“It took on a life of its own,” is one of the ways June Bongirno cheerfully describes how she became not just a concert promoter, but the energetic, driving force behind what looks to be the biggest live music event in years on the North Coast, the Superhero Music Fest, July 19-21 at the Ocean Shores Convention Center.
Over a dozen bands and solo artists will deliver at least 20 performances on two stages in an event that includes the first ever appearance in Ocean Shores of members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Steve Fossen and Michael Derosier are the original bassist and drummer of Heart, the Seattle band fronted by Ann and Nancy Wilson, that was inducted into the Hall in 2013.
After 10 years and five platinum albums, Fossen and Derosier left the band in 1982. For several years now, they’ve been performing as Heart By Heart, which will be the Saturday night headliner at the Ocean Shores show.
Sin Circus, a Puyallup-based high energy metal band, will be featured Saturday afternoon and area country-rock favorites Humptulips will headline Friday night. Black Shepherd, Rich Travers & the Satsop River Outlaws, Jacob & Jake, Bill Seaman, Unexpected Soul, Blues Remedy, Eddie Valentine and Uptown Charlie Brown are all performing Friday and/or Saturday. Musicians from Aberdeen’s Garage Music & Art Center will wrap up the event Sunday. A $20 wrist band will allow patrons to come and go all weekend, and $5 from each wrist band sale will go to several area non-profits.
Bongirno, along with former Seattle Seahawks player Charlie McShane, owns and operates the Waves of Bling Hawks merchandise store and Double Barrel BBQ, both on Pt. Brown Avenue in Ocean Shores. She explained that last fall, after the Hawks Fan Fest promoters announced they are moving the annual mid-August event to Birch Bay, WA, Ocean Shores Mayor Crystal Dingler asked if the pair could put together a new version of Fan Fest for this summer.
They were enthusiastic and imagined and upgraded event featuring some current players, which meant they would have to find a date before training camp started. The July 19-21 weekend was the only available date that would work, so they booked it, then learned that just a few active players could cost $30,000 to $50,000, and that didn’t begin to include star quarterback Russell Wilson, or any event production or promotion costs.
Bongirno still wanted to bring an event to town, but didn’t want that big a risk, so she began looking for other ideas. “I went to the Chocolate on the Beach Festival” in Pacific Beach and Moclips in February, “and they had all these superheroes,” she explained, and people were enjoying interacting with them — it seemed to add another fun element to the festival.
Around the same time Ocean Shores’ city-owned and volunteer-operated radio station, KOSW 91.3 FM, told her they would like to do a summer concert series. They started figuring out how to combine the concepts, and the Superhero Music Fest was born.
The superheroes are volunteers from the non-profit Costumed Characters 4 Causes, a western Washington group that raises money for Camp Good Times – a camp for kids with cancer. Joined by some locals, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, Iron Man and several more will parade down Pt. Brown Saturday at 11 a.m. and visit several local businesses for photos with fans. Anyone wishing to participate in the parade should contact Alison Cline at 425-359-2133.
When KOSW program manager “Papa” Butch Larson told her the music lineup needed a tribute band, Bongirno called Terry Johnson, who was one of the actual Seahawks fans who created the original Fan Fest in Shores in 2015. “Within 20 minutes, he called back with Heart By Heart,” she said. She quickly learned that they hold a unique place among so-called tribute bands, by boasting two original members who are Rock & Roll Hall of Famers, and a lead vocalist, Somar Macek, who can deliver a song in the big-voiced style of Heart’s Ann Wilson.
Bongirno added Humptulips for country-rock fans, and local musician and sound man Alec Johansson brought in metal masters Sin Circus, whose wild shows draw faithful fans from throughout the Northwest. At the Convention Center, there will be indoor and outdoor stages, a kids zone, around 30 vendors including food and beverage, and two beer gardens.
Bongirno said her lack of experience has been offset by the fact that “a lot of quality volunteers stepped up” and “we feed off each other’s passion.”
She has assembled several local sponsors including Double Barrel BBQ (their “Grub Truck” will be at the event all weekend), Bennett’s Fish Shack, the Grey Gull Resort, Canter bury Inn & Suites, Ocean Shores Inn & Suites, Oyhut Bay Seaside Village, Pacific Paradise, Playtime Family Fun Center, Riekkola Construction, At the Beach Rentals, Johansson Productions, Aberdeen radio stations Sunny 102.1 and KXRO and Ocean Shores’ KOSW.
Tickets are available online at www.eventbrite.com, at Double Barrel BBQ and Waves of Bling, and at the door. A limited number of VIP seats will be offered as well as “side of the stage” seating. More information is available at the event’s Facebook page, by emailing email@example.com and by calling 360-581-4803.