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The Southern Oregon Music Fest Returns for its 29th Year

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Blair Crimmons will perform one of the festival’s headlining sets at Howiee’s on Front. Credit: Courtesy of Blair Crimmons

An Interview with Co-Director Jared Davidson


At this point, The  Southern Oregon Music Festival is older than some of its own performers. The multi-venue music fest is now in its 29th year of bringing jazz, blues, and more to downtown Medford. Altogether, 17 bands will perform 95 sets at five venues, including ragtime wizards Blair Crimmins and the Hookers, zydeco act Gator Nation, special guest trumpeter Brian Casserly, and more. The full lineup is available online.

Festival Co-Director Jared Davidson took the time to answer a few questions to preview this year’s festival for the The Messenger.

RVM: There were some financial problems that almost derailed the festival this year. What went wrong, and how was it saved?
JD: This last year, we sadly, lost some major sponsors due to their passing, as well as organizational restructuring. We were able to keep the festival alive this year by the overwhelming support from our local community contributions, new sponsors, and contributions from our dedicated members and attendees.

RVM: This is the 29th year doing the festival. Anything new or different for this year?
JD: This year, we have incorporated a number of new additions that will help to bring a more conducive experience to both returning patrons, and new attendees.

We have added a new venue experience located at Inn at the Commons. We are offering (2) 1-hour performances in Larks Restaurant. On both Friday and Saturday of the festival, we will have a 6:30PM “Dinner Show” and a 9:30PM “Lounge Show”. All Larks performances are limited seating, and most notably, FREE to the public! We hope to increase revenue for Larks Resaurant during the festival, as well as raise local awareness for the festival by offering these performances without requiring tickets to the festival weekend.

We have also added a few new bands that have never performed at our festival, bringing a fresh experience to our returning attendees. A few of those are “Blair Crimmins & the Hookers” and “Jacob Miller & the Bridge City Crooners”.

This will be the first year we are offering an official “After Party”, which will be hosted by Howiee’s on Front immediately following both finales. We are encouraging all bands, volunteers, and festival patrons to attend. During the After Party, we are thrilled to allow an opportunity for the patrons to rub elbows with their favorite musicians, volunteer friends, and everyone involved with bringing the festival to life, as well as an open “Jam” atmosphere in Howiee’s music venue for all of the musicians to get on stage together and have unscripted jam sessions with each other.

In addition to our normal shuttles we have offered in the past, this year we have partnered with 5 Star Taxi, which will be offering 2 dedicated taxis to help shuttle people to and from hotels, and venue to venue service for no cost to our attendees. (Donations are graciously requested, although not mandatory)

Our budget has allowed us this year to bring back the presentations for the schools in our area, which we were not able to do last year due to lack of grant funding. Members of High Street Party Band and Gator Nation will be traveling to participating schools ranging from Medford to Cave Junction, raising musical awareness and education to elementary schools in both Jackson and Josephine Counties.

RVM: After doing the festival for so long, how do you keep it fresh?
JD: After so many years, it can be easy to get into a pattern of success based on previous expectations. This year, by implementing fresh ideas from our long-standing attendees and new board members, we hope to continue refining the experience every year moving forward. Every year is a new year, and a new chance to improve the experience for both our musicians and our attendees.

RVM: What are you most excited for at this year’s festival?
JD: We are excited to see the new bands we are bringing to the festival, and we are excited to help bridge the gap of generations, providing a solid festival foundation for fans of all ages. We are also thrilled to be able to offer our musical performances to the schools in our community once again. Our Leave a Legacy program is becoming revitalized, which offers musical instruments to many of the local school programs, as well as the Juvenile Detention Center, helping to rehabilitate our youths through music education.

RVM: Anything you wanted to include but weren’t able to?
JD: Every year there are things that we would love to include, but are unable to for one reason or another. This year, there are many many bands that we wanted to include, as every year. Due to budgeting concerns, we downsized our venue participation, which unfortunately didn’t allow us the opportunity to include all of the bands we would like to introduce our community to, although next year, our plan is to show an even more diverse selection of performances for our patrons.

RVM: What’s in the future for the Southern Oregon Music Festival?
JD: The great thing about the future of the Southern Oregon Music Festival is this. We are only limited by our imagination, and we have some very ambitious imaginations. We will continue to break the boundaries of the festival and expand for a diverse, well-rounded, highly anticipated festival. Music is a vital necessity in the world, and we will always advocate for continued music education and awareness for both young and old.

Southern Oregon Music Festival (full lineup available at www.somusicfest.org)

Fri., September. 29-Sun., October. 1

Multiple venues, downtown Medford




RVM: This is the 29th year doing the festival. Anything new or different for this year?



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