FredStock: Fiesta’s Hidden Gem

Photos by: Joel Pena - Contributing Writer, SA Sentinel

April 26, 2019 - San Antonio College

By: Joel Pena - Contributing Writer, San Antonio Sentinel

Upon entering the grounds of the 10th Annual FredStock Music Festival at San Antonio College (SAC), no matter your age, you begin to believe in magic once again. Yes, there are the usual Fiesta suspects: art vendors, food booths, a roaring crowd and of course the live music, but there’s so much more that meets the eye…something unseen that has to be experienced to be truly understood.

With FredStock attendees enjoying the bands’ musical talents and the food vendors’ tasty delights, it is easy to ignore what happens behind the scenes of such an event. That often overlooked operation, however, is where the magic feeling of FredStock is born and where Fiesta dreams begin to take flight. 

FredStock t-shirt for sale. (Photo by:  Joel Pena  - Contributing Writer, SA Sentinel)

FredStock t-shirt for sale. (Photo by: Joel Pena - Contributing Writer, SA Sentinel)

Over the past ten years, FredStock has provided a unique opportunity for San Antonio College’s music business students to experience first-hand what it’s like to plan and host a live music festival. From booking bands and vendors to gathering analytics and promotions for the show, the students learned how to plan and organize a full-scale music-centric event.

Festival organizer Donnie Meals, who is also the coordinator of the Music Business Program, described the program’s inception. “FredStock started 10 years ago when I took over the music business program. The program was started by a guy by the name of Fred Weiss, and Fred passed away and I just thought it would be cool to step up our game and name it after him,” said Meals. “We didn’t have this before with him so I like getting the students involved in projects that are a lot bigger than they are used to.”

KSYM booth at FredStock. (Photo by:  Joel Pena  - Contributing Writer, SA Sentinel)

KSYM booth at FredStock. (Photo by: Joel Pena - Contributing Writer, SA Sentinel)

San Antonio College Student and Veteran, Munro Adkins, spoke very highly of the event and the music business program. “What I really love about FredStock is all the yellow shirts here are students and we’re pretty much running everything and it’s very hands-on,” stated Adkins. “I don’t think you can find any other program in San Antonio that will give you this much hands-on experience.”

While the music business students are mainly involved in planning and running the festival, students from other programs around the college also get involved every year. “It’s not just sound, it’s the whole aspect of putting on a music festival,” Meals elaborated. “We do it in cooperation with KSYM (SAC’s FM radio station), every year we add some sort of multi-media, we’ve been simulcast with KSYM and we’re also streaming it on the internet (with) both video and audio. So it even gets the broadcast classes involved.”

Broadcast students working at FredStock. (Photo by:  Joel Pena  - Contributing Writer, SA Sentinel)

Broadcast students working at FredStock. (Photo by: Joel Pena - Contributing Writer, SA Sentinel)

The program also helps pave the way for students to have a future in the music business. When asked about how it affects students who graduate from the program, Meals stated, “As far as alumni, we have a super high employment rate. I’ve got guys that have gone on to work with production companies or studios or a lot of them that step out on their own.”  

An alumni of the program, Kris Perez, spoke with pride about the training that he and his classmates received while at SAC. “ I came here and I did FredStock in 2014. This was a smaller setup that what we have now today, but after that while I was in school I got trained in audio engineering. Before graduation I had to do an internship and I interned with a sound company and once I graduated, the sound company hired me...so I had a job after,” said Perez. “It was a lot of hands-on. Lecture on Monday, Wednesday apply it. As you can see right here, all the students working for it and have all the experience.”

Alumni Kris Perez works with students operating the audio boards at FredStock. (Photo by:  Joel Pena  - Contributing Writer, SA Sentinel)

Alumni Kris Perez works with students operating the audio boards at FredStock. (Photo by: Joel Pena - Contributing Writer, SA Sentinel)

Ten years ago, this first-hand approach to teaching was exceedingly rare among music business departments. Now after witnessing the success of FredStock, other colleges and universities are following suit with the participatory teaching methods offered by SAC. The event has not only been a staple in the San Antonio music scene year after year, but also a beacon, inspiring other programs to grow and evolve around the city.

Indeed, it is a beautiful sight to see students working together to organize a festival without having an instructor overseeing their work at every turn. Trust is a key component to the program and, instead of continually holding their students’ hands through the process, the program’s professors opt for more of an observational approach, offering assistance only when needed, but encouraging independence at all times.

Laughing, Meals recounted, “It’s totally hands-on and, while I’m able to sit here and talk with you, they (the students) are working right now.”