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Local students enjoy concert for Redwood Coast Music Festival

EUREKA- Twenty bands are filling the air with music in Eureka for the next three days for the 25th annual Redwood Coast Music Festival.  On Friday, one of the children’s concerts was held at the Municipal Auditorium. 

More than 1,400 students from around Humboldt County were treated to the sounds of Gator Nation at the concert. Gator Nation is a Cajun Zydeco band from the Bay Area.

"The purpose for those is to get our youth, our young kids exposed to music and exposed to jazz music so that they'll learn to like that music and play it in school and keep that type of music alive and in our society for years to come," said Lynn McKenna, the Children’s Concert Coordinator for the Redwood Coast Music Festival.

"It was really cool because there were a whole bunch of different instruments and I really liked the one where it was on his chest, that was really fun," said Emerald Larsen, a fifth grader at Alice Birney Elementary School.

But the kids didn’t just listen to the music, but danced as well.  Three Mattole School students performed a 20s style Charleston solo.

"It's just really fun and exhilarating to perform in front of everybody.  Before, you're a little bit nervous, but as soon as you're up there and your dancing, all your nervousness just goes away," said Maple Wheeler, a seventh grade student at Mattole School.

"You just get used to it once you're dancing and you're just not afraid anymore," said Calista Salbego, a sixth grade student at Mattole School.

Musicians and the children agree that music has a special place in everyone’s hearts.

"Music is something that is universal and everyone can relate.  If you can relate to the beat and rhythms, you can relate to melodies.  Certainly, it's a universal language.  You can convey emotions through music.  You can actually if you choose, you can protest through music or you can share love," said Willard Blackwell, the Lead Vocalist of Gator Nation.

"It's a way to express yourself.  You can do what you want and there's not many rules," Larsen said.

Performers say the community’s appreciation of music is obvious on the North Coast.

"What I've noticed about Eureka and this festival is that the dancers and the community is totally involved and that's what it takes.  I mean we can play the music, but if the community doesn't come and support it, we don't have anywhere to play," Blackwell said.

The festival is a fundraiser for senior programs in the area and music programs for local schools.  Last year, the festival raised about $10,000.  For the complete list of Redwood Coast Music Festival events, visit