American Aquarium

Contributed photo American Aquarium will headline the first Jackalope Jamboree, a music festival planned for the Happy Canyon Arena on June 29, 2019.

With Pendleton Whisky Music Fest taking place just next door, Happy Canyon is getting a cut of the summer concert action this year.

On June 29, Happy Canyon Arena will host the Jackalope Jamboree, a new country rock and Americana music festival.

Organizers announced the inaugural event with headliners American Aquarium and Shane Smith and the Saints on social media and on its website Friday.

Co-organizer Peter Walters, a graphic designer for Hodgen Distributing and a local musician, said the concert is the brainchild of Rian Beach and Chad Colwell, a court operations supervisor for Wasco County Circuit Court and a track and field coach at the University of Utah with roots in Pendleton and Union, respectively.

The pair had long discussed organizing a concert that focused on country rock, Americana, and its various offshoots, the success of Whisky Fest and Pendleton Bike Week as “proof-of-concept.”

Once they decided to go for it in 2018, they brought Walters into the fold during Round-Up week and got the ball rolling on organizing the concert.

They secured the Happy Canyon arena as their venue, and Hodgen and Kind Leaf Pendleton as their top sponsors.

After some negotiations, the group also secured their main acts: American Aquarium and Shane Smith and the Saints, the latter having already performed at the Back Country Bash in Joseph earlier this year.

While the jamboree will be in close proximity to Whisky Fest’s venue, Walters said their concert is aiming for a more niche audience than the concert at the Round-Up Grounds, which brings contemporary pop acts to its stage.

On its website, the Raleigh, North Carolina, American Aquarium describes its style as “folk-infused Southern rock-and-roll.” Frontman BJ Barham grew up on a farm in small-town North Carolina and he’s still “singing about the lessons, stories, and lives that define rural America –– and him.”

Shane Smith and the Saints is a five-piece ensemble from Austin, Texas, that includes guitars, bass, drums and fiddle, although their website maintains that “they don’t fit easily into any musical category.” Their most recent album includes songs about a newly freed slave in the 19th century, the Alamo, and the 19th century Apache leader Geronimo.

Beyond the headliners, Walters said organizers are hoping to secure a minimum of 10 bands for the concert, making it a daylong event.

Although the Jackalope Jamboree already has sponsors, Walters said organizers are still looking for ways to get local organizations involved with the event. The Happy Canyon arena has a 4,000-person capacity, Walters said, and organizers are hoping to fill half of it or more.

Tickets go on sale Dec. 14 with prices starting at $35.

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