Saturday, January 20, 2018

My History with Pickathon–by Eddie Barnhart

 

One weekend, the first summer after graduating high school, I got a phone call from my dad. “There’s a festival at the farm this weekend, you gotta get out here!” I had no idea what festival he was talking about, but I knew “the farm” was the Pendarvis Farm, about 20 minutes outside of Portland. Scott and Sherry Pendarvis were authentic hippies and genuinely nice people who had hosted jam nights of folk and old time music where my dad was a regular. The festival turned out to be Pickathon 8, and it was my first introduction to a little paradise that only comes around once every summer.

Mt. View Main Stage--photo courtesy of Chris Barnhart

Mt. View Main Stage–photo courtesy of Chris Barnhart

8 years later, everyone from the Oregonian, to music blogs, to Time magazine is talking about Pickathon. I’m happy to report that even though the fest has grown a lot, all the nice things the press is saying still rings true. There’s almost no waste or trash. It’s a great party. It’s family friendly. The food vendors are amazing. Oh yeah, and there’s three days of really really good music. This year the booking team continued to move away from traditional folk and old time music towards more indie rock, rap, and electronic. Fortunately, you could still find jug Bands, bluegrass, and country western groups that sounded like they just walked out of my grandpa’s radio.

American Folk band, Blind Pilot, performing at the Mt. View Main Stage--courtesy of Chris Barnhart

American Folk band, Blind Pilot, performing at the Mt. View Main Stage–courtesy of Chris Barnhart

Some of the new acts fit in great. The uncomfortably named “Diarrhea Planet” mocked and paid homage to American Rock and Roll at the same time during two rowdy sets with four lead guitars. Seeing Woods play their cuts from their new album at the Wood Stage was a highlight for me. They say artists enjoy the fest as much as guests, and after seeing musicians take photos from the stage in between songs, I think it’s true. “Everything just looks so good out here,” bandmember, Jeremy, said while snapping photos of the crowd nestled into a natural amphitheater. Finally, Son Little should win an award as the best new comer. His Black Keys-esque soul rock is sure to blow up.

From the doc cam bluesman, Shakey Graves at the Woods Stage--photo courtesy of Chris Barnhart

From the doc cam bluesman, Shakey Graves at the Woods Stage–photo courtesy of Chris Barnhart

Other new acts fell flat. Foxygen was a mess for both their sets and while People Under the Stairs are staples of the NW Hip Hop community, their music just didn’t fit in. All festivals need to grow and change and Pickathon is doing things right with new stages, food, and music. I just  hope it doesn’t drift into the territory of every other festival with a random mish-mash of indie and dance groups. Right now it’s a really special mix of people, music, and location.

Psychedelic Folk-Punk band, Love As Laughter performing at the Galaxy Barn--photo courtesy of Chris Barnhart

Psychedelic Folk-Punk band, Love As Laughter performing at the Galaxy Barn–photo courtesy of Chris Barnhart

Do you want to get in on the fun next year? I met a few folks from the Hawthorne Hostel out there. Some came out just for the fest and others, now set up with jobs and apartments, had stayed with us when they first moved to Portland. Personally, I think the only way to go is to stay the whole weekend and camp out in the woods. Weekend tickets sell fast so keep updated at pickathon.com. The other option is to volunteer. Two 5-6 hour shifts earns you a full wrist band and a camp site in the woods. So come down, get a biscuit sandwich, watch some great shows, and I’ll see you at the square dance.

Friends Camp where I camped out for the weekend of Pickathon--photo courtesy of Chris Barnhart

Friends Camp where I stayed for the weekend of Pickathon–photo courtesy of Chris Barnhart