Railroad Square Music Festival Captures Local Talent on New Album

Since the Railroad Square Music Festival is unable to bring the people to the music this summer due to the pandemic, they decided to bring the music to the people.

This month, organizers of Railroad Square Music Festival—which normally takes over the titular downtown district in Santa Rosa for a free day of live music in June—are instead dropping a new compilation, RSMF Records Vol 1: Live at Prairie Sun 2021, featuring 12 eclectic North Bay bands and artists and available online for streaming and as a digital album.

“Because of the pandemic, Mooka (Mark “Mooka” Rennick) and the other managers at Prairie Sun Studio wanted to bring some energy back to the music scene,” says RSMF co-founder Susy Dugan.

In addition to co-founding RSMF with Josh Windmiller, Dugan works as an audio engineer with Prairie Sun Live, the live events branch of Prairie Sun Recording Studios. Each June, Prairie Sun Live provides the audio for the RSMF. With the event canceled for the second summer in a row, the two groups joined forces for this new compilation record.

“This was a perfect collaboration to bring some people into the studio, but also give people a safe space and opportunity to be artists and to create again,” Dugan says.

RSMF Records Vol 1: Live at Prairie Sun 2021 features electro-jazz artist Eki Shola, funk ensemble Bronze Medal Hopefuls, hip-hop artist Kayatta, harmonizing rockers Heartwood Trio, soul star Simone Mosely, lo-fi act Coldest, norteño alternativos Pistoleros Famosos, surf pop-punkers the Happys, Highway Poets’ frontman Sebastian St. James, acoustic R&B duo Jaz and Crow, a new band by Gabe Katz called Bummer Peak and Windmiller’s band the Crux.

“We had four days of recording, and we had three or four bands per day,” Dugan says. “We ran it a lot like we would a live concert, where the bands load in, do a couple takes of their live performance and then we get ready for the next band.”

For some of the bands, this marked their debut at the famed recording studios in Cotati, and Dugan says many of the album tracks were written during the pandemic, so this is the first time audiences will get to hear those tunes.

“Being there for the recording was a moving experience, I had goosebumps the whole time,” Dugan says. “We’re so happy to be able to present local performers, and we’re grateful to Prairie Sun for the opportunity to shine a light on all of the incredible talent in the North Bay.”

The album is available online now, and Henhouse Brewing Company even has a custom From the Heart IPA featuring a QR code on the can to direct folks to the record. In addition to the album, RSMF is also continuing work on its RSMF TV series of videos and eyeing a return to live events in 2022.

“At the Railroad Square Music Festival, our entire focus is to bring more attention to the music community,” Dugan says. “The compilation accomplished that, and it helped me remember why we do this.”

railroadsquaremusicfestival.com/records

Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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