Posts Tagged ‘Sisters Folk Festival’

This week in GO! Magazine’s music section

Friday, September 16th, 2011

September is a big month on the local music scene, with the Sisters Folk Festival last weekend and the Bend Roots Revival next.

But the week in between isn’t exactly an opportunity to take a breather. We’ve got a CD-release show from a longtime local, a bunch of great roots-rock shows, some jazz and more.

Bend-based singer-songwriter Laurel Brauns will release her new album tonight at PoetHouse Art. I spoke with her about “House of Snow” (it’s great) and the list of guest artists who play on it (it’s eye-popping).

At 12 tracks and 42 minutes long, (“House of Snow” is) a compact slice of her life, merging Brauns’ Central Oregon experiences with her love of indie-folk-pop and the independent artistic sensibilities of her soon-to-be home, Portland.

The latter comes in the form of several Portland-based guest musicians, including cellists Skip vonKuske and Anna Fritz of Portland Cello Project, organist Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists, and multi-instrumentalist Sam Cooper of Horse Feathers.

Additionally, Nathan Clark lends his sturdy baritone to the proceedings, Franchot Tone plays guitar on a couple of songs, and a chorus of locals take the second track, “Doldrums,” to an ethereal place. A twisted Okkervil River cover and Bend artist Kaycee Anseth’s album art round out the impressive package.

She also revealed that she’s moving to Portland near the end of September.

“I need to be there to make it happen,” she said. “You’ve got to meet the people, shake their hands, see ‘em face to face. They’ve got to hear you play. I think we all delude ourselves (into thinking) the Internet’s this hugely powerful thing that can make all this stuff happen for us, but there’s nothing like actually talking to somebody.”

You should read the whole article by clicking here, and then go see her tonight at PoetHouse.

For Feedback this week, I bounced around the Sisters Folk Festival on Sunday afternoon. Chicago folk singer Joe Pug was the highlight of my day.

On stage, Pug is a soft-spoken but compelling performer who spills his guts into each verse and stares down his microphone as if it just insulted his mother. His eyes remain closed much of the time, but when he opens them, it’s like peering through a window at the downcast desperation that pervades his songs.

That feeling was particularly evident on “Disguised As Someone Else,” a request for forgiveness with a luscious arrangement for two acoustic guitars. And in set-closer “Hymn 101,” when Pug practically spit out the line “I’ve come to say exactly what I mean / and I mean so many things,” you got the sense that his poetry comes from somewhere deeper than most songwriters.

It was a terrific way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and I hope you’ll go read the rest right here.

Elsewhere in this week’s music section: Larry and His Flask play a homecoming show, Bobby Bare Jr. headlines McMenamins’ Halfway to St. Patty Day party, Murder By Death comes to The Horned Hand and Jazz at Joe’s hosts Seattle’s Jay Thomas Quartet. Plus, tonight at the Century Center, you can see Mosley Wotta, Marv Ellis, Tony Smiley and Cadence, and your admission fee ($5 if you wear a mask, $10 if you don’t) benefits the Red Cross. What a good deal and a good deed!

My favorite Sisters Folk Festival discovery: Cahalen Morrison & Eli West

Friday, September 9th, 2011

I’ve spent a lot of the past couple weeks listening to artists playing the 2011 Sisters Folk Festival, and I believe this is the deepest pool of talent ever at the event. You can find all our coverage by clicking here.

But I want to draw your attention to one act in particular. Cahalen Morrison & Eli West are a duo from Seattle. They play old-time music for modern times, and they are terrific. Here’s what I wrote in today’s paper:

Making old-time music in the 21st century is a slippery slope.

There’s a fine line, see, between playing compelling music that reverently recalls a long-gone era and grabbing a banjo, affecting a nasal twang and hamming it up in a bowler hat.

Cahalen Morrison & Eli West belong firmly in the former camp. The Seattle duo began touring just over a year ago, yet their first album, “The Holy Coming of the Storm,” sounds like the product of years spent perfecting songs, tightening arrangements, honing harmonies and tuning into each other’s musical souls.

Morrison and West use a fleet of stringed things to make old-growth roots music, where bluegrass, folk and country intertwine. Listen to the songs at and note the rhythmic eccentricities of “On God’s Rocky Shore,” the vibrant, timeless picking of “Over There,” or the duo’s unconventional way with melody on “Lost Lovin’ Gal.”

Turns out playing old-time music isn’t so daunting when you have songs and chops like this. Morrison and West are, to quote bluegrass legend Tim O’Brien, “making music that the world needs.”

