Bands Unite for the Utopia of Summer Festivals, Doe Bay 2011Posted by Lindsey Scully
Joe Brotherton said it best: There are three things in life: 1) When you’re at Doe Bay, 2) When you are recovering from Doe Bay, and 3) When you are preparing for the next Doe Bay.
Doe Bay 2011 was held up in Orcas Island August 11-14 at the beautiful Doe Bay Resort. The music festival has gained popularity over the four years it’s been going on and it truly showed when the tickets went live to online sales and sold out in a record 3 minutes. But that’s the beauty of Doe Bay; it’s a small-scale music festival and retreat. There were only approximately 1000 tickets available and you truly get to meet and greet all of the 999 other attendees.
Thursday began the weekend of wonderment with the Open Mic that was sponsored by Conor Byrne and hosted by the one and only Tony Kevin Jr. It was a mix of various musicians and styles, from rap to blues to folk and everything in between. Throughout the evening members of Campfire OK, Fort Union, The Head And The Heart, Goldfinch, Curtains For You and many many more bands came up onstage and showcased their incredible talents. There were surprise performances at the Open Mic by Pickwick, Dyslexic, Ben Fisher, and other local artists as well.
The Open Mic was not the only musical performance of the evening, however; local band Onodrim did a surprise show in the Yoga Studio later that evening after dark. It was a moment to remember: being the first person besides the band in the studio with almost all the lights out, and people rushing in once Onodrim started to play their atmospheric music. There was also a large crowd gathered overlooking the water, singing covers of songs such as “Back In The USSR,” “Tiny Dancer,” “Benny and the Jets,” “Karma Police,” and much more. It was a very talented grown-up version of campfire songs, and yes there were s’mores involved.
Friday is when the festival and all performances technically kicked off, with Sean Flinn and The Royal We at the Otter Cove stage, which was nestled in some trees by the Cafe. Tony Kevin Jr. also performed, taking Goldfinch’s spot due to their lead singer’s illness, and was accompanied by Joey Roberts, Melodie Knight (Campfire OK), and Steve Norman (Goldfinch). Damien Jurado closed out the Otter Cove Stage, but this would not be the last we heard of him during the weekend. Many artists made unannounced performances throughout the weekend at the beach, in the woods, or even at the evening campfires including several impromptu sessions on Sunday and Monday.
What better way to open a festival then to have Don Slack (of KEXP fame) himself be your host? The man, the myth, the legend, the sole purpose behind Slackfest was there introducing all the Main Stage acts to everyone including the first Main Stage act of Doe Bay 2011; Bryan John Appleby.
Bryan John Appleby started the festivities on the Main Stage in the afternoon and put on an amazing performance. He recently released his Fire On The Vine album and it was overwhelming watching how many people already knew the lyrics to his new songs. It’s quite typical for other bands to join artists onstage during their sets at Doe Bay, and Josiah Johnson (The Head and The Heart) and Mychal Cohen (Campfire OK) helped Appleby with vocals and a coin jug (which ended up broken, view the video below.) Shelby Earl followed with an amazing performance that included members of Hannalee (who also performed at Doe Bay).
OK Sweetheart was one of the breakout performances in my mind. The lead singer/songwriter Erin Austin has a phenomenal voice and quite personal lyrics. She admitted to it being only her third show playing piano, but it was definitely not something anyone would have noticed. The fact that the drummer (who also played a bit of guitar) was smoking while drumming can only attest to the laid-back atmosphere that is Doe Bay.
Doe Bay veterans The Maldives also played on the Main Stage and were joined by a member of The Moondoggies. They have performed at all four Doe Bay festivals now and will hopefully continue to play at many more in the future, which seems extremely likely considering they are the only band with a lifetime open invitation to play at Doe Bay.
Ravenna Woods proved themselves last year at the Yoga Studio and because of that got promoted to the Main Stage with a fantastic time slot. They started their set off slow and by the second song the crowd had gathered to the stage and commenced dancing. Champagne Champagne closed out the Friday Main stage and boy did they leave a legacy; they inspired the now infamous (by Campire OK) “Doe Bay! Doe Bay!” chant. It was also quite the moment when they were joined onstage by Ravenna Woods.
