Arts & Culture

Steamboat Jamboree offers a chance to join the jam or just enjoy

The Lowest Pair -- Palmer T. Lee, left, and Kendl Winter -- will perform at this weekend’s Steamboat Jamboree.
The Lowest Pair -- Palmer T. Lee, left, and Kendl Winter -- will perform at this weekend’s Steamboat Jamboree. Courtesy of the Steamboat Jamboree

The Steamboat Jamboree, happening Friday and Saturday, May 31 and June 1, gathers Northwest musicians and music lovers to jam, celebrate, relax and revel.

The fifth annual jamboree is organized by its headliners, The Oly Mountain Boys and The Pine Hearts, and aims to attract what Tye Menser of the Boys has called a “who’s who of the Pacific Northwest.” (Menser, incidentally, is a new Thurston County Commissioner.)

The lineup, playing on two stages, spans bluegrass, old-time, string bands, country and folk and includes K Records founder Calvin Johnson, Eleanor Murray, The Lowest Pair, Todd and the Toots, The Horsenecks and The Sassafras Sisters.

It also might include you, if you’re up for it.

“Folks are encouraged to come with their voices and instruments, ready to jam at the impromptu circles that pop up around the campfires,” the event description on Brown Paper Tickets says.

It’s all part of the vibe at the festival, said Kendl Winter of The Lowest Pair, an Olympia banjo duo that has been playing the jamboree since year one.

“We’re really trying to keep it local, homegrown and community based,” she told The Olympian. “We’re hoping to have it be a place where people connect to the music and each other and keep coming back year after year.”

The intention also is to give back: This year’s festival is a benefit for Arbutus Folk School.

“We’re grateful,” said Arbutus founder Stacey Waterman-Hoey. “We think lots of people who are interested in Arbutus might be interested in the jamboree.”

Of course, the people attending aren’t necessarily local. “Last year, we had fans from Glasgow (Scotland) that showed up,” Winter said.

“It’s really special to have something like this in Olympia,” she said. “The Lowest Pair travels and performs all over the country at different kinds of music festivals, big and small, and I really like that there’s a rootsy festival in our hometown.”

Camping is welcome at the festival, so the jamming can continue far into the night. The jam also includes a beer garden, a few craft vendors and food for purchase including vegan tacos from The Wayside Cafe, pizza from Pizza Rocks, and gelato from Sophie’s Scoops.

Bringing the kids is definitely encouraged, Winter said. Those 12 and younger are admitted free.

“It’s just a wholesome good time with all the goodies,” she said.

Steamboat Jamboree

  • What: The fifth annual jamboree — featuring and organized by The Oly Mountain Boys and The Pine Hearts — offers two days of music and merriment.
  • When: Music begins at 5 p.m. Friday and at 11 a.m. Saturday.
  • Where: Prosperity Grange, 3701 Steamboat Loop NW, Olympia
  • Tickets: $25-$50, children 12 and younger admitted free, $15 for a camping pass
  • More information:,