Have we already mentioned that Les Schwab Amphitheater hosts probably its most impressive year yet, from the Decemberists to Willie Nelson, and there is the Tuesday night Munch & Music at Drake Park, Wednesday night Pickin' & Paddlin' on the Deschutes, and Thursday night shows throughout the summer in Bend. But sometimes, it is just a good idea to roll down the windows and scream out of town on a road trip.
Three hours to the south, Britt Fest is a remarkable venue. Nestled adjacent to the former silver mining boomtown of Jacksonville, these are disarmingly charming shows. Covering Dave Brubeck and Beck, the Portland Cello Project kickstarts the summer with a classical swing (8 pm, Thursday, June 4, $20), and with shows like Toad the Wet Sprocket (7 pm, Sunday, June 21, $39+) and G. Love & Special Sauce with Big Head Todd & The Monsters (7 pm, Sunday, July 26, $39+). Also, Britt Fest hosts a world-class orchestra—and violin and cellos reverberating under a canopy of a billion stars is an out-of-this-universe experience (Opening Night, 8 pm, Friday, July 31, $32+).
And, three hours to the north is Edgefield, an enclosed outdoor amphitheater that provides the ambiance of a giant backyard party (okay, perhaps a bit more grand than that, or if Bill Gates owned the backyard). With a Portland hipster crowd, these shows buzz with an urbane, but chill afterwork attitude.
Interestingly (and a little hometown pride here), Les Schwab has attracted many of the same big-name acts that many of these road trip venues have—although some of the shows are slightly different, like The Decembrists are pairing with Tex-Mex Calexico (7 pm, Tuesday, July 14) at the Britt Fest, and Edgefield has Sheryl Crow (July 6), which, oh, that's the same show, with up-and-coming Nashville songstress Lera Lynn (July 7), and Weird Al is playing here, there, and everywhere this summer.
Probably the most original lineup to road trip for, though, is MusicfestNW (Portland), which features many bands not performing other places this summer, like Belle and Sebastian, Modest Mouse, the rocking Foster the People, and The Tallest Man on Earth, whose folksy songs sit somewhere between high art and toe-tapping pop. (August 21-23,Waterfront Park, Portland, $60+ daily pass, $140+ three day pass). (PB)