PENDLETON — Just as the traditions of Pendleton Round-Up Week rides into town each September, top-notch bluegrass returns to Pendleton Center for the Arts.
EOCenes (formerly Cabbage Hill) will take the stage on two consecutive nights. Executive director Roberta Lavadour referred to members of the group as some of the finest musicians in the Pacific Northwest.
Performances are Thursday, Sept. 12 and Friday, Sept. 13 at 214 N. Main St., Pendleton. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the shows begin at 7 p.m.
EOCenes features Ron Emmons, well known as the frontman for the popular Cabbage Hill bluegrass band, along with former classmates Hugh McClellan, Duane Boyer and Hal Spence. Alan Feves will join the group on bass and National Oldtime Fiddle champion Dan Emert on fiddle.
Emmons and Boyer met during freshman orientation week at Eastern Oregon College and connected with Spence and McClellan through their involvement in the Eastern Oregon College Ambassadors, a musical touring group that performed at high school assemblies around the region. Each man went on to have great success over the past five decades on the national bluegrass scene, performing with a wide range of groups and ensembles.
Bluegrass musicians tend to mix and match themselves into different ensembles for various performances. The name EOCenes is a play on the college’s monogram, EOC (which later became EOU) and the Eocene epoch, a period on the geological time scale that occurred 34 to 55 million years ago.
Emmons lives in Hermiston and has played mandolin and sung lead tenor and baritone with the Blue Mountain Crested Wheatgrass Boys, the Muddy Bottom Boys, Blue Heat and The Thatchmasters.
Boyer now hails from Haines and plays banjo and guitar, and sings lead, tenor and baritone. He taught banjo and guitar at EOC and played a major role in bringing national bluegrass acts to the area.
McClellan resides in Oregon City and plays rhythm guitar, harmonica and is known for his low, lonesome bass voice. He’s also fronted a country-swing band and sang in a gospel quartet.
Spence of Dallas, played guitar and sang tenor for 27 years with The Sawtooth Mountain Boys, one of the nation’s best known bluegrass bands, whose travels included three tours of Europe.
Tickets are $12 each and are available at www.pendletonarts.org or by calling 541-278-9201. Advance ticket purchases are recommended.