North Bay grass-roots organization RockSteadyFest is committed to connecting local audiences and artists through the shared experience of live music.
Since 2017, the group has held several local, live events to do just that, though their plans to hold a concert last month were canceled in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We canceled one week before it was a mandatory stay-at-home order; we saw the writing on the wall,” says RockSteadyFest artistic director Jeffrey Trotter.
Like other event producers in the North Bay, RockSteadyFest knew they would have to transform their model to continue their musical mission. This weekend, the organization unveils the RockSteadyFest Virtual Concert, which is in fact three days of live musical performances from popular North Bay artists that runs Friday to Sunday, May 29–31, via Facebook TV and airing on Marin TV, channel 30.
The virtual weekend opens with a Youth concert on May 29, 3–8pm, featuring talented Marin student musicians. Saturday and Sunday concerts begin at 2pm and 3pm respectively, and feature artists including the boogie-woogie team of Wendy DeWitt and Kirk Harwood, the Tom Finch Trio, Jonathan Korty, Darren Nelson and Jimmy Dillon, among many others.
“We already had this festival planned, and we’re not going to let the virus run things completely,” Trotter says. “There are ways to make this work and the artists all said, ‘“Let’s try to do something online.’”
Trotter and the organizers of RockSteadyFest have been working hard for the last month and a half to ensure the online event will be as seamless as possible, with one-off shows to test the Facebook video feed and a slew of technical rehearsals with the musicians from their studios and with youth performers.
“The kids are performing from their backyards, of course with the consent of their parents,” Trotter says.
“The youth concert is in cooperation with the Tomales Bay Youth Center, so lots and lots of talented kids out in West Marin are going to play music on Friday, and they’re going to scare everybody or everybody is going to love it,” Trotter adds, laughing.
On Saturday, RockSteadyFest opens its lineup with a tribute to late North Bay–vocalist Stefanie Keys, who headlined the organization’s first concert in 2017 with Big Brother & the Holding Company. Keys lost her battle with ovarian cancer last year at the age of 51.
Saturday’s lineup then opens with keyboardist Peter Keys, brother of Stefanie, and also features Chelsea the Piper, Courtney Erwin, Lorin Rowan, Vikki D’Orazi, Kevin Griffin, Susan Zelinsky, Jimmy Dillon, Darren Nelson and Jonathan Korty.
Sunday’s locals lineup includes Danielle Vantress-Salk, Gene Ptak, Clementine Darling, Chris Holbrook, John Ford, Tom Finch Trio, John Allair and Wendy DeWitt with Kirk Harwood. All the performances are free to stream on Facebook and watch on Marin TV channel 30; donations are welcomed through Paypal and Venmo.
RockSteadyFest Virtual Concerts happen Friday to Sunday, May 29–31, Fri, 3–8pm; Sat, 2–8pm; Sunday, 3–8pm. Visit www.rocksteadyfest.org for more details.