How a Local Rock Band Started a Music Festival – Dodge City Daily Globe
Vincent Marshall Dodge City Globe
In 2018, Hugo Hernandez was part of local Dodge City rock band Guns on Mars. During this time, he was also part of three other bands including Aether which formed in 2017.
The band had formed when Hernandez, along with vocalist Orlando Galván who was also Guns on Mars’ bassist, decided to venture into making music from Deftones and Chevelle influences.
“We’ve been fine ever since,” Hernandez said.
Now Aether, along with drummer Alex Rodriguez and bassist Chris Clark, has set out to expand the local music scene in Dodge City by hosting a music festival.
The Gunsmoke Sessions music festival will take place on Saturday, May 5 at Silver Star Hall (800 W. Frontview St.). The festival will feature local and regional bands from all musical genres, including rock, metal, rap, acoustic and local food trucks.
Headlining the show will be Aether, the Daily Globe caught up with the band members via email to discuss their musical acumen and how the festival came about.
For Galván, music has surrounded him all his life. The son of a musician who played in several Mexican bands in southwestern Kansas, Galván learned guitar, bass, and vocals from his father.
“My biggest influence as a songwriter and singer is Deftones, but I also draw a lot of influence from almost every style of music,” Galván said. “My singing style is definitely very R&B influenced and you can hear a lot of that in Aether’s music.”
Like Galván, Hernandez was also influenced by music throughout his life. When he discovered Coheed and Cambria, the light bulb went out.
“I want to do this,” Hernandez said of his influence. “I learned the guitar when I was in college and I’ve been playing it for about 16 years now. I’m a big fan of modern hard rock music and it often comes through in my compositions. I like the idea to perform in front of people and exchange that great energy that you get from rock shows.
Drummer Rodriguez has always been a fan of rock and metal, but became a musician later in life, taking inspiration from legendary band Black Sabbath.
“I really like that slow, low, groovy beat, but I really like just about anything that sounds good to my ears,” Rodriguez said.
In addition to drums, Rodriguez also plays guitar for Aether, “but Aether was the first band I ever played drums for.”
Clark became a “metalhead” growing up, inspired by bands such as Slipknot, Trivium, Megadeth and many more.
“I learned bass shortly after high school and was really inspired by a lot of local musicians in our area,” Clark said.
The four musicians continue to work in bands outside of Aether.
“When your music scene is small, you kind of all share musicians,” Hernandez said with a laugh.
Rodriguez and Clark also play in the band Trial by Fire and Clark also plays in a band Ionos that Hernandez had previously been involved with.
Then came the idea of a music festival.
“I had the idea for a one-day music festival with various genres that we don’t see often in our area for a few years now,” Hernandez said. “We attempted in late 2019 to start and do the first annual Gunsmoke sessions in 2020, but of course COVID-19 ruined everything. We almost took that as a sign of “maybe it’s a bad idea”. Then Victor Mejia, who helps with booking at Silver Star Hall (former Knights of Columbus), approached me about wanting to do something huge in his hall. The guys and I took it as an opportunity to really make it happen this time.
Seeing the vision through, Hernandez began the search by finding acts and endorsements that carried the same determination.
Together with Mejia, the members of Aether worked to organize the festival and finance the event.
“It’s kind of a tedious task, but I have a feeling it’s going to be very rewarding,” Hernandez said. “We hope this can spark the next big annual event in southwest Kansas, which people of all ages and different cultures can come together to enjoy. A day where people can let loose to some of the most talented local bands Kansas and surrounding states have to offer.
In addition to music and food, the festival will also feature cornhole and Giant Jenga games, face painting for kids, henna tattoos and more.
The musical program will be:
mean to you
Ghost Town Losts
motel at sunset
DJ Benji Beatz
The festival will start at 4 p.m. and the doors will open at 3 p.m.
Tickets will be $20 at the door for all ages, with 12 and under accompanied by an adult getting free admission.
Alcohol will be sold to people with valid ID and 21 years of age or older.
Advanced tickets can be purchased for $15 at Red Beard Coffee, Sunnyside Smoke Shope and Spee-D Stop gas station in Dodge City and Hidden Trail Brewing in Garden City.
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