A lot can happen in ten years. What once started as a ragtag team of bands and volunteers in a small downtown venue has now grown into a city-wide event as the Cherry City Music Festival. Beginning this Thursday, March 31st, and continuing through Saturday, April 2nd, venues all over Salem will be engulfed with over 30 live performances by bands from all over the area for a full weekend of music immersion.
The Cherry City Music Festival began as part of the Mid-Valley Video Festival’s Mix-n-Mash, with the goal of “bringing independent local bands and their fans together for great musical performances and networking opportunities throughout Salem.” The Festival is still managed by its founder, Ross Swartzendruber, who has collaborated with local powerhouses like Capital Community Television (CCTV) since 2009 to help grow the event over the past ten celebrations.
“The purpose of the festival centers on the relationship between live music and quality of life,” Swartzendruber said. “Going out to a performance allows for deeper experiences that connect people and communities in real life. We’re lucky to have so many talented musicians that call Salem home, and this annual event gives them some of the recognition they deserve.”
In the beginning, the festival wasn’t particularly fancy or high-tech. The equipment was basic. There was no real certainty about anything—except for the driving desire to redefine the music scene in Salem. However, once Swartzendruber joined forces with CCTV, the facilities coordinator (and equipment guru), Charles Lewis, immediately jumped at the opportunity to lend a hand in what Swartzendruber started.
“It was a little rocky at first,” Lewis explained. “We didn’t have the equipment that we have now…we didn’t have monitors for the bands, we had very few microphones.” He laughed. “It was challenging. But we’ve come a long way since then, and we’ve learned a lot. We have nice monitors now, excellent microphones, moving lights, LEDs, and all sorts of great tech. But the spirit of it was always fun.”
After putting in hundreds of hours to fine-tune this machine, CCTV is about to take the Cherry City Music Festival to a whole new level. This year, CCTV is introducing live interaction options for all audience members via Livestream and social media communication. In addition to recording and playing live on Channel 22, and being simulcast on the radio all three days via KMUZ, CCTV will stream bands live online as they perform in real time. Kirimi Flitter, the Programming and Promotion Coordinator for CCTV, is in charge of managing incoming texts, tweets, Facebook comments as they pertain to the performances. After receiving messages through social media or text, Flitter will place them on screen for all audience members to read and respond to in turn.
But Flitter is not the only one whose hands will be busy during the event. “We would definitely not be able to do this, or any production CCTV puts on, without the help of our volunteers,” Flitter admits. One of CCTV’s core missions is to provide opportunities for people to come in to their studios as volunteers and learn about video production. “You don’t have to have any prior experience or knowledge about production before you come in. You train on the job, and it’s great for people to learn the ropes so that they can take their experience and their knowledge they’ve gained in order to go and create something on their own.”
It’s a win-win-win for everyone. The Cherry City Music Festival is a high voltage success because of the bands and the volunteers behind it. It’s a collaborative effort from the bands to gain experience and exposure and networking success. In exchange for the generosity of the band members and volunteers, the Salem area benefits tremendously from a healthy music scene for all ages, increasing our awareness of the people who work hard year-round to bring a sense of passion and pride to our community.
For more information about the Festival, including the full list of venues, performance times, band names, Livestream details, or opportunities to volunteer, please visit cctvsalem.org/about-ccmf or cherrycitymusic.com. (Please note that performances are free to attend, although restrictions may apply to minors at some venues.)
For information about other CCTV events and volunteer opportunities, visit cctvsalem.org or visit their downtown location at 575 Trade Street Southeast.