Stepping back onto Pendarvis Farm for the return of Pickathon last year—after two years without—felt like a return to happiness. We went bright-eyed about the line-up, the landscape, and the lunch options—not to mention memories of idyllic, mysteriously-appearing communal hammocks, streetwise busking children, and the festival's new wellness expansion. It did not disappoint.

The first year back was not without its hiccups, though much of them seemed beyond the organizers' control. Parking miscalculations and a punishing 99-degree day took a little glimmer off the majestic natural world of Pendarvis Farm. However, this year, Pickathon promises the parking situation is sorted, and the forecast looks no higher than 90. The music line-up is as surprising and varied as we've come to expect, crossing mediums and cultures to bring fans the best music to vibe to under the pines. Here are some of our picks for Pickathon 2023:

Related: Photo Essay: Pickathon 2022 in Pictures

Lee Fields

A one-hour set isn’t nearly long enough to span the 50-year career of Lee Fields, but I suppose it’ll do. The artist has been dubbed “Little JB,’ due to his influence by and resemblance to James Brown. In 2022, Fields released his most recent full-length, and the whole thing is excellent from front to back. Look for highlights like “Forever,” “Just Give Me Your Time,” and the ultra-funky “Two Jobs,” in which he intros with a couple of James Brown-informed Uh! adlibs, and relatably sings “I’m so tired, when the day is done/ I’m working’ two jobs, getting’ paid for one.” We're also hoping to hear classics like “Ladies,” “and “Snakes,” as well as just-released singles “Waiting On the Sidelines,” and “You Can Count On Me.” (Fri Aug 4, 9-10 pm at Woods Stage; Sat Aug 5, 9-10pm at Cherry Hill Stage) JENNI MOORE


American hardcore is alive and well. GEL have helped build a scene in New Jersey, but extensive touring and a new record, Only Constant, are quickly pushing the five-piece on to the national stage. It doesn’t hurt that the songs fully rip with minute-long bursts of riffage and rage. But their music isn’t just unhinged chaos, instead vocalist Sami Kaiser delivers controlled screams about finding place in an unraveling world. Riffs are airtight and memorable. GEL has also created catharsis for outcasts and marginalized folks, carrying in the tradition of hardcore bands of yore, but at a time when it’s perhaps more important than ever. (Sat Aug 5, 9-10 pm at Galaxy Barn; Sun Aug 6, 4-5 pm at Grove) MARK LORE


The food, not the band. While the main draw to Pickathon will always be its masterful music curation (not to mention the Curation series), the food carts are always slamming pretty hard too. This year delicious Portland dining destinations like Kachka Lavka and Nacheaux PDX join the court. And the eyebrow-raising (you can do all this in the forest?) Obo Shokudo, Smoke & Brine, and P & Qs Market return, among other excellent spots. But what's this Tots!? Scratch-made, golfball-sized taters from Bend (via Boring) that are fried to order? We don't know what parts of their menu will be on offer—do we dare to dream of the Tots!-urrito?—but can basically guarantee one or more of us will be including this in our recap. SUZETTE SMITH


Introduction, the 1972 debut album from Witch, only hints at the band’s Zambian roots. Mostly, it shows they were astute followers of British and American rock ’n’ roll—namely the Stones, and any band that appeared on a Nuggets comp. That said, Witch ranked right up there with some of the best American garage rock, like the Monks and the Seeds, while creating their own “Zamrock” movement in Africa. Over the past decade, reissues of their early output have drawn plenty of new ears, which is why original member Emanuel “Jagari” Chanda continues to keep Witch (We Intend To Cause Havoc) on the road with a new band of crack musicians. (Sat Aug 5, 3:30-5 pm Curation, Sat Aug 5, 7-8 pm at the Woods Stage, Sun Aug 6 10-11 pm at the Paddock) ML


Thee Sinseers

Colemine Records can do no wrong, and might currently boast one of the most cohesive and stellar rosters of artists this side of Daptone. Among the label’s artists—the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio and Ghost Funk Orchestra, to name a couple—are Thee Sinseers, which are immediately recognizable as Colemine, but making soul jazz music that embraces East L.A.’s Chicano culture. The group is led by Joseph Quińones, and has released a handful of killer 45s built on ‘60s soul, with loads of call-and-response vocals, reverbed guitars, and tight beats. Made for dance floors. (Thurs Aug 3, 11 pm-midnight at Galaxy Barn; Fri Aug 4, 11 pm-midnight at Cherry Hill) ML

