I think if you died and went to Seattle’s music heaven, you might find that it is called Doe Bay. Well, at least that’s how I felt as I stepped onto the ferry to return from Orcas Island on Sunday afternoon. I had just had an experience that felt so great that it’s taken two weeks for me to even sit down and attempt to describe it for fear of completely over-romanticizing it. I’m afraid that the fact is, you are still going to think I’m talking this up more than I should and that it just couldn’t be THAT good. It was, and to say that I’m grateful to get a last minute ticket is an understatement. As I couldn’t get my family tickets, I primed myself for two big days, Friday and Saturday, in order to be home Sunday night to spend time with them…
What made Doe Bay Fest so great? The people, the music and the place…
The People… My Doe Bay experience started on Thursday night – not at the Conor Byrne Open Mic at Doe Bay hosted by Mr Tony Kevin Jr. like most people, but at 3am with Aubrey, Matt and Katrina from The Local Strangers who had just played Team Up‘s Gigs4Good for PAWS. These very kind people allowed me to ride with them to catch the ferry leaving Anacortes at 6am. Thankfully as all three are singers and I didn’t want to embarrass myself, we slept instead of sang our way there… From the moment we arrived the vibe was one of inclusion, open-hearted friendliness, trust and equality. Time and time again I was introduced to smiling faces and great conversations.
What really struck me was that I could leave my $1200 camera on the rug if I wanted to go up to the stage and dance, or the girls could leave their bags and there was never an issue that I witnessed. Nor was there a hint of aggression. It was simply good people, sharing a beautiful space, respecting each others property and having fun. Sound like the way we should live all the time? Does to me! I have to say that there is no way this vibe or energy would stay in tact at a similar festival in Australia. That may be due to the macho Aussie male, but at some point there are always fights and things stolen. I was deeply impressed by the people at this festival and I’ve taken away a real respect for this area and it’s people because of it.
The Music… Well, it was a privilege to enjoy some of the areas finest musicians in a setting that seemed to inspire them to greater heights. It was also a privilege as an audience member to see how often a band was joined onstage by other bands, or to see bands in the audience offering loads of support. There is a wonderful brotherhood being cultivated in this area between bands and I believe it will result in rapid growth and success for the scene here in general. I feel like some of the bands that will drive that growth really delivered incredible sets at Doe Bay and I can’t wait to see them again. For me the standout bands were Pickwick, Campfire OK, Lemolo, Kelli Schaefer, and of course, the band that is already enjoying ever-increasing success, The Head and the Heart. I will write separate blog posts about a couple of those bands and their performances in the coming days.
I didn’t get to see everything I would have liked to have seen, but I could not be more grateful about seeing a set than the midnight acoustic, double act delivered by Damien Jurado and John Vanderslice (who was joined by Dianna Potter). I have tremendous respect for Damien. As a newcomer to the Seattle scene, I see him as a wonderfully vulnerable, immensely talented artist who I could watch live or listen to on my iPod with equal measures of enjoyment. Having never heard John play until earlier that day (which I really enjoyed) I, along with the small crowd sitting and listening quietly under the stars, witnessed a master entertainer at work. John just makes you want to be his friend by being so wonderfully humble and gracious. Together, these two great artists performing in this intimate setting, were the highlight of my Doe Bay.
The Place… It was my first time to Orcas Island. In fact, it was my first time to the San Juan’s at all so you can imagine how I felt when I saw glimpses of forest clad islands as the ferry navigated through the fog in the early hours of Friday morning. The fog was still in when we reached the Doe Bay Resort which gave it a magical feel with tents, domes, yurts and buildings nestled into the tree-lines on both sides of Otter Cove. It was not long before the fog lifted to reveal a stunning view that must have been amazing for the performers on the Otter Cove Stage to look at as they performed for us eager spectators. The blue sky and not-too-warm sun showcased this beautiful area perfectly and gave opportunities for photographers to find filtered light shots all weekend.
As an audience member I have to give a huge shout out to Joe (Doe Bay Resort owner) and the Artist Home team led by Chad and Kevin as the festival was really well run and I can’t wait for next year’s festival where the chants of “Doe Bay, Doe Bay!” will resume.
Here are some of my pics…Could not resolve: api.flickr.com (Domain name not found)