North County is set to get even more musical this year while embracing the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love.
By Jordan Wolfe
Manzanita Music Festival (MMF), freshly minted with its 501c3 non-profit status, is gearing up for its sophomore show in Nehalem and Manzanita with local, regional and national artists coming to the coast for the July 21-23 event – and it’s going to be bigger than the first.
“Our talent this year is nuts,” MMF director Beth Carter-Boyer said. “We’ve had more than 250 submissions. Some from Australia – I don’t know where that came from. But we’ve had everything from rap to reggae to jazz to gospel to Americana.”
MMF has whittled the performers down to 22 acts.
After a very successful first year – not a single complaint from residents or local authorities, according to Carter-Boyer – MMF is growing to encompass concerts in Manzanita and Nehalem for a three-day event – all the while promoting their mission: celebrating the power of music – to shelter, heal and connect all generations of the local communities.
“On Oct. 5 of last year, I lost my oldest son,” Carter-Boyer said. “Music was really important to him. Music was something that always gave him something for nothing and gave him peace – it does it for all of us.
“Music is essential to wellness.”
The power of music has also been vital in the revitalization of Rex Champ Field.
“It’s been really cool to get the field rejuvenated for us to use,” Carter-Boyer said, “We’re really fortunate to have it come together.”
Being saved from disrepair through partnerships and grants, Rex Champ Field (in Nehalem on Highway 101 North, next to Manzanita Lighthouse Pub & Grub) will now have a bright future as a multi-use venue, according to the MMF directors. Field cleanups were held, electrical work has been re-done, the road is freshly graveled and new fences were brought in with advice provided from organizers with the Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland.
“It can now be used for any kind of an event,” Carter-Boyer said, “Specifically youth sports.”
She added what was once a beloved baseball field for the North County communities has the opportunity to be just that once again – with the added bonus of being a venue that can hold thousands of people for events just like MMF.
Rex Champ is set to open MMF 5 p.m. July 21 for the ticketed event ($25 advanced tickets give attendees access to every venue and every concert for the three-day event).
The next day, July 22, the concerts swing back to Manzanita for the downtown concerts and “Kid’s Zone” starting at 11 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m.
“Our Manzanita venue is more boutique,” Carter-Boyer said. “It is important to us for our Manzanita concerts to be family friendly.”
Assistant director Karen McCarthy added, “Hardly any music festivals have kids’ activities. Last year we had a kids’ dance party, sing-a-long, yoga and a drum circle – that was really cool.”
The directors currently plan for the day-time concerts to host Jazz, singer-songwriter, and Americana acts.
Last year there were multiple locations along Laneda Avenue hosting music. For year two, MMF is containing everything to a one-acre field.
“It’s the only place in downtown Manzanita large enough for the festival,” Carter-Boyer said, “And you can still hear the ocean.”
The MMF directors said they are working on a shuttle from Manzanita to Nehalem because when the Laneda concerts finish, the party is moving back to Rex Champ Field.
“Friday is country night and Saturday will be our blues and rock night,” Carter-Boyer said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what happens at the field. It’s going to be really interesting.”
Friday night will host five musical acts and Saturday will host another four or five from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Officials encourage attendees to bring lawn chairs, blankets and their favorite dancing boots.
“We wanted the music to fit the venue,” Carter-Boyer said.
The second annual MMF finishes with another round of concerts July 23 in Manzanita.
And music is not the only art to be displayed.
“Beth suggested we get each school or classroom to create something related to music,” McCarthy said.
From Kindergarten through high school, the students of Neah-Kah-Nie School District are crafting pieces of art for the MMF to display throughout the town of Manzanita and at Rex Champ Field – many will be uniform wooden panels but Carter-Boyer said more extravagant pieces could be expected.
“We can use these pieces again and again,” she said, “And with the high schoolers, there are opportunities for all kinds of senior projects – volunteering, staging, decorations, tech support – whatever they’re into, we’ll find something for them.”
Actively working toward another mission of MMF – putting music and art into the hearts and hands of children – the all-district art project is only the first piece.
MMF has created an internship program with University of Oregon.
“There is going to be art on every corner,” McCarthy said.
The U of O students will be performing live art demonstrations throughout Manzanita, according to McCarthy: juggling, miming, drawing, sculptures and more will be happening throughout the town during the festival.
“We would even like to do the same with TBCC, Neah-Kah-Nie and really throughout the county for any kid – we want to give an opportunity for them to do that,” Carter-Boyer said.
“Bringing cool people and cool ideas in can set of a wonderful chain of events that will be a gift for a lifetime for a kid,” she added.
Looking ahead, the MMF directors said discussions are ongoing with NCRD to establish a winter music festival for February – one which would encompass all of NCRD and their newly refurbished theatre. MMF is also planning future summer concert series to operate independently of their own annual festival and may happen as early as next year. They are even working together with the owners of the new Salmonberry Saloon in Wheeler as a potential venue in the future.
Even though MMF has big plans for North County, and even extending throughout the county and North Coast, Carter-Boyer said they plan to remain grounded.
“Our idea over time is to keep everything small and tasty.”
Tickets are available now at manzanitamusicfestival.org for $25 for entrance into all concert venues. Tickets will be available for $35 at the gate the day-of. The MMF directors would like to express their gratitude for their sponsors so far, including support from Adventist Health and Rinehart Clinic for first aid. They would also like to thank their core team of AVBill Phillips as stage manager and mentor, Rich Silverman and Tohn Keagle, MMF is still in need of donations and support to create an event to thrive for years to come. Donations are tax deductible. For more information, email MMF officials at email@example.com.