Guest Blogger Colleen covers Pickathon!!!

Outsider Music Press is proud to introduce our first guest blogger, Colleen Nielsen! She comes with us with a passionate recap about her experience at the 2010 Pickathon festival – a folk oriented festival held in the woods outside of Portland, OR. Be sure to check out other work by Colleen via I Fry Mine In Butter.

Dr. Dog; photo by Colleen

Pickathon 2010: Lots of love and a passionate rant by Colleen Nielsen

Just last week, the 12th annual Pickathon took place on the gorgeous Pendarvis Farm about 45 minutes outside of Portland in Happy Valley. I am not an early adopter of Pickathon but it was my 3rd year at the lovingly curated “Indie Roots Festival”; a broad enough theme to keep things fresh every year. The vibe is always mellow (and very family friendly), most fellow festival-goers are respectful and it’s not so big that you have to fight your way through a sea of drunks to get a glimpse of your favorite band. It’s like a big block party in the woods.

Past years at Pickathon, I have felt quite lucky to experience some amazing sets of music. My first year we wandered out to the stage in the woods and stumbled upon The Everybodyfields playing sweet, country-fied indie rock tunes to an audience of about 30 people sitting on hay bales. About two songs into their set, it started to rain and they had to shut off the PA. Instead of packing up, the band stepped down from the stage into the audience and continued their set as the rain came down. It was a wonderful, beautiful set and that was it: I was hooked on Pickathon. I also got to catch John Doe of X fronting the Sadies in a tiny barn downing Black Butte Porters in a single gulp and then ripping through some X nuggets and new rockabilly tinged numbers. Jolie Holland also performed a magical midnight set in the same barn.

This year’s Pickathon featured a pretty amazing line-up. A well balanced blend of some established bands (Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Heartless Bastards, The Punch Brothers), up-and-comers (These United States, Megafaun, Cotton Jones), and local heroes (Black Lillies, Typhoon, Michael Hurley, Weinland). Again, there were some truly fantastic performances. Richmond Fontaine did an amazing set with tunes about beautiful losers and down ‘n’ out sad folks finding their way home. The Fruit Bats tore through two rockin’ plugged in sets and notched up tempo that downplayed the heavy banjo presence on their records. The real break out for me was Maryland’s Cotton Jones. There is something about a band that can manage to create a thick atmosphere in the middle of the day on a large stage. It’s not easy to do but they pulled off their otherworldly twang with real grace.

Cave Singers, photo by Colleen

So all of this was wonderful and I don’t want to downplay what an utterly fantastic festival Pickathon is… but I have a gripe. I’m getting old, so please bear with me as I am about to rail against the younger whipper snappers around me. Here was an amazing, kick-ass festival that you were attending and how did you spend it? Glued to your G4 smart phone updating! It broke my heart to see so many people taking pictures with their cell-phones and then ignoring the band to talk about something they saw on the internet. Don’t worry, I’m fully aware of the irony of using the internet as my platform for bitching at people who are glued to the internet. But here’s the thing: I experienced that festival. I took the pictures I could when I could without getting in peoples way. I let myself enjoy the music (when people weren’t talking LOUDLY over the delicate songs of Michael Hurley for instance). And I’ve let myself have the last week to process the whole thing and not just vomit all over a few tweets and facebook updates.

Fruit Bats; photo by Colleen

I reached my tipping point when during a ethereal, elegant set in the woods from Bonnie “Prince” Billy, two young ‘uns behind me were loudly talking about this: “YOU SHOULD LOOK THEM UP ON GOOGLE, THEY DO REALLY INTERESTING THINGS. LOOK THEM UP ON GOOGLE.” Gah! How frustrating. There is a wonderful, special, interesting thing happening right now. You are here. You are having the chance to experience something tangible and real and you are shitting all over it! Listen, I get it. The internet is marvelous. It is a great tool for connecting. But how can you connect if all you do is go through the motions regurgitating someone else’s content? Shut it off for a hour or two. Take in some art. Read a book, a real one that you can hold in your hands. Make something. Anything! Not only is what you’re doing unsustainable, it’s rude. Be kind to your fellow concertgoers. Be aware of the people around you. You might make some new friends and connections! You might be surprised what happens when you become silent and observe.

Heartless Bastards; photo by Colleen

Now that that is off my chest, let me reiterate: Pickathon is awesome! It makes me proud that my adopted home has not only produced this festival but so many excellent bands. People come from all over the country to see this thing and I get to live right near it! Viva the non-corporate get-together. Now get the hell out there and create something. I’ll probably come see it!

You can gladly bitch at what I create with a handful of other grumpy curmudgeons over on pop-culture blog, I Fry Mine In Butter.


Thank you Colleen for your coverage (and your blunt honesty). Do YOU have something to say? Photos or video to share? Be our next guest blogger. Pitch your story to outsidermusicpdx [@]


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