Granite Falls blues festival hits sour note with neighbor

GRANITE FALLS — William Lindberg said he strolled over to a neighbor’s party on a Saturday night earlier this month to ask when the live blues bands would be turning down the volume.

The party, it so happens, was a three-day music festival that a Seattle family has hosted yearly on land fronting the Pilchuck River.

As Lindberg waded through the revelers, he said he was thinking about the previous night, when off-key karaoke singing at the same property kept him awake into the wee hours. He wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of having a second sleepless night in a row.

“That was karaoke night, that was a real treat,” he said. “They think they sound real good by 3 or 4 in the morning.”

Rather than getting an answer about when things would quiet down, Lindberg, 42, found himself getting thrown off the property by off-duty deputies working security. That bothered him, but what irked him even more was that local police, who maintain Lindberg was being unruly and disrespectful, declined to stop the festivities.

The property’s owners, who live in Seattle, said the gathering was legal and has been happening annually for two dozen years. This year was the first time there have been complaints, and they were from a single neighbor, they contend.

The neighbors’ dispute on Paradise Lane reached the top levels of Granite Falls city government last week, when Lindberg called the mayor’s office to complain about the multi-day party, which lasted from Aug. 17-19 and was officially known as the second annual Pilchuck River R &B Festival.

Concert-goers were charged for entry, and for a limited number of campsites, according to the promoters’ website and a Facebook page set up for the event.

“I was totally fine with them closing down at a reasonable time,” Lindberg said. “I don’t like being bullied.”

Mayor Haroon Saleem on Thursday promised to look into the complaint, and how the city responded.

The mayor said he would need to check on what’s in the city’s noise ordinance before commenting at length.

“In a residential neighborhood, I believe that would be a problem,” he said.

No one contacted at City Hall raised any concerns about the highly organized concert or about the police department’s response.

No permit was issued for the festival because none was required, Granite Falls city clerk Darla Reese said.

“We don’t have anything that regulates parties on private property,” Reese said.

Police Chief Dennis Taylor said Lindberg was the one making trouble, not the partiers.

“We get noise complaints and we go out and address them,” Taylor said. “I believe that we addressed this complaint appropriately.”

Among the violations defined by a city noise ordinance passed in 2003 are “yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing particularly between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.” It lists homes, hospitals, hotels and motels as examples of places where people are entitled to “quiet, comfort and repose.”

Lindberg said he was told the music would be shut down at 10 p.m., but it wasn’t.

“It’s the code, 10 o’clock quiet time,” he said. “It’s just absolutely rude. This is like the Gorge, it really is. Isn’t that what we have amphitheaters for, so you don’t have 12 bands in your back yard?”

Lindberg also said his pet emu became agitated and escaped after the fence that keeps the big bird from wandering somehow was damaged during the noisy weekend.

Paradise Lane is a dirt and gravel track west of Robe-Menzel Road, south of downtown. As of last week, a dark-blue sign on a telephone pole near the turnoff from the paved road still alerted people to the lot where the festival took place.

Some of the properties on the lane, like Lindberg’s, have a house.

Others, like the one that hosted the blues party, do not. That property is largely undeveloped, though visible from the road last week were five portable toilets.

The extended blues jam on the Pilchuck was no one-off party.

Promoters started advertising the festival online in February, as an invitation-only event. Details about the event were spelled out on a promotional website. A special Facebook page invited about 1,300 people.

Later, concert fliers advertised more than 15 performers, including headliner Lydia Pense &Cold Blood and old-school funk band Mutha Knows Best.

The advance price for admission was $25 plus $10 for anyone who wanted to camp overnight, according to comments on organizer Michael Walden’s Facebook page. His family owns the property.

Two off-duty Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies worked security, along with private guards.

The event doubled as an unofficial Ballard High School class of ‘72 reunion. Pictures on the web show hats made for the occasion and performers sporting stage passes.

Granite Falls city officials knew about the event, said Robert Ellis, a partial owner of the property and Walden’s stepbrother. It was the 24th year a party has been held on the lot, he said.

“Everything was checked,” Ellis said. “We had sheriff’s deputies at the gate checking people in and out. There was one fellow acting up so we told him to leave.”

The man started complaining because he was asked to leave and then called the police, added Ellis, who lives in Ballard.

“He was the only one causing trouble,” he said. “Before that there were no problems.”

The family’s story corresponds to law enforcement’s version. The Granite Falls police chief said an officer met with Lindberg in person and fielded numerous phone calls from him, but hung up because Lindberg used profanity.

“This is the only time that we’ve received a complaint (about the festival) and it was just one guy,” Taylor said.

The two off-duty deputies working there relayed a similar story through a sheriff’s office spokeswoman.

The law officers all said Lindberg was intoxicated. Lindberg said he wasn’t drunk.

“The (Granite Falls) officer is trying to make me the bad guy and the bottom line is that he didn’t do his job,” Lindberg said.

He admits to becoming angry and using some choice words, but said that shouldn’t make the substance of his complaint invalid. While he may have been the only person calling, he said that’s because he’s the one willing to step forward.

His girlfriend, Tina Dupler, gave a similar account.

“If I wanted to watch TV, I had to turn it up all the way,” said Dupler, who wakes up before 4 a.m. for her job. “I had to leave Saturday because I had to get to sleep.”

Another neighbor, who didn’t want his name used, said he had problems during the festival with party patrons speeding up and down the street, where the posted speed limit is 15 mph.

For now, Lindberg said, he’s not backing down.

“Next year, if this doesn’t get dealt with, I’d like to have a four-day air-horn festival,” he said. “That’s why I bought the property, for the peace and quiet, not just some romper room for people to come up from Seattle once a year.”

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491;

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