March 30, 2011

double kickdrum / on the landing in the summer: Doe Bay Fest 2011

A few months ago I was in Florida with the fam (and we may or may not have been wearing matching DisneyWorld shirts that my mom made but that is BESIDE THE POINT, okay? Shut up.) and we were passing the time driving along by playing one of those conversation-question card games like “If you could have any superpower, what would it be?” and “What would your ideal birthday party celebration look like?”.

I was answering the latter and found myself describing a birthday party with a ramshackle house on a Pacific beach, filled up with all my favorite friends from all around the world that I never get to see, and yes please some terrific bands and good food. Maybe a setting sun, maybe some ocean breezes and a campfire that left its scent in my hair all night. That would be a good birthday.

I should really do that someday, I thought, for a big milestone birthday. Some August in a few years when I turn a nice round number we’ll really throw down, I thought.

And then — I remembered this:

[watch it large]

Then and there I decided that life is short, and The Doe Bay Fest is undoubtedly good. And there is nowhere I would rather be August 11-14 of this year. So I’ve recruited a dozen friends to help me celebrate and we’ll be there with bug spray on. Sexy!

From everything I’ve heard, the Doe Bay Fest (on Orcas Island in the San Juans, outside Seattle) is the most magical jewelbox of a music festival that you will ever experience. It is super-limited in size (the few hundred tickets will go on sale for $60 on May 1 at 10:00am, and will sell out that day) and located in one of the most gorgeous natural settings you’ll find. A heady spirit of musical joy and collaboration seems to permeate every aspect of the festival. In addition to a stellar official lineup, I am hoping for all of these things: late night campfires, slip and slides, open mic singalongs. This year there is a full moon for the fest weekend, and I can hold my breath for some midnight forest music under the brightly glowing, late summer orb.

The lineup? Well, paradoxically and logically, it isn’t actually announced until June 2. There is a level of trust woven into this festival, and that’s what I love. Trust the organizers that this will be worth it. Previous performers have included The Fruit Bats, David Bazan, The Head and The Heart, Hey Marseilles, Drew Grow & The Pastors’ Wives, Kelli Schaefer, Portland Cello Project, Ravenna Woods, and The Moondoogies. Plus a dozen bands I haven’t heard of but that represent a range of styles, a generous Pacific Northwest bent, and a common (beautiful) spirit.

The Doe Bay Resort? A small, collectively-owned resort that’s accessible only by ferry ride, with a collection of little cabins, yurts, and camping, an organic garden, a yoga studio, and a $2 beer garden. The chef is apparently world-class, serving up delicious organic food all weekend on the cheap. There is plentiful shade and sea and wildlife. The stars come out at night and I am going to lay on my back and watch them, with a big old birthday smile stretched on my face.

Come join us.

[photos credit the marvelous work of Dylan Priest, and Josh Lovseth for Sound on The Sound]

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  • Wow. Chills watching that video. Sounds like an ideal birthday to me too. Not sure if you’ve ever been, but Orcas Island (and all of the San Juans for that matter) is heaven on Earth – up there with my favorite hiking spot in West Virginia, the coast of Down-east Maine and the back country of Mt. Bachelor in Oregon. I can’t wait to live this vicariously through you.

    ForTheShorties — March 30, 2011 @ 7:30 am

  • Orcas and the rest of the San Juans are awesome – and the festival sounds amazing. We have a cabin on one of the neighboring islands, and would be there for sure but we’ve got a baby due a couple weeks before, so I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be able to make it :(

    You should ferry over to Friday Harbor one day, or rent bikes and go get cinnamon rolls at Holly B’s on Lopez – they’re the best.

    Have fun!

    Daryn — March 30, 2011 @ 9:34 am

  • Gah. That sounds/looks amazing.

    Josh — March 31, 2011 @ 10:01 pm

  • I went last year and it was FANTASTIC, and I’m all signed up for this year’s festival, too! Come on up! You’ll love it!

    Katie — April 1, 2011 @ 10:26 am

  • I’ve spent all my summers on Orcas for the last eleven years and can honestly say that it’s the best place in the entire world. Doe Bay is amazing and the line-up for this summer sounds perfect. See you there!

    Stephanie — April 8, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

  • I just rewatched the video and it gave me chills…again.

    Adrian — April 9, 2011 @ 7:18 am

  • Hi Heather-
    I’ve been a fan of your blog for a long time, but never stopped to say “Hi” before and I figured this was a good time since I loved this post (and Doe Bay Fest).
    You’re in for a treat for your birthday. I’ve been around the block… a couple times… and there’s just nothing else out there quite like Doe Bay Fest. I heard about it through Sound on the Sound last winter and talked a big group of friends into going up and, to make a long story short, each of them went out of their way to thank me after the festival. Many of them told me that it was one of their favorite weekends of their lives, and I agree.
    We’ve got a bigger group going back up again this year, and I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for you & say “Hi” in person. Please feel free to drop me a line if you need anything or have any questions about Seattle or the islands, ok? This is my hometown & the islands have been my favorite summertime playground for years.
    I threw up some of our outtakes from last year’s festival pics for you at You’ll probably recognize some of the volleyball players.
    I think you’re set for a pretty amazing birthday weekend!

    Scott — May 15, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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