You have three opportunities to catch these guys over the next couple of days — one tonight, two Saturday — and I would strongly encourage you to do so:

9:15-10 tonight, Angeline’s Bakery
6-6:45 p.m. Saturday, Depot Cafe
8:45-9:45 p.m. Saturday, Bronco Billy’s

Here’s some video of Morrison and West performing to give you a taste of what they do! (There are more here.)

This week in GO! Magazine’s music section

Friday, September 9th, 2011


As far as the Central Oregon music scene goes, one of the biggest weekends of the year is here as the Sisters Folk Festival takes over that little town 20 or so miles up U.S. Highway 20.

Today’s GO! Magazine in The Bulletin has everything you need to know, including ticket info / full schedule / venue map and short pieces on some of the lineup’s highlights: Steve Forbert, Anais Mitchell, Joe Pug and Cahalen Morrison & Eli West.

Plus, an interview with roots-rock legend and one of the coolest cats around, Dave Alvin! Here’s an excerpt:

“I like to play as much as possible,” he said. “To me, playing music live is what I love.”

He continued: “My heroes were all about playing live. The old blues singers: Big Joe Turner, Lightning Hopkins, people like that, (they) played till they died. And people conjecture about why Bob Dylan is always touring and it’s like, well, what else are you supposed to do? When you’re playing live and you get that (interaction) with the audience, that is my religion. That’s my church.”

Which would make Alvin’s songbook the hymnal. Long a master fusionist of rock, country, rockabilly, Tex-Mex and blues music, Alvin’s new album “Eleven Eleven” crackles with an energy untapped on his previous, more acoustically inclined records.

I hope you’ll click here and read the whole thing.

Elsewhere in the music section, we’ve got stories on tonight’s mighty fine Finn Riggins / Tartufi show at The Astro Lounge and a piece on why Joan Osborne is more than just “One of Us.”

Sisters Folk Festival trying to expand sensibly

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Organizers of the Sisters Folk Festival are busy getting ready for their 16th annual event, and this year, they’re trying to address issues that have arisen because of a recent spike in attendance.

My story published in yesterday’s Community Life section of The Bulletin. Here’s an excerpt:

After four consecutive years of significant growth in attendance, the Sisters Folk Festival will expand its offerings in 2011 to include a new venue and more music at established venues in an effort to meet demand.

The festival — to be held Sept. 9-11 — will add Slick’s Que Co. to its roster of venues, bumping the total number of stages scattered around Sisters from six to seven. Slick’s will host finalists in the festival’s songwriting contest on Friday and emerging artists on Saturday.

Additionally, Angeline’s Bakery will host music on Friday night and The Depot Cafe will host sets late Saturday, a first for both venues. All three new offerings are designed, in part, to give attendees more choices for things to do after music ends on the main stage at 10 p.m., SFF Artistic Director Brad Tisdel said last week.

More late-night choices should ease pressure on Bronco Billy’s Ranch Grill and Saloon, which can hold only a few hundred revelers but has become a popular destination among fest-goers looking to stretch their day into the wee hours.

The team behind the Sisters Folk Festival is celebrating the event’s 16th year by tackling issues that come with increasing popularity and growing crowds, Tisdel said.

“In the last four years, we’ve been between 20 and 30 percent over the previous year in ticket sales, consistently, every year,” he said. “So with that comes growing pains and (the question of) how do we respond to more people coming to our event.”

Click here to read the whole thing.

Winter Weather Warning Tidbits: Bela Fleck tickets, Sisters concert series lineup, Jackson-Holman’s Christmas songs

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Take your mind off those ominous skies to the west by reading a round-up of locally flavored music news that should take some of the sting out of the next few months:

–The fine folks at KPOV would like you to know that you can now buy tickets to see banjo genius Bela Fleck & the Flecktones at Mountain View High School on Dec. 8. They’re available at KPOV’s website. After Fleck’s Christmas show at the Tower a few years ago, I talked to several people who said it was amazing. So yeah, go make sure you have a seat.

–The Steep Canyon Rangers are one of the finest young bluegrass bands in the country, though lots of folks best know them as the backing band for famous comedian and bluegrass dabbler Steve Martin. Regardless, the Rangers are coming back to Central Oregon to play Sisters Folk Festival’s Winter Concert Series. While we’re at it, here’s the whole series lineup:

-Jan. 10 — The Steep Canyon Rangers
-Feb. 4 — Tom Russell
-Feb. 25 — Moira Smiley and VOCO

All shows start at 7 p.m. in the Sisters High School auditorium. Tickets are available here.

