What: High Desert Underground Music Fest

When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Where: Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Drive, Bend

Cost: $12 per night or $20 for full festival (plus fees in advance)

Contact: volcanictheatre.com or 541-323-1881

Bend songwriter David von Schlegell wants his fellow Bendites to understand that “local” doesn’t mean inferior when it comes to music.

“I think ‘local’ has a negative connotation sometimes — a little bit of a stigma,” von Schlegell said. “There’s a lot of ‘support local’ bumper stickers and stuff that are around Central Oregon, but when it comes to local music, sometimes it’s an eye roll that you get from some of your friends and co-workers when you’re asking for support for some of these events that happen. And our hope is to sort of dispel that stigma a little bit.”

He practices what he preaches, too. During a recent interview to promote the first High Desert Underground Music Festival, a showcase coming to Volcanic Theatre Pub on Friday and Saturday and featuring 14 Central Oregon bands spanning punk, noise, folk rock, alternative and more, he waxed poetic about the bands on the bill.

“I gushed about The Kronkmen the other day on 92.9 (FM) doing promotion for this event — they literally are one of my favorite live bands I’ve ever seen,” he said, “along with Scary Busey, along with Strange Rover. Roof Rabbits … Johnny (Bourbon, born John Forrest, guitarist and singer) is a good writer. I just think it’s good for anywhere, really.”

Von Schlegell, who fronts alternative rock band Cosmonautical (also on the High Desert Underground bill), organized the show with help from Volcanic Theatre Pub owner Derek Sitter and the other musicians on the bill (see the full schedule below). Each group will perform a half-hour set, with seven bands taking the stage each night of the festival.

The idea grew out of a local-music meeting of the minds that took place at Bourbon’s house earlier this year. Among other items, the group discussed a compilation CD or vinyl album featuring Central Oregon bands. The compilation, which Bourbon and von Schlegell hope will be funded by proceeds from High Desert Underground, would serve as a “business card” of sorts for the local scene that groups could give to fans at shows, Bourbon said.

“It started with a big conversation about having a local showcase and putting out a comp,” Bourbon said. “David just jumped into it headfirst and got the thing planned and got it all moving and got it organized. It took on that direction. … We have to start somewhere, so I think he did a great job. Now we’re gonna be doing this thing and hopefully people show up and pay to get in, and then we can actually put out the comp.”

The bill only represents a small cross-section of Central Oregon musicians. Von Schlegell emphasized numerous times that “there’s people who probably should be included that were not, and it wasn’t my intention to exclude anybody.”

“After I posted about the event on Facebook, there was … a really strong outpouring of support, and then also interest (from) bands in Prineville, bands in La Pine, bands in Madras who didn’t get included unfortunately,” he said. “And it just opened my eyes to the fact that there’s a lot of people on varying scales making their own art, making their own music, making their own thing happen in Central Oregon.”

Von Schlegell said he chose the groups based on how active they are in Bend — i.e. throwing independent shows on a regular basis and recording music — and whether they have made an effort to tour outside the city.

That holds true for the 14 groups on the bill in just about every instance. For example, roots rock group The Jess Ryan Band, The Roof Rabbits, ethereal pop-rockers The Color Study and power-pop quartet AM Clouds all have recordings in the works or ready to be released.

AM Clouds, which debuted at the Bend Roots Revival in 2017, just finished mastering debut album “Rainmaker,” and is looking to release the album either later this year or early next year. Singer, guitarist and songwriter Bruce Moon said he is excited to be involved with High Desert Underground.

“It’s hopefully an event that’s going to cause some momentum in the local music scene and show people that the level of talent in town right now is really something,” he said. “And it’s just a good opportunity for a bunch of bands that are very different to get together and support each other and put on a show.”

Scott Oliphant, frontman and songwriter of The Color Study and owner of local studio Parkway Sounds, helped design the event poster alongside artist (and von Schlegell’s wife) Kristin von Schlegell. Since moving to Bend from Austin, Texas, about six years ago, Oliphant has noticed an increase in diversity on the local music scene, he said.

“I think a lot of people think of the Bend music scene as this singer-songwriter, acoustic kind of thing,” Oliphant said. “And it’s interesting to me because this is the first showcase that I’ve seen that’s at maybe the only substantial, kind of big venue in town, which gives it some credence. And then also just the variety of the acts in there. … It isn’t just the singer-songwriter stuff.”

For von Schlegell, that diversity is one of the biggest strengths of the Central Oregon music scene.

“This is our community,” von Schlegell said. “Whether or not you subscribe to the idea of a scene or a happening or different things, people are making this stuff happen. And whether you’re making folk rock, punk rock, classic rock, experimental noise, whatever it is — most of these people know each other and rub shoulders at different events.”

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