Eugene Weekly : Music : 6.26.08

Takin’ It to the Streets
Random acts of music on the streets of Eugene
by Vanessa Salvia

Traveling to a new city only really becomes fun when you get to roam the streets, eating and drinking amongst the locals, discovering the hidden hangouts and absorbing every sight, sound and smell at street level. What a thrill to turn a corner in an unfamiliar place and discover something that becomes your new favorite thing, be it a clean, well-lit café with great coffee or a street musician playing with all his or her heart. This potential for sublime moments of discovery will become reality as Eugene’s Takin’ It to the Streets music festival takes shape. For two weekends in Eugene, local acoustic musicians will be stationed around the city like so many musical gems to stumble across, a treat for both Eugeneans and out-of-town visitors alike.

Free the Banjo Girl

Local event promoter Cindy Ingram says the idea came about after Anita Johnson, Eugene Weekly’s contributing editor, was vacationing and realized the joy of music filling the air. The festival was organized as gift to the people of Eugene, says Ingram, “so that while all these folks are here for the Olympic Trials the streets would be filled with music.”

“The goal was really to showcase local acoustic musicians from lots of different genres. The music scene in Eugene is actually pretty darn diverse!” says Ingram, who rounded up 22 musical acts and spread them out over nine locations and 55 time slots. Locations include places around campus and downtown, spots near Fifth Street Public Market and the Hilton, Franklin Street near Boulevard Grill and the Eugene Airport, for the benefit of travelers. “So when people walk off the plane they’ll be like, ‘It’s Eugene, there’s music everywhere!’” Ingram says.

Scheduling was timed to coincide with what Ingram guessed the flow of foot traffic would be during the Olympic Trials. During days of competition, Ingram expects out-of-town visitors to hover near Hayward Field. But during the days when there is no track action, she expects people to take that opportunity to explore, so musicians were concentrated in the downtown area. 

While musicians performing on the street is most often associated with “busking,” or playing for money, profit is not the goal of this event. “We’re wanting to give people a gift; we’re providing a gift of music to people,” says Ingram. “We’re wanting to have this friendly, welcoming environment when people get here.”

If the event is well-received, Ingram says she is open to the idea of doing this again, maybe every year or a couple of times a year in the summer.

For now though, we get to enjoy “random acts of music” for just two weekends. So hit the streets, turn those corners, and listen for music filling the air. Whether it’s the Delta blues of Eagle Park Slim, Paul Biondi’s saxophone or the folk of Free the Banjo Girl, there’s a gift awaiting everyone. 

Takin’ It to the Streets, June 28 & 29 and July 1-3. Various times and locations. See for full schedule. Free.