Let me be very clear: I mean no disrespect to anyone or anything else when I say that I think the Sisters Folk Festival is the all-around best music-related event in Central Oregon.
From the quality of artists booked and the seamless operations to the beautiful setting and the overall vibe, SFF is just awesome. There may be other places or events in the area that bring in music that you or I like more, but in terms of the experience, nothing tops the folk fest.
We’re seeing that reflected in the festival’s popularity, too. Last year, organizers expanded their staffing and venues, and this year, for the first time ever, tickets sold out in advance. And so, the team that puts on Sisters Folk Festival is hard at work not only, uh, putting on a festival, but also working to overcome the challenges that come with growth.
But this weekend, it’s all about the music.
Tonight, Jimmy LaFave and a bunch of his friends (Slaid Cleaves, Eliza Gilkyson, Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irions) will pay tribute to Woody Guthrie with a program called “Walking Woody’s Road.” I spoke with LaFave about the iconic folk singer, who would’ve turned 100 this year.
Guthrie’s music has experienced a rebirth in recent years, thanks in part to his daughter Nora’s efforts to turn his unused lyrics into new songs. LaFave — who is currently setting about 20 lyrics to music — said Guthrie wrote about 3,000 songs, but only 70 were really known in his day.
And beyond music, he painted and wrote poetry, wrote novels (including one about sustainable living in sod houses), and was fascinated by science and nature.
“He was a total sponge,” LaFave said. “The guy was not just talking about riding the rails. He was talking about quantum physics. He was so far beyond his time, they must’ve thought he was nuts.
“There’s no one,” he said, “that lived 20 different lifetimes like Woody Guthrie.”
’80s hit machine Huey Lewis and the News will play Bend’s Les Schwab Amphitheater on Tuesday. My colleague David Jasper spoke with Lewis about all kinds of things, including his love of our town.
“I love Bend, Oregon. It’s one of the great places on Earth, I think,” Lewis said by telephone last week. “I live in Montana, in the Bitterroot Valley, which is not dissimilar, but actually Bend is a little more upscale. Your bagels are better than ours.”
Wait. How does Lewis know so much about Bend and its bagels? Because the man who crooned on “Jacob’s Ladder” also knows his salmon ladders: He’s a fly-fisherman. In effect, Lewis knows the power of love and the power of the mighty Deschutes. In fact, he believes Bend is up there with Los Angeles and San Francisco in their primes.
“Imagine L.A. in the ’30s and ’40s. No traffic, no pollution, these winding streets,” he said. “It was the best place on the planet in the ’30s and ’40s. Best weather in the world in L.A.”
San Francisco was great in the ’50s and ’60s, Lewis said, but “the population keeps getting more and more crowded, and they keep moving — and now it’s Bend, Oregon.”
You really should read the whole article.
Elsewhere in this week’s music section: Guitar savant Buckethead returns to town, The White Buffalo is back as well, Casey Neill & the Norway Rats come to McMenamins, Black Beast Revival plays Liquid Lounge, Necktie Killer wraps up Redmond’s Music in the Canyon concert series, and both The Horned Hand and Silver Moon are super busy, each with four shows over the next seven nights.