HAILU MERGIA Piotr Gruchal

CUT WORMS

Max Clarke sounds like a lost Everly Brother. It’s spooky! He must’ve done some witch a favor to get a voice that smooth. Clarke records echo-ey midcentury folk ballads under the moniker Cut Worms, which comes from a line in the William Blake poem “Proverbs of Hell” (“the cut worm forgives the plow”). His 2017 debut EP Alien Sunset is spectacular, especially the track “Like Going Down Sideways”—although it contains my least favorite instrument (the cursed xylophone), there’s also a gently cascading guitar riff, honeyed Fab Four harmonies, and lyrics repeated like lovesick mantras (“You never had a dream/You never had a love, it seemed”). Clarke repurposed some of the Alien Sunset songs for his twangy debut LP Hollow Ground, released by Jagjaguwar in May. It doesn’t have the grainy beauty of the EP—everything sounds very shiny—but hopefully Clarke strips his doo-wop down for Pickathon, where he will play inside two different barns (perhaps he’s a vampire). CIARA DOLAN Saturday at the Galaxy Barn, 1:40-2:40 pm; Sunday at the Lucky Barn, 2:40-3:40 pm


DANIEL NORGREN

Daniel Norgren is a musical wizard. The prolific Swedish singer/songwriter (who made his American debut at Pickathon 2016) leaves listeners awestruck and hopelessly obsessed with his heartfelt folk. With lyrics like delicately painted natural landscapes, some songs breathe with the swelling of reverb, pierced by Norgren’s crackling voice, while others rocket up treacherous mountainsides with feverish, bluesy twang. One thing you can guarantee of his set: Every song will be a little bit unexpected and a little bit magical, especially since they’ll be played within the real-life summery snow globe that is Pendarvis Farm. BRI BREY Saturday at the Woods Stage, 6-7 pm; Sunday at the Mount Hood Stage, 5:30-6:30 pm


HAILU MERGIA

Ethiopian keyboardist Hailu Mergia’s long musical path has included a few interesting detours. Mergia got his start as part of Walias Band in the early ’70s, playing epic all-night performances for folks holed up in clubs to avoid Ethiopia’s strict curfews. In 1981 Walias Band tried to make it in the US, but success eluded them. While some members returned home, Mergia stayed in America, driving a taxi and composing music on a portable keyboard in the backseat. Earlier this year the septuagenarian released Lala Belu, his first album in more than two decades. It’s a wonderfully groovy set of low-key jazz punctuated by tasteful keys. The record is far more fleshed out than Mergia’s recently reissued 1985 debut, on which he plays keyboard and accordion over Casio beats. No matter what Mergia records, the results are always the same: a keen sense of groove that sounds decades ahead of its time. MARK LORE Friday at the Mount Hood Stage, 3:50-4:50 pm; Sunday at the Starlight Stage, 10:15-11:10 pm


HALEY HEYNDERICKX

Since releasing her already beloved debut LP I Need to Start a Garden in March, Haley Heynderickx has toured the world and played at NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest tour. Now she’s coming home to Portland for two valiant sets at Pendarvis Farm, which is probably the ideal setting for her tender (and sometimes whimsical) folk songs about bugs, God, and the desire to plant things that will grow. CD Saturday at the Lucky Barn, 2:40-3:40 pm; Sunday at the Woods Stage, 6-7 pm


HARAM

Based out of NYC, Haram (which means “forbidden” in Arabic) is a rarity these days: a truly pioneering punk act. They pair bracing hardcore with the charged vocals of frontman Nader Habibi, who sings in Arabic and was raised in a Muslim home in New York by parents who fled the Lebanese Civil War in the ’80s. The band’s volatile combination of words and sounds earned its 2017 album “When You Have Won, You Have Lost” nearly universal praise. It also earned them a visit from New York’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. BEN SALMON Friday at the Treeline Stage, 6:30-7:30 pm; Saturday at the Galaxy Barn, 6:40-7:40 pm


RASHEED JAMAL

Rasheed Jamal is one of Portland’s most talented and visible hip-hop artists. As one-third of the Resistance crew (along with solo rappers Mic Capes and Glenn Waco), Jamal is known for spitting bars a mile a minute, constantly switching up his flow, and making keen observations about society and his surrounding environment. Last year, he released his fifth project Indigo Child (U Ain’t the Only One!), and standouts include “Pause for the Cause (Bounce),” the speedy “Muddy Waters,” the mellower “FWM,” “Prodigy Knows Best” (an homage to the late Prodigy), and “Never Die Alone,” which samples Nina Simone’s “Be My Husband.” Jamal’s most recent single, “Love Is the Highest Religion,” is really icy—the recording might give you goose bumps, but onstage is where Jamal’s star shines the brightest. JENNI MOORE Thursday at the Galaxy Barn, 10-11 pm; Sunday at the Treeline Stage, 3:10-4:10 pm


