Yardstock III serves as a free ‘mecca for local music’ this weekend in Shickshinny
Third annual indie festival is truly 'all about the music'
52 bands. Two stages. Two days. Zero dollars.
What kind of math is that?
“I just really like being able to make an impact on the local music scene,” Chris Castillo says, matter-of-factly.
Castillo founded and helps organize the annual Yardstock music fest on his own property at 740 Ridge Road in Shickshinny.
Presented by West Bound Sound/Par Glass House Shows and the Time Table Records Collective, the event, now in its third year, has grown by leaps and bounds since its humble beginnings. The band list has more than doubled, offering 52 acts on two stages and, starting this year, stretching across two days – Friday and Saturday, June 26 and 27.
And all it’s free.
“I don’t charge for this event and a lot of people tell me I’m crazy for that, but it really is all about the music,” Castillo says, noting that Yardstock offers bands a chance to broaden their audiences and audiences a chance to broaden their horizons.
“Even if there’s somebody who looks at our lineup and says, ‘I don’t know any of these bands,’ there’s still 50 bands and they don’t have to pay anything. What’s the reason not to come out? Even if somehow they don’t find one band they like, they didn’t pay anything.”
Yardstock’s mission to empower the independent music community by connecting bands and fans from different walks of life is inherent in every aspect of the event. Not only is it free, it’s all-ages (alcohol is permitted on a BYOB basis, and 21+ attendees will be carded and wristbanded).
What’s more, the 52-band lineup – including several acoustic acts who will play at the closing Saturday night bonfire – has been handpicked by Castillo and Derek Jolley, who heads the Time Table Records Collective, to represent a wide range of styles and genres.
“I feel like this is going to be a mecca for local music,” Jolley says.
“Yardstock really is a showcase of local talent, as well as a few bands from out of state. We have hardcore bands, reggae bands, indie rock bands, crust punk bands, ska bands, jam bands, smooth jazz bands, power pop bands, and even within those styles, we have so many bands bringing different things to the table.”
And, of course, none of those bands are working for pay. They all share Castillo and Jolley’s vision, as do Yardstock’s sponsors – including NEPA Scene, independent record labels, and nonprofit activist organizations – and other entertainers, like the fire-dancing troupe Fire in the Soul and the squared-circle brawlers of Wilkes-Barre Wrestling, both of whom will perform at the event.
“At this point in my life, I’m not really worried about thinking about how I can profit from this. I’m having fun with it. I just love seeing people respond to see something I created in ways that, when I started, I could have never imagined,” Castillo says.
“Everything that I’ve put into this these three years has been worth it, and I plan to keep doing it. For me, these are going to be the best two days of the year.”
Camping and food will be available both days, though campers will be required to bring their own tents. No underage drinking, drug use, or violence will be tolerated.
by Bill Thomas
Bill Thomas is a new contributor to NEPA Scene.