Pickin' & Paddlin' has become a cornerstone of the Bend summer music scene. The annual series raises funds for Bend Paddle Trail Alliance and their efforts to transform the Colorado Avenue Dam into Oregon's first whitewater park. Live music paired with kayak, canoe, and standup paddleboard demos; beer; and a beautiful location right on the Deschutes River have made for memorable summer evenings for many years.
This year, Polecat, who is no stranger to the event, returns to open the concert series. The Bellingham, Washington-based quintet tours vigorously and has always made Bend a frequent tour stop—from Pickin' & Paddlin' in years past to 4 Peaks Music Festival, to a recent sold-out gig at Volcanic Theatre Pub. It's fairly safe to say, this band loves Bend.
"Bend, from the very beginning of Polecat, has always been very supportive and one of our favorite places to play," says Jeremy Elliott, who plays electric lead guitar and contributes vocals to the band.
Of Pickin' & Paddlin' itself, he says: "We have a lot of friends involved, and it's for a very good cause. Plus we love any excuse to come to Bend, float the river, and play music. The beer, the music, the place, the cause; it's great all the way around."
Over the years, Polecat has often been pigeonholed into the bluegrass and Americana genres, but in actuality the band takes influence from a wide variety of styles and would classify themselves as world- dance music.
"One of the things that defines Polecat's sound is that we don't have a specific sound," says Elliott. "We play a combination of a lot of different sounds. While we do have a driving Americana sound, we are all over the place within that."
Polecat has a busy summer of touring planned and then intends on jumping back into the studio. They already have 14 tracks recorded and plan to spend more time on the music before releasing their new album at the beginning of next year.
"It's going to be a real treat for listeners because we still have that 'Polecat sound' that's high energy, but there are a lot of cool new sounds on it," Elliot says.
Pickin' & Paddlin' with Polecat, Coyote Willow, and The Gold Rust
Demos from 4-7 pm, music from 5-9 pm Wednesday, June 24
Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe, 805 SW Industrial Way, Suite 6
$5. Children 12 and under, free.
$10 pint glasses with two drink tickets.