how to develop that culture of appreciating live music.”