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Puyallup River Rock Festival

Festival to honor the many styles of rock

SweetKiss Momma performs at the Puyallup River Rock Festival in the Karshner Museum and Center for Culture and Arts, June 4. Photo credit: Bill Bungard

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There are few art forms more uniquely American than rock and roll - the music genre originated in the 50s when great artists like Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley had the genius idea to combine blues/R&B and country music. The Karshner Museum and Center for Culture & Arts, owned by the Puyallup School District, is deciding to celebrate the legacy of this classic music through their Puyallup River Rock Festival this Saturday, June 4.

The festival will feature four local bands and artists, all with a sound that honors the roots of rock in completely different ways. For example, headliners SweetKiss Momma, who are Puyallup natives themselves, play a Southern rock style, mixed with some Seattle alt-rock grit. And these guys aren't nobodies, either: The band has performed at large festivals such as Watershed and South by Southwest, and they've recently returned from a long European tour, so their fan base goes beyond their local South Sound roots.

Big Wheel Stunt Show is next on the bill, and they operate in a different style.  This Tacoma band has a ‘70s arena rock sound that should really liven up the crowd; think Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones. BWSS has already toured all over the U.S. and Europe, so their live show should be honed down to perfection.

Of course, any good festival has a solid variety of artists featured, so the next performer, James Coates, is a singer-songwriter wielding an acoustic guitar. Growing up in Sumner, Coates' music is a dusty blend of folk, Americana, and classic soul that both young and old should be able to enjoy. Coates has received some exposure recently, performing on local radio stations and opening for prominent national acts. If you're curious, his album Land of Fame and Glory is available to stream for free at, so you can see if his raspy, timeless music is your style.

Finally, River Rock booked an outlaw country singer for their fourth act. Despite being from Sumner (like Coates) and not the deep South, Andy Shofner was inspired by classic country singers like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson to create his own unique spin on the subgenre.

PUYALLUP RIVER ROCK FESTIVAL, w/ SweetKiss Momma, Big Wheel Stunt Show, James Coates, Andy Shofner, 3-8 p.m., June 4, Karshner Museum and Center for Culture and Arts, 309 4th St. NE, Puyallup, free, 253.841.8748,

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