Music heats up for the Summer Meltdown in Darrington

Jon Bauer / The Herald Guitarist Andy Falco of the Infamous Stringdusters gets into the music Aug. 10 at the Summer Meltdown music festival near Darrington.

Jon Bauer / The Herald Guitarist Andy Falco of the Infamous Stringdusters gets into the music Aug. 10 at the Summer Meltdown music festival near Darrington.

DARRINGTON — The place is packed.

The Summer Meltdown music festival continues today at the local Bluegrass Association’s amphitheater and music park west of town.

No doubt the crowd includes a lot of people from out of state. The headliner tonight and Sunday is the String Cheese Incident, which has a huge national following, many of whom chase the Colorado-based band around on its summer tour.

Cheese plays a mix of bluegrass, Americana, rock, country, folk, jazz, reggae, salsa and many other musical genres. The band — the headliner at the very first Sasquatch! music festival in 2002 at the Gorge — doesn’t travel as much as it did when it started out nearly 25 years ago. So Meltdown producer Josh Clauson considers the String Cheese Incident’s appearance here quite an honor.

Michael Kang, the Cheese mandolinist, likes to say that the band is paid to travel and that it performs for free.

Some members of the band have been to Darrington before and are looking forward to returning to the beautiful rural setting. The forest fire smoke has cleared a bit up in the upper Stillaguamish River Valley, allowing for a nice sunset against Whitehorse Mountain on Thursday, the first evening of the festival.

That night the crowd was wowed by the talents of the Infamous Stringdusters from Virginia. The band was impressed that the Darrington amphitheater was built by bluegrass musicians, and the Stringdusters made a point to perform a number of classic bluegrass tunes.

The band is guitarist Andy Falco, Chris Pandolfi on banjo, bassist Travis Book, Andy Hall on dobro and fiddler Jeremy Garrett.

It’s obvious that the group thinks of itself as a bluegrass band. And this made me wish that the Summer Meltdown and the Darrington Bluegrass Festival could merge for a special event some time in the future.

Bluegrass music is often defined in narrow terms, and it’s been the Infamous Stringdusters’ goal to broaden their music to fit who they are — guys who like to jam.

The band played a few songs off its new album, “Laws of Gravity,” including “Gravity” and “Back Home.” At some point the members jammed directly into a fine rendition of the Buddy Holly classic “Not Fade Away.”

Garrett, the fiddle player, ended the Stringdusters’ set with a rippin’ jam that had people on their feet.

We walked into and out of the music park with Darrington Mayor Dan Rankin and his wife, Kelli Smith.

Darrington benefits economically from all the summer music festivals at the park, but the events also give local folks a cultural treat, the mayor and his wife said.

“It’s rare that we go out to a great concert on a Thursday night and get to be home just five minutes later,” Smith said.

For more information about the festival, go to summermeltdownfest.com. The box office opens at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 12 and 13. And because so many more people are at the festival, be sure to pack patience and a pair of sturdy walking shoes.

Talk to us

More in Life

TikToker Brett Kelly, 24, whose Pumpkin man character TikTok video will be aired on the CBS show The Greatest #AtHome Videos on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The TikTok ‘Pumpkin Man’ of Lake Stevens dances to TV fame

After his pandemic layoff from Macy’s, Brett Kelly, 24, has been adding to his 1.4 million followers.

The Black Tones are one of three headliners of this year's Fisherman's Village Music Festival broadcast on YouTube and at www.thefishermansvillage.com. Catch the band's performance on Oct. 31. (Kendall Lawren Rock)
Fisherman’s Village festival returns as streaming video series

Long delayed by the pandemic, the spotlight for local music is being broadcast in four episodes this week.

The five telltale signs of a ‘hortaholic’

It may be an addiction, but it’s the good kind that enriches your life.

This silver-plated serving piece is called a box but it doesn't look like one. It held English biscuits, but if the sides opened, the cookies inside would fall down. Each of the shell-shaped bowls had a hinged, pierced flap that kept the heat and the biscuits in place when the sides were opened and became flat bowls to serve the cookies. The flaps are often missing when the biscuit box is sold.-
These British ‘biscuit boxes’ are cookie jars by any other name

And fancy silver ones can sell for as much as $256 at antiques auctions.

Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’
PURPLE-LEAF GRAPE VINE
Great Plant Pick: Vitis vinifera “Purpurea”

It’s a common wine grape, but in the Puget Sound region, it’s grown for its beauty — the fruit won’t ripen in our climate.

Pandemic psychology and fear of contagion or psychological fears of disease or virus infections with 3D illustration elements.
Pandemic pains: Sleepless nights, hair loss and cracked teeth

Chronic stress from the months-long COVID-19 pandemic is a common thread among many of these conditions.

An expert’s top 3 tips to effectively train for virtual races

When COVID-19 struck, many races were canceled to limit crowds. Virtual races are becoming a popular alternative.

Beer-brined BBQ chicken with mustard and miso mayonnaise sauce. (Sam Folan)
Feel like a chef in your own kitchen with ‘Home Cookery Year’

The cookbook is divided by seasons and includes midweek suppers, recipes on a budget and payday cooking.

Curried beef stew is a warm, hearty dish when the weather turns cool. (Gretchen McKay/Post-Gazette/TNS)
Chase away the chill with this Dutch oven curried beef stew

It gets an Asian kick from curry powder and fresh ginger, and umami from a few splashes of fish and soy sauces.

Most Read