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Going to the Country

44th Annual Oregon Country Fair offers eclectic music mix
Black Prairie
Black Prairie

Oregon Country Fair time in Eugene: When the most urbane townies listen to Pavement at home, drink our drinks downtown, check our well-coiffed reflections and reconsider moving to Brooklyn. But for better or worse, OCF is a central part to loving life in the Eug. And amid all the fervor and hoopla surrounding Fair, it’s easy to forget the event is a venerable and respected (hippie-centric) music fest; this year the entertainment lineup for the 44th Annual OCF is full of some pleasant surprises, old friends and just enough ’60s revivalism to please the old-time Fair faithful.

Appearing on 17 stages (with names ranging from WC Fields Stage to Morningwood Odditorium to Monkey Palace) is an eclectic bunch of acts ranging from the avant-bluegrass sounds of Portland’s Black Prairie (featuring members of The Decemberists) to the Northwest’s most-beloved hollerin’ accordionist Jason Webley — in all his scruffy glory. 

On Friday, July 12, the Fair’s Main Stage features Vida Girls, Portland’s sister-powered Shook Twins and legendary jam-rockers Jambay. On Saturday: singer-songwriter Tracy Grammer, jamgrass icons Poor Man’s Whiskey (known for their bluegrass interpretation of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon), female blues-rock powerhouse Carolyn Wonderland and L.A.-based funkmeisters, Orgone. Sunday promises ’60s icon Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul and Mary), Black Prairie, The Motet and Rootz Underground.

Elsewhere, amongst the jugglers, acrobats and variety acts, you’ll find notable tunes on the Monkey Palace Stage. Friday offers Eugene-based Marimba ensemble Kudana, Webley and local brassy funk-hoppers Beat Crunchers. Look out Sunday for Portland’s much loved high-school-pep-band-meets-hipster-freak-show MarchFourth Marching Band.

Friday on the Kesey Stage: “Pedal powered Appalachian jug grass” from The Conjugal Visitors, Joanne Rand on Saturday and local up-and-coming jam band Blue Lotus on Sunday. Reggae/hip-hop outfit Alcyon Massive headlines the Front Porch on both Friday and Sunday; Gypsy-jazzbos Taarka appear Friday on the Shady Grove Stage; master steel guitar-slinger Scott Law performs on Shady Grove Saturday along with local acoustic troubadours Brian Cutean and John Shipe.

If you’d prefer to wander the fairgrounds instead of committing to one stage or another, OCF still has plenty of sounds to offer. While browsing the crafts and food booths, keep an ear out for: My Father’s Ghost, a Eugene-based ’70s influenced pop group; local fiddle-player Chip Cohen; New Zealand’s Mudwood and the “sizzling political piano” of Jonny Hahn.

To sample any of these sounds or to get complete entertainment listings, head to oregoncountryfair.org. The 44th Annual Oregon Country Fair is July 12 through 14 in Veneta; tickets available at all TicketsWest outlets.