A look at some of the quirkiest summer music festivals in the Northwest Inland | Music News | Spokane | Interior of the Pacific Northwest

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Crowds gather at Whitefish for Under the Big Sky Festival.

FIler, Challis, Joseph, George, Canby and Colville — even Whitefish in Montana for that matter — are far from booming metropolises in the Pacific Northwest.

But for a few days each summer, they are destinations for bands and music lovers. They become boomtowns filled with all genres of music, including country country, southern rock, bluegrass, and all points in between pop, rock, country, and Americana. All are outdoors, mostly under warm, sunny skies during the long, long, long days of summer.

Welcome to the 2022 summer festival season.

The local festival season has already kicked off quickly. The first ever LuckyFest Northwest in Spokane was held in May and was a resounding success. And in March there was Treefort, where more than 500 bands performed in Boise, Idaho. But the return to these will have to wait until 2023.

While Sasquatch at the Throat Festival has faded away after 2018, fans who miss former Throat mainstay Paradiso can catch the new Throat EDM Festival called BEYOND WONDERLAND (June 18-19), which kicked off in 2021 and will fully kick off the summer season in 2022. There are also an array of options within driving distance of Spokane on the festival circuit.

AHIGHWAY 30 is one of the most unique festivals (June 22-25) in Filer, Idaho, a few miles from Twin Falls along the Snake River Canyon. Army veteran Gordy Schroeder and his wife, Megan, started the festival in 2014, and it only goes from strength to strength each year. With a focus on Texas country music, it’s a four-day mix of under-the-radar bands with a handful of music stars you hear on country radio.

Highway 30 was one of the few festivals to actually take place in 2020, the first year of the pandemic when almost everything else was closed, so 2022 will be their ninth consecutive year. Among its features, you probably won’t find anywhere else:

In the months leading up to the event, Gordy can be seen every Sunday morning giving live reports from his hot tub. It does most of their festival lineup announcements this way.

Each year, Gordy honors service members, veterans, first responders and other public servants by presenting them with a commemorative medallion of the event.

Oh yes, the music is pretty darn awesome too. The 2022 release features the newly reunited Turnpike Troubadours, plus Granger Smith (along with his alter ego Earl Dibbles Jr.), Aaron Lewis, Koe Wetzel and more. Some of them – including Wetzel, Sam Riggs, Ray Wylie Hubbard, the Steel Woods and Shane Smith & The Saints – are annual festival fixtures.

OOther festivals have found their own niches, too, and won’t be leaving anytime soon. A few hours from Spokane in Whitefish, Montana is the FESTIVAL UNDER THE BIG SKY (July 15-17), which caught on like wildfire.

When it debuted in 2019, the two-day mix of American, folk and country music drew more than 15,000 people to the two scenic stages at the gates of Glacier National Park. After a pandemic delay, it returned in 2021 and broke in terms of lines for toilets, water and concessions.

For 2022, tickets sold out within days, despite incredibly high accommodation costs for those who attend. But its lineup – this year featuring Lord Huron, Cody Jinks, Black Pumas and Jamey Johnson – is to die for.

Another family festival, founded in 1979, is held every August in the outpost of Challis, Idaho. Simply known as BBR, the BRAUN BROTHERS REUNION (August 11-13) features a pair of brothers from annual Saturday headliner Reckless Kelly and another set from Friday headliner Micky and the Motorcars.

The four brothers grew up near Challis and their father, Muzzie, had his own successful music career, including founding the festival with his brothers. In fact, Muzzie and his friends and family also have an early set for them at the BBR, and Muzzie can be seen in the early hours playing golf at the Challis Golf Course where the festival takes place.

Willy Braun could be considered the superstar of the family, because Reckless Kelly is a cult. Seeing Willy on drums for other performers is a common sight, and there’s a constant dose of that kind of camaraderie throughout the festival as the sets continually coalesce into vocals and backing between the performers.

If you’re a night owl, you can catch BBR performers at the Roadhouse, one of three downtown hotspots with live music for the after-party. The campsites are also full of music and antics of all kinds. And since the daily music starts mid-afternoon, you can still sleep soundly in the morning.

