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Coos Bay-Area's Clambake Jazz Festival Makes Energetic Return to South Oregon Coast

Published 02/21/23 at 7:39 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Coos Bay-Area's Clambake Jazz Festival Makes Bigtime Return to South Oregon Coast

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(North Bend, Oregon) – Let the music begin again.

There's a collective sigh of relief among south Oregon coast fans of jazz, as well as those elsewhere in the state, as a veritable institution of the genre returns after being canceled again and again for the last three years. The Coos Bay area's South Coast Clambake Music Festival is back with loads of jazz, blues and some '50s rock, running March 10 – 12 this year. (Photo courtesy Clambake Music Festival)

There's plenty of sizzling going on, but it's of the musical kind and not the culinary: “clambake” in this sense refers to a smokin' hot jam session and not putting clams on the griddle. Does this confuse people, especially being an Oregon coast gig? Maybe some at first, but longtime fans are aplenty and they know, to the tune of hundreds each year filling the Mill Casino in North Bend. It's a tradition that goes back to 1988.

You can also learn swing dancing at various classes. See the schedule.

It's the first of the first-class shindig since 2019, with 2020's annual event falling in the March that everything shut down due to COVID. 2021 and 2022's installment both got the gong after initial announcements of a return and then some new pandemic surge hit.

This year, however, promises to be a hit, as the (Oregon) coast is clear for fun times.

Photo courtesy Clambake Music Festival

What was once known as the South Coast Dixieland Clambake Festival has for quite awhile been the South Coast Clambake Music Festival, originally set with the task of preserving Dixieland jazz in the area. Eventually it opened up to include more forms of jazz and changed its name. It was also started as a means to boost tourism revenue in the area as other industries began their decline.

This year's lineup is spotlighted by The Alpha Rhythm Kings and their swing, jump blues, boogie woogie and vintage lounge. The bouncy rig from Cali features Robert Dehlinger’s trumpet and vocals, creating a favorite with swing dancers as well as concert halls. They've brought that upbeat sound all around the world, including Germany, Austria, Hungary, among others.

The South Coast Clambake Music Festival also takes on big band, Zydeco and doo-wop in its display of grand American traditions.

The Dave Bennett Quartet swings into town with some moody forms of blues, emotive ballads and plenty of straight-ahead jazz, with influences of Benny Goodman to even Jerry Lee Lewis and former Genesis Proggers Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins. They're known as quite the emotional powerhouse, mostly led on clarinet.

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.

A particularly rock-edged form of Nawlins-style Zydeco gets the high energy treatment with Gator Beat, producing R&B that singes.

North Bend, courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast

Gino and the Lone Gunmen is a three-piece outfit that performs a rockin’ mix of rockabilly, swing, country and vintage rock 'n roll, sometimes recalling the Beatles' earliest days.

Lisa Mann is a longtime Portland musical fixture who kills it on bass while belting out with some impressive pipes. She's received numerous prestigious awards around the Pacific Northwest.

On the schedule you'll also find Shaymus Hanlin Quartet, Stumptown Swing and The Throttles.

Tickets can obtained at The price list is long and complex, but it includes an all-event badge for $100, all-day cards going for around $60 (depending on day), and prices for individual shows.

It all takes place at the Mill End Casino in North Bend.

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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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