Just when the pollen haze clears out and right before the smoke from Central Oregon forest fires rolls in, the southern Willamette Valley is inundated with a different kind of summer haze: a fleet of Vanagons, Subarus and buses (VW and LTD) converging just west of Eugene in Veneta for the annual Oregon Country Fair.
To call the Fair hippie-palooza — sort of like claiming everyone in Eugene wears tie-dye — is low-hanging fruit these days. So I won’t go there. What I will do is update you on some music highlights from the annual celebration of all things groovy and bohemian — an event Eugeneans love, love to hate or love to hate to love.
New to the stage this year is Eugene’s favorite indie acoustic singer-songwriter Caroline Bauer. “The Oregon Country Fair is one of a handful of events that epitomizes summertime in Eugene for me, and I feel so lucky to be included in this year’s festivities,” says Bauer, a native Eugenean.
“I’ve been to Fair many times but this will be my first time performing music there,” Bauer continues, joking, “It will be my boyfriend’s first time ever at Fair, so I’m really looking forward to experiencing it with him this year.” Caroline Bauer plays 11 am Friday, July 11, on the Blue Moon Stage and 2:15 pm Saturday, July 12, on the Shady Grove Stage.
Also appearing at this year’s Fair is popular local ’70s pop-rock revivalists My Father’s Ghost. “Playing at Fair is the highlight of our year,” says My Father’s Ghost vocalist and primary songwriter Timothy Shaw. “The number and variety of opportunities to play, and collaborate with other performers, is amazing. It’s hard to come back to regular life.” My Father’s Ghost plays 5:15 pm Saturday, July 12, on the Kesey Stage.
Other notable acts on the Fair’s Main Stage include Eugene-based reggae-rockers Sol Seed (who like Bauer are past winners of EW’s Next Big Thing song contest), blues-guitar wunderkind David Jacob Strain and popular Bay Area gypsy-tronica act Beats Antique. Also on Main Stage: the Native American-themed rock ‘n’ roll of Nahko and Medicine for the People, the soulful California Honeydrops and the stony reggae groove of Alcyon Massive and Indubious. Returning to the Main Stage this year is Portland’s uproarious March Fourth Marching Band, featuring local drummer Susan Lucia of Bustin’ Jieber.
On The Shady Grove stage you’ll hear Portland songwriter Jerry Joseph as well as popular Eugene jam band Blue Lotus. Also, don’t miss the gypsy-jazz of Eugene’s Manouche Noir as well the blues, jazz and ragtime of Baby Gramps. Elsewhere, on the Blue Moon Stage catch Portland’s bluesy-rockers Lewi Longmire and The Left Coast Roasters, cello and banjo old-time folk duo The Littlest Birds, as well as working-class songwriter Casey Neill and Friends.
So whether you’re a veteran fairgoer or a newbie, be sure to check out the panoply of live music OCF offers — from multiple stages to roving “ambient performers” like “new age traveling troubadour” Karla Mi Lugo, Bumford and Sons, Bindaas and The Bakersfield Dozen.
For more information and show times, check out oregoncountryfair.org.