Big Ponderoo sets mood for summer


Last updated 7/4/2023 at 2:17pm

Photo by Rob Kerr

Dust Bowl Revival turned in a stirring and crowd-pleasing set at the Three Creeks Brewing Co. stage at Big Ponderoo last weekend.

As the last acts cleared the stages Sunday night, fans lingered, basking in the glow of the Big Ponderoo. The three-day event that began Friday with musicians blending with gallery-goers can best be described in one word: mellow. That was the common utterance among the hundreds of attendees. Along with "sweet," "smooth," "full," and "rich."

It was fueled by music, pure and simple. That, too, was the sentiment of the laid-back audiences. Ashley Henry of Portland said: "I was thrilled to see that both War and Treaty and Lone Bellow were on the lineup. I saw Lone Bellow the night before the lockdown in March 2020 and had great memories of dancing to War and Treaty the summer before at Pickathon. Plus June in Sisters! What more could you ask for?"

Not much, it would seem. She picked up a new hat from one of the dozen or so vendors as did many of the concertgoers to ward off the sun. Both venues - Three Creeks Brewing Company's lawn and the lawn behind Sisters Art Works - were fully exposed to the sun's intensity.

"The only thing more creative than the bands' music was the regalia," said Toby Marks of Maupin in describing the headwear and other improvised sunscreening.

"Hey, tell me a better place where I can work on my tan," joked Mara Kilreade from Chiloquin.

Indeed sunscreen was being slathered even as a roughly one-hour rain shower around 1:30 p.m. Saturday dampened spirits and sent many to any makeshift shelter. The rain passed, and as it did the temperature dropped from an already splendid 74 to the upper 60s. Sunday was full sun except for occasional, pastoral clouds with a high of 77.

Fans were gentle. Conversations were low. Sporadic dancing from the audience cropped up and somehow everybody new without any announcement that summer was officially here.

Not surprisingly "the staging and production was flawless," Chuck Tyson evaluated. Tyson is a retired concert promoter from Nashville. He remarked as did others that the audiences were somewhat docile.

That of course would have been before War and Treaty, Dustbowl Revival, or Corb Lund and the Hurtin' Albertans took the stage, among the 16 acts who performed Saturday and Sunday. The bands brought down the house and few if any could remain in their chairs or on their blankets in the face of such energy emitting from the stage.

There was something for everybody. Freshgrass and Rockygrass winners. Gypsy jazz. Bluegrass. Acoustic Roots. Country. Swing. Blues. Soul. And ticket holders, with two venues, could easily pick and choose their favorites.

Attendees swapped notes and strategies among themselves to be assured they'd get in as much of the music buffet as possible.

There was no crowding and it was easy to choose a place to spread a blanket or unfold a chair. Concertgoers were respectful of others' space and viewing angle.

"Of course. It's Sisters. What else would it be?" said Trish Vann from Burns.

Asked why they drove all the way from Montana for the Big Ponderoo, Tad and Clare Wiggins were not the least bit hesitant.

"This is just amazingly good music in about as good a setting as it gets," answered Tad. "We would go wherever you get this much music in two days by quality bands," replied Clare, who added: "And hey, we've got it good in Montana but what you've got here...that's kind of magical."

And so ended the Big Ponderoo with everybody saying: "See you next year."


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