By MICHAEL-SHAWN DUGARInland360.com
PALOUSE — The Palouse Subterranean Blues Band best represents what the Palouse Music Festival is all about.
Each of the seven group members are men from the area who work regular jobs and sprinkle in weekly gigs at Rico’s Public House in Pullman. The name of the band comes from playing in the bottom part of Rico’s and practicing in the basement of keyboard player Scott Kent’s home in Palouse.
Music fans have a chance to enjoy this electronic blues jam band, along with seven other local acts on Saturday at Palouse City Park.
“We’re really excited to be able to play in this festival,” said Kent, a Palouse native. “It’s going to be a fun time and that’s the main reason we do this, for fun, certainly not for the money. It’s going to be a great time.”
Among the other acts scheduled during the nine-hour festival is Paul Smith, a fiddler and banjo player, and one of the people responsible for revamping the festival when it was on its last legs in 2012.
“It is so nice down in that park, and we had the idea to move everything into the shady trees and focus on local music, because there is so much great local music,” Smith said. “Local musicians are easily taken for granted, and we wanted to give them recognition. We love getting people out here and showing off our little art town.”
Smith kicks off the festivities at 11 a.m with his fretless gourd banjo providing laid-back entrance music for incoming patrons.
“I like the idea of welcoming folks as they come in, music floating through the trees,” he said. “Then I’ll rip into something with some energy and surprise people a bit.”
Pullman acts scheduled to perform include folk-music artist Dan Maher and singer/songwriter Bart Budwig. Shiloh Sharrard, Simba and the Exceptional Africans — two Moscow acts — will hit the stage as well in addition to Floating Crowbar out of Spokane and John Elwood of Garfield whose claim to fame is his creation of the “Canjo.”
“He’s part of the local fabric here,” Smith said of Elwood.
Maher is a name local music fans will likely be familiar with. The Northwest Public Radio personality has been performing in the area for years in addition to serving as host of “Inland Folk with Dan Maher” on a weekly basis.
Sharrard has become somewhat of a young veteran in the local music scene. The 21-year-old Moscow country singer has plenty of experience performing at local festivals while in high school. The Troy High School graduate was also voted Clearwater River Casino Idol grand prize winner earlier this year, adding to her rapidly expanding career resume.
“She is a classic country singer,” Smith said, adding that he produced two of Sharrard’s records. “She plays a lot of old material and can really deliver that, and then she finds new material that sounds like that. She has a really traditional old-time singing voice, which is really wonderful.”
Floating Crowbar adds traditional Irish music to the festivities with a combination of uilleann pipes, flutes, whistles, banjos, mandolins, fiddles and guitars. Don Thomsen and James Hunter play a variety of instruments while Morgan Anderson handles the fiddle and Rick Rubin plays guitar.
“These guys are really excellent,” said Smith, who dabbles in the art of Irish music himself. “My thinking is to try and get as many diverse kinds of groups that you can get from the local area. Since these guys are so good and really authentic, it’s fun to be able to book them.”
Smith said he expects anywhere from 300 to 400 people to attend the festival, which will also have food vendors and a beer garden.
If you go
WHAT: Palouse Music Festival
WHEN: 11 a.m., Saturday
WHERE: Palouse City Park
COST: $10 for adults, $5 kids 6-12
Dugar can be contacted at (208) 883-4628 or email@example.com.