Guitar Festival grows into regional event of note

Portuguese-born Manuel Morais of the Randy Oxford Band has played guitar since age 8, when he found his father’s guitar in a closet. Here Morais performs at the 2013 Walla Walla Guitar Festival.

Portuguese-born Manuel Morais of the Randy Oxford Band has played guitar since age 8, when he found his father’s guitar in a closet. Here Morais performs at the 2013 Walla Walla Guitar Festival. Photo courtesy of Tammy Laramore

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WALLA WALLA — Robin Barrett wants Walla Walla to hear music in the streets this month, weeks before the street concerts start up or wineries begin seasonal patio music series.

Festival details

Information about and tickets for the festival and performance/lodging packages, can be found online.

Ticket holders also will receive a ticket in a drawing for prizes ranging from guitars, a weekend getaway, tickets to other Pacific Northwest blues festivals to bottles of Walla Walla wine.

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Alice Stuart, 70, is recognized as one of the first female guitar rock artists. She has been attributed as an influence for musician Bonnie Raitt, said festival leader Rob Barrett. In 2013 Stuart brought her blues and folk music to Walla Walla.

To that end, the third annual “Coyote Kings Invitational Walla Walla Guitar Festival” will take place March 13-16.

When he birthed the festival in 2012, Barrett — founder of Coyote Kings — wanted an event that would put music on the same destination map as food and wine has for the Valley, he said.

Walla Walla has evolved from a little live music to a lot, boasting weekends consistently filled with a variety of genres, Barrett said.

When the time came to uncover the treasure of that to regional musicians, he as well as live music fans were rewarded with a healthy start of 12 bands that first year.

Hotel rooms were booked, tickets got sold and the festival broadened almost immediately to include a pub crawl and help from other local businesses.

The momentum has only increased. This year 17 acts will play at four venues, beginning Thursday night with Chris Duarte in concert at Main Street Studios at 8 p.m.

Barrett’s dream of turning the town into a music destination is bearing fruit.

“It’s becoming a locally and regionally known event,” Barrett said. “There’s a ton of return attendees. They love it.”

Ticket sales are about 60 percent to out-of-towners, and the festival gets similar strong support from local music enthusiasts.

Those include Tourism Walla Walla officials who are happy to get visitors here in the off season and help with out-of-town advertising costs, he added.

The Walla Walla Guitar Festival is drawing top Northwest roots and blues bands and attracting some artists from the East, Barrett noted, saying he is proud his town can host a growing music festival.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322.

Performances schedule

MARCH 13

8 p.m. — Chris Duarte, Main Street Studios, 207 W. Main St.

9:30 p.m. — Opening Jam, Sapolil Cellars, 15 E. Main St.

MARCH 14

8 p.m. — The Evangenitals, Sapolil Cellars

8 p.m. — The Stacy Jones Band, VFW Post 992, 102 N. Colville St.

10 p.m. — The Millionaires Club, Sapolil Cellars

10 p.m. — Phil Lynch & The Reubens, VFW Post 992

MARCH 15

Acoustic Showcase

Noon-1:45 p.m., including Terry Robb at Sapolil Cellars and Thacher Carter & Big Font at VFW Post 992.

The Large Show

2-7 p.m., Walla Walla Elks Lodge, 351 E. Rose St., including Robin Barrett & Coyote Kings at 2 p.m., Polly O’Keary & The Rhythm Method at 3:50 p.m., and Big Monti Amondson at 5:40 p.m.

The Guitar Crawl

8 p.m. — Charlie Butts and The Filter Tips, Sapolil Cellars

8 p.m. — CD Woodbury Band, VFW Post 992

8 p.m. — Billy D & The Hoodoos, Walla Walla Elks Lodge

10 p.m. — The Wasteland Kings, Sapolil Cellars

10 p.m. — Gary Winston and The Real Deal, VFW Post 992

10 p.m. — Tuck Foster & the Mossrites, Walla Walla Elks Lodge

MARCH 16

All-Star Jams

Midnight-1:30 a.m., Sapolil Cellars with host Vaughan Jensen, VFW Post 992, with host Gary Winston

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