It Ain’t Worth a Dang, If It Ain’t Classic Country
The West Coast Country Music Festival Keeps it Real
Promising “more pedal steel than you have ever seen in one place,” the third annual West Coast Country Music Festival will be held at the Greensprings Inn in Ashland on August 15. Festival organizer Dee Fretwell explains that classic country, in addition to heavy use of pedal steel (which is played like Hawaiian guitar, though it is set on a stand with pedals that adjust string tension), is more “straightforward heartbreak” than the new stuff. She even further defines the country at this festival “West Coast Country.”
“It’s not just classic country,” she says. “It has a vintage-type sound. There aren’t a lot of bands who are dedicated to the authentic, vintage country sound. Some add punk or Mumford and Sons—they add the dramatic to it.”
Fretwell says a good example of proper West Coast Country is the Earnest Lovers, a part of this year’s lineup, with their “sweet, sorrowful sound.” Earnest Lovers member Leslie Beia actually returns to the festival from its first year when she was in the band Copper and Coal. Another returning act is Rainy & The Rattlesnakes.
Though there are some returners and some locals, Fretwell says that she likes to get new acts into the area from out of town. Ashleigh Flynn and the Porch Climbers hail from Portland, though Flynn originally comes from Kentucky. Her most recent album, A Million Stars, chronicles the untold stories of the early American cowgirls and their exploits.
And Petunia and the Vipers are coming all the way from Canada. “Petunia (is a man); he is fantastic,” says Fretwell. “Their music is difficult to describe—old timey and country and swing—so brilliant.”
As for locals, Fretwell’s husband Jef leads the Jef Fretwell band, and though Dee has been known to dabble in the upright bass, she doesn’t join him on stage.
“I’m the behind the scenes, systems and operations girl,” she says.
And it wouldn’t be country without BBQ and beer—and not just any BBQ and beer. Smithfield’s Neil Clooney will bring the meat; Lagunitas Brewery will bring the brew. Now it’s a party. There will be multiple other food vendors present, and also some crafty folk, including a cigar-box guitar maker—for all the aspiring “West Coast Country” musicians out there.
“It is a continuation of years past,” says Fretwell. “Awesome, kick-ass music in a very family friendly environment. We just want to have a great time and celebrate the music.”
West Coast Country Music Festival
Noon—Dark. Saturday, August 15.
Greensprings Inn, 11470 Oregon 66, Ashland
$20, advance. 30, door. Kids 14 and under, free.