Gardens, alleys and Salem streets fill with songs for Make Music Day

Music lovers across Salem started off their mornings sampling a generous variety of genres as the city celebrated Make Music Day.

A small crowd of people leisurely started their morning under an awning at the Lord & Schryver Conservancy to listen classical violin music by Keizer native Hyrum Kohler in a lush garden. By 11 a.m., folks on their way into the Salem Kroc Center were pleasantly surprised to find the Rondalla Sentimiento Latino band playing classics from across Latin America, including “La Bamba.” 

Keizer native Hyrum Kohler plays the violin at the Lord & Schryver Conservancy during Make Music Day on Friday (Joe Siess/Salem Reporter)

All over Salem, bands tuned guitars and strings, and music lovers crowded around popup venues to celebrate music and the new season. 

The Hypnatwists, an independent rock ‘n’ roll band from Salem, were finishing up a set around noon in front of Isaac’s Downtown. 

Tony Quinn, the band’s bass player, said the band formed last November and this was its first time playing at Make Music Day. 

“Some people are sticking around, some people are checking it out, and everyone is really really nice. It’s really cool. This is really awesome,” Quinn said. “I’ve been to some Make Music Days and I’ve just been a fan but then getting to play is freaking awesome. It’s cool that venues were seeking us out. It was almost like a dating app. We lucked out and people liked us.” 

The Hypnatwists were packing up and getting ready to play at the Infinity Room later in the day. 

Zack Carlson, another member of the band, said he appreciates the opportunity for exposure on the streets of Salem, and said the event is well done.  

“They make it not just easy on the fans, but on the venues too. And for us, we are a brand new band. This is the best kind of opportunity we can get,” Carlson said. “Or else we would be playing at some basement show with like two people.” 

Carlson said playing on the street corner attracted a crowd of around 15 or 20 people. 

Steve Human from Jefferson was on the street in a straw hat and a flowered shirt with his ukulele in tow. Human said he was slated to play later in the evening and is a member of the RiverCity Rock Star Academy where he’s been taking guitar lessons. 

“Long story short, I crashed a motorcycle about six years back,” Human said. “I hit my head so hard I had to learn how to walk and talk and I didn’t know how to play the guitar after that so I went to the Rockstar Academy and I started to do my best to get it all back.” 

Playing at Make Music Day is Human’s way of channeling his love for music despite his accident, he said. 

Alex Little and Maurice Ramirez from the Portland-based Wavicle band were relaxing after playing a set. Wavicle is a progressive rock and psychedelic funk fusion band that performed at the intersection of Liberty and State streets downtown as a growing group of spectators gathered around. 

“We love to play music and it’s cool to try out interesting environments, and playing on the street is an interesting place to play,” Little said. “So, we absolutely had to take the opportunity when it came up. As much as I love to play at venues of all kinds, playing outside is really nice.” 

Make Music Day turned Salem into a music lover’s paradise on Friday (Joe Siess/Salem Reporter)

Carolyn Dixon from California and her son Thomas Dixon, who lives in Salem, were seven bands deep and hightailing it to their next venue. 

Carolyn Dixon, who plays in a folk, jazz, funk band back home, said she came to Salem not only to visit her son, but also to get her fill of the free live music. This is her third Make Music Day. 

“Where else can you get all this live music for free? And watching all of these live musicians, you always take something home. It is a great thing to do,” Carolyn Dixon said. Make Music Day performances continue Friday into the evening. Visit the event website for a full schedule and list of venues.

The Rondalla Sentimiento Latino greeted people with tunes from across Latin America as they made there way to the Salem Kroc Center on Friday during Make Music Day (Joe Siess/Salem Reporter)

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.