Saying goodbye to Ridgestock: Music fest calling it quits after 20 years |

Saying goodbye to Ridgestock: Music fest calling it quits after 20 years

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Special to Prospector

Know & Go

WHAT: 20th Anniversary of Ridgestock Music and Sustainability Fest

WHERE: North Columbia Schoolhouse, 17894 Tyler-Foote Crossing Road, Nevada City

WHEN: Friday and Saturday, Aug. 16-17, from 3-11 p.m.

HOW: Tickets at; Fri $20 in adv/$25 at the door, Sat $30/$35 Kids $10; no dogs allowed

Roo Cantada had lived in Nevada County for all of three years when she, along with a few friends, decided there was a need to provide live music in their community. They decided a music festival might be a fun way to gather people together on the North San Juan Ridge and came up with a cool name. As a result, Ridgestock was born.

After the first year, Cantada decided it might be fun to do it again. This time, she approached the North Columbia Schoolhouse to produce it.

“They said you need a budget, a timeline and a bunch of paperwork but we’ll underwrite it, so for seven years, it was a Schoolhouse event,” she explained.

After that, the bottom line did not have the appeal the Schoolhouse was looking for, so Cantada took on the task of producing the festival on her own. Now in its 20th year, this Ridgestock will also be the last Ridgestock.

Cantada said if you have never been, it is now or never.

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“It’s the last opportunity you will ever have to come, so if you have never been, you should definitely come,” she said. “We always have a great variety of music. We are family friendly. The venue is like a mini park with beautiful cedar trees and shade and lawn. It is idyllic with a great atmosphere. There is a kid’s area and kid’s activities. There are workshops and vendors. Nick Federoff will be performing magic. There is always something for somebody.”

Over the years, the assortment of music has run the gamut, from punk rock to Afro-Cuban folk and everything in between. “Ridgestock Roo,” as some have come to call her, stated the 20th lineup is no different.

“We have some rock and roll,” Cantada said. “We have some folk. We have some funk. We have some pop.”

This year, the festival will run both Friday and Saturday. In addition to a varied line-up of musical talent, Ridgestock offers workshops promoting sustainability. Cantada walks the activist walk and encourages folks to come out early to enjoy all the festival has to offer.

Friday fun begins at 3 p.m., with workshops covering topics on herbalism, permaculture, and fire wise issues. As an incentive, Cantada is giving away previous Ridgestock promotional posters for the first 30 people who walk through the gate. Music begins at 5 p.m., and vendors will be selling food, wine and beer and other wares.

“It has been a showcase of local and regional music and all of the great stuff we have happening in our county,” Cantada said.

Psychedelic surf rockers The Mermen are returning to the festival and will close out Friday night’s entertainment.

Stone Mecca will headline Saturday night. The band is a self-described “gritty love triangle between rock, blues, and funk” and has performed with Earth, Wind & Fire as well as George Clinton and other well-known bands.

Other acts include Matthew Human and the Human Revolution, Broke Spoke and local favorites, pop band Golden Shoulders, who have not performed since 2017, making Ridgestock a special treat. Lead singer Adam Kline grew up in Nevada County and promises there will be recent music as well as some old favorites.

The decision to stop producing the festival did not come easy, but Cantada is ready to take a break. She said she is busy doing a lot more than putting together music festivals.

“I love it and it’s a great time, but I am tired, and I do a lot of other things,” Cantada said.

Those other things include a 20-year career as the librarian at Grizzly Hill School.

Her teenage daughter is also a priority.

“I want to spend more time with her while she still wants to be in the same room as me,” Cantada joked. “I try to make her life good. She is an incredible kid. She is a humanitarian and is activist-oriented.”

Chances are she gets that from her mother. Cantada started the San Juan Ridge Community Library and helped start the Oak Tree Community Park. She currently serves with several other women on the SJR ACT committee, trying to bring county services back to the San Juan Ridge area. They have organized community feeds, homeless clean-ups, and homeless counts. The group was instrumental in getting public transportation services restored to the Ridge and continue to work to improve the lives of those who call the San Juan Ridge home.

Cantada’s actions come from the heart.

“I really want to make the world a better place,” she said. “I start with my world. We have a beautiful park. We have a beautiful library. I am raising a good kid. And we have a great festival. I live my life by ‘Everybody does good, when everybody does good.’ So, I just do good.”

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at

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