Chinook Fest returns, focused on country and roots-rock | Local

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The organizers of the Chinook Fest announced last week a lineup rich in country, roots and American music for the return of the festival in September.

Headlining roots rock group The Band of Heathens from Austin, TX is the biggest name at the festival from September 10-12. They have appeared on “Austin City Limits” and have seven studio albums on their CVs as well as a handful of live recordings.

“They’ve been around for a while and have become a staple in Texan music,” said Chinook Fest co-founder and co-owner Cody Beebe, whose own group Cody Beebe & The Crooks are an audience favorite at the festival.

Since the start of 2012, the annual “party in the woods” at Jim Sprick Park near Naches has grown into one of Yakima Valley’s most anticipated events. The three-day festival attracts around 1,500 people a year, many of whom return year after year for musical programming consisting primarily of regional and local touring acts and national level headliners.

Previous years have featured such luminaries as Lukas Nelson and Sturgill Simpson. Nelson, the son of Willie Nelson and collaborator of Neil Young, is something of a Chinook headliner: the cult favorite. Simpson, who played Chinook months before his 2014 album “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music” made him a star, represents the other guy: an act just on the cusp of bigger things.

“What we’re trying to do, because we don’t have the budget for the very large national groups, is find artists right before they perform,” Beebe said. “Or we’re trying to find artists who just fit into cult favorites.”

The big names this year, besides The band of pagans, include classic country stylist Hannah Dasher, eclectic Americana outfit Quaker City Night Hawks, Nashville singer-songwriters Austin Jenckes and Jaime Wyatt, and Portland indie-folk singer Haley Johnsen.

Regional mainstays such as Massy Ferguson, Hillstomp and the Robbie Walden group populate mid-level slots. And, as always, local artists round out the lineup. This year, that includes outstanding Ellensburg bluesman Brett Benton, favorites from Yakima, American Honey and the Chase Craig Band, Australian expat Blake Noble and Beebe’s band.

It’s solid lineup, especially given the time constraints. Beebe and the rest of the Chinook team weren’t even sure they could put on a full festival until May. Last year was canceled due to the COVID pandemic.

“Our team has a lot of courage and tenacity,” said Beebe. “We decided that if we were going to do it, we were going to do it right. “

Tickets purchased for the 2020 festival will be honored. There are less than 100 three-day passes left. Day tickets go on sale July 28. For tickets, festival information and full lineup, visit www.chinookfest.com.

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