August has enjoyed a deluge of fantastic events in the North Okanogan – from music festivals to film festivals, art galleries to jet-ski races, and more live music than any one person could possibly attend.
This coming weekend will start to wrap up the event-saturated month with one of the region’s favorite festivals, the 4th Annual Rally at the Border Blues Fest. The blues fest brings together some of the top names in blues music from throughout the Pacific Northwest for a weekend of music, dancing, and a whole lot of fun.
Mark Morris, the director of this year’s festival, has been pleased not only with the quality of music and entertainment that the event has gathered over the years, but also with how it’s drawn crowds from across the country to enjoy what Oroville has to offer.
“We get people from all over,” Morris says. “We’ve had people from Arizona and Texas, people from all over the place.”
This year, the festival will bring the fun both to Main Street and to the water’s edge on Lake Osoyoos. The music will kick off at Veranda Beach with the “BBQ & Blues at the Beach” special, featuring The Deepwater Blues Band performing with blues legend Randy Oxford. After the music and barbecue wraps up at Veranda Beach, the festivities move over to The Hideaway Bar & Grill, for a jam session led by VooDoo Church, where the blues will blast late into Friday night – and on into the wee hours of Saturday morning.
“The jam is always crazy,” Morris says, “and everybody has a blast. We’ve had some crowd participants that I’ve never even seen before the jam, and it was mind-blowing how great these people are.”
Saturday afternoon, the main event gets rolling at Deep Bay Park in Oroville, where the best of the blues will be performing from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. One of the highlight acts of the day will be The Randy Oxford Band. Led by Randy Oxford, the phenomenal trombonist and Washington State Performer of the Year, the six-piece instrumental roots band brings a high-energy blend of 21st century blues. The headliner of this year’s festival is Lloyd Jones, a widely acclaimed blues musician who has shared the stage with such legendary greats as Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, and Etta James. Jones brings a swampy blues infused with funk and New Orleans-style rhythm – the kind of blues impossible not to dance to. Saturday will also feature can’t-miss performances by the likes of Laffin’ Bones, Anita Royce, VooDoo Church, and JunkBelly. The lineup is stacked with both returning festival favorites and first-time features, and is sure to keep Saturday’s crowds grooving all day.
When the stage wraps up at Deep Bay Park though, Saturday night is just getting started, Morris notes.
“Saturday after the bands are all done, all the bands come down to the Pastime, and we have what we call an all-star jam. That’s really, really a blast. You have all of these bands you saw on stage jamming together and all having a great time.”
Morris emphasizes that what will tie all of the blues fest together is a heaping portion of fun.
“What I love about all of these bands, is that all of these people, when they’re on stage, they’re having fun. And when the people on stage are having fun, they’re playing good music and the crowd’s having fun,” said Morris.
Tickets are available online at www.RallyAtTheBorderBluesFest.org, as well as locally at the Camaray Motel, Veranda Beach, Oroville Pharmacy, and Lee Franks Mercantile. Advance tickets are $20, and tickets at the gate are $25.
If you have an event or program that you’d like covered in this column, you can email Daniel at Daniel.Klayton@gmail.com.