New Times San Luis Obispo

Kaleidoscope of sensory experiences to lose yourself in at Whale Rock Music Festival Sept. 16 and 17

It's Whale Rock o'clock!

Hayley Thomas Cain Aug 31, 2017 4:00 AM

"Breathe, let go, and play."

This is what you might expect your yoga teacher to whisper as the class transitions from downward dog to happy baby pose. This mantra also perfectly sums up what you can expect at this year's Whale Rock Music Festival, where—you guessed it—a slew of local yogis will mingle with vibrant artists, nationally acclaimed musicians, local acts, and a general motley crew of "good vibe" practitioners.

Photo Courtesy Of Castoro Cellars
TUNE IN, ROCK OUT With two days of free yoga classes, local hands-on art experiences, craft beer, hard cider, kombucha, Castoro wine, and food vendors that cater to everyone from the vegetarian to barbecue enthusiast, Whale Rock Music and Arts Fest (formerly Beaverstock) is designed to blow your mind.

You've probably already heard of "goat yoga" (where you do yoga with baby goats frolicking around), but what about Surf the Breath yoga? Sound Bath yoga? Kid's Bliss yoga? All of the latter are on tap at Whale Rock, the Templeton-based multi-sensory festival formerly known as Beaverstock.

For the non-indoctrinated: This is what happens when Castoro Cellars flips the concept of a stuffy wine-and-music event on its head for the fourth year in a row. Founded by a couple of Paso Robles winemaking pioneers, Whale Rock Music and Arts Festival organically came about by way of Castoro founders Niels and Bimmer Udsen's longtime commitment to supporting the arts and their local community.

Considering the fact that up to 3,000 people can filter in each day, it's fair to say this eclectic event—which began as a casual anniversary bash—is here to stay.

Not only will there be Castoro wine, local craft beer, kombucha, hard cider, wood fired pizza, barbecue, desserts, and authentic Mexican street tacos, there will also be the sweet and cherished chance to climb a fallen oak tree with your kids.

At any given moment, you could catch a rock star act like Gulf Coast soul group The Suffers or Saturday night headliner Michael Franti and Spearhead, or stumble upon equally exciting local bands, like Bear Market Riot and Proxima Parada. Note: I highly suggest you check out the festival's website and see the "barn series" music videos. Not a bad way to get acquainted with the stellar lineup that I could go on and on about, but I'll leave that task up to Glen Starkey's music column next week.

Photo Courtesy Of Castoro Cellars

If you need a break to shake out your wiggles, you could even take a chance on a rousing round of silent disco. This is the fest's second year offering the cheeky and joyful (and sometimes hilariously weird) experience.

I had to ask Luke Udson, marketing and social media director for the fest, about the concept, which has been seen at other popular fests like High Sierra and Lightening in a Bottle.

"You put on these headphones, and you're transformed to your own little world. The headphones have channels you can choose from on a playlist, everything from funk to disco to country and western," Udsen said. "The person next to you might be listening to something completely different or you could be jamming on the same thing."

Needless to say, Udsen added, "It's so cool, and kind of funny, to see all these people grooving out to music at all different tempos. It's an interesting way to escape the world for just a little bit and have fun."

Did I mention this is all happening in the winery's sustainably farmed vineyard?

Although many different factors attract folks to the festival, everyone gathers among the greenery, and this unique location has a way of awakening minds to the wonders of Mother Nature.

Photo Courtesy Of Castoro Cellars

"Some people might not know this, but Castoro is the largest grower of organic grapes on the Central Coast," Udsen said. "We host the event in Whale Rock vineyard and want to celebrate our commitment to sustainabiity, hence the name."

According to Udsen, nearly 500 acres are certified organic, and more than 800 acres are SIP Certified, which ensures that all growing methods, employment practices, and biodynamic aspects of the vineyards are up to snuff.

For this winemaking family—a North County staple since the early '80s—giving back to the Earth is just as important as giving back to the community.

Proceeds from the fest will benefit TIMBA, the Templeton High School band boosters. Paying it forward means that a new generation of kids can learn to express themselves through music, and that's what Whale Rock is all about.

"What I love about festivals, and why we decided to do our own here at Castoro, is that we love an environment where everyone's in the same boat," Udsen said. "We're all here to support each other. You should feel safe to express yourself and feel comfortable being who you are, letting loose and dancing."

Photo Courtesy Of Castoro Cellars

And if all these groovy experiences—the oodles of live bands, the free yoga classes, the hands-on art, the food and drink options, the kids' activities—have you a bit overwhelmed, don't be.

Remember: Find your breath.

"Go into it with an open mind. You're here to have a good time," Udsen said. "There's no checklist or agenda. Just do what feels right." Δ

Hayley Thomas Cain believes the revolution will not be televised, but it probably will be Instagrammed. She can be reached at