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Music » Sound Stories & Interviews

Local Music Update

Roots Festival showcases Bend's finest



The annual Roots Festival has become an artistic staple in Bend's cultural landscape over the last half-decade. Shut down in 2012 for lack of venue, and facing nasty weather in 2013 that almost shut down the arts collaboration, Roots Festival has proved it's quick thinking and resilient in the face of challenging circumstances.

Having held the festival in five different locations in as many years, and with last year's location, Pakit Liquidators, an eastside junkyard now defunct, organizers are teaming up with Deschutes Brewery to hold the concerts on the production facility lawn in the Old Mill District. They hope the fresh location will accommodate the more than 3,000 attendees and help to raise more than the $10,000 raised for local arts in 2013.

We asked several local bands that will be playing Roots Fest to update us on what they've been doing for the last year, tell us about their previous Roots Festival experiences and project what's next for their band.

Wilderness, genre-bending folk

SW: Have you performed in previous Roots Festivals? What has your experience been?

Wilderness: Yes! We played last year. Nora (keyboards, vocals) had given birth to her son, lovingly called Junior Mint, six days prior yet she still rallied to play the show. An apocalyptic-Mad-Max-like dust storm whipped up as we began playing. It was altogether terrifying, yet somehow comforting. We were the last band to play outside. They took it all indoors after that.

SW: What have you been up to in the last year?

Wilderness: Push-ups, stretching, general body sculpting.

SW: What's next for the band?

Wilderness: We are going to begin writing our sophomore album, as of yet untitled. We hope to have it finished sometime in the future.

Wilderness plays Saturday, 7 pm on the BIGS Stage.

Juniper and Gin, original Oregon folkgrass

SW: Have you performed in previous Roots Festivals? What has your experience been?

Juniper and Gin: Shortly after returning to Bend from a five-year hiatus that included almost two years of traveling in a motorhome and writing songs, I (Jason) performed solo last year in the circus center at Pakit. It was a great experience to be a part of something so grassroots. The motivation of Mark Ransom and Jesse Roberts was an inspiration and I got involved with cleaning up the property and helping build wheel chair ramps and structures and such to make the venue accessible and safe. We are so proud to be a part of a locally organized event that focuses on art and music.

SW: What's next for the band?

Juniper and Gin: We are in the pre-production phase of a full-length album of original bluegrass and folk-inspired songs. We hope to have an album out by early 2015.

Juniper and Gin play Saturday, 3:15 pm, on the Ramblerland Stage.

Elektrapod, electro funk-rock

SW: Have you performed in previous Roots Festivals? What has your experience been?

Elektrapod: [Last year] we were scheduled right before the Saturday headliner (Acorn Project) indoors in the Pakit Ballroom and the show was magical. The vibe in that funky old spot was amazing. People were ready to dance and rock out, and we brought it full tilt. The downpours on Saturday and Sunday that weekend were monsoon-like, but the energy it created for the indoor shows, of everyone snugly huddled into the warehouse rocking out, was something truly special.

SW: What have you been up to in the last year? 

Elektrapod: We have been working on making Elektrapod a finely tuned live music machine, writing tons of new material and building our NW fanbases.

Elektrapod plays Sunday, 7:15 pm on the BIGS Stage.

Mark Ransom and the Mostest, songwriter meets jamband

SW: Have you performed in previous Roots Festivals?

The Mostest: ALL of them!

SW: What has your experience been?

The Mostest: Always extremely fun, and exhausting! At one of the first festivals, like 2007 maybe, we had this stage backdrop art piece that was a fantastic creation from then local artist John Hilmer. It was worth a few thousand bucks, and some punk with an eye for aesthetic quality stole it in the middle of the night. Not wanting to put negative vibes out during the fest, I chose not to talk about the Roots art robbers, and never really revisited the issue. A few years back, Bend Roots 2011 at Century Center, I saw John Hilmer who was visiting from Santa Barbara and enjoying the festival. As I shared with him the story of the art robbers, I saw a big smile come over his face. He saw it as an milestone in is career: someone wanted his art so much they, they smuggled it out. Ha! John Hilmer is the real deal now!!!

The Mostest will play on Friday, 11:30 pm in the Deschutes Brewery Mountain Room.

The Rum and the Sea, eclectic musical circus

SW: Have you performed in previous Roots Festivals?

The Rum and the Sea: Last year was our first year performing together at Roots. We had the good fortune to land the only indoor stage at Pakit. With so many others unfortunately rained out that day, our good friends BDG jumped into an impromptu acoustic romp while we set up and completely got the crowd pumped up for us. We took the stage, along with David Miller sitting in on electric guitar and played a really fun, loud set with the audience dancing and singing along for the whole thing. Then we ran across town to do the whole thing again at Cruxtoberfest.

SW: What has the band been up to the last year?

The Rum and the Sea: Over the last year we've been working on new originals and tightening up our sound, picking and choosing from the amazing variety of Bend venues and festivals we've been offered, and helped raise money to support KPOV and to defeat MS through the Beatles Singalong and The Newberry Event. We feel truly grateful and blessed to be making so many friends and strengthening bonds in our musical community.

SW: What's next for the band?

The Run and the Sea: Looking forward, we're hoping to spend some time in the studio over the winter and get ridiculously rich and famous from an album release. Honestly, we'd be pretty stoked to just keep doing what we've been fortunate enough to do so far though.

The Rum and the Sea will play Saturday, 4 pm on the BIGS Stage.

Bend Roots Festival

Sept. 26-28

Deschutes Brewery, 399 SW Shevlin-Hixon Dr.

Full Roots Festival lineup at riseupinternational.com/roots-festival

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