Named for the three Sister mountain peaks and Broken Top Mountain, which are visible from the venue's site, 4 Peaks Music Festival has become a highly visible part of Central Oregon's music scene with its annual summer three-day concert and, now, with a series of preview shows.
Still four months from its kickoff, and with very different weather than the commonly warm and dry June temperatures, festival organizer Stacy Totland sat down with the Source at Lone Pine Coffee to discuss the steady growth of the 4 Peaks Festival—and its emerging place in the field of summer music festivals. Wearing a striped knit cap, Totland was in full winter mode, but talked excitedly about her summer concert.
Unlike the popular Les Schwab Ampitheater Summer Concerts, which offer in-town evening shows of established bands (this week, they announced a May 22 show with the Decemberists), 4 Peaks is a full weekend, set slightly out-of-town showcase of emerging bluegrass and Americana musicians. "Not heavy metal or rap," assures Totland.
In many ways, she explained, the festival is based on the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, which has been hosted annually since 1974 in Colorado where Totland lived before moving to Bend. Ironically, the festivals are scheduled for the very same weekend (June 19-21). But although the Telluride Festival is four decades old and attracts large crowds, 4 Peaks is beginning to stand toe-to-toe with that festival in terms of musical caliber. Last summer, one band even traveled between Telluride and Bend to perform at both events. (Totland, however, says that she plans to maintain the intimacy of 4 Peaks by capping the audience at around 1,500, as opposed to the 10,000 who annually attend Telluride.)
On Wednesday, Feb. 11, Carolyn Wonderland plays at The Belfry in Sisters for a 4 Peaks Preview party. For some, these preview concerts are a reunion from the summer festivals, but for others, says Totland, they are simply stand-alone concerts of a great musician.
Austin-based Wonderland played last summer's festival and is a headliner for this year.
Although Wonderland plays a van-full of instruments—including piano, mandolin and trumpet—most of her songs are blues-based, guitar-forward power punches, with sharp, fast-moving chords. In both 2009 and 2012, she won Best Female Vocalist in the Austin Music Awards.
7 pm. Wednesday, Feb. 11
Belfry, 302 E. Main St., Sisters
$17 advance, $20 at door.