A little over a year ago we got an email from a guy named Luke to play at a festival called Whale Rock Music & Arts Festival. We weren’t very familiar with the festival as it was the first year under its new name (formerly Beaverstock,) we hadn’t met Luke before, but we pretty quickly agreed to play the festival. Soon after, Luke offered to shoot some live performance videos for us, so he and his three person video crew drove up to Ben Lomond from Paso Robles on a weekday and shot some videos on our parent’s back deck, and the videos turned out great. Check them out. (You And Me, Bad Luck Thing Called Love) A few months later we spent three days at Castoro Cellars in Templeton during Whale Rock and had a blast. We played two sets at the festival, we were treated really well by everyone, and we met a bunch of good people.
In the last year we’ve made several stops back at Castoro Cellars including playing a couple of shows at their tasting room, and each time we come we’re treated like family. We even shot a few more videos. (Whiskey Song, Rebels (Tom Petty) We’re really excited to be returning to Whale Rock this year (September 15 & 16) and we’d love to let more people know about the fine work they’re doing down in Templeton at Castoro Cellars during these two days at Whale Rock. We had the pleasure of talking with that guy I was telling you about, Luke Udsen just days before the sixth Whale Rock Music Festival. Here’s our conversation.
Kellen Coffis: Thanks for joining us, Luke, how’s it going?
Luke Udsen: It’s going great, man! Getting everything ready for the fun to come.
KC: What’s your involvement with this festival, Luke? Should we call you the CEO? General Manager? Producer? Editor-in-chief? What is it you say you do there at the Whale Rock headquarters.
LU: I definitely wear a lot of hats, but primarily I would say I’m the promoter. I handle all of the booking for Whale Rock and most of the marketing, promoting, etc. It’s definitely a group effort but that’s sort of my realm in a nutshell.
KC: Interesting. So help me out here. I’m familiar with many different genres of music and rock like hard rock, alternative rock, folk rock, even yacht rock, but I’ve never heard of whale rock. Can you tell me what whale rock is and do all of these bands at the festival only play whale rock? I’m a big yacht rock fan. I’d imagine yacht rock and whale rock go together well.
LU: Oh for sure, that’s written into every band’s contract. Whale sounds, long, short, subtle, must be incorporated in some way throughout the set. In all seriousness, Whale Rock is the name of the vineyard the festival takes place in and the name comes from the petrified whale bones we find all throughout the vineyard.
KC: Okay. That makes sense. So the festival takes place on a winery. Castoro Cellars, right? Will you be serving some of this wine at the festival? Or do you just keep it for yourself?
LU: Oh, we serve plenty of wine at the festival, but if you want the really good stuff, you gotta find me and I’ll pour it from my bota bag.
KC:Great. I love wine from a bag. That’s the best stuff. So I know this is a music festival and that it’s on a winery, but what if I hate music and don’t drink wine? Got anything for me to do there?
LU:Oh yeah. We’ve got all kinds of stuff, for instance, craft beer, cider, kombucha (it’s all the rage these days), yoga, arts & crafts, silent disco, even a tea garden this year! If you’re a kid you’re in even more luck with free face painting, a musical petting zoo and natural fallen oak playground.
KC: Looks like you’ve done your homework. But what if I don’t like music, can’t, draw, don’t have kids, am allergic to fur, am more of a cross fitter than a yogi, and only drink coors light. Got anything for me now, wise guy?
LU: Absolutely. We’ve got an exit, unless you’re into BBQ, then we’ve got you covered.
KC: Well, I do love BBQ. Okay, I’m back in. Let’s talk music now. Looks like you’ve had a pretty wide range of bands come through the vineyard over the years. How’s the lineup looking this year?
LU: Yeah for sure we’ve had so many amazing artists over the years and this year is no different. There are touring bands coming from all over the country playing all kinds of music and most importantly they all play really good music. Good music that people can easily connect with. At least that’s the goal.
KC:That sounds great. I love good music. It’s my favorite. I’m also really into five piece bands rock bands. You know like, two guitars, bass, drums, keys, and maybe one’s with brothers. Got anything like that?
LU: Bummer, I didn’t book any of those this year. I did book this band called the Mountain Men. They shred
KC: Yeah, I think I know those guys.
LU :Yeah, their drummer, Sam is a real hard ass dude.
KC: Never mind. Must be a different band. So you’ve got some great national touring acts but can I give you a tip? There’s a ton of great bands in the San Luis Obispo area. You ever think to have any of them at Whale Rock?
LU: For sure, we’ve actually got a nice mix of those suckers: Miss Leo & Her Bluegrass Boys, Nicole Stromose, B & The Hive, Mannequins By Day, Samba Loca, Arthur Watership, and Jade Jackson.
KC: Good call. And again I think a five piece rock band from a beach town could really pull this whole festival together. Just a thought. This sounds like a great festival though and you’re starting to sell me on this, but I’m not quite sold. Is there anything else you can tell me to suede me into coming? I mean you seem like a nice guy and all but I don’t really know if I want to give you money to buy more of those hats you seem to wear so many of.
LU: Well, you my friend are in luck! Just by attending Whale Rock you are directly benefiting the Templeton High School music program. You buy a hat, a kid gets a trumpet or something along those lines…maybe a clarinet. Its totally worth it, even if you bought a ticket and decided to stay home and crossfit with your bros instead.
KC: Yeah, I’ve gotta get my pump on so we’ll see if I make it, but that’s good to know. I know there’s been a name change with the festival but by my count, 2018 makes this the sixth year of the festival. Is that correct?
LU: Yes sir, number six it is, kinda crazy for us. Seems like only yesterday she was born and finding her way. Now she’s all grown up.
KC: While we’re on the topic of being born yesterday and finding her way. I understand you’ve had some rather important changes to your life since Whale Rock number five.
LU: Indeed I have! My wife and I welcomed our daughter Ella into our lives in April, and she has been the boss ever since. She was actually at Whale Rock last year but was probably only the size of a kidney bean.
KC: Congratulations. Will Ella be making an appearance at the festival? Any bands she’s looking forward to seeing?
LU: Oh yeah, she’ll be there for sure. She’s super into all kinds of music but she definitely likes that band that sings “You And Me” and “Bad Luck.” I’m spacing on their name, but she loves their stuff.
KC: Sounds like a bright kid. I think we’ll get along really well. Alright, so this is what I’m hearing: There’s good live music, a variety of alcohols, dancing, exercising, animals, food, and were raising money for a high-school music program. Sounds like you’ve covered it all. Well done. Anything I’m missing? Any last messages you’d like to tell the people.
LU: There are two types of people. Those who Whale Rock and those who sit at home and watch everyone’s instagram stories….who do you want to be? I’ll take the whale any day.
KC: And remind me where and when this is happening, and if tickets are still available.
LU: It all goes down in the Whale Rock Vineyard at Castoro Cellars Winery September 15th & 16th and tickets are currently still available at www.whalerockmusicfestival.com
KC: Sounds like a good time. I think I’ll go. Why don’t you throw me on the guest list and I’ll see you there on September 15th.
LU: You got it!