Taking his middle name and making an obvious play on the mother of all music festivals, Davis thought Deanstock would be a funny name for the first event, which was simply a well-organized party for him and his friends. "The name wasn't really thought out that well," laughs Davis. "I didn't realize it would grow into what it has."
And grown it has. That first year consisted of only two local bands whose members were simply friends of Davis. This year, Deanstock has crossed over into a much larger affair. For the first time Deanstock has big-name sponsors, such as Digital Sound Systems and Chipotle Mexican Grill; is listed as a KC 150 event; and is a charity event for the American Cancer Society. Six local bands will take the stage following The Toasters, a national act that began playing when Davis had barely taken a year's worth of breaths in 1980. The Toasters have become known as the ska pioneers of America, and the dance beats, horn bursts, and high octane reggae sounds still keep the band playing over 200 shows a year. Despite the band's longevity, Davis says, young people still relate to it.
So what is it that makes Deanstock different from your average music festival? Maybe not a lot, but if you ask Davis, he sees it as a truly revolutionary event. Davis grew up in Leawood, known to be the home of Chiefs and Royals players and other well-to-dos.
"I feel really lucky for living here, but I know there's a lot of stereotypes that go along with it, and a lot of them are true for a lot of people. The kids here are definitely sheltered. Leawood is considered a bubble because we have this feeling of security with money in our parents. Stereotypically we aren't exposed to what is considered 'the real world.'" That's why Davis set a personal goal to burst that posh bubble and provide some diversity. "We only get to hear the Top 40 music stations and don't get a chance to pay attention to what else is out there."
Citywide, not just in Leawood, not many venues provide something for kids to do. Aside from El Torreon (31st & Gillham) and Gee (301 E. Santa Fe), no all-ages, nonalcoholic music scenes exist. That's why Davis sees Deanstock as truly unique. "Sure it only happens once a year, but it is produced completely by young people. The Corporate Woods Jazz Festival, which is really the only festival in the south of Kansas City, isn't really geared for younger audiences," Davis says.
Besides providing a different musical outlook for kids in the southern part of Kansas City, Davis wanted to provide another aspect. "The most popular thing to do for kids, by default, is just go buy a case of beer and have a party -- that's, like, the thing to do. We wanted to have a celebration that wasn't a typical party, a different kind of entertainment that was alcohol-free." Davis' idealism, however, was in for some hard hits as he found that the powers that be aren't always as helpful with a good cause as one might think.
In a world where it's easy to get an alcoholic beverage company to sponsor an event, Davis found out that the same isn't true for nonalcoholic sponsors. "We really hoped to get a soft-drink company. I started planning in September '99, and this certain soft drink company, I don't want to say who, kept giving me the runaround but led me to believe that they would sponsor us, but then said no." After months of delays, it was too late to work on obtaining another soft-drink sponsor. "That whole time we could have been focusing our energies on, say, Pepsi. I found out the way things work: If you know people, then you can get something. If not ..." Davis says, trailing off.
Like last year, Deanstock will take place on the grounds of Corporate Woods, although with Davis in college and his friends beginning to go their own ways, Deanstock may see its last production this year. It might be disappointing to see Deanstock go, but Davis has at least accomplished one thing: defying a stereotype. "I think a lot of people consider our age group as unproductive, but there are some of us who strive to do things that are good and different and wholesome."
Deanstock will take place Friday, June 16, from 5:30 to 11 p.m. at the Corporate Woods North Park (City Park) at 9225 Indian Creek Parkway, Overland Park. For more information, call 913-488-9910.The Toasters