Rio Nido–based music fest goes online

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ONLINE SYMMETRY Indie-rock duo Jesse Judies performs as part of Real Neato Music Festival’s upcoming virtual event. Photo and concept by Sara Gerstel

When Eli Meyskens was very young, he misheard his parents talking about the town of Rio Nido and thought they said, “Real Neato.”

That phrase stuck with the Sonoma County–raised and San Francisco–based musician, and after he shared the story with music promoter and booker Daniel Strickland, the Real Neato Music Festival was born.

Last year’s inaugural Real Neato helped kick off the North Bay’s summer with a concert on June 15, 2019, at the historic Rio Nido Roadhouse. This year’s planned festival was canceled in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic that is keeping everyone at home.

Undeterred, Strickland, Meyskens and fellow organizers will present Real Neato at Home, a virtual music festival streaming on Saturday, June 27, at 9pm. The online showcase will feature several Bay Area and North Bay bands and artists. 

“In talking with bands, we found out they are struggling with their finances,” Strickland says. “At first, we were going to do a fundraiser because of what’s going on with Black Lives Matter. Now, we’ve settled on doing something online that raises money for both the artists and for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.”

Real Neato at Home’s confirmed online lineup of bands and artists include Oakland indie-pop artist Emily Afton, world music ensemble La Gente SF, North Bay rocker John Courage, psychedelic soul outfit Down Dirty Shake, self-proclaimed “Beach Funk Americana” group The Ha, outlaw country stars Caravan 222, folk singer-songwriter Dominique Gomez, longtime North Bay alternative rock band The Spindles and indie-rock duo Jesse Judies.

“It’s going to be like a TV show,” Strickland says. “Each of our artists is working on videos they are recording live. They’re sending that to us, we edit it and we’re going to stream it out on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Twitch in real time. The artist will then be on our site and will be able to chat, and that will give people a live experience with the artist while they are watching the show.”

While Strickland and the rest of the Real Neato crew hope to get back to hosting live shows later this year, he says, “the big thing for us is that we want to give people something fun to watch at home and to remind people that just like local restaurants and other businesses, musicians need your support right now, too.”

‘Real Neato at Home’ streams online Saturday, June 27, at 9pm. Realneato.com; linktr.ee/realneato.

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