–Bend-based singer-songwriter Sara Jackson-Holman just released three Christmas songs — “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Carol of the Bells” and “Angels We Have Heard On High” — and has made them available for download. For $1. What a bargain! Plus, proceeds go to charity. I don’t know which charity, but I trust Sara, and so should you.

You can stream two of them and/or download all three at Jackson-Holman’s Bandcamp site.

Sisters Folk Festival offers discount Holiday Pass

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Looking for a cool Christmas gift to give to a folk-loving friend or family member? Or perhaps you’re a Sisters Folk Festival lifer who already knows for sure that you’ll be attending next year’s event — set for Sept. 9-11, 2011 — and you’d like to save a little dough. Well, the fine folks behind the folk fest have just the thing. To the press release!

Sisters Folk Festival Offering Discounted “Holiday Pass”

Sisters, Oregon ~ With memorable performances still fresh in people’s minds, the Sisters Folk Festival has announced ticket prices for 2011. Beginning this month they’re offering a $75 All Events Pass for next year’s Festival, held September 9, 10 and 11. “We had so many people excited about returning, we decided to offer the Holiday Pass earlier this year,” said Events Director Katy Yoder. “We want to give people ample time to buy their passes and book hotel rooms for next year,” she added. The “Holiday Pass” will be available until December 31; on January 1, 2011 passes go up to $85. The Festival will offer patrons a signed 2011 Festival poster as part of the purchase as well.

The Festival celebrated its 15th anniversary this year with amazing performances by artists like Solas, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Martyn Joseph, Po’ Girl, Peter Mulvey, The Hot Club of Cowtown, Slaid Cleaves, and returning performer, Ellis.

Festival organizers are already working on booking acts for next year. Welsh songwriter, Martyn Joseph has been confirmed as the 2011 Sisters Folk Festival Encore Performer. They are also hard at work on plans to address large crowds throughout the weekend at some of the venues. “This is a great problem to have, ticket sales were up over 30%, and we had the most successful Festival ever,” said Brad Tisdel, Executive Director. “Our goals are clear; we will continue to offer world-class, American Roots music at a variety of venues at affordable prices. We’re looking at our options and will have solutions well in place before the 2011 Festival,” said Tisdel.

For the past four years in a row Festival attendance has risen dramatically. The word has gotten out nationally about the musical experience that is offered at the Sisters Folk Festival. This year roughly 3,000 people came to Sisters throughout the Festival weekend.

Being a year round cultural arts organization, the final plans are being made for the Sisters Folk Festival’s Winter Concert Series. The lineup includes Tom Russell on February 4, and Moira Smiley and VOCO on February 25, 2011. The rest of the series will be announced soon. “One of our goals is to bring nationally acclaimed artists to Sisters during the off-season months,” said Yoder. “It helps keep the local economy healthy during the shoulder season and keeps the cultural offerings flowing in Sisters Country.”

To order tickets for the Festival, go online to: or call the Sisters Folk Festival at: 541-549-4979, or you can email:

This week in Go! Magazine’s music section

Friday, September 17th, 2010

(NOTE: If you’re looking for our article on Atmosphere, we’ve run into a slight technical difficulty and will post it tonight or tomorrow, so please check back!)

Country music legend Willie Nelson returns to Bend’s Les Schwab Amphitheater tonight. Hippies, cowboys, stoners, punks, grandmas and teens alike love Willie, one of the most accomplished singers and songwriters of the past half-century, regardless of genre. Here he is talking about the songs on his new record “Country Music,” an album of country standards.

“You hear all kinds of ideas about country music: This is country, or this is, or that was and this ain’t. And it’s all a matter of opinion. But in my opinion, this is the original country music. So I’m really excited for people to hear it. There are so many great songs in every category — pop, country, bluegrass, whatever. There are a lot of great standards to choose from. Fortunately I’ve lived long enough to know them all, I think. I just love singing those songs.”

My colleague David Jasper wrote about Willie’s long and storied career. Click here to read it.

Michael O'Connor leads the audience in a chant as Slaid Cleaves performs 'Breakfast in Hell' Sunday at Sisters Folk Festival. Photo courtesy Lynn Woodward /

I spent my Sunday afternoon taking in the final day of the Sisters Folk Festival, where I saw Po’ Girl, Chris Kokesh & Brokentop, The Makepeace Brothers and the wonderful Slaid Cleaves. As is always the case at one of Central Oregon’s best events, I had a great time.

