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The Steamboat Stringband Jamboree has Americana covered

A feast of strings

Bands will pluck to their heart’s content this weekend in Olympia. Photo courtesy of Steamboat Stringband Jamboree

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For as much as can be said about how loudly and resoundingly garage rock and grunge have dominated the music landscape of the Pacific Northwest, there's always been the existence of stringbands, plucking away on the edges. It's worth remembering, after all, that the official Washington state dance is the square dance, which is a 100% true fact. Americana has always been a fundamental element of culture in Washington, and the vibrance of the Americana musical genre has allowed for bands to experiment with the form - mixing it with punk, hip-hop, and any other seemingly disparate genre - without changing the essence of the music.

Over the course of two days, the Steamboat Stringband Jamboree will bring Olympia number of riches from the stringband community, covering just about every permutation of the style in the space of some 17 bands. From the cacophonous stomp of the Rusty Cleavers to the earthy country leanings of the Pine Hearts to the throwback duet of Max's Midnight Kitchen, there are few corners of Americana not set to be explored by the Steamboat Stringband Jamboree.

"This is an event that got started at a show at the Prosperity Grange Hall back in October of last year," says Josh Grice of the Oly Mountain Boys, who were one of the few bands to get the festival going. "It was the Oly Mountain Boys and the Pine Hearts that got paired up on the show. We invited another band and, at the time, saw the potential to do (that kind of show) on a grander scale. We saw the potential with that Grange show, so we picked out a date well in advance, and reached out to almost everyone in the region that we've played with at various festivals or that we've shared bills with at venues or met here and there. We sorta struck gold, really, with the bands that were available, and the interest in the idea. Right off the bat, we had seven or eight bands say ‘yes,' that they could do it. From then, it picked up steam. No pun intended."

Oly Mountain Boys and the Pine hearts put out the call for acts and, eventually, the demand for bands to play the Steamboat Stringband Jamboree became such that a second day had to be added. In addition to the Friday evening shows, there's an all-day show on Saturday. The atmosphere is gonna feel like a baptism, or a tent revival, with the clean wooden floors of the humble Prosperity Grange Hall echoing bluegrass rave-ups throughout the room.

"We're ready for a pretty big party," says Grice. "A number of the Portland bands have never actually played in Olympia, like Crow and the Canyon and Max's Midnight Kitchen. There's some old Olympia favorites like the Pine Hearts, Oly Mountain Boys and the Blackberry Bushes Stringband. I'm really excited to get the Lowest Pair back to Olympia, because Kendl Winter is rooted here, but her band is touring nationally all the time, now."

The Steamboat Stringband Jamboree is the Americana festival to beat them all, so don't go missing out on this feast of strings.

STEAMBOAT STRINGBAND JAMBOREE, w/ Tye Menser & Josh Grice, Pickled Okra, the Rusty Cleavers, the Pine Hearts, Renegade Stringband, the Oly Mountain Boys, the Warren G Hardings, the Student Loan, May 8, 4 p.m., $15 ADV, $20 DOS, Prosperity Grange Hall, 3701 Steamboat Island Rd. NW, Olympia, steamboatstringsjam.com

STEAMBOAT STRINGBAND JAMBOREE, w/ Joe Capoccia & Derek McSwain, Wild Rabbit, Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons, Max's Midnight Kitchen, Barleywine Revue, the Holler Bodies, Country Banana Split, the Oly Mountain Boys, the Lowest Pair, Wayward Vessel, the Pine Hearts, Crow and the Canyone, the Blackberry Bushes, May 9, 12 p.m., $20 ADV, $25 DOS, Prosperity Grange Hall, 3701 Steamboat Island Rd. NW, Olympia, steamboatstringsjam.com

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