KARL BLAU

Anacortes musician Karl Blau has been a fixture of the Pacific Northwest music scene for two decades, with a sprawling discography of releases on Knw-Yr-Own Records, K Records, and through his own subscription service, Kelp Lunacy Advanced Plagiarism Society. A producer and collaborator who’s helped shape the sound of the region’s independent music, Blau has also ventured into the spotlight with two recent albums on London-based Bella Union: 2016’s ironically titled Introducing Karl Blau, which found Blau lending his warm, affectionate voice to 10 charming covers, accompanied by members of Olympia band Lake and an all-star roster of Portland talent. Blau’s second album for Bella Union, November’s Out Her Space, more amply covers the polyglot’s eclecticism, with tinges of folk, country, soul, bossa nova, highlife, and more, including a dope cover of Aphrodite’s Child’s oracular, magnificent “Valley of Sadness,” transposing the rocky, mystic peaks and gorges of that band’s Greek homeland for the Pacific Northwest’s own pine-covered Olympus. NED LANNAMANN Saturday at the Woods Stage, 2:40-3:40 pm; Sunday at the Galaxy Barn, 8:20-9:20 pm


KIKAGAKU MOYO

Japanese band Kikagaku Moyo understands the power of the heavy psychedelic riff—their live performances often feature igneous jams of fuzzed-out guitar and cyclonic drumbeats. But they also know how to contrast these explosive moments with pastoral tranquility, something that comes across marvelously on their recordings. Their 2016 full-length, House in the Tall Grass, features candlelit jams and gently propulsive motorik patterns, and their 2017 EP, Stone Garden, is characterized by its musical experiments in thaumaturgy alongside more conventional material. Expect their Pickathon sets to run a full range of dynamics, from thunderous fury to Garden of Eden serenity. NL Friday at the Starlight Stage, 11:40 pm-12:35 am; Saturday at the Galaxy Barn, 5-6 pm


SHAKEY GRAVES

In December, Alejandro Rose-Garcia told his fans to sell their suspenders. For followers of the folksy, cowboy-booted Austin musician, who goes by the moniker Shakey Graves, the message could only mean one thing: a genre change. On his new album Can’t Wake Up, Rose-Garcia elevates his classic guitar-strumming twang with electric, dreamy pop melodies. It’s too early to tell if this Texas crooner (who was also your favorite love interest on Friday Night Lights) has truly sworn off suspenders, but he’s certainly added a leather jacket and maybe a glow stick headband to his look. ALEX ZIELINSKI Saturday at the Mount Hood Stage, 8:50-9:50 pm; Sunday at the Galaxy Barn, 1:20-2:20 am


TINARIWEN

It’s a welcome return to Pendarvis Farm for the long-running Northern Mali Tuareg collective Tinariwen. The band last journeyed to Pickathon in 2015 and proceeded to mesmerize audiences with rebellious, guitar-forward rock ’n’ roll jams that take enchanted twists and turns. Tinariwen formed in Algeria in 1979, and it’s definitely worth researching the group’s legacy, but suffice it to say that their Grammy Award-winning catalog is rife with arresting instrumentals that conjure the desert blues. RYAN J. PRADO Thursday at the Mount Hood Stage, 8:50-9:50 pm; Friday at the Treeline Stage, 10-11:10 pm


WAND

It wouldn’t be Pickathon without sun-scorched garage rock, and Los Angeles’ Wand have already proven their ability to hypnotize the crowds at Pendarvis Farm with their delightfully warped psychedelia. The band pulled double duty in 2015, when they tore through two sets of their own and then provided backing for Ty Segall. The following year, frontman Cory Hanson and drummer Evan Burrows returned to the farm to round out Segall’s supergroup the Muggers. Watching Wand play songs from their new EP Perfume at the picturesque Treeline Stage on Saturday night should be the quintessential Pickathon experience. CHIPP TERWILLIGER Saturday at the Treeline Stage, 8:10-9:10 pm; Sunday at the Mt. Hood Stage, 3:50-4:50 pm


JAMILA WOODS

My introduction to Jamila Woods came through her work with longtime collaborator Chance the Rapper on his Coloring Book track “Blessings,” but the soul singer (who hails from the south side of Chicago) is also instantly recognizable on Macklemore’s “White Privilege II,” in which she sings, “Your silence is a luxury/Hip-hop is not a luxury.” In 2016 Woods signed to Closed Sessions and released her studio debut HEAVN to critical acclaim. Throughout the album, Woods wields her soft, raspy voice with ease and precision; it vibes like a soundtrack to your self-care Sunday, but her lyrics often turn easily digestible R&B into protest music. Highlights include “Holy,” an ode to being alone; “LSD,” another gorgeous Chance the Rapper collaboration that’s dedicated to their hometown; “Blk Girl Soldier,” which discusses the persisting beauty and strength of Black women throughout their historical and present-day struggle; and the guitar-driven “Stellar.” Recordings of Woods’ live performances should solidify your plans to see at least one of her sets this weekend. JM Saturday at the Starlight Stage, 11:40 pm-12:35 am; Sunday at the Treeline Stage, 10-11:10 pm