(Cleaves) wore a purple button-down shirt and dark slacks that I thought looked like church clothes, so I smiled when he knowingly began his Sunday set with a couple of gospel tunes, one by Woody Guthrie (“This Morning I Am Born Again”) and one original that covered the world of religions and sounded quite Hank Sr.-ish, a fact Cleaves acknowledged up front.

That one is so new, Cleaves flubbed several lines at the end, a mistake he blew off with characteristic wit. From there, though, it was smooth sailing as he played a set of frequently requested “workplace disaster songs,” including the devastatingly gorgeous “Lydia” (about coalminers’ deaths) and “Breakfast in Hell,” an epic, true story with a brawny audience-participation part.

I hope you’ll click here and read the whole thing.

Elsewhere in this week’s music section: Guitar virtuoso Phil Keaggy plays two shows, one in Redmond and one in La Pine, crossover thrash pioneers D.R.I. visit the Domino Room, rockabilly artist Ruby Dee brings her Snakehandlers to Bend, McMenamins Old St. Francis School plans a busy week of live music, and the Bend Roots Revival kicks off Thursday night with shows at five different venues around town. (Look for lots more on Bend Roots in next week’s GO!)

Can’t find anything above that interests you? Check out The Bulletin’s complete music listings.

Willie Carmichael wins Sisters Folk Festival songwriting contest

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

One of the truly nice guys on Central Oregon’s music scene, folk singer-songwriter Willie Carmichael, won the Dave Carter Memorial Songwriting Contest at this past weekend’s Sisters Folk Festival.

Carmichael was one of five finalists who performed their songs at the festival on Saturday. As the winner, he received a $750 cash prize, a return booking at next year’s event, and a chance to play a 15-minute set to open the main stage on Saturday night.

“Playing on the main stage in front of about a thousand people was really fun. That’s WAY more people than I’ve ever played for. I was floating,” Carmichael wrote to Frequency in an e-mail. “The SFF audience is amazingly appreciative and supportive. They kind of embrace the contest winner — I’ve seen this many times there — and hold him/her like a precious treasure for the weekend. It’s like winning the contest gives you favored nation status. They cheer when you come on stage even if they’ve never heard you before.”

Carmichael is the second local artist to win the contest, after Sisters’ Dennis McGregor in 2003. He’s also a terrifically honest and funny man who talked — or, typed, really — about the lesson he learned over his winning weekend in Sisters.

“This part is pretty personal, and I don’t quite know how to say it. I’ve never really been the performer I’d like to be. All my judgment and negative self-talk have been about not being good enough, not being cool enough, being too old, whatever. But what I’m learning, from being around and talking classes from performers like Jenna Lindbo, Martyn Joseph, Ellis, Beth Wood, Ruthie Foster, and others, is that what really breeds success is approaching it with an open heart.

“I’m trying to get a handle on this, and I think that was reflected in winning the contest. Last night my wife Jeanie said the coolest thing about this. She told me, ‘You’ve got clever down cold, and clever is only going to take you so far. The rest is about heart.’ I think she’s right, and I have a lot of work to do on that front if I’m going to be the musician I want to be.”

Carmichael said he thinks two of the songs he played were most effective, and he sent one of them, “Out Beyond The Moon,” along to Frequency for our readers to check it out. “It’s just a demo I did in my garage, but it’s audible and it’s what I sent when I applied to the contest,” he said.

So do it. Check it out:

The Dave Carter Memorial Songwriting Contest is named in honor of the first folk festival concert winner, Dave Carter, who won in 1995. Carter went on to an acclaimed career before his untimely death in 2002. The contest has also boosted the careers of songwriters such as Darryl Purpose, Chuck McCabe, McGregor, Beth Wood and BettySoo.

This year’s other four finalists were Julia Baucke from Santa Barbara, Calif., Marc Douglas Berardo from Westerly, R.I., Cary Cooper from Richardson, Texas and Dan Weber from Vancouver, Wash.

This week in GO! Magazine’s music section

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Late start, no time, so quickly: There’s a lot of cool stuff happening in Central Oregon’s musical world this week. Here’s what we have in today’s GO! Magazine:

–Full coverage on the Sisters Folk Festival, including an interview with Hot Club of Cowtown, short pieces on Eilen Jewell, John Hammond and Peter Mulvey, and the performance schedule for the whole weekend (click here and scroll down).

–An interview with local nuevo flamenco guitarist Todd Haaby, who’ll celebrate the release of his new CD with a show at the Tower Theatre on Saturday.

