Wanderfest showcases top musicians at Gaston retreat this weekend
The process of booking, planning and troubleshooting an annual summer music festival — even working with a partner — is usually not nearly as fun as thinking one up in the first place.
Thankfully, Matt Cadenelli, co-founder of Wanderfest, showcasing a treasure trove of Portland-area bands and singer/songwriters this weekend at the Dundee Lodge in Gaston, finds enjoyment in what others might consider tedium.
"Actually, this is a little less work than I thought it would be," he admits. "I actually enjoy the various pieces — the gathering them up and putting them all together that it takes. It's kind of like Tetris or something, getting all those pieces in place."
Not that organizing the third annual event — held Friday, June 28, and Saturday, June 29 — doesn't have its natural pitfalls.
"It's definitely frustrating sometimes, especially when you're dealing with limited resources," the Portland musician says. "When you get more financial support, it makes it easier to plan, rent all the porta-potties you need — all the choices you need to make a quality festival."
This year's event, which Cadenelli coordinates with fellow musician Kris Stuart, features 17 acts, ranging from the ethereal front-porch harmonies of Little Sue & Lynn Conover to the organic-soul stylings of Redray Frazier and spaghetti western-soundtrack intensity of Federale.
This year's Wanderfest is dedicating 100% of ticket proceeds — money cleared after expenses are met — to the Musicians Emergency Health Care Fund. Founded and managed by longtime Portland musician Jeremy Wilson, the nonprofit foundation helps area artists cover health care and medical expenses.
"We decided after last year, just because of how much work it was, that we wanted to try to do it for a cause," Cadenelli says. "We wanted something greater than just putting on a big party — which is fun, but we wanted more of a drive for us."
Musical acts returning this year include Wanderband — featuring both Cadenelli and Stuart — and Taylor Kingman & Friends, both bands offering singularly passionate takes on fatalistic country-rock a la CCR and The Band.
Denver, Rootjack and Big E & the Stomp — who frequently fill dance floors at Portland venues Laurelthirst Public House and Landmark Saloon — also mix earthy rock with heartfelt, pathos-infused lyrics. And multifaceted Portland music legend Pete Krebs will dust off his pop-rock ensemble Gossamer Wings for the first time since 1999.
Anchoring Friday night's lineup is the Latino psych-rock sound of Trujillo, fronted by Freddy Trujillo, who has lent his instrumental and vocal talents to luminaries such as Alejandro Escovedo, Fernando and Richmond Fontaine.
During a recent phone chat, Cadenelli's enthusiasm for this year's Wanderfest musical offerings is palpable.
"I think the lineup's incredible," he says. "A couple of the really popular great acts from last year are back — Redray and TK (Kingman). And some of the younger folks are really excited about Kassi (Valazza) and Matt Buetow (& The Western Stars). They're part of the Landmark and Laurelthirst scene.
"We wanted to have a diverse population represented. That was definitely part of our mission," Cadenelli adds. "We're also super excited about our headliner, Trujillo. They will bring a super high-energy good time. Also, Pete Krebs and Gossamer Wings hasn't played (as an ensemble) since 1999. We're super happy Pete wanted to do a Gossamer Wings set."
Located about 34 miles southwest of downtown Portland, Dundee Lodge provides Wanderfest a relaxed, woodsy and scenic setting with close proximity to Henry Hagg Lake. This year, tent camping — included with the $100 weekend fee — will be separated from the vehicle parking area.
"There should be a lot more breathing room for people camping," Cadenelli noted.
As much time and effort he and Stuart expend to make Wanderfest a memorable introduction to summer fun, Cadenelli — at year three — can now predict the point where all the toil and trouble fade to enjoyment.
"I usually wake up Saturday feeling good," he says. "I'm pretty much fully stressed out and on high alert all day Friday. But the last two years I've woken up Saturday feeling pretty calm. The hard work's been done and almost everyone is parked.
"Saturday," he adds, "is pretty joyous."
Wander on over
What: Third-annual Wanderfest
When: Friday and Saturday, June 28-29
Where: Dundee Lodge, 50845 S.W. Dundee Road, in Gaston
Admission: $100, including parking and camping
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