The award-winning Canadian country act The James Barker Band will headline the 2018 Oak Harbor Music Festival, which starts Friday night and ends on Sunday. Photo provided

The award-winning Canadian country act The James Barker Band will headline the 2018 Oak Harbor Music Festival, which starts Friday night and ends on Sunday. Photo provided

Oak Harbor Music Festival: Three days of music, more than 30 acts

Big names, both on the Island and across the globe, are on the schedule for this year’s Oak Harbor Music Festival.

“This year we have an extremely good lineup,” said Larry Mason, music chair of the nonprofit organization that runs the event.

The free three days of music kicks off at 6:15 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31, on Southeast Pioneer Way with a performance by the Beatniks. More than 30 acts comprise this year’s lineup, including The James Barker Band. The group from Ontario, Canada, recently received the Country Album of the Year at the 2018 Junos for its debut album “Game On.”

“We’re very excited to have a talented band like this headline the festival Saturday night,” Mason said.

The James Barker Band will play on the Island Thrift Stage at 9:45 p.m. Saturday.

Donations, sponsorships, vendor rentals, merchandise sales and proceeds from the beer and wine garden are what keeps the event free. Now in its seventh year, the festival aims to “inspire our community through the power of music,” Mason said. The organization has awarded $10,000 this year in scholarships to graduating Island County students who want to pursue a career in music.

Freeland-based Janie Cribbs and the T.Rust Band has performed at the festival all but one of the years of its existence.

“The Oak Harbor music festival, which was a dream less than 10 years ago, has become a reality,” said Cribbs. “It’s a great venue that showcases live, local music and national acts that no one would ever see on Whidbey Island.”

The four-person Freeland band takes to the stage at 3 p.m. Sunday, opening for LeRoy Bell and his Only Friends. Bell, who hails from Tacoma, took eighth place in the 2011 season of The X Factor. The Northwestern musician has shared the stage with Idina Menzel, B.B. King, Etta James and a number of other well-known names across genres.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to be the band that will be on before him,” Cribbs said of Bell.

Whidbey’s Hot Club of Troy and Island Jazz Collective kick off music on Saturday on the Island Thrift Stage. On the Diamond Rentals Stage, and noted Seattle/Tacoma-area acts Ben Union and the Naked Giants will perform.

“Any of these bands could be headliners at a festival of our size,” said Mason. “We’re fortunate enough to have just about 30 bands that are extremely talented.”

Festival goers can also enjoy food from a number of vendors such as Random Acts of Food, Cosmic Ice Cream and Crepe Town. Hand-made goods such as jewelry, quilts, art and beauty products will be available from the many arts and crafts vendors present.

“We’re just excited to be able to throw a party like this,” said Mason, “and we just hope people will come out and enjoy it.”

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