As the weather gets a little warmer this weekend, it’s a good time to get outside for some live music.
A massive free music festival in Bend seeks to fill that need and shine a light on local artists.
The Bend Roots Festival kicked off Friday night on nine different stages in or around the Box Factory.
It was originally started in 2006 with just 12 acts, playing at the Parilla Grill in the Victorian Cafe for just one Saturday.
“We were talking about what could we do instead of glorifying those that have already gone out into the world and made it, what if we could focus on the local community and give our local artists an opportunity to celebrate them, to celebrate their music,” said Mark Ransom, who founded the festival along with Brent Allen.
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It’s now grown to 120 mostly-local music groups performing across the nine stages. It’s the first year hosting the event in the central Box Factory location.
“This year we’re coming back after COVID to one location, the Box Factory area and some surrounding venues,” Ransom said. “That feels really good too, because we spread it out for COVID, east side, midtown and now we’re coming back over here.”
The three-day, family-friendly festival runs through Sunday evening.
“Performing at the Roots Festival is kind of a unique spot, because you have a lot of people who might not normally go out to concerts or to music venues,” said Matthew Fletcher, the sound engineer for the Spoken Moto stages and a performer himself. “Super family-friendly, so you get ages a couple months up to people in their 90’s.”
Jeshua Marshall and his band, Jeshua Marshall and the Flood, have been performing at the Roots Festival for seven years in a row.
He now runs the Fuzz Phonic stage located in The Podski, with his nonprofit record label which encourages independent artists to release music.
“It’s just such a beautiful community gathering of musicians and people and artists,” Marshall said. “The energy and the vibe keeps me coming back and being involved.”
Donations from attendees will go toward the Bend Roots fund, connecting local musicians with mentorship programs in schools.
A grant from Visit Bend required them to advertise in areas outside of Central Oregon, which they hope will draw a larger crowd than normal.
Ransom said the most people they have seen over a weekend in the past has been 3,500, and they expect to double that number this weekend.
“We’re trying to inspire people to dive into the arts and to really look at what music can do in the community and for individuals. It’s a great way of approaching the world,” he said.
“I hope people come away with a really deep rooted sense of community,” Fletcher added. “It’s all about the community really, bringing it back, and that they feel part of it, part of our Roots family.”
You can find more information about artists and venues on their website at bendroots.net.