Pickathon 2019

Pickathon announces new additions to an already stacked lineup, bringing a true American musical legend, Phil Lesh, into the fold. A founding member of the Grateful Dead, Lesh not only influenced multiple generations of artists, but created and defined a new American songbook, at once inspired by the roots of the music that came before and open to psychedelic new horizons. Lesh will be performing two days at Pickathon as Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band. Also announced is a very special set from The Richard Swift Hex Band, featuring an all-star list of collaborators backed by a dream band led by Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado, Dr. Dog’s Eric Slick, and members of Pure Bathing Culture, in addition to many special guests.

Aside from this year’s headliners, like Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Khruangbin, Mandolin Orange, and Tyler Childers, Pickathon operates also as a discovery engine. Festival director Zale Schoenborn and Pickathon co-producer Terry Groves know full well that many of the bands booked at the festival have only a small draw in the surrounding area of Portland, Oregon, but Pickathon’s predicated on the need for new inspiration, new sounds, and new ideas in music and culture. Each year, Pickathon reaches out to a wide collection of tastemakers in many genres, asking each to recommend the bands that they feel are the most innovative and most contemporary. This philosophy of booking has proven itself time and again, first with bringing on artists early in their career right before they break (like Sturgill Simpson, Margo Price, Shakey Graves, Lake Street Dive, The Avett Brothers, The War & Treaty, Kevin Morby, Future Islands, Leon Bridges, Daniel Norgren, DakhaBrakha, Billy Strings, and Courtney Barnett), and then with the inspiration shared between like-minded artists across genres. It’s commonplace to see artists wandering backstage between sets, soaking up new ideas from new bands that they’re also discovering, and pushing their booking agents to come back to Pickathon as much as possible, looking for this inspiration.


AUGUST 2-4, 2019






Pickathon 2019 Music Sampler:



Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy - Mount Baker Theatre - Bellingham, WA

Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy are househould names for anyone in the fiddle community. Their respective careers have spanned decades and taken them (and their family) to all corners of the Earth. Their live show is magnificent, rooted in the love they have for sharing their soul through song with the audience. 



Mount Baker Theatre was packed to the gills to see Natalie & Donnell play a variety of tracks with their backing band. From Celtic Classics, to contemporary originals, the entire concert flowed seamlessly from one track to the next.

Many were the moments when the crowd - which varied in age from 8 to 80 - was on their feet and toe tapping. This is definitely a show for all ages, which was evidenced by the closing numbers of the first half of the concert, when Natalie and Donnell were joined onstage by three of their young children, each of them fiddle and tapdance prodigies in their own right.

A show not to be missed for fans of fiddle, classic tunes, and just all around solid showmanship. 




For tour dates: https://www.natalieanddonnell.com/tours/

Photos // Words by Alexander Hallett of Sattva Photo


Allen Stone - The Wild Buffalo - Bellingham, WA


Allen Stone is a Northwest native that likely needs no introduction. Growing up in a small town outside Spokane, he's been singing since he could walk, and is nearly a decade into his professional music career. So, it should come as no surprise that his live performance is commanding, beyond engaging, and inspired. Allen danced nearly as much as he sang, and often did both at the same time which - while maintaining perfect rhythm on the guitar - is no small feat. 
Backed by his bandmates of ten years (who also served as the opener to the show under the moniker Steve Swatkins and the Positive Agenda), there wasn't one second during the entirety of the nearly hour and a half set that labored. Every note was played with joy, and it was easy to see everyone on stage was having as good of a time as each person in the sold-out audience.
With a new album due out soon, Stone is setting himself up to take the next evolutionary step in his musical career. Outside of, say, Bruno Mars, one would be hard-pressed to find an entertainer who so thoroughly enjoys and appreciates the opportunity to perform his art as much as Allen Stone. As a result, his live show is as infectious as the hits he continues to make.



