‘Tis the season for summer festivals

By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index

The weather cliché in the Pacific Northwest is that summer begins after the 4th of July. That is true not only of the weather – many events – especially outdoor events – kick off in later July into early September.

It is not too late, there is still time to catch a low key music festival. Some are large while some are small. Some are nearby and some are far from here. Some are well known and some are semi-undiscovered.

Some festival fans go for the music, some for the ambience and some just to get away. Whatever your motive, take your pick from these.

Here are some suggestions (in approximate chronological order) for the rest of the summer.

Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival, Winthrop Washington

When: July 20-22

Celebrating its 31st year, the Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival is the longest running, most successful blues event in Washington State. Just a few of the performers you can catch are Samantha Fish, Lydia Pense & Cold Blood, Pimps Of Joytime, Too Slim & The Taildraggers, The Welch Ledbetter Connection, Curtis Salgado/Alan Hager & Friends, Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble and Dirty Revival. Prepare for sun.

Newport Folk Festival, Newport, Rhode Island

When: July 27–29

If you make it to Rhode Island for this historic event, you also get to see Brandi Carlisle, Phoebe Bridgers, St. Vincent, Gary Clark Jr., Shakey Graves, Cheech and Chong and Toots and the Maytals(!) among many, many others. More details here - http://www.newportfolk.org/info/.


Travelers Rest Fest, Missoula, Montana

When: August 4–5

Last year, The Decemberists decided Missoula needed a music festival. It went so well that they’re doing it again. The band is playing both nights, and they’re bringing in Jeff Tweedy, Mavis Staples, Lucy Dacus, and Waxahatchee. You can see details on artists and schedule here - http://travelersrestfest.com/.

Pickathon, Happy Valley, Oregon

When: August 3–5

Pickathon is a Portlandy zero-waste utopia of stages set in the forest, complete with food trucks and Fred Armisen sightings (both in and out of character). Don’t let the name throw you off—in addition to traditionalish musicians like Shinyribs and Shovels and Rope, you can catch acts like Jamila Woods and Broken Social Scene. Every band plays twice, and some have been known to throw impromptu jams in the campground, so you never have to be stressed about missing a show. Details here - https://pickathon.com/info/.

Doe Bay Fest, Orcas Island

When: August 1-6

You can see Pedro the Lion, Acid Tongue, Balto and many more at this semi-secluded, quasi-magical site on the shores of Orcas Island.

Bring your kids to Doe Bay Fest and receive a discount – $5 off of each adult ticket.

Line-up and schedule here – https://doebay.com/music-activities/doe-bay-fest/.

Olalla Americana Music Festival, Ollala, Washington

When: August 18

For small-scale, non-slick or commercial, you can’t beat the local, home-made vibe of the Olalla Americana festival. Children under 10 are free. They feature blues, bluegrass,country, folk, R & B, and jazz – and a pile of hands-on activities for kids of all ages.  Details here – https://olallaamericana.com/.


Bumbershoot, Seattle Center

When: Aug. 31-Sept. 2

The biggest and most versatile of Washington music festivals, Seattle’s Bumbershoot has been pushing the boundaries of live music since 1971. Line-up and schedules here – https://www.bumbershoot.com/.

These festivals, large or small, fabulous or disappointing have been stunningly popular, with roughly 32 million people attend at least one U.S. music fest each year, according to a 2014 Nielsen report. I know that it seems like every one of those people just hogged your parking or camping place, but even with the cost, hassle and occasional disappointments, these events can be memorable and magical.

You never know what emerging artist you might catch on some local stage before they hit the big time – and I’ve noticed that many times big name artists like to mingle with the crowds or help introduce newer artists.

You never know who, or what, you'll see at any of these musical events. Photo: Morf Morford

You never know who, or what, you’ll see at any of these musical events. Photo: Morf Morford

There are many local weekly or monthly events throughout the summer, but if you are prepared – and committed – these events can be a remarkable benchmark for your summer.

Some are rustic and some are a bit more comfortable, but either way, you won’t soon forget your experience at any of these festivals.