by Laura Gildart Sauter

Anyone who still has reservations about the rapidly-growing “coolness factor” of Salem will have those doubts dispelled this Saturday, April 16th, at the third annual Local Roots Music Festival. A fundraiser for KMUZ, our local independent radio station, the all-day (9 am – 10 pm) event, to be held at Willamette Heritage Center’s Dye House, will also serve as the CD release party for “Local Roots Compilation Vol. III.”

Feeling uninformed and slightly out of it for not being sure what “roots music” is, other than fun to say, I ask Melanie Zermer, President of the Board for KMUZ, to define the genre for me.  “It’s Americana,” she tells me.  To further clarify, there is this from the Americana Music Association via Wikipedia: [Americana] “is contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw.”

So…leaving definitions aside for the moment, this week, in Salem, “roots music” means a rapid-fire showcase for 20 of the Northwest’s finest regional musicians at an all-day party. The Roots Music Festival features a slew of talented folks, the names of whose genres generally require a hypen or two: neo-folk, retro-pop, alt-country, indie-rock.  Each individual, group, or band will have 25 minutes on stage to delight the audience with their version of Americana.  The festival is the brain-child of KMUZ roots program host, Robert Richter, who serves as event coordinator.  According to Zermer, Richter has been a devotee and promoter of roots music for years, showcasing NW musicians weekly at a venue in Portland before he became the host for the 7-9 pm Sunday show “Local Roots” on KMUZ.

Kicking off the party at 9:00 am, an extended 50-minute set will feature Salem’s River City Rockstar Academy students performing original songs.  Other extremely local acts will include “raucous Indie-rock” quartet, Allies from Nowhere, folk trio, Seahorse, and, closing the show, Salem’s premier “idiosyncratic socio-punk” band, City of Pieces.  Regionally-famous Annalise Torset (formerly with the Decemberists now with Black Prairie) will also appear on stage, as will 2012 American Idol finalist Haley Johnsen.  A complete schedule of performances can be found at the KMUZ website.  Tear it out and bring it with you.  Bring your kids too — kids under 12 are free, with a paying adult, and really what could be cuter than your favorite rug rat gettin’ down to some alt-punk-retro-county-indie-rock?

To fuel all this fun, two food trucks will be on hand: Island Girl Lunch Box, serving Chamorro cuisine from Guam, and Fusion, dishing out “semi-authentic” Vietnamese delicacies.  As is mandatory at any hip gathering worth the name, gluten-free and vegetarian options will be available.  Finally, to slake your thirst, Willamette Valley Vineyards and Vagabond Brewery will be pouring some of the best beverages on the West Coast.

Partnering with Richter and KMUZ, CCTV has been featuring many of the festival bands for the past year, and will televise the entire festival for later broadcast;  don’t miss your chance for 15 minutes of fame.  Other partners and sponsors of the festival include Lifesource Natural Foods, Mill Creek Station Café, the Bike Peddler, Michael Angelo Exteriors, Fox Blue, and the Willamette Heritage Center.

The cost for the entire day of festivities is $15; the CD “Local Roots, Vol 3”  will be for sale for $15, and is well-worth the cost. All the money goes to keep our extraordinary local radio station KMUZ on the air. A portion of the proceeds for food and drink will also be donated to KMUZ. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online For more information call (503)585-7012 or go to


Local Roots Music Festival

9:00 – 9:50 River City Rock Star Academy – local music school

10:00 – 10:25 Olivia & Rene – Americana, mandolin and guitar

10:35 – 11:00 Val Blaha – Americana, country, folk

11:10 -11:35 Clara Baker – acoustic, Americana, folk

11:45 – 12:10 The Colin Trio – blues, jazz, rock

12:20 -12:45 Elise LeBlanc –  Neo-folk, retro-pop singer/songwriter

12:55 – 1:20 Seahorse – folk trio, Americana

1:30 – 1:55 Karyn Ann – neo-acoustic soul

2:10 – 2:35 Malachi Graham – Indie-Americana

2:45 – 3:10 Cedar Teeth – rustic folk rock

3:20 – 3:45 The Stubborn Lovers – rock, Americana

3:55 – 4:20 Bad Assets – country rock

4:30 – 4:55 Jennifer Smieja – country, folk

5:10 – 5:35 The Jackalope Saints – folk, bluegrass

5:45 – 6:10 Annalisa Tornfelt – bluegrass

6:20 – 6:45 Haley Johnsen – pop singer/songwriter

6:55 – 7:20 Wilkinson Blades – rock, Americana

7:30 – 7:55 Allies From Nowhere – Indie rock

8:10 – 8:35 Three For Silver – alt-folk

8:45 – 9:10 City of Pieces – socio-punk