Sep 7, 2007

Pickathon Roots Music Festival

This is a little old, but what the hell. About a month ago whilst I was in Portland, Oregon I attended the Saturday session of the Pickathon Roots Music Festival. Ideally I would have liked to have gone to more then one day but I had plenty of other things to do in the Rose City. But I am extremely happy I went. I have to say it was one of the most pleasant and satisfying festivals I have ever attended. To set the scene Pickathon is now in its ninth year. It is set on Pendarvis Farm, a beautiful setting if there ever was one. Comprising 800 acres, it is set amongst the beautiful forests of Oregon. The music could best be described as "Indie Roots", a blend of authentic bluegrass and country music from all corners of the USA. Probably the biggest name was The Avett Brothers, who played on Sunday. But this festival is not about big commercial names. It is about genuine, grass roots music that is heartfelt and true. There was such a relaxed vibe too, not overly crowded, no threatening bogans here. Just music lovers enjoying a peaceful time listening to great music in a gorgeous setting.

My absolute highlight was seeing Portland locals Horse Feathers (pictured above). They played in the Galaxy Barn and I was spellbound by their mesmeric performance. Justin Ringle cuts a knife through the air with his emotional clarity. Peter Broderick gives ample support on violin, drums and vocals. Playing mostly a set comprised of material from their wonderful 2006 album "Words Are Dead" it was music in its purest form. Definitely one of the best performances I will see in 2007. Unfortunately like all festivals there is always a clash of artists you wish to see. In this case I was only able to enjoy two songs from the ferocious talent of Langhorne Slim (pictured below). What I heard made me wish that somehow I can catch this man in the future. Since then I have picked up his last album "When The Sun's Gone Down". If you desire a slice of folk/rockabilly/country Brooklyn style, I can heartily recommend it.

The other enormous highlight of the day, and there were many, was seeing Po'Girl in the Gallery Barn. A small and intimate setting, Po'Girl charmed and entertained like few other bands. The Vancouver trio (joined by a Washington guitar player), switched effortlessly from style to style and singer to singer. Their music was almost spiritual, touching on folk, blues, jazz and country. All the voices were hauntingly beautiful but the soulful voice of Alison Russell really stood out and her clarinet playing added an extra special touch. Their performance was just one of the many special moments that went into making the rich musical tapestry that is Pickathon.

MP3: In the Midnight-Langhorne Slim
MP3: Blood on the Snow-Horse Feathers
MP3: Home To You-Po'Girl


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