Eugene Weekly : Music : 8.14.08

Center of the Musical Universe
Off The Grid summer music fest promises to open your mind
By Vanessa Salvia


To quote 1980s punk band 7 Seconds, if we can walk together, why can’t we rock together? That’s the basic message behind the Off the Grid Music Festival. It’s not a punk festival, but the music is eclectic enough that it should appeal to just about everyone, and organizers are hoping people will leave inspired to create a more sustainable and just world. 

This two-day festival is, as its name implies, off the grid, with performers appearing on a solar powered stage at Eugene’s Silvan Ridge-Hinman Vineyards. Vendors of green and organic products will also be onsite. Festival organizers feel that the goal of sustainability must include addressing social issues; as it says on their website, those include “poverty, health, education, violence, intolerance, environment, and global warming, among others.” To that end, community booths will be set up to invite conversation about how to solve these problems. Organizer Larry Bailey says they intend to address these issues in a meaningful way, using “music as the universal language that brings people together.”

The festival’s other organizers are George and Ruby Tollefson, descendents of Oregon homesteaders and the fifth generation to work their land. George was Oregon Middle School Teacher of the Year in 2008. “Rock the Future! is a vision about how we can make the world we want to live in better today,” says George on the festival’s website. “It is about finding solutions to issues that concern all of us.

Bands scheduled to perform are from our local area and the West Coast, generally, with three from points beyond. Sprockets is a rock, punk, and shoegaze band from Boise; Jake Payne and Dixie Creek bring Americana from Austin, Texas; indie rock comes from Bend’s Streetlight Society. Eugene is represented by the melodic metal, blues and rock of Issa, a band led by Issa Koberstein, who grew up on the intentional Tennessee community The Farm and who recently recorded with Grammy winners John LeCompt and Rocky Gray, both of Evanescence, and Phil Taylor (F.L.O.W.). Several bands are from Portland, including the experimental rock of Kaddisfly and the powerpop of A Blinding Silence. There’s something for everyone, and Bailey hopes people will open their minds to music they might not ordinarily listen to, and leave with some new appreciations.

“When people are brought together in a shared experience, something magical happens,” says Bailey.

Off The Grid Music Festival. Noon to 10 pm Saturday, Aug. 16, Noon to 6 pm Sunday, Aug. 17. Silvan Ridge-Hinman Vineyards, 27012 Briggs Road. $10 daily sug. don.



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