outdoor concerts

Sounds of a Yamhill County summer

Pull up a lawn chair and listen to concerts ranging from gospel to heavy psych

This week’s survey of Yamhill County’s cultural scene is All Things Musical — or as close to “all” as is possible to get without being omniscient. The opera-oriented Aquilon Music Festival is in the thick of it, but they’re not the only musicians in town. McMinnville and Newberg each host a series of free summer concerts, while out in Willamina, folks are getting ready for the Wildwood Music Fest, which has been hosting regional bands since 2010. Let’s start there, as that’s a ticketed event. 

WILDWOOD MUSIC FEST: On Yamhill County’s east side in the Sheridan and Willamina area, we find Katie Vinson of the Wildwood Hotel and Kim Hamblin of Roshambo ArtFarm once again organizing a grassroots musical affair and family camp-out that benefits local nonprofits. The nearly 20-year-old festival will be held July 19-21 on the farm, 22900 S.W. Pittman Road. Tickets and all the details you could possibly need are available here. The lineup includes the Eagle Rock Gospel Singers, Sam Chase and The Untraditional, Drunken Prayer, Willy Tea Taylor, and many, many more.

McMINNVILLE CONCERTS ON THE PLAZA: Organized by the McMinnville Downtown Association, these Thursday evening concerts are held on the U.S. Bank Plaza at the corner of Third and Davis streets. The street is closed, and some seating is available, but it goes fast, so best to bring a lawn chair. Concerts run 6 to 9 p.m.

The series kicks off July 11 with the Portland heavy-psych band Blackwater Holylight, founded by vocalist/bassist Allison Faris in 2016. At the website for Portland label RidingEasy Records, which represents Blackwater, Faris describes the band’s genesis: “I wanted to experiment with my own version of what felt ‘heavy’ both sonically and emotionally. I also wanted a band in which vulnerability of any form could be celebrated.”

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Summer concerts: from opera to outlaw country

Performances in Yamhill County offer something for all musical tastes

Now that the sound and fury of the Fourth of July is behind us, let’s talk live music. There’s an abundance of it in Yamhill County this summer, literally anything you yearn for: pop, blues, 70s dance rock, Latin jazz, gypsy jazz, Celtic, soul, Scottish, blues, bluegrass, folk, retro, Louisiana zydeco from the Pacific Northwest … see what I’m saying? If you live here, you don’t need to head to Portland for outdoor summer concerts, and if you live in Portland, you might check out this list to ensure that your trip to wine country aligns with great music.

Before we get to lawn-chair summer fare, let’s zero in on opera. McMinnville’s music scene this month has an 800-pound gorilla, the Aquilon Music Festival, an ambitious project organized by Anton Belov. Linfield College, where Belov has taught 11 years, serves as the center ring in an event that features two fully staged operas and a multitude of lectures, recitals, and concerts, including some at area wineries.

Portland Opera’s Opera a la Cart will serve up operatic specials du jour at Ponzi Vineyards and Argyle Winery this summer. Photo: Jonathan Ley.

Belov has assembled an impressive team of opera pros from around the United States., and many names will be familiar to aficionados: Daniel Helfgot, Byron Schenkman, Barbara Day Turner and Richard Zeller.

But many may not be — the more than 30 young artists Belov invited who are poised at the dawn of their musical careers. Some are local, while others are from beyond Oregon and have already appeared on the boards in the U.S., Europe and South America.

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