By Ann Powers
For the TODAY
Cold weather got you down? Bad case of the post-holiday blues?
Then sit down and melt those demons away at the Nehalem Winterfest 2018 music festival this weekend at the newly remodeled Nehalem Performing Arts Center.
In what organizers are confident will become an annual tradition, the three-day festival features top-notch talent. For the Friday, Feb. 2, kick-off, Castletown, a self-described “AmeriCeltic” band, is set to get toes tapping by opening for Irish fiddle virtuoso Kevin Burke — a recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
As the weekend continues, Terry Robb, voted best acoustic guitarist in Portland 19 times, will grace the stage. One of Oregon’s most popular bands, Quarterflash, creators of the 1980 hit “Harden My Heart,” will also be on hand for an “unplugged” performance. The festivities wrap up Sunday with Motown jazz royalty — Mel Brown and the Mel Brown Quartet.
“We’re getting so much great feedback about the stellar line up we have,” said David Wiegan, executive director of North County Recreation District, which operates the Nehalem Performing Arts Center. “We don’t have any doubt it will be an annual event. NCRD’s goal is to offer more quality entertainment for locals and visitors on a year-round basis.”
But, music lovers aren’t the only ones to benefit. Nehalem Winterfest was also developed with local merchants in mind that may be suffering during the tourism off season.
“We’re very much aware of businesses that struggle to make it through the thin months,” Wiegan added. “It’s an ongoing issue up and down the coast. This will help fill up the town, the restaurants and the hotels. It’s a very viable event.”
“[Winterfest] is putting the Transient Lodging Tax to work for the community,” said Nan Devlin, tourism director, for Visit Tillamook Coast, one of the event’s sponors. “NCRD is really becoming a vital part of the community and surrounding areas… bringing in people that will make the center a star attraction in the region.”
And, the Winterfest performers are looking forward to getting on stage in the cozy coastal community.
“We have what I would call a love affair with the coast,” said Castletown guitarist Robert Richter. “It’s important for us to come to the community and contribute.”
Other musicians agreed, saying summertime isn’t the only time to take a road trip to the Pacific Northwest.
“It’s great to play on the coast,” Terry Robb said. “It’s nice to do something in the winter months, so people don’t have to wait until the summer to hear live music.”
All performances will be held at the NCRD Performing Arts Center, located at 36155 9th Street in Nehalem. Tickets are available in advance at www.tickettomato.com, from 8 am to 5:30 pm Monday through Friday at the NCRD Welcome Center, or on the door.
Friday, Feb. 2, 7:30 pm
Recently completing an Ireland tour, the Irish fiddle virtuoso has been called a “superior instrumentalist” by the New York Times, and “the high spot of the Irish musical scene” by the Irish Times. Opening for Burke will be Castletown, bringing a completely dance-able, unique and high energy “AmeriCeltic” fiddle, guitar and drums blend to the scene.
Advance tickets: $18 general admission or $23 reserved seating
$23 on the door.
Saturday, Feb. 3, 1:30 pm
Robb’s music has been on a Grammy-nominated album and he has shared a stage with B.B. King, Canned Heat, Joe Cocker, Steve Miller and Robert Cray.
Advance tickets: $8 general admission or $13 reserved seating.
$13 on the door.
Saturday, Feb. 3, 7:30 pm
The Portland-based group’s hit “Harden My Heart” reached #3 in the U.S. and they’ve had both gold- and platinum-selling albums. The band has toured with Elton John, Linda Ronstadt and co-wrote music with Burt Bacharach.
Advance tickets: $28 general admission or $33 reserved seating.
$33 on the door.
Mel Brown Quartet
Sunday, Feb. 4, 2 pm
Brown will be joined by his talented quartet — keyboardist Tony Pacini, guitarist Dan Balmer and bassist Ed Bennett. Brown played on hundreds of Motown recordings and toured with Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye and Martha and the Vandellas.
Advance tickets: $13 general admission or $18 reserved seating.
$18 on the door.