Musicians gather for Victoria music festival
June 23, 2013 at 1:23 a.m.
Updated June 24, 2013 at 1:24 a.m.
When he was in high school, he didn't like most of the songs he heard on the radio.
"You hear everything on the radio and just hate it - it is all commercialized ... and you want to do something about that," said Edwin Kuykendall.
So he learned how to make music, playing bass, guitar, keyboard, piano and even a little violin.
Kuykendall began by writing his own music and then creating his own band.
And Sunday, more than 10 years, a college degree and multiple bands later, Kuykendall, 27, threw Victoria's first "Rad Fest" - a music festival featuring music genres from rock to folk. The event also hosted a couple poets.
Kuykendall got the idea for Rad Fest, he said, when the Victoria Parks and Recreation Department opened the Ethel Lee Tracy Park Amphitheater in March.
Though it cost about $250,000 to build, Kuykendall said the city only charged him $100 to rent the amphitheater Sunday.
"This is a really good thing for Victoria. Victoria hasn't ever really set up a place specifically for music. In the past, they have thrown shows at like the Lions Club pavilion and at Riverside Park, but it has never been a designated place. This is a structure built to blast music, so we are going to use it. They built it, and we are going to come," Kuykendall said.
And come the artists did, with 12 acts from Victoria, Austin, Shiner and Corpus Christi performing in the park from 2 to 8 p.m.
Rajolei "Raj" Pickens, a Victoria rock and blues artist, brought his entire family to the event Sunday.
He sat on the grassy hill with his wife, Kim Pickens, listening to the performers as their boys, ages 2-11, played outside.
"I watched them put this theater together, so I was really excited. It is great to see it being utilized on a beautiful day like today," Raj Pickens said a few hours before he was to perform. "It is real nice to see the community of musicians come together.
Friends and families of the bands spread out on blankets and folding chairs on the gently sloped hill, bringing ice chests and setting up tents to fight against the heat of the day.
Jan and Bryce Scott, of Victoria, came to support their son, Chris Scott, in the band Toxic Fuse.
Sunday's performance was the first time they were able to see their son's band play, because Toxic Fuse often plays out of town or at night.
"We are just excited for Victoria to have this amphitheater and for it to get used. It is a great family venue," Jan Scott said.
Others came just for the music, like Roelyn and Shyan Cunningham from Edna, who read about the event in the Advocate. The couple likes classic rock especially but made the drive to Victoria to listen to all the bands.
For Kuykendall, the free event was a way to jam Sunday afternoon.
"It is just a big get-together. Everyone is content with getting loud with a whole bunch of people in the park. My goal is for everyone to have a good time and not get too sunburned," Kuykendall said.