The music didn’t stop there; there was already a line to get into the Yoga Studio to catch Lemolo. Lemolo has been gaining momentum and fans almost exponentially this past year. This was a definite not-to-be-missed show. Once the doors opened the crowd rushed and the deck of the Yoga Studio broke entirely, sinking about 3 inches down. That is a testament to the demand of Lemolo. The Tea Cozies blasted the night away after Lemolo’s show and were also joined onstage by Champagne Champagne. It was a sad sight indeed for fans who couldn’t get in and could only listen and see blurs through the steam-filled windows, but what you could hear from the outside of the Studio was pure joy and talent. Many of those who could not get in went over to the Cafe and checked out Frank Fairfield, who had a Main Stage slot the following day.
Saturday was the jam-packed day for performances. Shows started at 11am and kept going until well past midnight. Sera Cahoone kicked off the Otter Cove Stage and was followed by Elk & Boar, Hannalee, String Trio, and Dust Bunnies. The Main Stage started off with folk artist Frank Fairfield, whose voice and style take the listener back several decades. Following Fairfield on the Main Stage was Cobirds Unite, which includes the fascinating Rachel Flotard, who invited just about every child in the crowd up onstage. Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside was next; even Don Slack himself mentioned how this was the band he was told he had to see live, and I agree. Sallie Ford’s energy onstage is infectious and their music is just plain fun. John Vanderslice followed, then Kelli Schaeffer (who has been to the past two Doe Bay festivals), and then came Campfire OK. It seemed like at least one member of Campfire OK had a hand in almost every single act at Doe Bay this year; from singing, to coin jugs or shaking, to even manning the doors at Lemolo, you couldn’t turn a corner without seeing Campfire OK. They definitely earned their Main Stage slot.
New to Doe Bay were The Builders and the Butchers. The Portland-based band might not have had the huge following of other Main Stage acts before they played, but they definitely garnered a fanbase after their set. At the end of their performance the band handed out rattles and toy instruments then went into the crowd and had everyone gather around them as they sung one last song.
Pickwick followed soon after with one of the highly anticipated performances of Doe Bay. If you’ve ever seen Pickwick live you can attest to their energy and talent and see why they attracted such a crowd. The bluesy garage soul of Pickwick bellowed throughout all of Doe Bay and they created one of the most memorable moments of the weekend: singer Galen Disston invited anyone who wanted to join them up onstage for their last song, ending up with 100+ people encircling the band on a stage that eventually broke. It’s definitely moments like this that remind you you are at something special.
Normally most bands couldn’t follow a set like that, however The Head And The Heart aren’t most bands. By the time the sun had set they began their show and if it wasn’t already apparent why they were the headliners for some, they quickly learned why within a few chords. One of the most serene moments for me was dipping into the soaking tubs while hearing Rivers And Roads being belted out into the surrounding woods under the night sky with a full moon highlighting the water.
Another unique aspect of this particular music festival is that it brings together acts like Frank Fairfield, Champagne Champagne, Fly Moon Royalty, and Elk & Boar. Each of those acts are extremely different from the others, but they all share this special bond due to Doe Bay and their music has reached so many new listeners that might have never heard them otherwise.
There’s truly something about waking up to a view of Doe Bay with fog hovering above the water and encompassing all the boats while herons stand guard that gets you mentally ready for the day ahead. There’s no other music festival that I can think of where camping attendees wake up to the true beauty of nature like Doe Bay offers.
Typically festival food conveys images of over-priced greasy hotdogs, diluted beer, and fried everything. The Cafe at Doe Bay is the exact opposite. Not only does the staff at the Cafe procure seasonal produce from their own garden but they create delicious and tantalizing dishes that were very reasonably priced. They offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner options that varied from fried egg sandwiches, to white pizzas, to quiche du jour. New Belguim was one of the (carefully picked) sponsors and it was so refreshing to imbibe a drinkable craft beer – all while some of the proceeds from the beer garden went to a worthy cause.
One of the most comforting things about the festival is that the owners Joe and Maureen Brotherton were at every single performance. Not just the main stage acts, but literally every single performance. It was not unheard of to see Joe taking photos of the bands or of the crowd throughout the day, or even for him to be stopped midwalk by an attendee just so they could personally thank him for putting on such a wonderful festival. All in all, Doe Bay Music Festival is only four years old but is what every other music festival should strive to be – though none will ever achieve a fraction of its greatness.
Doe Bay, Doe Bay.