News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Big Ponderoo rolls into Sisters

Sisters is set to let loose with a multi-day celebration of Americana music in the second annual Big Ponderoo Festival, staged by SFF presents.

The two-day festival running Saturday-Sunday, June 29-30, features an array of alt-country and bluegrass, with blues-and-soul-inflected bands and in the mix.

"Ponderoo leans toward fun, high-energy bands," said SFF Creative Director Brad Tisdel.

This year, the festival will be presented at one venue, in Village Green Park. Two stages the Ponderoo Stage and the Pinecone Stage will run in tandem - when the music ends on one, it starts up on the other.

"The music's going to start at noon on Saturday, and it won't stop till midnight," Tisdel said.

Music runs Sunday till 8:30 p.m.

The festival is designed to be more intimate and relaxed than the mega-festivals that have proliferated in recent years.

"We want people to feel welcome, and it's a really relaxed, friendly vibe," said SFF Presents Executive Director Crista Munro.

"You're going to see world-class artists with 1,200 people - that's it," she said.

The lineup includes: Shinyribs, the Oliver Wood Trio, Silverada (formerly Mike and the Moonpies), ShadowGrass, The Parnells, Fog Holler, Rock Ridge, and JoAnna Lee; The Brothers Comatose, Bella White, Hogslop String Band, AJ Lee & Blue Summit, The East Pointers, The Sam Chase and the Untraditional, and Skybound Blue.

Tisdel noted that the Pinecone Stage emphasizes regional musicians.

"It's an opportunity for people to see really good regional music," he said.

Tisdel is particularly excited to bring Bella White and the Oliver Wood Trio to the Ponderoo Stage.

Rolling Stone extolls Bella White as bringing "sublime Appalachian heartbreak" in her music.

Hailing from Calgary Canada, the young singer/multi-instrumentalist grew up on the classic country and old-time music she first discovered thanks to her father, a Virginia native who played in bluegrass bands all throughout her childhood. On her debut album "Just Like Leaving," White balances her old-soul musicality with a lyrical perspective that's entirely of-the-moment, embracing an intense self-awareness as she documents her coming-of-age in real-time.

The complete festival lineup can be found at

The festival is homegrown, and patrons are participating in a community.

"We are a nonprofit with a really solid community engagement component," Munro said. "This music festival supports the community with economic development, brings more people to town (and) just brings more art and culture to Central Oregon and its residents."

The main festival action starts on Saturday, but the fun really starts a day earlier with the Ponderoo Arts Experience. The Ponderoo Arts Experience begins with a sponsored art walk on Friday, June 28, from 4 to 7 p.m., which includes live music at 12 local art galleries and businesses around town from 4:30 to 6 p.m. (See related story, page 5.)

During the art walk patrons can pick up a Ponderoo Passport and map from a participating location and have it stamped at each of the businesses. Completed passports can then be redeemed for a Little Ponderoo, a miniature wood rainbow trout created by Jason Chinchen and the Sisters High School Woods II students, and painted by local artists and community members. 

Photo provided

Jason Chinchen's dreadnought guitar is up for raffle at Big Ponderoo, with funds going to support the woods program at Sisters High School, and SFF Presents' musical outreach programs. The festival has a strong focus on community.

Chinchen is also the builder of the Big Ponderoo raffle guitar. Half of the proceeds will go directly to the Woods II program at Sisters High School, and the other half will provide support for SFF Presents' cultural education outreach and programming in Central Oregon.

Day passes and all- events passes are still available. Visit for more information.


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