New Roads

Railroad Square Fest marks three years

Anything can be done once, even a music festival. A second year is certainly a success, but the third time’s the charm. That’s one way that Railroad Square Music Festival director Josh Windmiller looks at the fest’s third go June 11 in Santa Rosa.

“When we started the festival, we knew there was a ticking time bomb,” Windmiller says. “If we didn’t get the flow moving fast enough, there would an inherent drag.”

Windmiller is happy to proclaim that this festival has passed that threshold, and in its third year, he sees the Railroad Square Music Festival moving with ever-increasing momentum.”There are a lot of people in the community that are excited about it and want to make it possible,” he says. “And that’s the only way that this is going to happen, if it is close to the hearts of the community.”

Aided by an outpouring of volunteer help, private donations and business and city sponsorships, this year’s festival will once again present a diverse swath of the North Bay’s best music and art.

“This is a one-day example of what the North Bay is and can be in the heart of Sonoma County,” Windmiller says.

This year’s headliner is Forestville’s rising Americana star David Luning and his band. Santa Rosa songwriter John Courage returns for his third appearance. Making their debut at the festival, Bay Area world-music ensemble La Gente blend high energy and grooving melodies.

Other acts include punk-folk fellows the Timothy O’Neil Band, indie-pop outfit Lungs and Limbs, and the street-wise Black Sheep Brass Band.

The festival had been set at Santa Rosa’s Welcome Center and Depot Park on Wilson street. Yet with the SMART train’s immient arrival (next month?), the event is expanding to take over Fourth and Fifth streets between Wilson and Davis, moving the stages away from the tracks. Windmiller notes that the SMART train was an initial inspiration for setting the festival in the square. “I don’t know of any other festival that you can take the train directly to,” he says.

Windmiller’s enthusiasm and unwavering energy propels the attitude of the entire festival, which for the past two years has been one of the most vibrant days of local music in Sonoma County.

The event also offers arts activities for kids and local artisan crafters. Lagunitas beer, Virginia Dare wines and North Bay food purveyors fuel the festival’s sunny disposition, as do the multi-tasking volunteers who assist the vendors, art team, stage crew and more.

Railroad Square Music Festival happens on Sunday, June 11, Fourth and Wilson streets, Santa Rosa. Noon to 7pm. Free admission. For info and to volunteer, visit