Rock the Block takes place June 27-28

Rock the Block, a free event designed to celebrate Rockwood, will feature dancers, musicians, a kids’ parade and more from 3-8 p.m. Friday, June 27, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 28, in Plaza del Sol, 18535 S.E. Stark CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - The Rock the Block Kids Parade will include llamas as well as other colorful marchers.

A free Feast of Nations community meal, featuring various ethnic foods from Nicholas, Chepe’s, Yami Sushi and Teriyaki and Queen of Sheba restaurants, will take place at 5:30 p.m. Friday.

A Kids’ Parade will start at 11 a.m. Saturday, followed by free lunch served by SnowCap Community Charities, which serves low-income folks in East County.

Soul music fans should make sure to get to the plaza at 7 p.m. Friday to hear SoulMates, which features Jarrod Lawson, who holds the No. 1 slot on the UK Soul Chart right now for his debut album.

Echoes magazine, which covers the British soul music scene, called Lawson’s record “utterly, utterly brilliant.”

SoulMates also features guitarist Jay “Bird” Koder, whose family has deep roots in Rockwood and who’s played with Steve Miller, Robert Cray and Chick Corea, as well as drummer Reinhardt Melz, who’s played with Gino Vannelli, Howard Tate and Curtis Salgado.

Another face

Besides giving East County folks a chance to hear a great soul singer for free, the festival will show a different face of Rockwood, too often in the news for its crime and poverty, event organizers say.

“It is also a vibrant place filled with families who value community and good health,” says Brooke Crews, event planner with Pathfinders of Oregon, which created the event last year.

Pathfinders operates the Center for Family Success and RISE (Rockwood Intercultural Student Experience) in Rockwood.

“Rock the Block provides a forum where the positive aspects of the community can be highlighted and demonstrated,” Crews adds. “This event has already created partnerships among social service and government organizations allowing us to share information, collaborate on projects and streamline services.”

Indeed, more than 3,000 people are expected to attend Rock the Block, which will bring together more than 60 agencies whose representatives will be on hand to meet folks. Crews credits the city of Gresham, Multnomah County, MetroEast Community Media, TriMet, Wells Fargo, SRM Architecture and Marketing and other organizations and businesses for helping Pathfinders put on the event.

“We hope this can change Rockwood for the better!” she adds.

Other highlights

Rock the Block highlights also include the following:

n The Aspire Project’s contemporary ballet piece using “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles at 6 p.m. Friday. The project provides ballet, lyrical and tap classes to financially disadvantaged students, and boasts a dance troupe of girls ages 8-14, says Erin Fried, program coordinator.

“These hardworking dancers attend class at least two times a week, and are committed to learning and growing in the art of dance,” she says.

n Danza Azteca Chichimeca performs dance, drumming and singing at 6:40 p.m. Friday. With between 30-50 members of all ages in the Portland metro area, the group celebrates indigenous culture and spirituality, according to leader Capitan José Luis Mora.

“We are here to rescue values and guide the new generation as our grandfathers did,” he said.

For more information on Rock the Block, visit

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