Good vibrations

The V.I.B.E. music festival

Tony Walker is the organizer of the New Year's Eve V.I.B.E. concert at West Street Market.

Tony Walker is the organizer of the New Year's Eve V.I.B.E. concert at West Street Market.

Photo by AMY BECK

Tickets for the New Year’s Eve V.I.B.E. festival are $7 presale and $10 at the door, and are available at any of the West Street Market vendors, as well as Dharma Books and Java Jungle. Learn more about the festival at

Musical entrepreneur Tony Walker concludes his emails with “Be peace.” In person, he’s a calm guy, and conversation with him is relaxed. But you can tell something stirs passionately within him when he talks about his vision for Northern Nevada’s art community, and his goal for 2012 is to promote a sense of peace and unity within it through collaborative music and art.

The New Year’s Eve V.I.B.E festival—which stands for “the vibration of individuals, beats and energy”—is the first of many to come, according to Walker. He has plans for a larger, all-inclusive festival, which may happen as soon as June. The New Year’s showcase will function as a kick off event to show the community what a larger festival could look like.

A unique lineup of bands will perform, including the Mark Sexton Band, Fynatics, Knowledge Lives Forever, and Walker’s project Souliphonix. After the bands play, there will be opportunities for other musicians to come and jam together. Spoken word poets and DJs will also perform. The event is a masquerade, so attendees are encouraged to don masks for a mask contest. The winner gets $50 in cash and a $50 bar tab for several local bars.

“We’re bringing bands from around town together,” Walker said. “It’s a lot of soul-based music.”

Walker has his hands in several Reno art endeavors, including Spoken Views, the Holland Project, and a variety of bands. Since he moved back to Reno in 2003, Walker says that the dynamic of the community has evolved significantly.

“We started [Spoken Views] to give a voice to the poet,” he said. “In other scenes, poets were hushed out, not appreciated. We helped reinvigorate that culture, and it created a huge wave. It spread like a wildfire.”

Walker lived in Carson City and Reno as a child, and then moved to Oklahoma and Hawaii before joining the army—right after Sept. 11, 2001. He was in one of the first troops to be deployed to Iraq. He returned home from war in 2003 and immersed himself in music.

“I’m a Reno guy,” he said. “I love and hate it, like most people here do. What’s good is that as a musician, you can do anything you want to do. You’re not really in a box. You can do something new and original, and you have free range to do whatever. And Reno appreciates it. There’s a lot of culture here.”

Walker’s goal is to establish a regional subculture of dedicated, cooperative artists in Northern Nevada and California.

“I’ve been talking with groups up in Truckee and in [San Francisco],” he said. “It’s given me the drive to do this.”

Walker says that he meets artists every day in Reno, but many are reluctant to get involved. He says that some of this stems from shyness and uncertainty about the public response. Other times, artists are just not aware of the events and collaborations happening in the city.

“Complacency is a bitch,” he said. “People want art, they want these activities, but they need to step up. Pretty much all of the events are open and inviting, but they won’t happen if people stay home.”

He hopes that the artistic community will continue to diversify, and that this festival will help inspire future projects.

“The goal is to raise awareness of the community of artists here, including awareness of artists within each other,” he said. “We don’t always know what skills and talents other musicians have. It’s really about connecting people, and having people see something in each other.”