Fundraiser music festival is Memorial Day weekend

MeloMania Entertainments hosts two-day concert to support middle school orchestras

Fundraiser music festival is Memorial Day weekendBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

It’s time to grab your sunscreen, your rompers, tents and most importantly, your dancing shoes – Ridgecrest is getting its very own music festival. The two days of live music, food, vendors, games and more happens Memorial Day weekend at the Desert Empire Fairgrounds. And if that’s not enough, it’s all for a great cause – proceeds will benefit the orchestra programs for Murray and Monroe Middle Schools.

“There are just too many amazing musicians in this town,” said event coordinator and performer Michelle Findley. “I just kept thinking, ‘We have to have a music festival.’”

Findley, a mother of three budding musicians, is the bass player and lead vocalist for Rayband, seen frequently at Open Mic nights at the Historic USO Building. She also plays string bass with the Desert Community Orchestra. And now she’s coordinating the festival through her newly formed nonprofit organization MeloMania Entertainments.

“’Melomania means an abnormal love of music,” said Findley. “I plan on using the organization to do benefits, concerts and festivals within the community.”

Last year, Findley helped organize Emily’s Benefit Festival, another concert event that raised funds for Emily, a local 12-year-old with congenital heart disease. The event saw more than 350 attendees and raised thousands for Emily’s medical needs.

“Emily’s benefit was a huge success,” said Findley. “The whole thing was a lot of fun and I learned a whole lot about what is required to put on an event like this.”

So Findley formed her nonprofit and hopes to make this year’s concert Ridgecrest’s “first annual” premier music festival.

The festival features more than a dozen artists, most of them local, including Unconditional Life, Rayband, the Ridgecrest Chamber Orchestra, Simon Austin, John Saint Ryan, Korinza Shlanta, Jordan Covert, Alex Kuby, Lisa Skrabar, Dannie Jacobsen, Shannon Findley, Whitey Winchester, Daphne Herbert, Stephen’s Reggae Beats, Six Knuckle Chuck, Down by the River Band and Cat Food & Sugar.

In addition to the musical entertainment, Findley has enlisted clothing and jewelry vendors, face painters, bounce houses, fire spinners, raffles and of course food trucks.

“The cool thing is, this year I actually have vendors calling me instead of the other way around,” said Findley. “I got a call from Ben & Jerry’s in Bakersfield, and they said they want to come and sell ice cream.”

The $10 entry fee gets you access to both days of the festival, Saturday, May 27, 2-10 p.m., and Sunday, May 28, noon-10 p.m. For $15, concertgoers are also treated to overnight camping and a late-night set headlined by Uncon-ditional Life, which released its album “The Beginning” earlier this year.

The festival is presented in part by McCoy and McEntee Sound & Lighting.

Sponsors are the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe (platinum); Mike Rice the Artist and Fury’s Sports Bar (Gold); and High Desert Home Center True Value (Silver). Findley is still looking for more sponsors and vendors. For more information visit MeloMania Entertainments’ Facebook page or the “Ridgecrest First Annual Music Festival” Facebook event.

“I really want to just give back to the community and help people realize how special Ridgecrest is,” said Findley. “Especially to the music teachers who teach these kids, some who have never touched an instrument, to read music and perform in front of an audience.”

Pictured: Michelle Findley plays bass at last year’s benefit concert. -- Courtesy photo

Story First Published: 2017-05-19