Ron Baldwin photo
Tim LaBarge photo
Courtesy Beth Carter-Boyer
Courtesy Beth Carter-Boyer
Dave Po photo
Music festivals were once as scarce as hens’ teeth on the North Coast.
The third annual Manzanita Music Festival takes place Friday and Saturday, Sept. 14 and 15. Music starts at 1 p.m on both days.
The venues are all in downtown Manzanita and within walking distance: the San Dune Pub and MacGregor’s Whiskey Bar, both on Laneda Avenue, and A Mighty Thai on Manzanita Avenue.
The big news at the festival is the Michael Williams Band.
The son of Texas blues singer Larry “Junior Medlow” Williams, Michael is a member of the legendary Austin band The Cobras.
After his father’s death in 1997, Michael did what many young Texas blues men have done: move to Seattle. It wasn’t long before he was dubbed “the next Jimi Hendrix.” (One thing that distinguishes Williams from all the other “next Jimi Hendrixes”: He persuaded real Hendrix producer Eddie Kramer to come out of retirement to produce his second album “Fire Red.”)
The Michael Williams Band headlines both nights at the San Dune Pub. Tony “TC” Coleman — the drummer from B.B. King’s band for 29 years who now lives in Portland — will be behind the kit.
Sedona Fire, a stand-out favorite last year, is a five-piece rock band featuring the talents of Sedona Torres.
Headlining Friday night at A Mighty Thai is another returning act, Scratchdog String Band, a high-energy bluegrass group.
Singer-songwriters are also well-represented.
Austin-born Manzanita resident Sarah Barlow brings her “Cosmic Country Soul” to A Mighty Thai on Friday and Saturday, and Hayley Lynn’s quirky Americana-style originals hold forth at all three venues.
On Saturday night, The Resolectrics, a roots R&B band, play A Mighty Thai.
The Resolectrics’ spokesman Tate Peterson echoed many artists playing this event as well as folks who plan to attend: “We’ve heard so much about the festival, and we’re really looking forward to Manzanita.”
The Manzanita Music Festival is a fundraiser for the Neahkahnie School District Music Program.
Last year, the organizers expanded the list of venues to include a large stage and at a local baseball field.
Though the festival was a success, traffic and parking became a problem on U.S. Highway 101, and festivalgoers had to be bussed to the field. This year’s organizers had planned on using that venue until the stage production company pulled out unexpectedly.
Facing this roadblock, festival founder Beth Carter-Boyer chose to steer the festival back to its smaller, more intimate origins. She also scaled back the event from three days to two.
“We’re going back to a festival with a smaller footprint,” Carter-Boyer said. “The musicians and the crowd interact better, and it makes things more intimate and community-feeling. Last year was fun, but it was just too big, too complicated.”
To keep the music playing, organizers teamed up with San Dune Pub owner Debra “Deb” Greenlee.
“I just want to see school kids have a chance to play an instrument or sing instead of turning to drugs and crime, so I decided to step up,” Greenlee said.
“I cannot overemphasize what Deb’s support means to this festival,” Carter-Boyer said.