DARRINGTON — If you had to pick a single day to attend the 16th Summer Meltdown music festival, you might consider making it Sunday.
Yes, you would miss the headliners Gramatik tonight and Griz on Saturday night and a whole bunch of other great bands on both days.
But for $90 on Sunday, you will be treated to performances by nine bands, with an after-party show by the group that started the Meltdown, the one and only Flowmotion.
Front man Josh Clauson, who manages the festival along with his wife Genevieve, has been involved from the start. Flowmotion’s first two Meltdown festivals were on San Juan Island, the third on Camano Island, and the fourth and fifth along South Skagit Highway. After a year’s break, the festival settled in 2006 into its current home at the Darrington Music Park.
Clauson, who grew up near Arlington, loves the amphitheater (which is owned by the Darrington Bluegrass Association) and he likes to get just the right eclectic mix of bands to perform there.
Miranda Zickler of Rabbit Wilde said Clauson first heard her band perform in a small wine bar in La Conner.
“We were still figuring it out and getting our bearings, but Josh took a chance on us and invited us to play at the 2014 Meltdown,” Zickler said. “Most festivals are based on selling tickets, but Josh is into moving the music he enjoys. Meltdown has a whole community around it, with people who attend every year.”
Zickler and her band mates — brothers Zach and Nathan Hamer and Jillian Walker — all grew up in the Mount Vernon area. To these rising stars, the Meltdown “feels like home.”
The band got its start in Bellingham and is now based in Seattle. Earlier this year, Rabbit Wilde performed at Fisherman’s Village Music Festival in Everett and at String Summit near Portland. After Meltdown, the band will perform at Bumbershoot over Labor Day weekend in Seattle and for a little gig Aug. 24 at the Snohomish County Courthouse Plaza.
“It’s really just a little pop-up show with us running our own sound,” she said. “So it’s more like amplified busking.”
While it’s unintentional, the Sunday Meltdown line-up has a nice focus on women.
“Many American music styles have traditionally been dominated by white men,” Zickler said. “It used to be that you got signed to a record label or you did not work. Now, though, it’s easier to start your own project in music you care about and have a fair shot. A lot of women are making Americana music their own.”
In Rabbit Wilde, the entire quartet is involved in composition and that’s evident on the band’s new CD “The Heartland,” which blends bits of bluegrass, indie rock, pop, blues and soul.
“It’s a completely collaborative effort,” Zickler said. “At Meltdown, we’ll be playing mostly off the new album.”
Rabbit Wilde shares a booking agent with another Americana band, Rising Appalachia, so they’ve shared stages as well.
“The Smith sisters (from Rising Appalachia) are passionately full of music,” Zickler said. “They grew up in Atlanta and lived in New Orleans, so their music is folk and soul with urban and hip hop elements as well.”
Rising Appalachia is known for its focus on songs steeped in tradition and devotion to justice and cultures from around the world. Leah and Chloe Smith have said they believe that “the roots of old songs are vital to American’s ever-evolving soundscape.”
STS9, which performed in June with Rabbit Wilde at the Electric Forest Festival in Michigan, focuses on instrumental rock, electronica, lots of drums, funk, jazz, physchedelia, hip hop in what the band has called “post-rock dance music.”
STS9 — Hunter Brown, Jeffree Lerner, David Phipps, Zach Velmer and Alana Rocklin — on Sept. 2 will release a new album, “The Universe Inside.” On its website, the band says it’s an album about “human identity and the magical truth of who we are, where we’re going, and our place in the universe.” The album opens with “Supercluster,” which represents the band’s journey beginning with its 1998 debut “Interplanetary Escape Vehicle.”
Aug. 12 at the Summer Meltdown
Josh Clauson and Friends, DBST, Analog Son, Chon, Ayron Jones and The Way, Blue Scholars, Bright Light Social House, Jimmy Glitch, Boombox Kid, Sunsquabi, Michael Menert, Shook Twins, Budos Band and Gramatik.
The Mountain Flowers, The Sky Colony, baby Cakes, Fame Riot, Acorn Project, Beat Connection, Monophonics, Cash Bandicoot, MTBTZ, Manic Focus, Exmag, Alo, Keys N Krates and Griz.
Real Don Music, Dirty Revival, Crow and the Canyon, The Lil Smokies, Trevor Hall, Rabbit Wilde, Rising Appalachia, STS9 and Flowmotion.
If you go
Summer Meltdown music festival continues noon to midnight through Aug. 14 at the Darrington Music Park, just off Highway 530. More about the bands, tickets, activities and camping is available at summermeltdownfest.com.