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Working with the Spirit of the Times 

The 14th annual Bend Roots Revival is a go—but the locals' music fest is seeing changes in this pandemic year

News flash: Bend Roots Revival, the city's locals' music festival, is happening this year, even amid the pandemic. While it won't be entirely the same, the changes the popular local music showcase is making means more people just may be able to see and hear the action.

This year, people will be able to take part in Bend Roots Revival—happening over Halloween weekend—in two ways: Either in-person, spread-out shows, or virtually, right from the comfort of home.

The Maxwell Friedman Group will be rocking as usual at this year's Roots Revival. - ERICA SWANTEK PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Erica Swantek Photography
  • The Maxwell Friedman Group will be rocking as usual at this year's Roots Revival.

As Mark Ransom, one of the festival's organizers tells me, a big part of the program this year will be social distancing. This will allow Bend Roots to keep things focused on the bands and musicians who are offering their time up to perform. Local bands performing include Indubious, The Maxwell Friedman Group, Juju Eyeball and Profit Drama, among others. Also supporting the festival this year is the newly formed collective of local musicians, the High Desert Music Collective.

"Our organization is going to do everything possible. It's a very weird time. But what I'm saying is, we've been doing this all summer. We're going to do more than I've seen in any regard when it comes to enforcing these rules [at venues]," says Ransom.

For those venturing out to see shows, there will be protocols in place to keep fans and the bands safe. At some stages, areas close around the stage will be for family and friends of those performing only. Stages that need it may have roped-off sections to make sure that people in attendance can be spaced out properly and that there aren't too many bodies. Some stages may even be dry—meaning no alcohol. Ransom notes from his experiences performing over the summer that maintaining a safe space is sometimes hard to do when alcohol is involved.

For those looking to enjoy the tunes back at home, livestreams will be available on the Bend Roots website and will be shown through YouTube. Viewers will see everything that those in-person will see, including interviews with the bands, information and more. This year, fundraising will also be a big component to the festival, and Bend Roots will look to raise money with a larger outreach through live streaming.

"The stuff we're putting out is encouraging people to take the experience in online," says Ransom. "But everyone is going to be able to fan out and enjoy the show [if in-person]."

This year, seven stages across multiple venues will make up Bend Roots: Two each at Worthy Brewing and Silver Moon, one at Cosmic Depot, which will host the singer-songwriters stage, and one stage each at AVID Cider and Spoken Moto.

Ransom says shows will be starting a little later and will also be closing down a little earlier than in other years, in order to maintain compliance with hours of operation regulations during COVID-19. This means that this year there will "only" be around 80 to 85 bands—which is about 30 fewer acts than normal. While Ransom notes the decrease is a 'bummer," he knows it's the right way to do things while "working with the spirit of the times."

"This is the soulful experience the world is craving right now. I want to show we can stay connected and creative through a distance," Ransom tells the Source. "If we want to have success with this that's the way we have to think."

Bend Roots Revival has always been about supporting local music and giving platforms to bands and artists in the community. This year is really no different—it just might feel like that for some who normally would be right down in the pit, dancing and enjoying the show.

"It's about celebrating the bands. It's not a party."

Bend Roots Revival
Oct. 30-Nov. 1
No cover

About The Author

Isaac Biehl

Isaac is living proof that "Iowa Nice" is actually a thing. A journalism graduate from Iowa State University, he regularly writes about music, the outdoors and the arts/culture scene. Isaac loves the Trail Blazers, backpacking and a good IPA. He plans to one day win Survivor. Your move, Jeff Probst...
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