Florence celebrates three days of bluegrass, folk, Americana, gospel, arts and crafts

Jan. 23, 2019 — Warm up your winter with some hot bluegrass, heart-warming new and traditional folk, vibrant Americana and rafter-raising gospel sounds this weekend at the 17th annual Florence Winter Music Festival. Eleven high-caliber groups will deliver the goods Friday to Sunday, Jan. 25 to 27, at the Florence Events Center, 715 Quince St. The 2019 festival headliner is John McEuen, founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, who will be presenting his “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” tour with The String Wizards.

On Jan. 7, Florence Mayor Joe Henry issued a proclamation deeming Jan. 25 to 27 a “landmark weekend for the region and its arts and music communities” with an invitation for all to participate in Florence’s Winter Music Festival.

Winter Music Festival weekend starts with a twang as the up-and-coming North Country Bluegrass Band (7 p.m.) and the amazing Chris Jones & The Night Drivers (8:30 p.m.) take the stage on Bluegrass Friday. North Country, a premier traditional bluegrass band from the Northwest, is touring the US and Canada to rave reviews. Jones is a quadruple threat as a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and radio host on SiriusXM 62 Bluegrass Junction.

Saturday is Americana Day. The afternoon session begins with the foot-stomping, crowd-pleasing music of Katie Jane Lubiens with Adam Easley (11:30 a.m.) followed by True North (12:45 p.m.), Eli West (2 p.m.), and Cabin Fever NW (3:15 p.m.). Saturday evening features headliners Chris Kokesh and LJ Booth at 7 p.m. opening for John McEuen and The String Wizards.

Sunday’s heart- and soul-warming Gospel Gathering features Laura Merz’s Community Gospel Choir, Marty Adams’ Rolling River Quartet and Andiel Brown leading the award-winning University of Oregon Gospel Choir.

The music continues with nighttime jam sessions at the ICM Restaurant, 1498 Bay St. in Historic Old Town Florence, which kick off at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Community members, along with musicians, are welcome to join with festival artists for these nightly song circles. Food and beverages will be available for purchase through 11:30 p.m.

In addition, Katie Jane Lubiens and Adam Easley will be playing a free community concert at Oregon Pacific Bank, 1355 Highway 101, at 4:30 p.m. on Friday. Coffee and cookies will be available throughout the hour-long show.

Winter Music Festival 2019 offers much more than top-drawer music by nationally-touring musicians. In sync with the music weekend is the free Florence Regional Arts Alliance (FRAA) Winter Arts Festival. The Winter Arts Festival will be Saturday, Jan. 26, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 27, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the 8,000 sq. ft. FEC exhibit hall.

FRAA has assembled renowned local and regional artists and craftspeople to fill more than 30 booths with everything from two- and three-dimensional art in stone, wood, glass, ceramic, fabric, wire, and gold to garden art, personal care items, edibles, and adult potables. In addition to selling their works, over the course of the weekend select artists will demonstrate how their art or craft is created.

The new and extremely buzzworthy Eatwell Organic Noodle food truck will be on site on Saturday and Sunday. Ninkasi Brewing and River’s Edge Winery are the exclusive beer and wine dispensers. The annual Ladies of Elks Pie Sale returns as another folksy festival favorite. \

The 450-seat, state-of-the-art Florence Events Center still has a few excellent seats available for each show. Tickets are available at the Events Center Box Office or online at EventCenter.org. A three-day pass is $95 and a two-day pass is $80. Tickets for Friday Night Bluegrass are $28, Saturday afternoon general admission Americana, $19, Saturday night headliners $40, and Sunday’s Gospel Gathering, $16. Doors open one hour before each show time.

A full event rundown with performer profiles is at www.WinterMusicFestival.org.

The Florence Winter Music Festival is produced by the 501 (c) (3) nonprofit Friends of the Florence Events Center, a volunteer organization that helps fund capital improvements and performance grants at the venue.