Sudan Archives Jack McKain

This year’s Pickathon lineup is the definition of stacked. In addition to touring acts like Makaya McCraven, Khruangbin, Damien Jurado, Ibibio Sound Machine, and Lido Pimienta, the weekend-long fest is rounded out by locals like Help and Laura Veirs. The best part: festivalgoers get two chances to see each artist. But if you need help setting your agenda so you don’t head aimlessly into the dusty wood of Pendarvis Farm (don’t forget to grab your Klean Kanteen cup!), allow us to guide you with the Mercury’s 12 must-see acts at Pickathon 2019. JENNI MOORE


Sudan Archives

“Come Meh Way,” from Sudan Archives’ self-titled debut EP, embodies the songwriter’s (born Brittney Parks) natural talent—soulful and layered vocals, clattering rhythms, and her soaring violin weaving throughout. As she told the New York Times in 2017, that was the song that helped Parks find her voice: “I mixed the violin with electronic music and all the other textures. I really thought it sounded cool—not corny.” Parks’ newfound confidence led her to send the song to Stones Throw Records—the label signed her immediately. Nicknamed “Sudan” by her mother when she was a teenager growing up in Ohio, Parks took it to heart, blending traditional Sudanese and West African music with her own left-of-center proclivities. (Sat Aug 3 at Galaxy Barn, 3:20-4:20 pm; Sun Aug 4 at Mt. Hood Stage, 2:10-3:10 pm) MARK LORE

Altin Gün

Though they hail from the Netherlands, six-piece psychedelic folk group Altin Gün serves traditional Anatolian folk filtered through a kaleidoscope lens. Many of their songs are driven by founder Jasper Verhulst’s warm, walking bass lines, but the music is colored in with a mix of traditional rock instrumentation (guitar, drums, synths) and electric saz, a long-necked lute used in Turkish folk. The band’s new record Gece is a mostly groovy, occasionally spacey voyage that picks up where their 2018 debut On left off. Altin Gün is still flying somewhat under the radar, which could easily change as they embark on their first US tour. Pickathon will no doubt be the perfect place to experience them. (Sat Aug 3 at Mt. Hood Stage, 3:50-4:50 pm; Sun Aug 4 at Treeline Stage, 10-11 pm) MARK LORE

Mereba

Singer/producer/rapper Mereba recently followed up her 2013 album Room for Living with The Jungle Is the Only Way Out. The latter contains 13 excellent tracks of genre-bending R&B. On “Kinfolk,” an ominous guitar and crawling bassline manifest in a sort of country-trap vibe in the vein of Lil Nas X’s viral hit “Old Town Road,” but without the cowboy vernacular. “I’ve been chillin’ with my kinfolk/We’ve been puffin’ on the blunt smoke/Digging for our hidden treasure.” An excellent choice for Pickathon, Mereba is versatile; sometimes she sings with a tinge of twang, sometimes not. She shows off her rapping chops on The Jungle tracks “Black Truck” and “Planet U,” while “Souvenir” sounds kind of like if Sia decided to stop belting in full-voice for the length of a single song, giving room for the ethereal-yet-grounding production to shine. And have you ever heard someone sing “just cut the bullshit” more sweetly than Mereba does on “Stay Tru”? I fully doubt it. (Fri Aug 2 at Woods Stage, 2:40-3:40 pm; Sat Aug 3 at Treeline Stage, 4:50- 5:50 pm) JENNI MOORE

Black Belt Eagle Scout

The ethereal melodies of Black Belt Eagle Scout—the solo project of local artist Katherine Paul—offer a musical snapshot of the Pacific Northwest. Paul was raised on the Swinomish Reservation, immersed in tribal dancing and native drumming. It’s these rhythms, occasionally paired with a classic grungy bassline, that are at the core of Black Belt Eagle Scout’s music. Her inaugural 2018 album Mother of My Children threads messages of grief—both for the death of her personal mentor and the ongoing loss of land and life by Native Americans—through dreamy, sorrowful melodies. Black Belt Eagle Scout’s vocals seem perfect for the intimate wooded settings unique to Pickathon—don’t miss out. (Fri Aug 2 at Lucky Barn, 4:20-5:20 pm; Sun Aug 4 at Treeline Stage, 3:10-4:10 pm) ALEX ZIELINSKI


Sneaks Stephanie Severance

Sneaks

Are you gonna bliss out or are you gonna jump to the charming, nerdy bedroom hip-hop from DC producer Eva Moolchan? Her 2019 project Highway Hypnosis has the finicky basement creative energy of early Deerhoof and the preternatural rhythm intuition of uh, Girl Talk? It goes down smooth. Moolchan’s vocals utilize imperfections and loop them, hitting on one of experimental music’s best kept secrets. Play something weird? Play it again. (Fri Aug 2 at Woods Stage, 7:40-8:40 pm; Sat Aug 3 at Galaxy Barn, 6:40-7:40 pm) SUZETTE SMITH

Phil Lesh and the Terrapin Family Band

The folks behind Pickathon did a great service when they held off revealing they had booked Phil Lesh and the Terrapin Family Band for this year’s fest. Otherwise, the bulk of the tickets would have immediately been snapped up by the region’s many Grateful Dead fans looking to relive the jam band’s glory days. The enthusiasm of the Deadheads is understandable, though, especially when it comes to Lesh, the group’s former bassist. His approach to the Dead’s back catalog is far humbler, stripping the songs down to the studs and rebuilding them with a mind toward their springy grooves and tangy pop elements. That leaves plenty of space for knotty guitar solos and extemporaneous leaps into covers of R&B favorites and rock classics. And if his set and his fans wind up annoying the hipster element of Pickathon’s pass holders... even better. (Thurs Aug 1 at Mt. Hood Stage, 8:10-9:50 pm; Fri Aug 2 at Woods Stage, 9:20 pm-12:20 am) ROBERT HAM

