Funk in the Forest

IMG_1078Corvallis has already more than proved its Americana music bona fides a thousand times over. We have more folk bands per capita than almost any city in the country, and that’s based on some hard research. But what about the oft-neglected funk genre? When is it going to get some love in the valley? Turns out it has, twice a year since the fall of 2014. You just weren’t paying close enough attention.

In steps Justin Schepige, bassist/percussionist/keyboard player for the huge funk collective known as DTW. With some 10 odd band members and a constantly fluctuating lineup, they’re one of Corvallis’ up-and-coming acts. In late 2014, Schepige and company decided to put on a mini-festival at Avery Park and just see what happened.

“We were trying to play more shows, some of us were struggling with being under 21 at the bars, we tried to do house parties,” said Schepige of the dark times. Back then DTW only had four members and was not the well-oiled funk machine it is now. “That first one, there was something magical about that night, for whatever reason. It was a really great show, everyone there had a great time,” he continued about that first fateful night. “We thought, ‘Hey, maybe we should do this again.’”

They did—again and again—and it’s gotten bigger every time.

For this fourth installment, the show will be headlined by DTW and local heavyweights Space Neighbors. Alcohol is allowed, but on a BYO basis, and no glass containers are allowed. The entry fee is a bargain-basement $5 and there will be DJs, games, and other fun stuff on hand. It’s an all-ages event and Natalia & Cristoforo’s will be providing sandwiches for purchase if you get peckish.

Schepige, a 24-year-old grad student at OSU who also got his undergraduate degree here in 2013, is bullish on the future of the event.

“This event has been underground for so long, because we never did any advertising,” he said. But that changed this year, and now they have high hopes for the future. “It could grow into a larger festival. I’m not saying it’s going to be the next da Vinci Days, but Corvallis hasn’t had a real music festival since Burnt Woodstock.”

Funk in the Forest kicks off on Saturday, May 14 at 5 p.m. in the Thomson Shelter at Avery Park. Entry is $5; all ages are welcome.

By Sidney Reilly