Big Talent in a Small Town What you'll be hearing at the Sisters Folk Festival | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Music » Sound Stories & Interviews

Big Talent in a Small Town What you'll be hearing at the Sisters Folk Festival

If you are going to the Sisters Folk Festival, there are some acts you can't miss.


This weekend, almost all of Sisters will be taken over by the annual Sisters Folk Festival, the celebration of all things rootsy that's long been an institution of the outdoor music scene here in Central Oregon. Now one of the most acclaimed mid-sized folk festivals in the country, Sisters Folk has expanded its scope and brought in one of their best lineups in recent memory for the 2011 edition. Here are some things you shouldn't miss between Friday and Sunday. For tickets and more info, visit


Dave Alvin:

As you'll hear on his most recent album, Eleven Eleven, Dave Alvin is one of the best acoustic guitarists you're likely to find at this festival. Many will remember him from his days as a guitarist for The Blasters, but his solo work is even more impressive with his growly voice delivering excellent country-style lyrics. And he also provided us with this description of his music: "There are two types of folk music. Quiet folk music and loud folk music. I play both." 9pm Friday, Village Green; 9pm Saturday, Sisters Art Works.

Mary Gauthier

We don't get to hear enough Southern voices up in this neck of the woods, but Louisiana's Mary Gauthier will be delivering just that this weekend. After a childhood as an orphan and stealing her adoptive parents' car at 15 and heading off on a road trip, Gauthier has collected some great stories during her years, which you can check out on her 2010 record, The Foundling. 1pm Saturday, Sisters Coffee Company; 6pm Saturday, Sisters Art Works.

Willy Porter

A veteran of the Sisters Folk Festival, Porter is returning in support of his latest album, How to Rob a Bank. This guy plays some of the finest finger picking out there and it's a damn pleasure to have him back. 2pm Saturday, Sisters Coffee Company. 9:15pm Saturday, Village Green. 1:15pm Sunday, Sisters Art Works.

Anais Mitchell

One of the younger solo performers on the lineup, Mitchell offers up a sweet indie sound that serves as an indie outlier to the folkie sounds of this festival with a sort of old-timey cabaret feel. Her most recent album, Hadestown, is an excellent sampling of her wide array of influences that range from country to classic rock. 7pm Saturday, Angeline's Bakery. 1pm Sunday, Village Green.

Tony Furtado

No matter what version of this Portland musician's act comes to Central Oregon, he doesn't disappoint. The multi instrumentalist, joined by his trio, will surely light up the Sisters Folk stage with some well-crafted songs and some of the best picking you'll hear all weekend. 9:30pm Saturday, Sisters Art Works; 3pm Saturday, Village Green; 2:15pm Sunday, Bronco Billy's.

Joe Pug and the Hundred Mile Band

Having garnered some momentum from appearances on NPR staple A Prairie Home Companion and extensive touring over the past few years, Joe Pug is sure to dazzle with his well crafted folk songs that give tastes of artists who are several decades Pug's senior. The Chicago troubadour is at the forefront of a movement of younger artists who've been drawn to stripped-down Americana sounds and for good reason - this guy's songs are straight gold. 3pm Saturday, Bronco Billy's; 8:15pm Saturday, Village Green; 2:15pm Sunday, Sisters Art Works.

JT & The Clouds

You'll be told early on in the weekend that Sisters Folk is a "listening festival," meaning you're supposed to be quiet (please follow that rule, people) and you'll, for the most part, be expected to remain seated. When this Chicago outfit takes the stage, that latter recommendation is likely to go out the window. With a soulful take on blues and other old-school styles, expect the band's namesake, J.T. Lindsay, to get people moving. But still, people, be kind to your fellow folk fans. 11:15pm Friday, Angeline's Bakery. 11:15pm Saturday, Bronco Billy's. 4pm Sunday, Village Green.

Matt the Electrician

We're not quite sure if the story behind this Austin, Texas, songwriter is better than the music he produces, but either way, you want to put Matt the Electrician on your "do not miss" list for the weekend. Having spent years as a journeyman electrician (hence the name) Matt Sever makes outstandingly stripped-down tunes that benefit from the quirky indie-pop based sounds he and his acoustic band create. For a taste of this, check out his delightfully whimsical tune, "Animal Boy." 11am Saturday, Village Green; 6pm Saturday, Angeline's Bakery.

Hoots & Hellmouth

A great element of this year's Sisters Folk Festival are the late night shows at famed cowboy bar Bronco Billy's. Taking the stage at midnight on Friday night (or Saturday morning, if you want to get technical) is Hoots & Hellmouth, a rough and tumble Philadelphia roots rock act that might bring to mind a less-punked-out version of our very own Larry and His Flask. If you're looking to do some old-timey hand clapping and foot stomping, see this late night show by this bearded quartet. Midnight Friday, Bronco Billy's; 8pm Saturday, Angeline's Bakery; 10:15pm, Saturday, Slick's Que Company.

Sweet Talk Radio

Winner of the Source's unofficial Best Band Name at Sisters Folk award, Sweet Talk Radio is a duo comprised of songwriters Kathrin Shorr and Tim Burlingame. The two L.A. musicians play a soft and delicate form of folk music that's as hook-laden as it is touching. The songs might be simple, but Shorr's voice is nothing short of stunning. 1:45pm Saturday, Sisters Art Works; 9pm Saturday, Depot Café; Noon Sunday, Village Green.

About The Author

Add a comment

More by Mike Bookey

Latest in Sound Stories & Interviews