Photos // Words by Alexander Hallett of Sattva Photo



Postmodern Jukebox - Mount Baker Theatre - Bellingham, WA

To say that a Postmodern Jukebox (PMJ) show is "fun" would be a lot like saying the sun is "warm." A more accurate description would be this: PMJ puts on one of the most entertaining, engaging, and downright electrifying live concerts going. 

A group of classically trained musicians, singers, and dancers of the highest caliber, PMJ is a collective of some ridiculously talented artists. You may be familiar with their throwback covers of classic and contemporary songs on YouTube, like this rendition of Creep (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3lF2qEA2cw) or No Diggity (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTfz36WArSU), and for the duration of their show, covers ranging from the aforementioned Radiohead to Meghan Trainor to Cyndi Lauper were carried out to perfection. Make no mistake about it, though, these aren't merely covers. These are ingenious reinventions of hits.
Highlights of the evening included Motown legend Miche Braden's stripped down cover of Lauper's Time After Time, Casey Abrams' ridiculous rendition of Creep, but really there wasn't one second that felt like filler.
Go. To. A. Postmodern. Jukebox. Show. 


Photos // Words by Alexander Hallett


Neko Case - Mt. Baker Theatre, Bellingham, WA

Most readers of Visible Voice will no doubt already be familiar with Neko Case. A legend in the industry for nearly 25 years - from her solo work to her contributions to The New Pornographers - Case's status among artists and fans alike is indelible. 
So it was an honor and a privilege to attend and photograph Neko's recent sold-out show in Bellingham, WA, as part of her worldwide Hell On Tour. The demographic diversity present in the audience is a testament to Neko's universality and staying power with fans of all walks of life. One live listen to many cuts off her newest album, Hell On - let alone her extensive back catalog - and it's clear to see why and how her music remains as immediate as ever.

See Neko at a stop on her extensive tour: https://nekocase.com/tour/

Photos // Words by Alexander Hallett


The Zombies with Liz Brasher at The Neptune - Seattle 

The list of musical groups that release a monumentally influential album, break-up a few years later, reconvene decades later and still go on tour and sell-out venues is incredibly short. In fact, it can likely be narrowed down to one name: The Zombies.

Now well into their 70s, the four surviving original members - joined by one new member - hit the road to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their legendary album, Odyssey and Oracle. Granted, that album predates many of you who may be reading this post, but it’s a near guarantee that many of your favorite artists and bands were heavily influenced by it. So, a tour was in high order.

One wouldn’t be blamed for thinking The Zombies could have easily phoned in the performances on this tour. (After all, we’re now fifty years removed from the release of that classic.) But the truth is, they performed with craftsmanship, showmanship, and energy that far exceeds most groups half their age. Classics like “She’s Not There, “Hold Your Head Up”, and “Time of the Season” were well couched between more contemporary cuts from Still Got That Hunger and Breathe Out, Breathe In. The sense in the audience that everyone was viewing living history was just and deserved. Bravo, gentlemen.

It’s also imperative to note the opener, Liz Brasher. Wow. Talk about one of the most raw, powerful voices that many people have yet to hear. If you haven’t heard of her, you should check out her Outcast EP, especially if you’re a fan of Amy Winehouse or Patsy Cline, or women who can sing like crazy and completely shred on the guitar. It’s a guarantee she will become a household name soon enough. She and her band are lightning in a bottle.

Photos // Words by Alexander Hallett


Newport Folk Festival 2018

Each year the Newport Folk Festival arrives with the promise of something special. And astonishingly, each year it delivers.

This year’s annual gathering of like-minded music lovers - now in its 59th year - again leaned on the alchemy of music, community, and optimism to forge one of America’s premier music festivals. The blend of notable newcomers (Tank and the Bangas, Khruangbin, War and the Treaty) woven with established legends (like Mavis Staples, John Prine, Toots and the Maytals) ensured a fabric of continuity that already has us looking forward to #60.

Friday brought sunshine and smiling faces, particularly as Margo Price’s smooth pop-country stylings got the capacity crowd to their feet, especially when she and Brandi Carlile belted out Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5”. Elsewhere, the gonzo tiki bar vibe of Glorietta, helmed by Matthew Logan Vasquez, kept the party vibe alive.

