This past Saturday I went up to Oregon Ridge for Hot August Blues, an annual blues and roots festival that always has an impressive lineup. This year included Gov't Mule, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Justin Townes Earle, Cris Jacobs Band, and many others.
The cost of the festival ends up being a little steep if you procrastinate (which, let's be honest, many of us do): $49 plus a $9 parking pass. But, if you think about what you're getting, it's not so bad—nearly 12 hours of music on multiple stages in a bucolic setting. The perfect 80-degree weather on Saturday didn't hurt either.
Plus, once inside the festival, the prices really weren't too bad. For $5, you got a 20-oz. cup of Magic Hat, either their IPA or #9, which is pretty much the same price you'd pay at any bar. The food and all the vendors selling everything from dreamcatchers to henna tattoos all seemed reasonable, too.
Some of my favorite performances included JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, who I've written about before. They played the second stage near the entrance and got a pretty huge crowd that migrated over from the main amphitheater. I wish that the band could have performed on a bigger stage, as their Motown/rockabilly sound could have easily filled the space.
I also liked the international flare of Colombia's Locos Por Juana who played the main stage and seamlessly fused funk, reggae, hip-hop and Latin rhythms to keep the crowd thoroughly entertained. Justin Townes Earle was another favorite of mine, though I think his emotional country-soul ballads might have worked better on a smaller, more intimate stage. But I think his fame (and perhaps, his father Steve Earle's fame, as well) validated his main-stage billing.
A band I was really excited for, who lived up to the hype, was Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, pictured. They had all of the old-school jazz, funk, and soul you'd expect from a New Orleans group—but also merged it with some hard rock and hip-hop. They reminded me of a Louisiana version of The Roots. Check out their 2011 release For True to get an idea.
All told, the festival is a great excuse to plop down your camping chair and listen to some of the most talented national acts touring right now—all in a beautiful, natural amphitheater just a half-an-hour away from the city.
[Image: courtesy of Jordan August Photography]