The city of Umatilla is preparing to crank up the sound and roll out the welcome mat during its inaugural Rock the Locks Music Festival, set Friday through Sunday, Oct. 6-8, at Big River Golf Course, 709 Willamette St.
The gates open at 11 a.m. each day. More than 25 musical acts in all, including top headliners Collective Soul, ZZ Top and Night Ranger, will perform on two stages.
“We hope you’re all as excited about our amazing band lineup as we are,” City Manager David Stockdale said. “This will be the first time in Umatilla’s history of hosting Billboard Top 10 bands.”
Atlanta-based group Collective Soul collected a pair of Billboard Music Awards for top rock song with “Shine” and “December” in 1994 and 1995, respectively. They kick things off Friday night.
Performing such hits as “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Pearl Necklace” and “Cheap Sunglasses,” ZZ Top tops Saturday night’s bill. Vocalist-guitarist Billy Gibbons, drummer Frank Beard and bassist-vocalist Dusty Hill played together for five decades until Hill’s death in 2021. He was replaced by the band’s longtime guitar tech, Elwood Francis.
Night Ranger wraps up the festival on Sunday. Hailing from San Francisco, their familiar 1980s hits include “Sister Christian,” “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” and “(You Can Still) Rock In America.”
The festival also features more than 30 food and merchandise vendors, a general store and beer gardens. In addition, recreational vehicle and tent camping is available.
Producer Erik Tweedy with Phantizy Productions has helped work up frenzied anticipation for the event. Since launching the Rock the Locks Facebook page on Oct. 19, 2022, it has garnered more than 1,300 followers and 1,000-plus “likes.”
In addition to inking deals with national acts, Tweedy also assembled a lineup of local and regional musicians. While the festival expects to draw numerous visitors from out of the area, he said having musicians with closer ties truly makes it a hometown event.
“This is a good opportunity for friends and families to come see the show and continue to build unity within the community,” he said.
According to Stockdale, the city adopted a goal several years ago to develop a new outdoor community festival and event facility to host gatherings capable of accommodating at least 7,500 people. He said the Umatilla Landing Days, which is held at Umatilla Marina Park, gets “cozy” with a capacity of 2,500. Tweedy anticipates daily crowds of 6,000 to 8,000 during the first year of Rock the Locks.
Holding it at the golf course, Stockdale said, allows for larger crowds. While people are coming to hear music, he said they’re also bringing money. He anticipates that area restaurants, local retailers and hotels will see “significant sales” during the festival.
“One of the main drivers of the event is to bring in tourist dollars to support Umatilla and other local businesses and the community in general,” Tweedy said.
Ticket options include three-day general admission for $239 or three-day VIP ticket for $499. Single-day tickets range from $99 to $109. Children under 11 are admitted free with a paying adult.