Willamette Valley Music Fest brings a day of music and dancing

Band on stage

The lawns surrounding the Erb Memorial Union are generally quiet on Saturday mornings — but not this weekend, when the 47th annual Willamette Valley Music Festival returns May 20 to fill the campus with music and dance.

The festival, formerly known as the Willamette Valley Folk Festival, is a student funded and organized event that began in 1970, when it advertised “craft sales and folk music” and starred the blues and folk duo Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.

It has since expanded dramatically. This year 22 bands will be performing on three music stages; other offerings include a workshop area with eight sessions, a student organization fair and a stand-up comedy show. A full schedule of the day’s events can be found on the festival website.

Performances begin on the Fishbowl Stage at 11 a.m. with the Red Pants Trio, a drums, keyboard and saxophone combo playing pop-jazz with hip-hop influences, and ends with Sir the Baptist on the EMU Green Stage at 9:30 p.m.

The lineup samples heavily from the UO, Eugene and the surrounding area’s talent pool, with well over half of the performers calling Oregon home.

This includes The Illaquips, a UO hip-hop ensemble; Foreign Talks, a band from Portland that performs a mix of indie, folk and reggae; and Hindsight Hotel, an alt-rock band made up of five UO students who describe their sound as “spicier than a jalapeño, zestier than a lemon peel and creamier than New England clam chowder.”

Alivia Nelson, a student in the UO’s new popular music major, will also be performing, at 5:45 p.m. at the Fishbowl Stage.

But not every band is local — Sir the Baptist hails from Chicago and Dr. Scientist traveled the furthest, coming all the way from the New York City area.

Sir the Baptist, real name William James Stokes, is a hip-hop and R&B recording artist who was nominated for “Impact Track of the Year” at the 2016 BET Hip Hop Awards, has performed on Late Night With Seth Meyers, at Bonnaroo, Sasquatch! and Lollapalooza, and can count Jay-Z among his many fans.

He’s the son of a preacher and a missionary and is known for his “Healing Hip Hop,” which focuses on honesty, love, joy, truth and enlightenment while trying to leave the listener feeling hopeful for the future.

While the music is happening on the main stages, the workshops will be focused on teaching people about different aspects of the music industry, from

The event is free and open to students and community members. It is a family friendly atmosphere, with marijuana, tobacco and alcohol prohibited on the UO campus. Leashed pets are welcome.

Food will be available from select vendors at the Associated Students of the University of Oregon Street Fair, and water filling stations can be found in the surrounding buildings.

No public parking is provided specifically for the festival, so attendees are encouraged to bike, walk or use public transportation to avoid any inconveniences.

—By Noah Ripley, University Communications