Oak Harbor Music Festival lineup comes together

Free 3-day event drawing national acts

An accidental alignment of a star and a sticker on the front page of Wednesday’s Whidbey News-Times made Bill Walker’s day.

“Macklemore flashing a peace sign right next to the save-the-date sticker for the Oak Harbor Music Festival was great,” enthused the festival board member.

“It looked like he was promoting it.”

He wasn’t. The Seattle rapper made the news for appearing in Island County District Court Monday in Oak Harbor to deal with a traffic citation. He smiled and flashed a “V” sign for reporters after paying a fine.

Macklemore isn’t in the Music Festival’s Sept. 1-3 line-up of 39 bands, either.

But Walker sees the confluence as a good omen for the festival that’s grown to national status from its grassroots beginnings six years ago.

“It’s really becoming known all over the country,” Walker said. “We turned away a lot of bands this year.”

Louisiana singer-songwriter Marc Boussard is the headliner. He takes the stage at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2 and is expected to play from his soon-to-be-released album, Easy To Love.

Other well-known national and regional acts include Loving Mary Band (Nashville), Brad Wilson &The Rollin’ Blues Thunder Band (Los Angeles), Dirty Revival (Portland) and the Canadian band, The Paperboys, which performed during Whidbey Island Race Week last month.

“Many of these bands planned their West Coast tours around the Oak Harbor dates,” said Larry Mason, one of nine volunteer board members behind the nonprofit organization. It’s mission is to encourage economic tourism, providing inspiration through music to the community with a free diverse line-up of talent and help local students pursue music education.

Giving exposure to local Whidbey bands is also a part of the annual event. Of particular note this time around is the band, Backyard Bison, a high school garage band that won the 2016 Music Festival’s Teen Talent contest.

This year, Backyard Bison is back for a full set at 2 p.m. Sunday.

“I hired these kids to be one of the acts,” Mason said. “I felt they deserved a spot on the stage.”

Backyard Bison was featured in a story published in the News-Times earlier this year.

Hot Club of Troy, a gypsy jazz band with members from Greenbank and Langley, is returning for its second consecutive year. It performs 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

“The organization and management of (the festival) is outstanding,” said Troy Chapman, one of the ensemble’s four members.

“From the early on signing up to the follow through, contracts, stage design, photography and providing a green room for the musicians, the entire set up is great. It’s a super venue to perform with.”

Island Jazz Collective, commonly seen on the sidelines of many local parades, will be spotlighted noon on Sunday.

It’s the first appearance of the Island Jazz Collective, although three of the current five members were part of combo called DB Jazz that played at the first and second festivals. “We’re hoping to continue playing the festival as long as we can,” said saxophonist Don Wodjenski.

Putting on the free three-day festival isn’t cheap, costing about $140,000 to pay for the bands, security, stages and other needs.

But it still manages to raise substantial funds toward the awarding of scholarships to local high school graduating seniors interested in music or music education careers.

“It was our third year when we were able to begin giving away money to scholarships,” said Cynthia Mason, president of the board. “This year we added another scholarship.”

Much of the revenue beyond expenses comes from thirsty concert-goers drinking at the festivals two beer and wine gardens.

Two stages are set up on opposite ends of Pioneer Way with dozens of food and arts and crafts vendors in between; the event is designed to be kid and family-friendly.

Volunteers for the three days of music are still needed, particularly for the Sunday shifts. If you’ve ever wanted to be a beer and wine bartender and you are age 21 or over, here’s your chance.

People wanting to volunteer can show up 6-8 p.m. Monday, Aug. 28 at Best Western Plus Oak Harbor Hotel &Conference Center, 33175 State Highway 20 or email volunteer@oakharborfestival.com

Organizers behind the Oak Harbor Music Festival gather on Pioneer Way Thursday, empty now but expected to be packed with thousands of music fans Labor Day weekend. Left to right are: Cynthia Mason, Larry Mason, Margaret Livermore, Cheryl Jandzinski and Gary Jandzinski Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News-Times

An impromptu meeting of some Oak Harbor Music Fesitval board members results in a recreation of a famous Beatles album. Walking across Pioneer Way are left to right: Larry Mason, Margaret Livermore, Gary Jandzinski, Cynthia Mason and Cheryl Jandzinski. Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News-Times

Jourdan Wallace (left) and Tyler Grehan lead the band Backyard Bison. The local teens were selected as one of 39 acts performing at Oak Harbor Musical Festival. Photo by Daniel Warn/Whidbey News-Times

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