Today we've got a special guest post from Seattle-based New Belgium-er Todd Gillman. Todd teamed up with our friends (and Fort Collins band) You Me and Apollo at this year's Doe Bay Fest to host an intimate show on Washington's beautiful Orcas Island. Watch the video, and peep Todd's words below.
Much has been written about the annual Doe Bay Music Festival, where, each August for the past 7 years a small throng of music lovers makes a pilgrimage of sorts to Washington’s idyllic Orcas Island. Doe Bay Resort’s rocky coves and expansive Puget Sound vistas provide the stunning visual backdrop for 4 days of amazing live music. Past performers include Built To Spill, The Head & The Heart, Blitzen Trapper, Damien Jurado, Pickwick, Bobby Bare Jr., and many more. Many DBF vets will plan their summer vacations around the festival, often building-in extra days on the front and back ends, but it’s not just the bands and performances that keep people coming back year after year. For one thing, the San Juan Island archipelago, with its deep emerald green waters and rugged, cliff studded coastlines will always be a visually arresting and magical escape from the mainland. But the San Juans in August is the epitome of the good life, as reliable warm sunny days give way to cool misty nights, making for perfect camping, which is the preferred mode of accommodation at DBF. The resort itself is small and dotted with sections of woods and meadows, limiting the available amount of festival space, so the event itself is always an intimate affair, where you may find yourself walking down a narrow footpath with Doug Martsch from Built To Spill, or sitting on a rock outcropping staring at a jaw-dropping view while a cellist serenades the Puget Sound sunset. While there’s always tons of kids and families at the festival, we’ve come to think of DBF as “summer camp for adults,” a place where Seattle’s urban creative class can slow down and kind of get back to nature, collectively, as intimate live performances form the soundtrack. “Intimate” is the key word here. Everything about the festival is intentionally small, which creates a sense of camaraderie and blurs the normal lines between artists and fans. This also creates a challenge for people trying to get festival passes, which sell out notoriously fast. New Belgium has been super fortunate and grateful to be DBF’s craft beer of choice for the last 5 years, because honestly, we’re not sure that our summer would be complete without this annual pilgrimage!
For the last couple years we’ve organized and hosted “tiny adventures” in the morning hours before the music begins in earnest on the main stage. We usually combine something active to help clean out the cobwebs from the night before, with something educational because we’re curious people and we’re visitors on the island, and we’ll throw in some of our delicious beer for good measure. For the intrepid souls who’ve gone out on a limb and have shown up early in the morning, bleary-eyed and confused, these activities have proven year after year to be an unexpected festival highlight. This year we once again led a hike through the old growth forest to the mountaintop vistas of Moran State Park, and a bike tour out to Buck Bay Shellfish farm for a tour and a seafood ‘n beer brunch. This year, we also wanted to add another element of awesome to our tiny adventures. In keeping with the musical vibe of the festival, we wanted to host a private set for the bike ‘n brunch crew. Naturally, we wanted to work with our beer-loving, Fort Collins-based band pals You Me And Apollo, who blew minds at DBF 2013, and who were invited back to play the Main Stage in 2014. These guys were a pleasure to work with and they put on one of our favorite performances of the entire weekend... as unplugged and as “intimate” as it gets!
Cheers — Nic