By MICHAEL-SHAWN DUGAREnterprise is a small town in Oregon but this weekend it will play host to a big festival.
Invading the Wallowa County Fairgrounds on Saturday is the sixth annual Juniper Jam, a local music festival featuring artists from all over the Northwest.
The event also serves as the primary fundraiser for the Wallowa Valley Music Alliance, a nonprofit organization devoted to educating and fostering musical growth in the community.
“It’s to highlight original bands, bring new music to this area and eventually raise money to fund the rest of our programs which include: a weeklong fiddle camp, we have music education programs for kids and we have a summer concert series every Thursday and we’re wrapping that up next week,” said Janis Carper, festival coordinator and alliance director. “We do a lot of other programming and this is one of our ways to try and raise a little money to cover the costs of all the stuff we do.”
Performances by the 12 scheduled acts will take place on two stages: the main stage and the Tunesmith stage, which is based on the monthly songwriting program put on by the alliance.
“The genre this year is everything from folk, to country, to blues and folk-rock,” Carper said. “We’ve had a lot of bluegrass in the past, (but) nothing in that genre this year although some of these bands tend to get a few mandolins on stage.”
Kicking things off on the Tunesmith stage is singer-songwriter Tracy Spring who is touring to promote her recently released album “Looking Forward-Looking Back.” The Bellingham native represents the eclectic nature of the festival as she brings a mix of folk, blues, r&b, jazz and swing music to the stage. Local songwriter MidLo will also hit the Tunesmith stage as part of the program, as will seasoned guitarist, songwriter and Enterprise resident Heidi Muller.
Other Tunesmith stage performances include the fiddle-playing talents of Kathryn Claire; Nashville-based, multi-instrumentalist Kai Welch; Saigon County of eastern Oregon and Sorry, Neighbors of Joseph, Ore.
Opening on the main stage at 2 p.m. is the band Hollow Wood out of Boise. The six-piece band — a significant expansion from the three members they began with originally — just released their EP “Seasons” earlier this month.
Hollow Wood is a relatively young group comprised of mostly teenagers. They’ve even lost two of their members recently as they went off to college. Their primary songwriter and guitarist Adam Jones describes their unusual sound as “folk-rock with an orchestral twist,” which includes vocals from all six members to create a choir-like atmosphere on stage.
Cody Beebe and the Crooks and Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers — two Seattle acts — will take the main stage as well along with Bitterroot and Jeff Crosby and the Refugees.
Jeff Crosby, an Idaho native, is making his first trip to Enterprise and brings with him a 1970s-inspired rock ’n’ roll sound with a heavy focus on storytelling, many of which stem from his days growing up in Donnelly, Idaho.
“A lot of the songs are inspired by people I grew up with and then moving into the city (California) that also created inspiration,” Crosby said. “Some of them are fictional but a lot of these come from the people I’ve met.”
Crosby lives in Los Angeles and has toured all over the country but will always remain attached to the Northwest.
“I love the Northwest,” Crosby said. “I still feel like my heart is there but California has its own draw. But I love the Pacific Northwest — that’s where my heart is.”
The festival will also include a special youth activities area and all children younger than age 6 get in free. Several food vendors will be in attendance Saturday as well.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Juniper Jam
WHERE: Wallowa County Fairgrounds, Enterprise, Ore.
WHEN: 1-10 p.m., Saturday
COST: Tickets: $12 in advance, $15 at the gate. Kids younger than age 6 free.