Pickathon 2022

Pickathon 2022 – a Review

Earlier this Summer I wrote a short piece called Gentle Guidance about how to enjoy this summer’s offerings – as I knew they’d be different and we’d be different. Earlier this Summer I had planned to attend the last String Summit – then I got Covid and had to sell my tickets. I thought that attending Pickathon might assuage some of my remorse and sadness, but like Charlie with the football, it didn’t have quite that effect. I’ve attended Pickathon 3 times before and I thought my visit in 2017 would probably be my last – sadly, much of what I found missing/wrong that year seems to have continued to be part of the festival. But Pickathon does a lot well, too – so I’ll start there before adding the “room for improvement” section.

First of all a little bit more back story. This year there was a very welcoming and friendly Pickathon FB group this year. This was something that was missing the last time I attended, and I was grateful to find it. This group led me to the purchase of a weekend ticket for $300. I also posted that I was seeking a parking pass and a friend reached out and sold me his for $70.  That’s also where I found a Spotify playlist featuring music from all this year’s performers.

Positive: the Pickathon ticket system allows easy transfer of tickets between people – well done!

I dilly-dallied around on Friday and then saw a message that Pickathon had oversold their parking and that parking at the festival was sold out and that people should instead make their way to the Clackamas Transit Center and they’d be shuttled from there. OK, minus one point, but luckily in my case I had friends near the festival I was staying with – so headed to their house and got a personal shuttle to the festival. Once there I was able to get my wristband and parking pass in about 20 minutes of standing around in a weaving line. Great – soon after I walked into the festival and started finding my way.

In 2019 there had been a terrible accident when 2 Guildworks workers had fallen to their deaths after the festival as they were taking down the collection of white fabrics that had flown over the main stage area every year for years. I somewhat expected that that area would have had some sort of memorial, but instead, it felt very empty and simple compared to other years. I met a few friends on the way which was nice as I was traveling solo.

One of the cool things about Pickathon is that it takes place at Pendarvis Farm which is a big property with a lot of woods on a hill. So, all of the stages are on hillsides – either in the woods or in a clearing. There are pathways everywhere and you can go get lost in the woods which is where thousands of participants and volunteers make their homes for the weekend. When I first attended in 2007? or so I recall hardly anyone camping – and even then it was tough to find a place that was level. But nowadays people come early and bring shovels and brush hooks and make camp all over the place. There are also lots of hammocks.

Positive: there are some really fun art pieces that are great to look at during the day and I’m sure are even more fun at night when they’re lit up.

 

Positive: by every music stage there is a DJ stage – when there’s no live music playing a DJ steps up and plays tunes. Most of the DJs are from local stations like KMHD and XRAY.fm – some of my favorite music in 2017 and this year came from the DJs! The DJ stations also had the best fidelity – surprise surprise 🙂

I spent Friday wandering around – seeing some folks I hadn’t seen in a while and trying to avoid breathing in too much dust along the pathways. A couple of people had put together a singles and solos meetup @ 4 pm – and I went to that and had a fun time with those who attended. It reminded me a little of my time at WDS – attending Meetups for a couple of days straight.

Highlight: I got to see Yasmin Williams perform. She’s quite a talent and she also mentioned on the stage that she attended my alma mater – NYU. In all my years of attending musical events, I’d never heard a performer mention NYU before – and my heart nearly leaped out of my mouth. My NYU years were pretty special. It sounds like they might not have been as good for her – but still, it was a fun moment.  The juice/smoothie place at this stage made me ginger carrot apple juice which was delicious!

Another Highlight should have been hearing/watching Nubya Garcia on my favorite stage – The Woods Stage. And here’s where we get right back into a central problem with Pickathon (that I talked about in my 2017 write-up). It’s the same issue I have with many music festivals. I sat for an hour with a new friend leading up to this show. The DJ behind us was from KMHD and was playing some delicious cuts. Eventually, though it was time to get the band ready to play. The sound people spent about a half hour testing out the bass and drums. I think it makes sense to take the time to get it right – but it was the volume that was the problem. Why subject an audience that is there for the music to testing out drums and bass turned up to 11? And this seems to be a common occurrence at Pickathon.

Then, there’s the volume level of the music, in general. A friend send me a video from Pickathon 2010 yesterday and it was so subtle and lovely. You would probably not ever hear that anymore at Pickathon. I sure hope someone at Pickathon reads this – or, perhaps take a freaking poll?  Pickathon goers – do you want to hear all the music at such a high volume that you and your kids should probably be wearing significant ear protection all weekend? People – save your hearing! There’s also the general cacophony aspect – if you click on the fun video image above – you’ll hear DJ music playing at the same time as a nearby stage is playing – this was happening a lot.

It’s Really Simple: Turn Down the Volume

I have a couple of other minor suggestions – but the above is my main beef and probably why I’ll not return. Pickathon does a great job of picking interesting music for all of us – but then makes it challenging for (me, at least) to enjoy. Of course, that leads to people having conversations over the music – but that’s another story.

All that said – I actually had a pretty fun time on the day I attended. The next morning I woke up and thought: do I want to do the push-me pull-ya dance of being attracted to go hear some music only for it to be too loud to handle? And I decided that my one day was going to be it. An interesting part of that is that as I consider my time at Pickathon – there really is so much good going on there. The family area is lovely – and there’s so much encouragement for people to bring their kids (wear earplugs!). And there are a lot of great volunteers and the community that come together to make this big festival happen.  That’s fun to watch.

I imagine that this year’s festival was super challenging to put on. Pendarvis Farm is in a section of Happy Valley that is filling in with McMansions at a quick rate. It used to be possible to park right next to the festival – but that property is being filled in right now and was not available. So, we’ll see if Pickathon tries it again at their current location or ends up moving elsewhere.

Finally, so much would be improved if someone just got serious about the sound levels. I’d come back in a minute and probably camp for the weekend. But I won’t be back until Pickathon makes some sort of public announcement about this issue – which I doubt they will. No one likes to admit publicly they are doing anything wrong. I get that.

I’ll probably add to this review as I think of more things – and until we meet again – enjoy the music! Albert

PS – I am open to feedback – please leave a comment below or write me. Thanks. Also, if you enjoy my writing and thinking, I publish a few newsletters which you can sign up for here.

 

Bizmissive

The Bizmissive

Bizmissive - a One-Year Summary I send out a business newsletter called The Bizmissive. Here is a collection of this past year's newsletters. You can sign up for the newsletter here. I use Constant Contact to send these and I try to send them every … [Continue reading]

WDSX

World Domination Summit 2022 (WDSX) All right, I'll do it! Here are some thoughts about WDSX - this year's 10th and final World Domination Summit - if you like pictures, here's an album of ones I (mostly) took. And there are more commentaries … [Continue reading]

Summer Solstice Healing Retreat 2022 – SSHR

SSHR 2022 I'm just back from this year's Summer Solstice Healing Retreat (SSHR) at Breitenbush Hot Springs in Oregon. This was my 27th year. I started going in 1995 (thank you, Shelley Glendenning) after I had recently relocated to Seattle, WA. … [Continue reading]

Gentle Guidance

Gentle Guidance for the Summer of 2022 Dear Albert, Here's some gentle guidance for you this Summer. This Summer looks like it will have a lot of the fun things you've enjoyed over the past many years. Music festivals. Music camps. Reunions and … [Continue reading]

Dating Me

Albert Kaufman Summer 2020

Dating Me Will Look Like: I’m a musician who loves gathering friends for evenings of good food, friendship, and singing.  I love dancing by myself and would love even more to dance with you. I take care of a cat named Louie who I think is adorable … [Continue reading]