–Elsewhere in the music section: Details on a CD-release show for former Bendite Jenna Lindbo, a help-us-pay-for-our-album show by Empty Space Orchestra, a free, all-ages show in Redmond by Larry and His Flask, and correct dates for TJ Grant’s mini-tour through Bend (which I messed up last week).

Sisters news: folk fest songwriting contest, and a new Starry Night

Friday, July 16th, 2010

A couple bits of news from up Sisters way:

The Sisters Folk Festival‘s annual Dave Carter Memorial Songwriting Contest is now accepting entries. Deadline is July 31. Here’s most of the festival’s press release, with all the details you need:

The contest carries a $750 grand prize. Five finalists will be selected from all submissions, and invited to perform at the Sisters Folk Festival, held September 10, 11 and 12.

The Sisters Folk Festival Dave Carter Memorial Songwriting contest is a performing songwriter contest; entrants must perform their songs on stage. It has proven to be a substantial launching pad for many artists, including the late, great Dave Carter, Beth Wood, Chuck McCabe, Darryl Purpose, Bob Hillman, Jud Caswell, and last year’s winner, BettySoo. Entrants may submit up to three songs. Entries will be judged on overall consistency of quality. Finalists will be selected from the timely entries by mid-August. The entrance fee is $20.

To determine a winner, each performer will play a 15-minute set, with the eventual winner performing a short set on the main stage Saturday evening. Finalists will have other performance opportunities at venues around Sisters throughout the festival. Each finalist will also receive two nights lodging, meal vouchers and one all-event pass for the Festival, as well as an invitation to perform for the 2011 Sisters Folk Festival.

Entries may be made online through; only online submissions will be accepted. To learn more about how to submit song files, please visit:

For more information about the Sisters Folk Festival and the Dave Carter Memorial Songwriting Contest visit or call 541-549-4979.

In March, I told you that the popular and long-running Sisters Starry Nights concert series was going on hiatus in 2010. Well, it still is, but that doesn’t mean the folks behind the series can’t put on a show and raise some money for Sisters schools!

Say hi to A Starry Summer Night, a one-night fundraiser featuring the good folks of High Street, who offered to donate a performance when they heard about Starry Nights’ break. The show will happen Aug. 13 at Aspen Lakes, and tickets are on sale now. Again, a press release with everything you need:

The evening will feature a kabob-themed buffet dinner, silent auction and concert under the stars, where guests can enjoy spectacular mountain views while dancing on the outdoor dance floor or inside Aspen Lake’s beautiful clubhouse lodge. The event is a production of the same team that created the Sisters Starry Nights Benefit Concert Series.

High Street is one of the country’s most entertaining bands, earning rave reviews for their high quality showmanship, outstanding musicianship and extensive repertoire which include cover songs and originals in a mixture of swing, blues, R&B, Latin, oldies and ballads. High Street’s performances have taken them from Sun Valley to Sunriver, the PGA Tour, Walt Disney World, the Mammoth Lakes Jazz Festival, Sisters Jazz Festival and many other national and regional festivals and fundraisers. Most recently, they were the showcase band for the International Festival & Events Association Convention at Bally’s in Las Vegas.

“With the Sisters Starry Nights Benefit Concert Series on hiatus until 2011, High Street lead vocalist Matt Summers offered to bring the band to Sisters for a summer fundraiser to benefit the Sisters Schools Foundation,” said Starry Nights co-chair Susan Arends. “Aspen Lakes and the Cyrus family quickly came on board and ‘A Starry Summer Night’ was born.”

As the Sisters School District responds to the statewide education funding crisis by planning to cut more than $2.5 million from the budget in the next two years alone, co-chair Debbie Williams notes that events like ‘A Starry Summer Night’ are ways the community can continue to support the schools and maintain key co-curricular and classroom activities.

“We urge everyone to come out and help us give back to Sisters Schools,” said Williams. “It’s going to be a phenomenal evening of dining, dancing and fun and most importantly, it is for a cause that is vital to the heart of this community.”

Doors will open at 6 p.m. for the kabob buffet, featuring meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits and a dessert station, with the silent auction running until 8:30 p.m. The outstanding music students of Sisters High School will provide entertainment during dinner, then High Street will take the stage from 7 – 10 p.m.

Tickets are priced at $50, or sponsorship tables, seating 8 guests, are available for $500. Tickets go on sale Friday, July 9 and can be purchased at Aspen Lakes Pro Shop, in Sisters at the Metamorphosis Salon and Spa or in Bend at the High Desert Gallery. For sponsorship information, contact Melinda Witt at or (541) 420-9505.