LocoMojo takes over Plaza Saturday
Tom “X-Man” Xavier is one of the acts in Saturday’s LocoMojo Festival on the Plaza.
Sonoma is known for its glamorous events, from the glitz of film festivals to the star-power at the Valley's major concerts. But Sonoma's loveable, down-home style sometimes gets lost in the limelight of these major endeavors, and a group of young Sonomans is working on a music festival that is truly local - and totally free.
The LocoMojo Festival returns to the Plaza this Saturday, June 25, with a full day of music as well as an art fair and fundraiser for Relay For Life.
"We told people 'You want to play? At least one member of your band has to be from Sonoma County,'" said Ryan Xavier, who is organizing the festival to promote local musicians and homegrown talent. "We're trying to show people we're out there. Sonoma is not just about big jazz festivals."
The musical line-up has a little something for everyone, from country to rock to reggae. The day begins at noon, when Tom "X-Man" Xavier brings his country twang to the Grinstead Amphitheater. At 1 p.m. Mystery Herbs takes the stage. Alt-rocker Dan Littlefield, who grew up in Sonoma but now resides in El Granada, performs at 2 p.m. Sonoma's most well-known rock band, the Whiskey Thieves, take the stage at 3 p.m. Dan Martin will provide a flair of reggae at 4 p.m. The hometown rock of SoundDrift can be heard at 5 p.m. Dirty Cello, with its folksy blues strings, makes an appearance at 6 p.m. Sean Carscadden, a Sonoma music teacher and regular fixture at Murphy's Irish Pub's Snug, will wrap up the night with bluesy guitar during his set at 7 p.m.
"Every band we have pretty much comes from Sonoma," Xavier said.
The festival is meant to be a true community event, with something for all ages. In addition to the music, artists in a variety of mediums will share their work throughout the day during an art fair organized by Brian Ruff.
"A lot of them will have little crafts and things for kids to do," Xavier said. "It's not some rowdy event, it's very family oriented. I'll be out there with my son."
The event is totally free, something Xavier felt was important to ensure it was accessible for everyone. But one performer will be asking the crowd for money. Tom Xavier will be raising funds for his Relay For Life team throughout the festival.
"My friend from grade school, Debbie Emery, a lifelong resident of Sonoma, is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer and I am part of her Relay team," Tom Xavier said, explaining that he will donate 100 percent of the proceeds from his CD sales that day to Relay For Life.
Relay for Life will also host an informational booth throughout the event, offering details on the event and collecting donations, which will be used to fund cancer research and on support programs to aid those living with the disease. Relay For Life is the flagship fundraiser of the American Cancer Society, and takes place in Sonoma on Aug. 6 at the Sonoma Valley High School track. For more details, visit www.RelayForLife.com/SonomaCa.
Ruff founded the LocoMojo Festival in 2003. The festival was inspired by his website at the time, locomojo.com, which served as a place for Sonoma County musicians to share digital versions of their music along with gig information. The LocoMojo Festival was an outgrowth of his efforts to provide access to the musicians living and working in Sonoma. While Ruff remains involved, Ryan Xavier, who also works as a music promoter, pulled the festival together - which he said happened more last minute than he would have liked.
"I applied for the permit in February and just got approval a week ago," he said.
Ryan Xavier said he hopes to make the festival a part of the regular line-up of summer events in Sonoma, continuing to offer a platform for local talent to show what they've got. He said in the future, he wants to include food and wine vendors and allow a wide variety of nonprofits to participate. But for now, he's just focused on putting on a good show.
"We just want to make it a super fun, local event," he said. "I hope we can book the Plaza for the future and just make this one of those annual events the whole town comes together for."
For more information, visit www.locomojo.com.