Make Music Day is back in Salem with another lineup of musical offerings 

This year will be no different as the Make Music Salem event gets geared up for another event on Friday, June 21 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The city will transform into a music lover’s paradise as hundreds of bands and performers fan out across town to play music under the summer sun. 

Mark Green, the event’s co-founder said as of Thursday morning, there were 191 bands and performers slated to play at 52 venues in town. Those venues can pop up anywhere, and any genre is fair game, from Latin and country to jazz and punk. All performances are free. 

“It is a little mind boggling, but the idea is that places that normally don’t have music, different stores downtown for example, and the alleyways, and parking lots…become places where they are music venues, basically,” Green said. “It is this organic thing that happens, and we facilitate it. Salem has this great musical, arts culture that we don’t usually talk about…it is a good feeling day.”

Venues are concentrated downtown but include locations around the city, from Minto Island Growers and the Beehive Station Food Pod in south Salem to the Kroc Center and several breweries. Green said one of the event’s goals moving forward is to continue spreading venues out from the central part of town. 

“We started out as a downtown thing and our goal has been to try to push that throughout the community,” Green said. 

Grimiss performs during Salem’s Make Music Day on June 21, 2023 (Eric Schuman/Special to Salem Reporter)

While registration to play at the event is closed, Green said he is encouraged when people who have never performed before a live audience come to the event and take the stage. Green said this type of experimental and inclusive environment is what the event — which began in France in 1982 and debuted in Salem in 2016 — is all about. 

“That is the whole point. We’ve had people that have gotten themselves together and assembled a band and their goal was to play on Make Music Day,” Green said. “You don’t have to be a star to perform on one of our stages. Everybody is a star. Anybody that is willing to get up there and perform.” 

Green said performances will include anything from individuals who finally built up the courage to play their own songs for the first time, to the Oregon Symphony, and everything in between. 

He also said the street performer known as the Unipiper is coming from Portland to once again dazzle the crowds while playing flaming bagpipes in a Darth Vader mask.

Two acts in particular, Buu Vega and My Mother’s Daughter, are both relatively new to the Make Music Day scene. Danika Hill is the vocalist for the mother-daughter duo band, My Mother’s Daughter which performed at the event for its first time last year, and does covers of oldies, some jazz and show tunes. Hill said she and her mom like to also play stuff like, “What’s Up?” by 4 Non Blondes, and “Brand New Key” by Melanie. 

“Just kind of quirky songs. We like to keep it fun. It’s my mom on ukulele and me on vocals. I just debuted a new kazoo solo. So, we’ve added a kazoo to the lineup,” Hill said. 

To catch a set by Hill and her mother, check out the schedule for My Mother’s Daughter here

Augustin Vega, who goes by Buu Vega on stage, debuted his music at Make Music Day two years ago. Vega plays a mix of rock and cumbia, a musical mix he said kind of just happened. He said he likes mixing different sounds and said he enjoys Make Music Day because of how important it is for different communities to spread music across town.

“I think it is important to have events or programming around music where people can learn to express themselves. I think we need more of that in general,” Vega said. “That’s really important to have programs that bring music and sound to communities across Salem.” 

Check out Buu Vega’s set schedule here.

Amador Aguilar, the founder of the Enlace Cross-Cultural Community Development Project, said his goal for many years has been to bring cultural and traditional music to the community at large. His plan for this year is to bring some Latin culture and flavor to the Make Music Day event. 

This year, once again, the organization will bring music from across Latin America, from places like the Andes mountains, and countries like Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala, and Bolivia. 

“Music is a powerful tool,” Aguilar said “We need cultural music that educates people…we really want to use the festival to educate. To bring awareness about the topics that are really important for the community.” 

The Enlace music day lineup will include guitar ensemble, Rondalla Sentimiento Latino, playing at venues including the Salem Kroc Center, Minto Island Growers, the Withnell Family YMCA and Xicha Brewing North at 2195 Hyacinth Street N.E. 

A full schedule of the group’s shows is here. Later on in the day there will be more Latin music playing from 3 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. at the Forgiveness and Peace Community Garden in Northgate Park at 3502 Fairhaven Avenue N.E., and then at the Farmworkers Housing Development Corporation’s Colonia Libertad at 2911 Saddle Club Court S.E. from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m. 

Members of the Sprague High School orchestra perform in the Riverfront Park amphitheater for Make Music Day on Tuesday, June 21, 2021 (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

Contact reporter Joe Siess: [email protected] or 503-335-7790.

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Joe Siess is a reporter for Salem Reporter. Joe joined Salem Reporter in 2024 and primarily covers city and county government but loves surprises. Joe previously reported for the Redmond Spokesman, the Bulletin in Bend, Klamath Falls Herald and News and the Malheur Enterprise. He was born in Independence, MO, where the Oregon Trail officially starts, and grew up in the Kansas City area.