WFU students will be graded for staging music festival

WFU students will be graded  for staging music festival
December 18
00:00 2014
(pictured above: students (top row, from left) Sam Murphy, Kent Garrett, KC Barrett, James Bailey, Will Dietsche, Meredith Anderson, Tyler St. John, Charles Reuger (bottom row) Olivia Acuna, Caroline Gallalee, Katie VanderWeide, Renee Ye, Christina Baddar, Maddy Rupert, Brittany Corso, Tessa Carro, Charlotte Titcomb, Thomas Covington and Patrick Molina (on knee).)

DSC_0016Wake Forest University students were at Small Batch, a downtown micro-brewery and bar that opened a year ago, on the night of Friday, Dec. 5. But it wasn’t for the usual end of week carousing; they held a kick off for DashPop, a music festival they will bring to downtown Winston-Salem next year.

DashPop – whose name is derived from the famous dash that united Winston with Salem – is the creation of a new yearlong entrepreneurship class at WFU that challenges students to put on an actual music festival. Professor Len Neighbors said the festival, slated for March 27-29, will feature a variety of artists of various genres. Folk/country and R&B/Hip-Hop will be most emphasized. The acts will perform at outdoor stages and inside downtown clubs. The festival will be free, though there will be a small fee for after-hours events.



“We want the festival to look like Winston, so we’re talking about a multi-genre festival that attracts a variety of different people to come and use downtown,” Neighbors said. “We picked ‘Pop’ because it’s popular music, but depending on who you are, what’s popular is very different. We’re hoping it’ll be a weekend where everyone in the city can come and use downtown and enjoy it the way folks who live and work down here already do.”

Singer Molly Grace performs.

Singer Molly Grace performs.

But before students put on a festival, which will feature 40-50 local and national acts, Neighbors wanted to give them a chance to experience a smaller scale music event; hence the Dec. 5 launch party, which featured music by Molly Grace and 1970s Filmstock. Students helped to set up the performance area and assisted with sound checks.

Neighbors said the class he teaches is “essentially conducting a very large experiment” to see what students can learn while putting on a music festival. There are 32 undergraduates and one grad student in the class. Neighbors is assisted by two graduate assistants. The class is divided into teams, each with a specialized task, such as finding sponsors, booking bands and creating a mobile app. A launch party team put together the Small Batch gathering. Each team is graded on its ability to meet its objective.

The public relations/marketing team is graded on its ability to get media coverage for the event. Team leader Katie VanderWeide said the launch party was “better than any other final.”

“We’re always busy, and it’s interesting material,” she said of the class. “I’ve had a good experience thus far, and I’m even more excited for next semester to see it all come together.”

Ashleigh Rainko, one of the class’ graduate assistants, has worked in the advertising and public relations industry for five years. She said she’s been impressed with the students.

“We’ve absolutely been pleasantly surprised by the level of talent from students,” she said. “These are 20-21-year-old students doing stuff I did at an agency when I was there for two years.”

DSC_0027Funds from sponsors will pay performers and cover other expenses. Neighbors said he’d like to build relationships with sponsors to make DashPop an annual event.

For more informationabout DashPop, visit

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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