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Pickathon festival elevates modern jazz this weekend

Outdoor music festival Pickathon returns to Happy Valley, Oregon this week
Hearth PR
Outdoor music festival Pickathon returns to Happy Valley, Oregon this week.

The outdoor music festival Pickathon returns this week after a two-year hiatus. Started in 1999 as a celebration of twangy folk music varieties, the festival has evolved to present a genre-agnostic lineup of artists. The 2022 event starting Thursday has something for every music fan, including lovers of modern jazz.

Nate Smith + KINFOLK

Drummer Nate Smith released his second album with his Kinfolk band, See the Birds last fall. Smith found inspiration in the music of his teenage heroes like Prince, Fishbone, Living Color and D'Angelo. His Kinfolk band deconstructs the elements of hip-hop samples from rock, funk and dance music and explores them through improvisation. Find Smith's ensemble at the Pickathon Woods stage Saturday night at 11 p.m. and also Sunday at 8 p.m. at the Paddock stage.

Nubya Garcia

Leading one of two Pickathon jazz groups from London, saxophonist Nubya Garcia plays on the Woods stage Friday night at 7 p.m. and also the late show (1 a.m.!) Saturday night. Her album of modern spiritual jazz The Source appeared on multiple best album lists in 2020. Garcia is a big fan of saxophone great Dexter Gordon and has firm roots in traditional jazz, while also pushing into dub reggae, cumbia, and soulful balladry.

Sons of Kemet

London's brightest star of modern jazz, saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings has built a large fanbase in the Northwest with a few different groups. Sons of Kemet is currently his priority, supporting their critically acclaimed album Black to the Future. The quartet with Theon Cross playing tuba and two drummers has reimagined how jazz meets traditional African music. Look for Sons of Kemet at Pickathon's Paddock stage at midnight Friday night and on Cherry Hill Sunday night at 9.

The new booking manager for Pickathon is Nicholas Salas-Harris, known for booking jazz at Portland's Jack London Revue and now the PDX Jazz Festival. That bodes well for more jazz acts at this popular summer music festival in the years ahead.

Tickets are still available for Pickathon which begins Thursday afternoon. Temperatures in Happy Valley are expected to reach the 90s, so stay cool and stay up late for the festival's foray into world class modern jazz.

The New Cool airs Fridays at 9 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Washington. LISTEN ON DEMAND

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Abe grew up in Western Washington, a 3rd generation Seattle/Tacoma kid. It was as a student at Pacific Lutheran University that Abe landed his first job at KNKX, editing and producing audio for news stories. It was a Christmas Day shift no one else wanted that gave Abe his first on-air experience which led to overnights, then Saturday afternoons, and started hosting Evening Jazz in 1998.