Central Oregon plays host to many events: tons of live music, all kinds of outdoor activities and a steady plethora of festivals, block parties and outdoor markets. If there were something missing from our High Desert oasis (other than, you know, affordable housing), it would be a massive, weekend-long music festival with camping, food and bounce houses. 4 Peaks Music Festival comes close to footing the bill, and although not quite massive, it's not really trying to be.
4 Peaks Music Festival began in 2007 with a simple idea. Co-founder, owner and promoter Stacy Totland explains, "We had an idea for a glorified backyard party/family picnic and somebody got wind of it that had acreage, and a couple bands got wind of it so we just decided to do a festival. So, in 2007 and 2008 we went pretty big. We had ELO and Trampled by Turtles, local bands and about 1,500 people. 2009 we skipped because everything just kind of crashed and my partners moved out of town, so we had to take a hiatus for a year. We came back in 2010 with an event permit for up to 500 people and then were able to build up from there. In 2013 I got the large event permit again to be able to have 3,000 people, but we limited it to about 1,000 to make it really intimate, family-friendly and comfortable the last two years. This year it'll be 1,500."
Locals Honey Don't start things off on Thursday night followed by Portland's The Student Loan String Band. Friday has the Jeff Austin Band from Colorado, followed by Portland's breakout band, The Good Time Travelers. Local mainstays Elektrapod then hit the stage to open for Friday's headliner, The Jackie Greene Band.
Saturday brings the blues with Robben Ford, the funk with World's Finest and the country jam with Grant Farm. Saturday's headliner is The Chris Robinson Brotherhood. The Brotherhood is the blues band that Chris Robinson formed while The Black Crowes were on hiatus. Guitarist Neal Casal is pretty amazing on his own, as he was a huge part of what made The Cardinals rock a few years back.
Totland bought out her partners in 2012 and has been relishing the experience of running the festival herself. "You might be thinking, 'there's no way I could do that by myself,' but it's this natural progression where once you start doing it, it's like you just fine tune the well-oiled machine that it's become. Every year there are new changes, new things to do, appeasing everybody involved and the property owner, making it more experiential and fine tuning it and just making it a better experience for everybody. It's always changing and evolving, but it's really been fun!"
One big question is whether 4 Peaks will eventually become something akin to Sasquatch. Totland has some ideas for the future. "I'm not trying to be Coachella or Bonnaroo here, but for Central Oregon we've essentially outgrown the property and we're going to be in a new location next year with more acreage. There will be larger national acts, more spreading out for families, tents and RVs, more luxury stuff, glamping, more yurts and just really embellish what we already have going for us, but it will always be the intimate family-friendly 4 Peaks that everybody knows."
Whether 4 Peaks grows massively or keeps that intimate vibe, it's still a treat to have something like this in our own backyard. Music festivals are a dime a dozen these days, but good ones are harder to find. Totland knows how rare the perfect combination of music, environment and vibe can be, as it's such a fleeting thing. Regardless of the future, the festival is in good hands right now.
4 Peaks Music Festival
All day, June 16 to 19
Rockin A Ranch, 19449 Tumalo Reservoir Rd., Bend
www.eventbrite.com for tickets