"4 Days of Pickin' at Bob's"
Set aside in the just remote enough to lose cell coverage area of North Plains, Oregon, about 30 minutes northwest of Portland, is a recreational property that hosts fishing, disk golf, hiking, paddle boats, and is home to quite a few gorgeous peacocks who roam the area. Now add music to the equation and the real fun starts. This magical place of 160 acres is called Hornings Hideout and has a long history of hosting stellar music events since 1992 when the first musicians asked to play on the property. The String Cheese Incident hosted the Full Moon Dance Party in 2000 drawing in masses of fans along with them, popularizing the venue. A four year run of the Pickathon was also a popular festival in the early years at Hornings.
In 2001 the annual Northwest String Summit festival was created delivering top notch artists and legends on the bill. Now in its 17th year, it has solidified itself as a top bluegrass events in the country .
After completing my fourth year in attendance and the third year photographing the festival, I can tell you that this has become my favorite music festival of the year. I don't think I'm alone in the whole "best festival" thing either. A good amount of friends I've talked to about this have the same opinion and love for the 4 days we spend together at Hornings Hideout. The smiles and laughter at Strummit, the fun and joy that radiates around makes for great photo opportunities, and I've thoroughly enjoyed my time behind the lens here.
Over the years in which I've attended, a big part of the adventure was getting there; 2065 miles as the crow flies. I have driven with 2 friends, a stinky dog, and a packed car of goods needed for survival on the road for weeks of adventure including a large dog crate. The comfort during this trip was minimal but the enjoyment was maximum. The second visit out I was driving a Subaru from Cleveland to Seattle to Portland and back over a 15 day span. The most recent two were uncomfortable flights while carting copious amount of heavy camera gear. Regardless what it takes to get there, though, as long as I'm able, I will try and make it a yearly practice shooting photos, having fun or of at least being present at Northwest String Summit.
Over these 4 years I've learned that aside from your typical camp jams and family dinners, I've found a few unique festival traditions that hold strong through the years at NWSS. Such activities include bubbles on the lake, an event running over a decade that consists of mainly the folks who have not yet gone to sleep Saturday night convening as the sun comes up to simply blow bubbles over the lake and drink champagne. It is a very chill and laid back event as one would expect and a good start to Sunday funday.
The crazier and certainly more dangerous tradition that I've witnessed is sledding down Turtle Hill dirt trail. Over the years I've been involved in or seen the likes of wagons, coolers, baby pools, dog crates and countless other "vehicles" taking a ride down the rather steep and rough dirt trail. I've seen some wrecks, been in wrecks, bled, spit mouthfuls of dirt and been somewhat beaten up. I've seen some skillful rides and some less skillful skids. Whoever was the first or founding creator was a brave soul. I'd like to think whiskey or a dare between friends started this game but I'm not sure.
String Summit is a packed weekend with festival events including a kids parade and the Saint Baldricks Foundation head shave and fundraising event in which volunteers get a new look by way of the clippers, with the proceeds going to child cancer research. The festival also has its own behind the scenes live radio broadcast, dubbed Peacock Radio. With so much going on around the grounds, I admit this is one that I've yet to witness and will have to investigate next year.
In recent years, Jamgrass TV has brought a large scale professional video team and produced a live stream with later releases of select songs through social media outlets. I must say they all do fine fine job, so be sure to check them out.
Musical concept jams involving specific past or present performers, albums and genres have also been a celebrated thing at NWSS. Tributes and bluegrass renditions of classic albums have entertained festival goers and offered a freshness and creative approach to the standard traditional twang. The Kinfolk Revival stage curated by Arthur Lee hosts quite a few of the themed sets throughout the weekend. This years upgrade from the previous large but confined tent to an open stage was a welcomed offering and allowed for easier viewing and better atmosphere of the late night sets.
Food and vendors have been stellar throughout the years I've attended. Personal favorites have been Bunk Sandwiches, Sanchos tacos, Blissful Wunders confectionery chocolats, of course the fine people at Conscious Alliance, Klean Kanteen, Ninkasi brewing, and Sierra Nevada for all they provide to the festival. The recycling program, compost program and use of the stainless steel Klean Kanteen cups does a remarkable job of limiting the impact of single use plastic and waste that events of multiple thousands of people can have on the environment. Well done, and thank you all!
It really takes a small army of workers to make such a beautiful festival. It is without question a lot of work to produce an event of this magnitude so I'd like to give a big thanks to all the ones who make it happen and those who have helped me throughout the years. Big thanks for welcoming to the Strummit family Skye McDonald, Bob Horning, Pastor Tim Christensen, Arthur Lee, Hanah and the Jamgrass TV crew, Travis Schultz for being my rad camp neighbor and festival setup guy, Paul Schenk for a bunch of help out west. Cannot forget Yonder and all the amazingly talented artists, Danny Barnes for the contagious laughter, smile, and incredible musicianship, Brian Band and all the tapers, Jason Charme, John Ryan Lockman, Kevin Spady for years of great images, all the friends met at summit who are too abundant to list you all. Last but not least Will Rawls for posting my photos on The Lot Scene.
Please click on the banners below to view my photo galleries from NWSS 2016, 2017, & 2018. I hope you all enjoy the photos, give a like and follow to The Lot Scene if you do.