Now that Capitol Hill Block Party is behind us, I suppose it’s a duty as a music blogger to turn my attention to the next festival on the calendar. In my case, I’ll be heading to the Gorge for the first ever Watershed Festival. It’s a country music festival from Friday, August 3 through Sunday, August 5.
As I have a habit of not missing the chance to see Miranda Lambert, the Saturday night headliner, when she’s in Washington state, I’ll be making the drive to Quincy, WA. The locals stage, though, is what has me most excited for the most weekend. You’ll get the chance to see some of the Northwest’s finest country acts. The Locals Stage isn’t entirely local, though (or at has a liberal definition of local) as it also includes (very good!) Michigan singer-songwriter Paulina Jayne. Here are five acts on the smaller, locals stage that are worth your time and who I wouldn’t miss (in alphabetical order):
Brent Amaker and the Rodeo (Friday, August 3, 6:05pm): I’ve known Brent Amaker for a long time and have written about his country band the Rodeo several times (most prominently here), and they always put on a helluva show. Country fans should appreciate the band’s adherence to tradition with great country songs written with a sense of humor. Their shows, including the much buzzed-about one at the Capitol Hill Block Party on Saturday night, are always a riot. Part burlesque show, part whiskey-drinking party, part WTF?, it’ll be entertaining the whole set, especially because one doesn’t know what the modern, Nashville country fans will make of Brent Amaker and the Rodeo. I can’t wait to find out.
Dusty 45s (Saturday, August 4, 7:35pm): Seattle band The Dusty 45s have served as rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson’s backing band as of late, including on her sold-way-the-hell out tour with Adele, but they’ve been doing their own thing for overa decade prior. Led by the charismatic Billy Joe Huels, The Dusty 45s play rockabilly and country-influenced swing (amongst other styles of music), always putting on a fun dance party with their catchy songs. They’ve been one of the most popular live Northwest bands throughout the band’s history, and the work out one receives from shaking their ass from beginning to end of their shows explains why.
Vince Mira (Sunday, August 5, 7:35pm): After I first saw Vince Mira (he opened for the aforementioned Wanda Jackson at the Tractor in 2008), people wouldn’t believe how I described him: a fifteen year old Latino kid who sounds exactly like Johnny Cash. Mira is still a teenager, but he’s recorded an EP with John Carter Cash, appeared on the “Ellen” show and spends most Tuesday nights playing solo at the Can Can in Pike Place Market. Mira’s a remarkable kid who emerged as a songwriter in his own right, while channeling the legendary Man in Black.
One More Girl (Sunday, August 5, 605pm): Sisters Britt and Carly McKillip make up Vancouver, BC duo One More Girl. They make catchy, well-crafted country pop songs (which I love) that sounds like it could be played on the radio ad nauseum. “Maybe” might be their best song, just a perfectly-sculptured pop song with a big chorus that makes use of both sisters’ gorgeous harmonies. One More Girl is working on an album with a ton of known songwriters, so it could be pretty quickly where we (or those who pay attention to country music) hear a lot more about this sister act.
Rae Solomon (Sunday, August 5, 4:35pm): On Rae Solomon’s single “Country-Fied Chick,” she doesn’t take long to establish her identity: “I’m a hell raising, northern-bred/farm-born, music-fed, wild-eyed, country-fied chick.” She’s a great singer-songwriter from Seattle who has her new sophomore EP coming out soon (it’s CD release party is on Saturday at Jazzbones in Tacoma). Everytime I listen to her music, I can’t help but think she’s born to be a big country star. She’s got a commanding stage presence (which is even obvious from poor-quality YouTube videos), a big voice and writes country pop songs that sound like they already are big hits.