For Dave Johnston, Yonder Mountain String Band’s banjo picker and vocalist, the peacocks are just one of the many draws to the Northwest String Summit.
For eleven consecutive years, YMSB members have frolicked with the peacocks and some of the world’s best new old-timey musicians at Horning’s Hideout in North Plains, the woodsy venue situated about 20 miles northwest of Portland.And Johnston is psyched to do it again next weekend when his band will play three of the festival’s four nights. But it’s far from just a Yonder show, as 25 other bands join the quartet.
“The vibe is an awesome mix of family and crazy,” Johnston said. “And there’s a level of respect among the people there that you don’t experience at the bigger festivals. It’s really unique.”
Horning’s Hideout is nestled down in the trees—a fitting setting for the organic, down-home musical lineup—and boasts two stages, space for camping and, of course, plenty of vendors slinging micros and wine to help you ease through the long weekend.
This year the Colorado bluegrass jam band has recruited not only a heap of fellow jammy stalwarts but also a handful of relative newcomers and local acts.
Cosmic funk saxophonist Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and the aged, acid folk-rockers New Riders of the Purple Sage are among the other main attractions.
You’ll want to check out bluegrass legend Darol Anger as well as the Michigan-based pickers, Greensky Bluegrass, who played a great show in Bend last fall. Joy Kills Sorrow is quickly gaining a nationwide fan following and Johnston is among them.
Johnston said he only recently met the Boston-based modern bluegrass band, but he dug what he heard.
“Joy Kills Sorrow really impressed me in Telluride—Wes Corbett is a great banjo picker,” Johnston said.
Aside from the upcoming music festival, Johnston leaked that YMSB, which hasn’t released a record since 2009, is heading back into the recording studio in Chicago.
“It’s a great city and we love playing there,” Johnston said of the windy city. “We thought a new creative space might produce something good.”
The band plans to start recording in October.
“We’re just gonna kinda go into the studio and record some music and see what happens. If it’s just one song that we like, maybe we’ll sit on it until we can get it some siblings,” Johnston said. “We’re trying to be more current with the idea of releasing music.”
In the meantime, Johnston is stoked to be back in the Beaver State mingling with the other hipster nerds.
“I can’t speak for the rest of the band, but I can tell you I like Oregon a lot. I like the rain, mountains, desert, the coffee, Portland’s book culture…” said Johnston.
“And the peacocks are awesome.”
Northwest Sting Summit
Aug. 9-12, Horning’s Hideout in
North Plains, OR
Tickets $30-$190, stingsummit.com
YMSB, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Greensky Bluegrass, Joy Kills Sorrow, New Riders of the Purple Sage, 7 Walkers featuring Bill Kreutzmann, Darol Anger and the Fury, Danny Barnes & Scratch Track Gospel Show, Pete Kartsounes Band, Deadly Gentleman.