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Rockafairy gets rollin’

Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune Shane Ross plays the drums Wednesday at the Rockafairy instrument library in Medford.
Library for instruments opens in downtown Medford

A new downtown Medford nonprofit takes its inspiration from lending libraries, but if things go as planned, Rockafairy Hall will be anything but quiet inside.

Rockafairy’s new musical instrument lending library had its “soft” opening this week at 31 W. Sixth St., Medford, giving local musicians — and anyone interested in music — access to instruments ranging from guitars to trumpets.

At first glance, the space doesn’t look much different from its previous incarnation as a thrift store for the American Cancer Society, but Shane Ross, Rockafairy’s president and founder, has visions of turning the space into an all-ages hub for musicians and other creators.

Right now, the library’s 68 instruments include instruments ranging from keyboards and recorders, with more than a half-dozen guitars and more than a dozen amplifiers.

It’s an idea that Ross said started when he was at a Lowe’s during the 2019 holiday season and he saw requests for instruments on a Christmas tree for kids in need. Ross said he and his partner wanted to go above and beyond.

“I ended up buying a couple guitars on Craigslist,” Ross said, thinking it’d be “good guitar-ma.”

Ross’ nonprofit began working with Tom’s Guitars in Medford to help connect kids — particularly those referred to Rockafairy by crisis resource nonprofits — to musical instruments they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford.

Tom’s Guitars started giving Rockafairy storage for the instrument library in March 2021.

“By January this year we’d ran out of space,” Ross said.

Kids being helped by crisis resource nonprofits get access to any musical instrument free of charge. The general public can check out instruments for $10 a month.

Inside the building, anyone can play any instrument free of charge.

“When an instrument is being played, it’s creating joy,” Ross said, adding that by expanding access to instruments he hopes to create “as much joy as possible.”

The library is only the first step in Rockafairy’s vision, according to Ross. He’s in the process of turning one room into an instrument repair workshop, another room into a podcast recording space, and has emptied out another room that in the short term can serve as a rehearsal space. Longer term, he hopes to install soundproofing in the rehearsal room that will allow the room to become a recording studio.

The main space, however, is the “gallery,” where Ross hopes to showcase the work of as many as three visual artists at a time in a large space that can accommodate large instruments such as pianos and electric organs.

“A lot of people don’t know what to do with these old organs, but they’ve got a lot of character,” Ross said.

Ross said he spent the past three months networking with local musicians at venues in Medford such as Johnny B’s, and considered ways that Rockafairy could serve younger musicians.

The only open mics were in bars, and he found that there weren’t many places for bands to perform if they weren’t drinking age.

He’s hoping to start hosting open-mic nights on Mondays, which could be early in the day for youth and later in the evening for adults to perform and try out new material.

His vision is to turn the space into a healthy, nurturing creative zone that’s “free of bad habits.”

“Music is therapeutic for me,” Ross said.

The nonprofit needs help from the community to make his plans a reality. They need volunteers willing to help at events, local musicians willing to provide lessons and workshops, more musical instrument donations — especially woodwinds and bass guitars — and monetary donations.

“Where we’re at, everything helps,” Ross said.

For more information or to contact the nonprofit, see rockafairy.org.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.