Saturday’s highlights included Hamilton Leithauser and Rostam Batmanglij teaming with a string quartet to give life to absolute gems like “Blackout”, “1000 Times”, and “Gwan”. Later, Tank and the Bangas bumped up the energy level up another notch in the Quad with inescapable enthusiasm. At the end of the day, the unannounced headliner of Mumford & Sons only disappointed the most jaded of afficianadoes. From this writer’s perspective, the group deserves loads of credit for pioneering and popularizing today’s ubiquitous folk-pop sound - and they delivered with a smashing set. Marcus Mumford and crew transitioned effortlessly from stomping numbers like “I Will Wait” and “Little Lion Man” to favorites like Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer”. They also expertly continued the Newport tradition of collaboration, inviting out Maggie Rogers for the amazingly chill groove of “Alaska”, as well as the indomitable Mavis Staples for an outstanding “The Weight”. To hear Mumford, Staples, Rogers, Phoebe Bridgers and Carlile take on the classic number is the stuff Folk Festival dreams are made of.

After an evening of sizzling local music at Jimmy’s Saloon (listen local, y’all) from The Silks and the Z-Boys, the low-key grooves of Khruangbin hit the spot. The 60s/70s-indebted sounds were refreshing, and when the trio leaned into a hip-hop medley featuring “The Next Episode”, “It Was A Good Day”, “Regulators”, it was unexpected and borderline enlightening.

After guest-starring across stages all weekend, Brandi Carlile finally took to the Fort stage on Sunday. Her voice swung between searing, soaring (“The Story”), tender (“The Mother”), and ultimately triumphant (“Hold Out Your Hand” - featuring the Lone Bellow, the Watson Twins, and the War & Treaty). Carlile was everywhere this weekend and gets the MVP vote for this year's festival.

The affair came to its inevitable end with “A Change Is Gonna Come”, a star-studded stage featuring Jon Baptiste, Leon Bridges, Gary Clark Jr., Chris Thile, with help from the Dap Kings and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Lake Street Dive’s Rachael Price stuck the landing on the set’s title track as the sun was setting, giving the moment the appropriate gravity. But Mavis Staples again stole the show as she led the stage and the crowd with a stirring rendition of “Freedom’s Highway”. It served as a fitting reminder that as long as this country has existed, there have been civil rights issues to reckon with. And as long as these issues continue to fester and perpetuate, there are going to be huge crowds of folks prepared to fight for every inch of justice and fairness.

The Newport Folk Festival may not solve all the world’s problems, but for at least one weekend, thousands of music lovers in attendance had a vision of what a better world could look like - and were given a wake-up call we all desperately need.


Words by Brian Hodge

Photos by Bethany Hodge


Timber! Outdoor Music Festival 2018


“Take me back outside / Clear the wreckage from my mind.” The sounds of Vancouver band Douse opened Timber! Fest early Saturday afternoon like a window. Light and air swirled out from the stage and across the grass-seated crowd. Often an ambient art trio, they were joined by bassist Victoria Spooner that day, creating in an aerated alternative mood together. Their latest LP, The Light In You Has Left, gives me hints of John Frusciante’s instrumental works and lyrics that grip my ribs with nostalgia. Thanks to glossy vocals and laughter between each song, their live set was as relaxing and clean as the soap they sell.

Beverly Crusher

If Douse was like a dip in a wading pool, Beverly Crusher was a Gatorade splash to the face. They writhe and wail about heaps of my favorite things! Drugs, unrequited crushes, spells cast across the chasm of life and death. The crowd woke right tf up for this set as the trio got the audience yeah-yelling along to their songs. I saw young children shimmying, parents snapchatting jam after jam, and a collective hangover sloughing off people who got up to bop around. The whole set was tight musically, and letting-it-all-hang-out attitude-wise. Keep your eyes on these guys.



