T-Town band plays Chinook Fest

Ben Union and others will rock central WA

By Nikki Talotta on September 28, 2012

Ben Union sounds like they should be on the radio. Crisp, poppy, groovy. But at the same time, they sound like they should be kept a Tacoma secret.

While Ben Union has gotten radio play, toured the west coast and played for 15,000 people in the Tacoma Dome, they encompass a grass roots vibe.

"They are different," says Gabe Mira, the band's manager. "They have classic tastes and nuances, but they are mature and catchy."

Ben Union, along with 18 other bands will play the Crooked Chinook Festival Sept. 21-23 at Jim Sprick Community Park, a rustic retreat on the banks of the Naches River, nestled in the scenic Central Washington Cascades.

The three-day festival features overnight camping, local food and artisans, beer and wine, Seattle radio and podcast personality Marty Riemer as MC, performances by Southern California chainsaw wood artist Big John Mahoney and a hand-picked selection of some of the region's best acts.

"For Ben Union to be chosen by Chinook Fest shows a lot; it shows the product is ripe enough to be on unique stages playing to unique crowds," Mira says.

In its first year, Chinook Fest is unique. Not many large-scale festivals make it to central Washington, and while promoters expect up to 1,000 people at this year's event, it's a very roots rock event.

"There will be no segregation between musicians and concertgoers. Everyone can be around the campfire enjoying themselves," says Michelle Bounds, who does publicity for the event.

"We're doing it right - from the beginning," she adds.

Another band, Cody Beebe and The Crooks, are the creators of the festival. Beebe grew up in the Yakima Valley.

"This is an opportunity to bring something to this area," Beebe says. "In a town like this, people crave it. It's a place to collaborate ... I want Central Washington to count on this."

Beebe met Ben Union at a show at Neumo's in Seattle, where the two bands played together.

"Their energy is compelling and their music is tight," says Beebe of Ben Union. "That band sets the bar."

Other bands set to play include The True Spokes, Aaron Daniel's One Man Banned, Huckle, Open Country Joy, Tango Alpha Tango, The Higgs, Whiskey Syndicate, Daniel Kamas, Massy Ferguson, Shoot Jake, Redwood Son, Tim Snider, City Faire, Blake Noble, Tommy Simmons, Josh Hoke and The Warren G. Hardings.

A kickoff party is set for Friday (Sept. 21) at The Gold Creek Saloon, five miles up the road from camp, featuring three bands and a shuttle service to the event.

Saturday (Sept. 22) will be a mellow start, and fishing, hiking and other activities are encouraged before bands start playing at noon. Music will go until midnight. Sunday morning promises acoustic sets, and the festival ends at 2 p.m.