For a festival that was dedicated to bluegrass, Americana, and olde-time jams at its inception in 1999, Pickathon 's announcement today that Mavis Staples will


Pickathon 2011: Festival Known for Indie Rock and Bluegrass Mixes It Up With Mavis Staples

For a festival that was dedicated to bluegrass, Americana, and olde-time jams at its inception in 1999, Pickathon's announcement today that Mavis Staples will be at the road-trip-worthy festival outside Portland this year seems like one of the oddest pairings since peanut butter and pancakes. It should prove to be just as delicious.

"People appreciate boundaries that are pushed out in different directions," says Pickathon organizer Terry Groves. "I don't want to be another festival with the same 10 bands that everyone else has booked."

Staples will be joined by more than 40 artists--from indie rockers like Vetiver and Laura Veirs to Cajun dance band the Pine Leaf Boys and country rockers Truckstop Darlin'--at the festival, August 5-7 at Happy Valley, Ore.'s Pendarvis Farm outside Portland. Three-day tickets, which include camping, but not parking, are on sale for $130. Groves says he expects the fest to swell by about 50 percent, as it has annually, to about 3,500 paid attendees, and more than 1,000 volunteers, staff, and musicians.

Compared to a festival like Sasquatch!, which has had great success shooting directly at the heart of the indie zeitgeist, Pickathon's lineup seems scattershot. In many ways, says Groves, that's the point. "This is an art project to someone like me," Groves says. "It's as exciting organizing [it] as it is performing at [it]. I think that not having your own taste defined by what other people perceive is kind of a goal of mine, personally. Once you become expected to do the same thing year after year, it's kind of lost a lot of its spontaneous magic. Our crowd grows every year, so I know we're doing something right."

Groves says Pickathon has had their heart set on bringing a legend on the order of Staples to the fest for a number of years. A near-perfect star alignment made Staples the right fit. "We've really struggled with really wanting to bring in more diversity as far as the lineup goes," Groves says. "And finding the right match for somebody who is at that level, that's current and is doing things this year, has been a struggle."

Pickathon should get a boost--if not a bit of affirmation--after Staples' new album, You Are Not Alone, produced by indie-Americana stalwart Jeff Tweedy, picked up a Grammy Sunday night for Best Americana Album (Americana as in Blind Boys of Alabama, not Wilco).

The lineup, as announced this morning. More bands are expected to be announced.

Mavis Staples

Bill Callahan

Lee Fields & the Expressions


Damien Jurado


Fruit Bats

Ray Wylie Hubbard


Laura Veirs


The Wilders

The Sadies

Richard Swift

Pine Leaf Boys

The Builders and the Butchers

Danny Barnes

Sonny & the Sunsets

Whitey Morgan & the 78's

Mike + Ruthy

Black Lillies

Strand of Oaks

Elliott Brood

Bruce Molsky

Ages and Ages

Joy Kills Sorrow

Charlie Parr

Old Light

Ted Jones and the Tarheel Boys

Buffalo Killers

Pokey LaFarge

Rock Plaza Central

Truckstop Darlin'

Cahalen Morrison & Eli West

Diane Ferlatte

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