Here come the '90s! The Firehouse Arts Center is hosting the 13th annual Youth Music Festival, which this year is featuring lots of music from the 1990s and cultural references galore, in performances at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Eighteen Pleasanton musicians ranging in age from 10-18 will be on the program as the festival takes a musical journey from 1990-99.
All of the music is performed live, noted festival director Mark Duncanson, with no karaoke or backing tracks. In addition, two bands are joining the festival to offer musical accompaniment options to the solo artists. Members of the band "Backdraft" are in middle school, while "Lies in the Silence" musicians are in high school.
"I am a huge fan of '90s music, so much so that I set aside my bass clarinet in 1994 and taught myself to play drums, thanks to Carter Beauford from Dave Matthews Band," Duncanson said. "When the musicians (from last year's '80s-themed festival) requested a natural progression to a '90s theme this year, I was selfishly eager to get started."
"As director of the festival, I am simply facilitating the creative process by offering a space to perform and the opportunity for the young musicians to collaborate with one another," he continued.
Duncanson clarified that he never stands in front of the musicians conducting them with a baton.
"My goal is to meet the young artists where they are, and have them draw from their experience and musical education to create together," he said. "This is truly a youth-driven Youth Music Festival in every sense, where they inspire each other."
The Youth Music Festival started 13 years ago as a way for young musicians in the area to share their love of music in a supportive and non-competitive way. Duncanson said it began during a time when "battle of the band" events were popular, and this festival offered an alternative to the competitive environment.
Tickets for the show on March 21 are $10 general admission, and $5 students. They are available online at www.firehousearts.org, by calling 931-4848 or in person at the Box Office, 4444 Railroad Ave.