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Monday, October 3, 2022

The Davis Independent Music Initiative offers $10,000 grant to local musicians

Open through April 1, the grant seeks to support Davis’ music scene

By JACOB ANDERSON — arts@theaggie.org

For two years, the Davis Independent Music Initiative has been working to cultivate the local music scene. In 2019, Joel Daniel started DIMI after receiving a $5,000 grant from the city government. In 2022, the organization will offer yet another $10,000 to a local artist.

Applications are open now, and all interested local musicians would be well-advised to apply — especially, according to a DIMI press release, those who identify as “Black, Indigenous, [or] People of Color (BIPOC)” or who otherwise promote social equity.

Last year’s winner, Kevin Welch — frontman of the Brazilian space funk band Boca Do Rio — spoke to The Aggie about his band and his experience receiving the DIMI grant.

“I’ve been the band leader for about 20 years. Producer, songwriter, lead singer and guitarist,” Welch said. 

At night, Welch and his rotating group of accomplices light up the Davis area with what he describes as music “in the space between traditional Brazilian beats and modern funky jazz.” While membership can be sometimes eclectic, the band has been doing shows for two decades now. By day, however, Welch is a scientist with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Welch remembers the inception of his musical style as a succession of different influences, beginning with the Grateful Dead but being truly marked by the music he encountered on a trip to Brazil. “I really just got into psychedelic samba, which I don’t think anyone else does,” Welch said. 

He named the band’s most vital influences as both Brazilian bands like Caetano Veloso and Martinho da Vila, and jazz guitar legends like Django Reinhardt and Wes Montgomery. Even hip-hop is in the fray, according to Welch.

“For years I’ve been in Davis playing with this band, doing the World Music Fest, Davis Music Fest. I’ve always kind of been a community-minded musician. That’s what I like to experience. Samba is like American blues: It comes out of that same culture of community. So I heard about Davis [Independent] Music Initiative, and it does sound like a really great idea. I was like, ‘Wow, this is really cool.’” 

After receiving the grant, Boca Do Rio got to work laying down some of their tracks in a nearby studio shared with some other local bands — something they hadn’t always had the time and resources to do in the way they wanted. 

“I was really impressed, first of all, that they were able to put that kind of funding together because that’s really what you need,” Welch said. “I’ve been in grad school for years, and you can apply for these grants — they want everything, and then they’re like $1,200 […] We’ve already started work on our third album. We’ve had two albums already over the years, and for our third album we’ve got some great basic tracks already. This money is really gonna allow us to finish up this thing, which I would think is going to be our best.”

The grant, Daniel said, “is crucial in keeping music alive in Davis by giving local musicians an incentive to stay, write, produce, and perform their music for and in the community.” 

By helping groups like Boca Do Rio, the DIMI hopes to make the scene livelier than ever. Awarding this year’s recipient—whoever it is—will be a vital step toward that goal.

Applications for the grant are already open, and they’ll be staying open until April 1.

Written by: Jacob Anderson — arts@theaggie.org

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