No, Saturday night's Spring Fling Tour stop at the Old Stone Church won't be the 4 Peaks Music Festival, but as far as music goes, it will get us as close to the jammy outdoor music festival - the exact future of which is uncertain - as we're likely to get in late March. And this is due, of course, to the show's bill, which includes Poor Man's Whiskey and Blue Turtle Seduction, two bands that have played both installments of the festival.
Let's cut to the chase here, Poor Man's Whiskey is essentially the 4 Peaks house band - they played three different sets over the weekend and also jammed out late into the night in the campgrounds at the 2008 fest. The San Francisco five piece has transformed from a goofy bluegrass conglomerate to a high-powered rootsy rock band in the past two years and there haven't been many complaints about this evolution. PMW is rooted in Americana, but gladly play anything from funk to spacey jams, oftentimes with funnyman (who also plays guitar and sometimes the theramine) Eli Jebidiah taking center stage, even if Josh Brough (banjo, keys, lead vocals) is the band's true front man. In short, PMW have effectively shaped the festival with not only their sound, but also their ability to carry the festival's torch.
Blue Turtle Seduction has brought its sunny, feel-good jams to 4 Peaks in the past and has also thrown some high-flying and well-attended late night shows at the Annex. Based out of Lake Tahoe, Blue Turtle also played both nights at last year's festival, filling a vacant slot on the second day. The band has worked hard in the studio in recent years, but their records really haven't been able to convey what the party-friendly band does on stage. Nevertheless, BTS has garnered a steady following in jam-loving Central Oregon.
And this is the crowd that has supported 4 Peaks in its first two years - as well as a strong contingent of fans from the other side of the mountains, which is why the Spring Fling Tour stops at Eugene's WOW Hall and the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland before landing at the Old Stone on Saturday. With the state of the economy causing the cancellation of outdoor music festivals across the country, 4 Peaks organizers are using the tour to generate some cash and support for the festival.
"The more support we get for this show, the greater the odds are of having a larger-scale show this summer," says festival manager Stacy Totland, a KPOV (106.7FM) board member and host of "Live Alive," the jam-intensive live music show that airs 2pm Thursdays on the station.
As of now, the plan for 4 Peaks 2009 is uncertain, but it's almost for sure that the event will be less ambitious than last year's installment. Totland and the other organizers are still looking for a home. Last year's festival was held on two private farms in Tumalo and included an expansive campground. Totland says there's a possibility that this year's event is an in-town show, or collection of shows, to keep the 4 Peaks name alive.
"This year is going to be on a smaller scale, but we'd like to go big in 2010 at a cool site, if we were to find one," Totlands says, "You know, we're the only festival like this in Central Oregon and we want to keep it going."
But while it's still spring, 4 Peakers will have to take what they can get, and if that's catching two of the 4 Peaks mainstays at the Old Stone on a Saturday night, then hey, that's not too bad, even if you can't bring your own lawn chair.
4 Peaks Spring Fling Tour featuring
Poor Man's Whiskey and Blue Turtle Seduction
8pm doors, 9pm show. Saturday, March 21. Old Stone Church, 157 NW Franklin Ave. $12. Text "4 Peaks" to 20123 to win a pair of tickets.