FIRM JAM (September 2-3) in Colville is also worth a visit, although Labor Day weekend is always a tough sell for the lake crowd. But it takes place on the working family farm of Greg and Zara Knight, so of course earlier dates would be out of the question.

This year’s festival features Matt Stell and Joe Nichols, as well as a collection of other local, regional and national country talent. With plenty of space on the farm for camping and in its third year of existence (2019 and 2021), this festival certainly has room to grow. Set in the massive valley in which Colville sits, there are magnificent views from afar.

There’s no denying that full days of wall-to-wall music and the parties that go with them are what music fans crave. And the Great PNW – though a far cry from music meccas like Nashville and Austin – doesn’t disappoint. ♦


REGIONAL SUMMER FESTIVALS

BEYOND WONDERLAND (George, Washington)
June 18-19 — EDM
Headliners: Kaskade, Alesso, TroyBoi, Porter Robinson
pnw.beyondwonderland.com

GORDY HIGHWAY 30 (Filer, Idaho)
June 22-25 — Red Dirt Country
Headliners: Turnpike Troubadours, Granger Smith, Aaron Lewis, Shane Smith & The Saints, Ray Wylie Hubbard
www.hwy30musicfest.com

JAMBOREE JACKALOPE (Pendleton, Oregon)
June 23-25 ​​— Country
Headliners: Turnpike Troubadours, Shane Smith & The Saints, Reckless Kelly, Mike & The Moonpies
jackalopejamboree.com

PENDLETON WHISKEY MUSIC FEST (Pendleton, Oregon)
July 9 — Country (mostly)
Headliners: Eric Church, Macklemore, Dylan Scott
pendletonwhiskymusicfest.com

UNDER THE BIG SKY (Whitefish, Mont.)
July 15-17—Americana & Country
Headliners: Turnpike Troubadours, Lord Huron, Cody Jinks, Black Pumas, Midland, Shakey Graves, Margo Price
underthebigskyfest.com

WILD HARE (Canby, Oregon)
July 15 & 16 — Country
Headliners: Zach Bryan, Marcus King, Lucero, Morgan Wade
wildharemusicfest.com

WATERSHED (George, Washington)
July 29-31 — Country
Headliners: Morgan Wallen, Miranda Lambert, Kane Brown, Jake Owen
watershedfest.com

BACK COUNTRY BASH (Joseph, Oregon)
August 5-6 — Americana/Red Dirt
Headliners: Whitey Morgan and the 78s, Reed Southall Band, Kody West
backcountrybashjoseph.com

BRAUN BROTHERS REUNION (Challis, Idaho)
August 11-13 – Red Earth Country
Headliners: Reckless Kelly, Micky and the Motorcars, Cody Canada & The Departed, Corb Lund
braunbrothersreunion.com

HEADWATERS COUNTRY JAM (Three Forks, Montana)
August 18-20 — Country
Headliners: Chris Janson, Lee Brice, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Hardy
headwaterscountryjam.com

FARM JAM 2022 (Colville, Washington)
September 2 and 3 — Country
Headliners: Joe Nichols, Jessie Leigh, Matt Stell
farmjamfestival.com

OTHERS:
Waterfront Blues Festival (July 1-4 in Portland)
Framework! outdoor music festival (July 21-23 in Carnation, Washington)
Northwest Ropes Summit (July 21-24 in North Plains, Oregon)
Block party at the Capitol (July 22-24 in Seattle)
Summer fusion (July 28-31 in Darrington, Washington)
Red Ant Pants Festival (July 28-31 in White Sulfur Springs, Montana)
Oregon Jamboree (July 29-31 in Sweet Home, Oregon.)
Pickathon (August 4-7 at Pendarvis Farm just outside of Portland)
Day Trip Festival (August 7 in Seattle)
Rocking the Rivers Festival (August 11-13 in Three Forks, Montana)
Day after day (August 12-14 in Seattle)
Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival (August 12-14 in Medical Lake, Washington)
Bass Canyon Festival (August 19-21 at the Gorge)
feast of things (August 26-28 in Port Townsend, Washington)
Sisters Folk Festival (September 30-October 2 in Sisters, Ore.)

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