Munch and Music is like that relative you only visit for a few days out of the year, but don't realize how much you miss until you know they're gone for a while. The weekly summer event has become a Bend institution in the 26 years it has been going with carefully curated bands, food, artist booths and events.
This year, each headlining band has an opener, leading to even more music for the weekly festival. A lot of the rules are the same. The two most important being: 1) Don't bring your own beer, but you can roam freely with the beer you purchase and 2) No dogs allowed.
Here is a brief look at the bands playing Munch and Music this year and what to expect from one of their shows.
July 14: California Honeydrops & The Coffis Brothers: The Honeydrops are a bluesy R&B band out of Oakland. They incorporate old-timey instruments like the gutbucket bass, jug and washboard into their sound, giving them a modern New Orleans-style fusion of jazzy blues. The Honeydrops are in the middle of exploding, so catch them now while you can.
The Coffis Brothers hail from the Santa Cruz Mountains and blend folk, R&B, blues and rock to make a funky fusion of Neil Young and The Avett Brothers. These guys are a perfect blend with The Honeydrops.
July 21: The English Beat & The Lower 48: The English Beat are the original ska grandfathers. Formed in 1978 in Birmingham, England, The Beat is behind some of the finest ska tracks in history. "Mirror in the Bathroom," "I Confess," "Tears of a Clown" and "Save it for Later" are guaranteed ear worms that won't leave your head for days.
The Lower 48 is a beautiful mash-up of sounds that wouldn't seem congruous. With influences like Fleet Foxes, Simon & Garfunkle and Sufjan Stevens, The Lower 48 is a hybrid band filled with gorgeous harmonies.
July 28: World's Finest & Tony Smiley: World's Finest have blown up in Bend lately, playing almost every festival around. Straight out of Portland, the five-piece mixes ska, dub, reggae, bluegrass and more to create an electric live show. They've become so popular lately for a good reason, as their shows feel much closer to giant house parties than they do a concert.
Tony Smiley has been on the Bend music radar for years as a one-man band, multi-instrumentalist madman. There is nothing quite like watching Tony Smiley play and every year his musical vocabulary expands massively.
Aug. 4: The Quick and Easy Boys & Jive Coulis: A power trio out of Portland, The Quick and Easy Boys mix garage pop, psych rock and funk for an eclectic combination. The word "fun" seems too easy to describe their sound, but it perfectly encapsulates the funky-tonk trio. One live show from these three and you'll be hooked.
Jive Coulis is another three-piece, but this time out of Southern Oregon. They mix original songs with covers so effortlessly that it is easy to imagine their versions as the originals. They have a classic, Southern band sound that plays perfectly in outdoor festivals.
Aug. 11: Devon Allman Band & Redwood Son: Devon Allman (son of Gregg) played for a decade with Honeytree and Royal Southern Brotherhood before launching solo work. His live sound would fit well in a whiskey-coated Southern juke joint as well as it will on the Central Oregon stage.
Redwood Son's music fits squarely into the Americana roots genre, but with some good old-fashioned country heartbreak lyrics. With their first record released last April, Redwood Son should definitely have some staying power.
2016's Munch and Music lineup is solid and respectable. Bend is a town with almost a constant schedule of art walks, festivals and events, but this attention to detail is what separates Munch and Music from the pack.
Munch and Music
5:30pm. Every Thursday, July 7-Aug. 11
Drake Park, 777 NW Riverside Blvd., Bend