Pickathon's getting close. (And if you ain't got the dough, they're looking for volunteers—probably not a bad way to experience the festival... I've noticed the staff having just about as good a time as anyone else out there on Pendarvis Farm in years past.)

But I can't help myself—when I think about Pickathon I think about Sam Quinn. The first time I found him around midnight, head half-twisted on God knows what. It was outside, under the stars on the Twilight stage. I was stunned. Broken apart by the searing, reserved, heroin twang as Quinn appeared to sing through his clenched teeth.

The next year he wasn't announced on the festival lineups. I whined about it, and hot damn, he became a late edition. In the barn that Sunday afternoon he did it again—nearly split me. I welled up.

That year Quinn's debut solo record, The Fake That Sunk A Thousand Ships, topped my year-end list. I still listen to it regularly. It's a pick I'm happy with.

Since, every so often I poke around online in hope that Quinn and his lilting, lovely, understated band are making plans to leave Tennessee for a West Coast tour, or perhaps they're working on some new material. So far, no such luck. He's not on the Pickathon roster either.

Indeed, this most recent search has saddled me with the fear—Quinn's site is down. [No, it just moved here.—Ed.] The bills haven't been paid. The last updates to the Twitter feed came in October of 2010. I wonder, Sam, are you out there? Are you still at it? You damn well better be.

So here's hoping once again that someone hears my plea: bring Sam Quinn back to Pickathon! While the festival is one of the great high-water marks of the Portland summer, it just wouldn't be the same without him.

But lest this letter end in gloom (although fitting for today's surprise overcast). In my most recent search I did come across a few live recordings of Quinn's songs that were new to me (see above).