As frontman of the Crux and founder of the nonprofit North Bay Hootenanny, Josh Windmiller is a Santa Rosa devotee. He has organized events in the city’s West End and historic Railroad Square for six summers, and has had a hand in everything from the Handcar Regatta to last year’s Wine & Swine.
“I know this is where the heart of the city is,” he says. “There’s so much activity and imagination here, and there’s a real desire to have something happen in Railroad Square.”
With that in mind, Windmiller unveils the Railroad Square Music Festival on June 7. It’s his biggest event yet.
“I decided I was going to widen the umbrella of the North Bay Hootenanny last year, and this is part of that,” says Windmiller. “I think this festival is important as a flagship event for the organization. It’s a love letter to Santa Rosa, from Santa Rosa.”
Windmiller has enlisted an impressive lineup of Bay Area acts that he’s come to know over the years. San Francisco folk sensation the Brothers Comatose headline; they were the first band to sign on and the act that convinced the city and others to work with Windmiller to get the event off the ground.
“Festivals are backwards,” says Windmiller. “You need to get the word out and then once there’s buzz you go out and talk to people to partner with.” Windmiller has been buoyed by support he’s gotten from the city of Santa Rosa and sponsors like Oliver’s Market and Lagunitas Brewing Company.
Oakland’s T Sisters will be on hand for the show, as will Sam Chase, whom Windmiller describes as the “King of San Francisco.” Other notables include up-and-comer Marty O’Reilly and his Old Soul Orchestra, and local favorites like Frankie Boots & the County Line, the Rainbow Girls and songsmith John Courage.
Two stages will be set up around the railroad depot on Wilson Street between Fourth and Fifth streets. A circus tent will also host a variety of acts. Santa Rosa’s grassroots craft fair, the Shop Party, will offer wares from local vendors, and yes, a family area will be set aside for the kids.
The festival is free, large crowds are expected, and the streets will be closed around the square: Carpooling and bicycles are mightily encouraged.
The Railroad Square Music Festival chugs into town Sunday, June 7, at Fourth and Wilson Streets, Santa Rosa. 11am to 7pm. Free. railroadsquaremusicfestival.com.