Steamboat Island isn’t known for its boisterous antics, but that changes every spring as it bursts with a variety of melodies. The fifth-annual Steamboat Stringband Jamboree, occurring the last day of May and first day of June, is hosted by Olympia bands The Oly Mountain Boys and The Pine Hearts. The jamboree’s a celebration of acoustic music itself.
“All the great Northwest string bands come together for this small intimate festival,” said The Pine Hearts guitarist and vocalist Joe Capoccia. “It’s put on by musicians who are friends of other musicians. All the musicians are basically inviting their friends’ bands.”
Attendees can expect two days of live music with 20 bands, two stages and the opportunity to camp out while enjoying local beers, crafts and foods from local vendors. The festival doubles as a benefit for Arbutus Folk School.
The idea for the festival was born six years ago, when The Oly Mountain Boys and The Pine Hearts put on a one-day festival. Usually limited to small, bar shows, the bands found greater freedom on outdoor stages.
“It’s nice to have something outdoors,” said Capoccia, “that we can control a little bit more and have families come so it’s not always a 21-plus thing.” It was after the success of this initial “mini-festival” that the bands decided they’d like to go bigger. The following spring, a similar but two-day jamboree took place on Steamboat Island. The festival has been going strong every year since.
The Oly Mountain Boys and The Pine Hearts have been friends for years, since long before they created the festival. Their signature musical (and sometimes food-fueled) celebrations are a result of creative relationships with roots in acoustic tunes. “The acoustic music community in Olympia is kind of small,” said Capoccia, “which is why I think we all become friends and get to know each other.”
Steamboat Stringband Jamboree is the culmination of a tight-knit community of acoustic musicians with the goal of growing their small scene into something larger. For local music lovers, it’s the perfect opportunity to hang with cool artists.
“Attendees will have the chance the see these bands up close and casual before they hit the road for the big festival season,” said Capoccia, “and for a cheaper ticket price.”
Steamboat Island Jamboree
3701 Steamboat Loop NW, Olympia
Times TBA, Friday and Saturday, May 31 and June 1
Free – $52.74 (weekend-camping pass $16.52)