Brothers From Another

Why hadn’t I seen this hip hop crew before?! They groove, they grin, they get entire fests going. “This is the part where we pretend we can dance!” “It’s like a family reunion up here!” Every exclamation felt like a celebration of the day, and all they’ve accomplished in their hometown of Seattle and beyond. Some bands feel strange to see in the daylight, as if they only belong in dark venues and basement shows. Not these three. They’d obviously thrive in all the above, but getting to experience them for the first time in pure sunlight felt pretty right. We were all sweating our faces off and it was perfect. It’s a good sign when you want to literally jump into a body of water after a show. (And thanks to the Tolt River running through the campgrounds, that’s exactly what I got to do.)



Industrial Revelation

Worldly and world class. You know it’s real when you choose to leave your inner tube to catch a concert. Not a fan of jazz? Psshh, listen to this group and you will be. Infectious, funky, full-flavored. The late afternoon haze set in, the sun began to slope, and the four-piece’s instruments elevated minds from the front of the stage to the far edges of Carnation, WA. I first saw this group back in 2015, and still haven’t seen another act quite like them in the Pacific Northwest. If you have, please send me your recommendations! In the meantime, I’m hitting every show of theirs that I can.


Naked Giants
Due to other obligations I had back in Seattle, Naked Giants was the last act I could catch Saturday night. But thanks to their spirited, smile-filled set, I was able to leave happy. Like, try watching their music videos without feeling charmed by their goofball antics and love of the PNW arts community. Having released their debut album this spring, it definitely seems like the trio is staying committed to punky meaninglessness and checking their privilege. Good stuff (or should I say SLUFF?) all-around.

As a total Timber! rookie, I was impressed the entire day. The local musicians, variety of activities available, safe-space vibes, and laidback-ness made this the most chill music fest I have ever been to. 10/10 would recommend, especially if you’re into river floats, Rainier beer gardens, and not having to walk ten miles to reach your campsite. See you there next year!


Words // photos by AJ Dent


Kris Orlowski and Budo - "Astronauts, Divided"

Kris Orlowski has long been known for his striking sincerity and understated song craft. Which is why, in 2016 when he released “Waterski to Texas” with Macklemore producer Budo, it created quite a stir. Was this a transparent attempt to become algorithmically palatable to trigger-happy teens? Was this a name-boosting exercise, a crass commercial media play? Call me cynical but this is the music industry where crass commercial name-boosting exercises are more common than White House indictments.

Then I listened to the song. Orlowski’s understated delivery and Budo’s atmospheric tone collage swelled in harmony, accented beautifully by an Andrew Joslyn string arrangement. So much for educated cynicism, I’m just an asshole.

After a performance at Upstream, a prime time tv sync and some radio play, Orlowski retreated from the public eye while Budo soared to new heights, producing Macklemore’s “Gemini” and touring extensively to support it.

Now, after two years of collaboration, the duo have come back together to release their debut EP “Astronauts, divided”. The creative potential evidenced in “Waterski to Texas” has been refined, Budo’s gift for ethereal texture plays beautifully against Orlowski’s elegant, stirring melodies.  

“I Arrange”, the lead track, sets the tone for all that is to come. Beginning with vocals and a simple piano, the song craftily introduces subtle psychedelic elements before cascading into a thundering climax. “Stormy Weather (feat. Embee)” takes a more contemporary approach, almost entirely electronic with Orlowski singing outside of his comfort zone successfully.

Circling back to the first paragraph, I can now say that Kris Orlowski and Budo created an unlikely collaboration that is likely to be algorithmically palatable to trigger happy teens. It will also likely boost Orlowski’s name ID. But all of that comes about as the result of a genuine experiment that yielded remarkable results. “Astronauts, divided” is a most worthy endeavor.

Kris Orlowski and Budo will be celebrating the release of “Asronauts, divided” this Saturday, April 28th at Barboza. Tickets available at https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1661269?utm_source=artist.


Words by Patrick Galactic