Music and more at Ridgecrest’s 4th Annual Music Festival

Music and more at Ridgecrest’s 4th Annual Music FestivalBy LAURA QUEZADA

News Review Staff Writer

After a pandemic break, the Ridgecrest Music Festival is back and ready to entertain as they raise funds for local music programs. The music kicks off at 11am at the Desert Empire Fairgrounds in the Desert Valley Hall and goes until midnight. There’s a $10 dollar entrance fee, kids 12 and under get in for free. There’s live music for all music lovers, whatever your age or your preference. There’s something for babies, supporters of young musicians, a touch of classical and many flavors of rock and roll.

The entire festival is family friendly, but especially the morning through the late afternoon where there are performances by the Ridgecrest Youth Symphony, varous young soloists, bands from Burroughs High, Monroe and Murray Middle Schools, the BHS Drumline and performances by young dancers from Sierra Academy of Dance. Outdoor on the lawn the real little ones will be treated to a free Music Together Ridgecrest class at 12:50pm.

At 4pm the rock and roll starts. You will be treated to acoustic rock by Ray & Company, rock with a punk edge by Kenneth Ramone’s Mad Epidemic, an 80’s hair metal tribute act by The Hot Tub Metal Machine, punk rock by Token Idiot, heavy metal by 9 O’Clock Is the New Forty, punk rock by Zero Given, classic rock by Station Street, and alternative rock with an attitude by Seeing Ravens.

Ensuring that high quality sound and lights are part of the experience is Mc2, Ridgecrest’s own sound company. Event organizer, Michelle Findley, says,“The best of the best that I know of sound in our area. They are amazing. I’m honored to have them every year.” Also contributing to the experience is the stage. She adds, “I do plan the festival always the weekend after Ridgecrest Chamber Follies because I know it’s easier on the sound guys.” An added benefit is the use of the stage that is custom designed and installed by the Follies and fairground crews. Sound is enhanced in the large hall by the drapes that surround the stage.

There are vendors galore inside and out. You will find your favorite foods, arts and crafts, jewelry, and grownups will be able to get their adult beverage. To add to the fun folks can camp on site. “It’ll be good for the adults to have an adult beverage. That’s why it’s also nice to have the camping because people can enjoy the whole event and then not worry about driving home or however they’re going to get somewhere because they can just crash in their tent or in an RV.” There is no charge for parking.

If this isn’t enough fun, fire spinners will be spinning indoors and out. Plus, there’s the Cake Walk which is described as something like musical chairs. Folks who buy a Cake Walk ticket for $2.00 join, “We have a song playing, they circle around and when we say ‘Stop’, they will see what music note they’re standing on. And if that music note is on the bottom of the cake, they will win the cake.”

Findley tells us, “Ridgecrest’s 4th Annual Music Festival is presented by Melomania Entertainments, which is a nonprofit organization specializing in raising funds for music education. So that is the total goal with the festival.” Findley heads the non-profit; her daughter, Shannon, is the Vice President. “I have some Melomaniac vounteers.”

Findley is known as a musician herself and as a music teacher. “ I teach music at the Ridgecrest Youth Symphony, I do private lessons, I teach full time at REALMS, and with Music Together Ridgecrest.” She adds, “I also am a tattoo artist. I own Symphony in Ink.”

Music began affecting Findley’s life as a young child. “I got my first guitar when I was six years old. That was my first, ‘Okay, I’m a musician.’ I was self taught. I had one teacher, Mr. McCormick, when I was in third grade at Inyokern Elementary. He would play guitar and sing Beach Boys and it was a huge inspiration. Each musical encounter in my life has been a musical epiphany.”

In middle school she was given the opportunity to join the orchestra and needed to pick an instrument. “I thought I wanted to play violin and they didn’t have violins available to lend me. I was from a low income family and I didn’t have money to buy an instrument. They told me, ‘You can pick from either this or this’ – a cello or bass. I did not even know what they were.” She answered, “The big giant one. It was just beautiful. The stand up bass is just the most amazing instrument.”

Over the years she has continued learning new instruments. “I play guitar, mandolin, bass guitar, stand up bass, keyboards and violin. The fun thing about mandolin is the violin and the mandolin have the same strings, the same notes. Many violinists don’t realize they are learning the mandolin, too. I love to sing and I love to harmonize. I could never learn enough instruments.”

The Ridgecrest Music Festival is a labor of love and a lot of the expenses come out of her own pocket. Sponsors are still being sought. Those interested in sponsorships can contact Findley at 760-590-2691.

Laura Austin Photo: Event organizer, Michelle Findley (Top Right) with the REALMS sixth grade class who will also be performing at the festival.

Story First Published: 2022-04-08