Photos by Tess Freeman / The Bulletin

Photos by Tess Freeman / The Bulletin


A variety of bands entertain sold-out crowd

By Brian McElhiney / The Bulletin

Jun 23, 2015 at 02:13PM
The defining moment of the eighth annual 4 Peaks Music Festival came early in the evening Saturday when Poor Man’s Whiskey unplugged for an encore.


Unless you were standing right by the stage, you wouldn’t have noticed it. The people in the dancing pit right in front of the stage were treated to the most intimate moment of the festival’s main programming that day.

The sound barely carried out from the stage, lost in the early-evening breeze, but the five members of Poor Man’s Whiskey — who haven’t missed a 4 Peaks yet — played on as the normally rowdy audience gathered around the stage. As banjo player Josh Brough strummed his last chord and the band hit one final five-part harmony, the nearby crowd erupted.

In all, 10 bands played the second and final full day of the festival, which began Thursday evening and concluded Sunday afternoon. Organizer Stacy Totland said the festival sold out, all 1,000 tickets of it. Although the number of tickets sold didn’t increase from previous years, she said this year’s event still felt bigger than any of the others.

“There’s a lot more RVs, and families with young kids,” she said. “There’s so many little kids moving around; it’s great. And we have the little extra kids’ performers, yoga, a few new vendors.”

The festival’s child-friendly atmosphere drew a number of families to the event. Kids played and danced with Hula Hoops, bubbles and other toys on the back lawn between the sound board and the fence throughout the day.

Melissa Gregorich, 40, of Portland, came to the festival for the first time with a group of friends who each brought their kids, ranging in age from 1½ to 7.

“They’re having a great time,” Gregorich said, laughing. “They have all these activities here for them — juggling, bubbles.”

“We’re looking at mountains all day, so that’s not bad either,” said her friend, Andy Sweany, 38, also of Portland.

Totland said there was a rush to get into the camping areas as soon as the gates opened Thursday at 5 p.m.

By Saturday, many had already been at the ranch for two days, including Brian Heuer, 31, and Aspen Lowe, 33, both of Bend. Both are longtime veterans of 4 Peaks — Heuer said it was his fourth or fifth time at the festival, while Lowe was there for the third time.

“It’s amazing — after the night stuff, the band members are playing with people they know and wandering the campsites,” Lowe said. “That is the true fun, playing under the stars.”

The music got off to an early start Saturday. Throughout the day, performers switched off between the Main Stage, located at the back of the fenced-in festival area, and the Side Stage, under a tent near the festival’s entrance.

The side-stage acts kept things in a jam-band mood, with two sets each from JED, The High Council and Asher Fulero. After headliner (ALO) Animal Liberation Orchestra’s set, acoustic group Polecat played late into the evening.

The sounds coming off the Main Stage were a bit more diverse. There were jams, of course (ALO, Acorn Project, up at 12:30 p.m.); country-rock (openers Heels to Hardwood, who hit the stage at 10:45 a.m.); string-band bluegrass (Brothers Comatose, 2:15 p.m.); and a mix of everything (Poor Man’s Whiskey, 6:15 p.m.).

ALO got the crowd rocking (and toking) with some long, winding jams and keyboardist Zach Gill’s trippy, stream-of-consciousness rants.

This came to a head with a long story about trapping rats that prompted one audience member to compare Gill to Jim Morrison of The Doors (for the record, absolutely not). Highlights included “Waiting For Jaden” and closing song “Storms and Hurricanes,” a sweet love song with a bouncy ukulele chord progression.

Special mention should be made of Roy Rogers and The Delta Rhythm Kings, who heated up an already hot afternoon with a set of rollicking, down-South blues. Rogers, who played a mean slide guitar, led a simple trio through snarky originals such as “Jaguar” and old standards from across the blues spectrum, from Robert Johnson to Willie Dixon, giving everything a New Orleans twist.

— Reporter: 541-617-7814, bmcelhiney@bendbulletin.com