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Rockafest is coming to Medford Saturday

3 stages, 21 bands and 12 hours of music come to Pear Blossom Park Saturday
Steven Solace, with the band Steven Shoelace, rehearses Thursday at Rockafairy. Solace will be onstage with his musical collaborator James Frederick Saturday at Rockafest in Pear Blossom Park. [Jamie Lusch/Mail Tribune]

A 12-hour music festival dubbed Rockafest will debut in downtown Medford’s Pear Blossom Park this weekend with three stages of music, food trucks, vendors, a mobile skate park course and a beer and wine garden.

Set from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and co-hosted by neighboring Sixth Street venues Rockafairy Hall and Johnny B’s, promoters hope the event will become an annual shindig.

While Johnny B’s has been a staple downtown for 25 years, Rockafairy opened in February as a musical instruments lending library, offering everything from trumpets to guitars for rental rates ranging from free to 10 bucks.

Former home of the American Cancer Society thrift shop, the Rockafairy space quickly morphed from jam sessions and loaner instruments — an effort started by Rockafairy founder and president Shane Ross in a back room at Tom’s Guitars — to a rehearsal and event space and a slowly growing recording studio.

Ross said Saturday’s event will highlight local startups and garage bands that embody Rockafairy’s mission to promote and encourage local music.

“The history of Rockafairy as an organization has been this idea where we can provide necessary means for music and art for anyone who desires. It all started with just purchasing a couple guitars to try and make a difference, and now more than just an idea, it’s becoming a movement,” Ross said.

Rockafairy community outreach ranges from free music rentals for local kids being helped by crisis resource nonprofits to targeted needs such as replacement instruments for Almeda Fire victims. The general public can check out instruments for $10 a month. Inside the building, anyone can play any instrument free of charge.

When Rockafairy moved from its storage space inside Tom’s, Ross said small events began taking place that showed potential to outgrow the new digs.

“The city wasn’t too excited we were doing events since we’re rated for only 49 people in our building, so they said, ‘What if you use Pear Blossom Park?’” Ross said.

Saturday’s rock-themed event will highlight everything from local musicians looking for places to play to garage bands trying to gain stage experience. The main stage will feature Portland’s Yak Attack while the Rockafairy stage will further Rockafairy’s mission of promoting local talent.

Headlining for the Rockafairy stage, Steven Shoelace — composed of White City resident Steven Solace and Medford resident James Frederick — began playing together six months ago. Ross “discovered” them playing tunes for a skatepark event one weekend.

“Our whole focus is to inspire and influence. We found these guys playing at a local skate park and just started talking to them. A few weeks later, we gave them a show at Rockafairy. Two weeks later, they played at Johnny B’s, and now they’re headlining the Rockafairy stage at Rockafest,” Ross said.

“They’ve got a really unique sound, but another cool and unique thing is that they have cassette tapes, so we’ve connected them with Retro Wormhole, downtown, to help more people be able to hear what they’re doing.”

Solace said Rockafairy had made a big impact on his band’s ability to gain experience and become better known in the region.

“I think it’s outstanding what they’re doing for local youth and musicians. Me and my bass player, James, we’re not old enough to play in bars or whatever, so having this place, Rockafairy, has been awesome,” Solace said.

“This event is gonna be really cool. I hope it makes more people want to pick up an instrument. They have a really fun environment. A musician walks into Rockafairy, and you can just start playing with them without even knowing anyone’s names, and you’ve suddenly made a new friend.”

Keeping with Rockafairy’s mantra, Ross said, of “removing the monetary gatekeeper to music,” Saturday’s event is free. VIP lanyards will be available for $20 to provide access to “Silent Movement headsets,” which will allow users to wander the downtown and still listen in to the festival, as well as one month of Rockafairy membership ($10 value).

An on-site mobile skateboard course will be sponsored by Jack’s Board House.

Rockafest will feature three stages and 21 artists.

Performers include Yak Attack, The Bouray, Theawave, John Dough Boys, Owls and Aliens Band, Mougli and the Blues, Moonbow, Tuffshed, John Johns, Screaming Apparatus, Jah-rome, Templet Band, Charlee Prayers Trio, Steven Shoelace, Annie Macleod, Luke, Dorian Remis Band, Darrin Wayne, Bopl, Canvas Theory and Toxxic Skull.

For more information, see facebook.com/events/s/rockafest-2022/5288614067899333/; rockafairy.org/home and jbsmedford.com

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Buffy Pollock at 541-776-8784 or bpollock@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @orwritergal.