It might seem premature to talk about Make Music Salem, which always occurs on the Summer Solstice on June 21 as we’re bundled up on this 25 degree February morning, BUT IT ISN’T. In fact, the crew has already been ramping up and hosting monthly fundraising shows at various venues around town. The next one will be at The Space on March 10th with Wild Ire, The Glyph, and The Holdout. At the fundraiser shows, there are opportunities to donate for the big day, sign up to volunteer, buy a Make Music Salem t-shirt, and/or just watch the great talent.

Don’t know what Make Music Day is? Make Music Day was started in 1982 in France as a celebration of music and the world around us. There are a few rules: it must be on the Summer Solstice – June 21st, it must be outside (weather permitting), and it must be free for spectators. Since 1982, France’s Fête De La Musique all-day outdoor music festival has spread worldwide to over 700 cities and 120 countries worldwide. In 2016, Mark Green (RiverCity Rock Academy), Carlee Wright (TedX, Moxie Initiative), and Doug Hoffman (The Space, City of Pieces) brought it to Salem and it was a resounding success. So much so, they won a major award from the City of Salem. Last year, the City officially proclaimed June 21st Make Music Day in Salem, Oregon. Pretty fancy.

This year’s Make Music Day will be on a Thursday, so go ahead and ask for the day off now. I researched Salem’s weather on June 21st for the past back 20 years. The last time we had any precipitation to speak of on June 21st was in 2003 at .22 inches. Pshaw! That is nothing to us Oregonians, and it probably happened at night. So again, ask for the day off and plan to spend all day downtown listening to all of what Salem’s musicians have to offer. It’s a great time to sample the great restaurants downtown as well.

Another reason this article is not premature is that the online performer and venue sign ups are about to go live. The best way to stay in the loop is to go to makemusic.org/salem and hit the “participate” button. The best BEST way is to like the Make Music Day – Salem Facebook page, and you’ll be updated as soon as the software goes live. What is this software? The national organization has put together a “matchmaking” application that helps bands and venues find each other. As a performer, please be prepared to complete your profile as thoroughly as possible: provide pictures, links to music, PA needs, genre, etc. That way when a venue goes in, they will have a good idea if they’re able to host your band and if you’re a good match for their venue. The Make Music Salem team will help out the entire way, so feel free to message them through their Facebook page if you have any questions.

Last year there were over 130 performances in over 30 venues around the downtown area. And it’s not just performances. Make Music Salem also features what they call “mass appeal” events that are great for the whole family. Last year there were harmonica lessons that culminate in a play along and a free harmonica for the kids; bucket drumming; boomwhackers; ukulele lessons; and a silent disco in the alley by Venti’s. There is literally something for everyone. Last year the performances were more spread out around downtown. This year, they hope to concentrate it more around the beautiful alleyways we have, all through our downtown core.

So, mark your calendars for June 21st to spend the day with your city. Make it a date.