Pickathon returns to the woods outside Portland, Oregon from August 2-4, 2019, with an initial lineup to be released January 21. Pickathon has built a reputation over the last twenty years as the best festival experience, combing groundbreaking programming focused on discovery, sustainable ethics, and a lineup that pushes the boundaries of genre. This vision is clear in Pickathon’s initial lineup, which brings together key headliners like Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (Rateliff’s first time playing Pickathon and he’ll be bringing two different bands), Khruangbin, Mandolin Orange, Tyler Childers, Lucius, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Fruit Bats, and Mountain Man with a voraciously broad cast of other performers like well-loved Americana outsiders Caamp, Lambchop, and H.C. McEntire, doom metal band YOB, North African desert blues artist Mdou Moctar, new supergroup Bonny Light Horseman, Northwest indie royalty Damien Jurado, Laura Veirs, and Courtney Marie Andrews, returning favorite Julia Jacklin, psych soul outfit The Marías, Polaris prize winner Lido Pimienta, Congolese experimentalists Jupiter & Okwess, and word-of-mouth newer artists like Sudan Archives, Miya Folick, B Boys, The Beths, and Black Belt Eagle Scout, among many others.
The initial lineup shows the kind of deep curation and wide-ranging musical interests that have made Pickathon a key tastemaker event in the American music scene. It’s a lineup based on discovery, not draw, a diverse lineup intended to represent the best contemporary snapshot of music across more than a dozen genres. With many artists requesting to return each year, Pickathon has become a kind of pilgrimage for artists looking to renew themselves at a well of creative inspiration. Walking onto the festival grounds at Pendarvis Farm in the small town of Happy Valley, OR, you can see what draws artists back year after year. Pickathon is a riot for the eyes, a festival that takes a holistic view to the music. Each stage is visually spectacular, from the woven branches that make a towering shell of the Woods stage to award-worthy architecture of the Treeline stage, using renewable resources in a different array each year. The Mt. Hood Stage, the mainstage of Pickathon, was ringed with living gardens in 2018, and the festival makes use of rustic, picturesque existing buildings like the late-night-raging Galaxy Barn, or the interview-focused Lucky Barn. Each artist’s sets are curated specifically to each stage and the timing of the festival meticulously planned, all to inspire the artists to new heights and historic performances. An army of over 600 videographers and audio specialists record Pickathon, pushing for a spread of nearly 200 videos that will be released between festivals. It’s a wildly ambitious project that involves so many people because each person has come to realize that Pickathon represents our best vision for how music and community come together.
“Our secret,” explains festival founder Zale Schoenborn. “is that we continue to double down on choices that only make sense when your primary focus is to make the best experience possible, even when it sometimes conflicts with maximizing profits. We made a conscious choice some years back to limit our attendance to favor the comfort of our attendees over finding new ways to maximize how many people we can jam into Pendarvis Farm. Entering our 21st year, Pickathon remains inspired to innovate new ways to create the best festival experience.”
“Pickathon, like a microcosm of the Northwest itself, somehow continually manages to walk the line between quiet and pleasant genteel and/or raggedy and unkempt and wild,” says Eric Johnson of Fruit Bats. “Even though the visual pallette and lineup and feelings seem to get honed down to an ever-sharpened point every year, it still always feels totally raw and spontaneous at the same time. I like the blurred lines between the artists and audience, the children running wild, and the fact that I’m always compelled to not miss any set. You’ll never see more musicians watching other musicians. I’ve always likened it to a dog park for bands. I love running around with the other pups at this thing. It creates a completely unique unfiltered atmosphere that anyone watching can feel, even if they can’t explain it.”
Laying back on the grass late at night, with hyperdrive spreads of neon light flashing overhead on the Starlight Stage, Pickathon soaks into your soul. It’s the kind of festival you come back to every year, a place to renew yourself.
Pickathon 2019 Lineup
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Bonny Light Horseman
Courtney Marie Andrews
Jupiter & Okwess
Black Belt Eagle Scout
Mike and The Moonpies
David Nance Group
The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys
Garrett T Capps
&more (Chill Moody & Donn T)
David Bragger & Susan Platz