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March 7 - 10 Sees South Oregon Coast Clambake Music Fest Blow It Up in North Bend

Published 2/22/24 at 2:55 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(North Bend, Oregon) – In early March, late winter on the south Oregon coast gets downright searing hot with the South Coast Clambake Music Festival. Not about food, however, the deliciousness here is in the tunes: a mixed bag of Jazz, some forms of bluesy rock, soul and bits of Americana. (Photo courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast)

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Going March 7 through 10 at the Mill Casino in North Bend, what started out in the '80s as a Dixieland fest has greatly expanded its musical palate over the decades. All four days are jam-packed with musical acts and – get this – dance lessons. You can sharpen your skills for public display at this fest of copious gigs by learning more about the foxtrot, rumba, waltz, the Electric Slide and more.

Tunes start at 6 p.m. on Thursday, at 10 a.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Cost for all-day badges vary from $40 to $70. It all takes place at the Mill Casino Hotel and RV Park. See the Clambake Music Festival website for full information.

Among the names performing this year are Alpha Rhythm Kings, PDX Hustle, Danielle Kelly Soul Project, Dave Bennett Quartet, Shaymus Hanlin Quartet, The Throttles, Gino & The Lone Gunmen, Jason Thomas featuring Rae Gordon, Good Co., Pony Creek Band and Ocean Blvd.

Shaymus Hanlin

Created in 1988, it was known as the South Coast Dixieland Clambake Festival for quite awhile, later changing to the South Coast Clambake Music Festival. Originally, it set itself with the task of preserving Dixieland jazz in this part of the south Oregon coast. Eventually it opened up to include more forms of jazz and changed its name a couple of times. It was also started as a means to boost tourism revenue in the area as other industries began their decline, taking the name “clambake” from one of the bands that started it and because this was traditionally a term for a smokin' music gig.

This festival has become quite the tradition for the Coos Bay / Charleston / North Bend area. Oregon's Adventure Coast executive director Janice Langlinais said it's a major highlight just before spring.

“The South Coast Clambake Music Festival has graced stages in our area for 33 years,” Langlinais said. “It brings a variety of American music to the coast, from Jazz, to Big Band, to 50's Rock, Swing, and Doo-Wop. Visitors travel from far and wide to listen to the music on four stages at The Mill Casino * Hotel & RV Park and dancing is a must.”

While it's not a culinary festival you may not have to worry about good eats.

"Interesting fact: a 'clambake' is an old musical term for a jam session,” she told Oregon Coast Beach Connection. “So, I hate to disappoint folks but there will not be actual clams baked at this event, though The Mill serves a really great clam chowder in Timbers Cafe."

The second weekend of March was always picked because there was little else going on then, and it's managed to bring in folks.

About some of the bands:

Seattle's five-piece Good Co is a new, very modern take on the age of flappers with funk backbeats and electrified instruments. Think hip hop meets the Gatsby's.

Danielle Kelly Soul Project brings on the funk and the jazzy vibes, and Kelly herself is found hosting a music show on Jefferson Public Radio.

Shaymus Hanlin Quartet is based out of Portland, Oregon, featuring Hanlin's silky smooth vocals and a wide variety of influences as he belts out jazz stylings with a very personal slant.

Alpha Rhythm Kings are a funky roots fave that puts a new spin on known tunes, like the swing version of “Sharp Dressed Man” from ZZ Top. It's a sound that's taken them all over the world.

The PDX Hustle's Ben Rice is steeped in the blues traditions yet manages his own takes on the genre. He's often called “fearless,” “inventive” and “powerful,” and as comfortable behind his electric rig as he is doing a solo acoustic stint. The band is an expansion of the trio he's been performing with for the last decade.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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