Miya Folick

Indie-pop singer/songwriter Miya Folick is all about creating a world where connection, empathy, and compassion are the norm. (And by the way, she also dropped a song called “God Is a Woman” well before Ariana Grande made her hit.) On “Stop Talking,” the lead single from her 2018 album Premonitions, Folick’s smart and catchy lyrics (“Stop talking about that boy”) become an up-tempo pop anthem with a message that’s also worth repeating. That Premonitions is made from real acoustic instruments (instead of samples) is indicative of the quality of her live show. Her set at the magical Woods Stage will be one for the books. (Sat Aug 3 at Woods Stage, 4:20-5:20 pm; Sun Aug 4 at Galaxy Barn, 1:40-2:40 pm) JENNI MOORE

Virginia Wing

Virginia Wing might be the most incongruous group at this year’s Pickathon. The Manchester duo’s entirely futuristic and unabashedly feminist approach to synth-pop stands as a stark contrast against both the backward-glancing Americana and the brutalist punk/metal/rock that makes up the bulk of the 2019 lineup. This is a group that, when frustrated with the hyper-masculine fans of their tour mates Hookworms, played in front of a projection that read “End Rape Culture,” sending the bros in the audience into spasms of anger. Their tightly intertwined art and politics is fully evident on their latest album, Ecstatic Arrow, on which frontwoman Alice Merida Richards sings of the pain women suffer and inflict on themselves, and the world’s indifference to their struggles. “Keep it together/Sisters with a broken heart,” she sings on the slowly twisting “A Sister.” “’Cause we are together/Every step and fatal path.” (Fri Aug 2 at Starlight Stage, 1:05-2 am; Sun Aug 4 at Lucky Barn, 4:20-5:20 pm) ROBERT HAM

Viagra Boys

The smart alecks in Viagra Boys specialize in a sleazy, sax-enhanced brand of post-punk that seems to have been crafted with only the grimiest basement shows in mind. On their debut LP Street Worms, the Stockholm band conjures the aural equivalent of a miasmic swelter, that special kind of midnight heat only packed and throbbing bodies can muster. It’s party music for mutants, and frontman Sebastian Murphy is a master ringleader in the tradition of Nick Cave—all feral rants and rough growls bent on repelling the society of squares living in the light. The band’s winking play with hypermasculinity (the band name, the gimmicky “Sports”) isn’t exactly subversive or clever or new, but Murphy has a knack for drilling down to the filthy facts of life that are this polite world’s true rulers: secret sex, worm-eaten corpses, shitty drugs, the creeps who always sit in the back. Viagra Boys know who we are, and they know what we crave. (Fri Aug 2 at Galaxy Barn, 1:20-2:20 am; Sat Aug 3 at Woods Stage, 6-7 pm) CHRIS STAMM

Ora Cogan

If you’re searching for real magic in our mundane world, look no further than spooky Canadian folk singer Ora Cogan’s live shows. Not only is she adept at recreating the experimental and psychedelic elements of her records, but Cogan’s commanding stage presence holds her audience in a palpable power. After building her catalog for more than a decade, tracks like “Witch” from her 2017 project Crickets feel like Cogan finally stepping onto a mountaintop to do big magic. (Thurs Aug 1 at Treeline Stage, 4:50-5:50 pm; Fri Aug 2 at Lucky Barn, 7:40-8:40 pm) SUZETTE SMITH

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Preservation Hall Jazz Band Josh Goleman

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

The nearly 50-year-old Preservation Hall Jazz Band embodies the best part of New Orleans’ slightly sloshy French Quarter: the music. A cornerstone of the city’s traditional jazz scene, Preservation Hall’s upbeat, brassy tunes sound plucked from a Frenchmen Street second line procession. So It Is (2017), the septet’s second album containing all-original melodies, infuses the band’s historic jazz tunes with Afro-Cuban beats, adding to Preservation Hall’s magical ability to transform melodies into a layered history of New Orleans. This might be your only chance to see NOLA’s finest jazz band in the middle of a dusty Oregon farm. What are you waiting for? (Fri Aug 2 at Starlight Stage, 10:15-11:10 pm; Sat Aug 3 at Mt. Hood Stage, 5:30-6:30 pm) ALEX ZIELINSKI

Karma Rivera

While previous years have boasted acts like Mic Capes, the Last Artful, Dodgr, Myke Bogan, and Rasheed Jamal, Portland-based rapper Karma Rivera is basically the only full-blown hip-hop artist playing Pickathon 2019. Rivera is known for her rousing live shows, lovingly aggro stage presence, nasal-forward delivery, and of course, “Tacos y Tequila.” Having released her debut EP Don’t Sleep on This last year, the MC has been hard at work dropping music videos and singles like “Not Yours,” “Everybody’s Watchin’,” and “A Game.” For her Friday set at Lucky Barn, Rivera will be joined by guitarist/journalist Fabi Reyna of She Shreds magazine. (Fri at Lucky Barn, 1-2 pm; Sun at Galaxy Barn noon-1 pm) JENNI MOORE