Biking / Shuttling

Not a music pick, but it you really hated last year's parking, consider our friend the bicycle. The route out to Happy Valley is predominantly flat terrain and (depending where you kick off from) much of it follows the enduringly pleasant Springwater Corridor. Approaching the farm, you'll run into a couple hills that demand determination and unfortunately they've also historically been paired with a lack of road shoulder, so—if that sounds creepy—you may want to link up with the abundant group rides planned for this year. The hourly shuttle that cycles between the festival, three nearby Clackamas hotels, and the Lents Town Center / Foster MAX stop is another solution. This year, a shuttle pass will set you back $50, but that's about the cost of one ride share trip. Not a bad deal. And speaking of ride shares, there's a dedicated pickup and drop off area for those willing to fork over the scrill, but no amount of money can silence your Lyft driver's thoughts on antifa. SS

Say She She

Does anyone else miss the ’90s, when you couldn’t swing a purse without smacking a pop or R&B singing group? Brooklyn-based singing trio Say She She is what we need more of in today’s music climate: Spice Girl vibes and tight, crystal-clear harmonies. The group makes a cool blend of “discodelic soul,” performs with a 7+piece band, and takes staunchly feminist stances in their lyrics. Their sound has a dreamy, eclectic vibe, likely due to the different cultural and musical backgrounds of the three lead singers. It’s the kind of eclecticism that makes them the perfect act for Pickathon, which pulls a crowd with increasingly wide-ranging music tastes. The trio is made up of founding members Piya Malik and Sabrina Cunningham, later joined by Nya Gazelle Brown. Their midnight Pickathon set on Saturday is sure to culminate in an epic dance party. (Thurs Aug 3, 7-8 pm at Cherry Hill; Fri Aug 4, 9-10 pm at Curation; Fri Aug 4, midnight-1 am at Paddock) JM

Butcher Brown

Fans of the Roots’ catalog will enjoy stumbling upon the likes of this eclectic group, which makes an exceedingly enjoyable blend of jazz, hip-hop and funk. The band includes drummer Corey Fonville, multi-instrumentalist DJ Harrison, bassist Andrew Randazzo, trumpeter / saxophonist MC Marcus “Tennishu” Tenney, and guitarist Morgan Burrs. MC Tennishu’s delivery and cadence are a throwback to emcees like Notorious BIG—in fact, the band has released more than one BIG cover in the last few years. This October, the group will drop their forthcoming album Solar Music, which has a 20-song track list, so you never know; Pickathon might just provide a platform for the band to reveal a sneak peak of what’s on there. But if that doesn’t happen, listeners will be just as happy vibing out to tracks from their 2022 deconstruction of big band jazz and hip-hop, Butcher Brown Presents Triple Trey. (Sat Aug 5, 3-4pm at Windmill; Sun Aug 6, 10-11:30 am at Curation; Sun Aug 6, midnight-1am at Paddock) JM

Orchestra Gold

Mariam Diakite resides in Oakland, but her soul belongs in the West African country of Mali. She teaches Mailian swing dance, but currently put that on hold to front Orchestra Gold, which sets lyrics (sung in Bambara) and dance from Mali to heavy psych and funk. At first listen, one might hear similarities to Mdou Moctar, who hails from Mali’s neighboring country of Niger. And there is plenty of guitar shredding from Erich Huffaker, but the horns and rhythm section keep the music from completely flying off the rails. The group’s latest record Medicine captures it perfectly, but live is where it needs to be experienced. (Fri Aug 4, 11 am-noon at Windmill; Sat Aug 5, 4-5 pm at Grove) ML

Meridian Brothers

Hovering just below the surface of synths, electronics and blown-out guitars, lies the true roots of Meridian Brothers. Led by multi-instrumentalist Eblis Álvarez, the Columbian collective don’t lose sight of traditional elements of cumbia and tropicalia. The exploration of new sounds is equally matched by Álvarez’s obsession with shedding light on the music from his own country and throughout South America. His mad-scientist tendencies have led to a string of fantastic records that toggle between his country’s past, future sounds, and even fiction. It’s dance music for smarty pants and weirdos. (Fri Aug 4, 10-11 pm at Paddock; Sat Aug 5, 5-6 pm at Woods Stage) ML


Coyote Neighborhood

There’s a ton going on in Coyote, the kids neighborhood, this year. In addition to the usual accommodations like daycare and breastfeeding support, tomorrow's music makers can enjoy meet-ups, sing-alongs, and kid-focused performances with Friends of Noise, Nikki Brown Clown, soul singer Arietta Ward, and (of course) Red Yarn. The latter is one of the most stereotypically Pickathon-y artists on this bill—in a good way. Texas-born, Oregon-raised Andy Furgeson is the driver behind Red Yarn Productions, a children’s musical puppet show wherein Fergeson play a mixture of folk, rock’n’roll, blues, and country music. Pickathon tots in attendance will most certainly be into development-minded original tunes like “Clap Your Hands,” and other songs like “Ain't Gonna Rain,” “My Own Backyard,” “Deep Woods Revival,” and “Wake Up, ” which will feel all too-appropriate for the 10 am Sunday set in the middle of the woodsy Pendarvis farm. (Check out the full family programming lineup.) JM