Walla Walla Guitar Festival to Feature West Coast Blues

Hannah Bartman

Walla Walla will be hosting the third annual Coyote King’s Invitational Walla Walla Guitar Festival this weekend, which will feature 16 blues and roots bands including artists from all over the West Coast. Taking place in four separate local venues and running March 13-15, the festival was organized by the local blues band the Coyote Kings, led by Robin Barrett.

“I have friends that have bands and who have helped me book us in some of the festivals around the northwest, so I felt like I wanted to pay them back,” said Barrett, one of Walla Walla’s nationally renowned musicians. “I decided to pull the trigger on it. I found a couple of sponsors here in town and the tourism [in the wine industry] really helps.”

Local bands that gain attention through their involvement in music culture in Walla Walla will present their music, such as Gary Winston and the Real Deal. There are also three artists from Portland, one from Seattle and one from Los Angeles who are traveling to perform at the festival.

Barrett believes the festival has grown over the past three years, such that roughly 60-70 percent of attendees last year were from out of town. Owner of Sapolil Cellars Abigail Scherwin also states that hotel and ticket packages are nearly sold out. Sapolil Cellars, Main Street Studios, the Elks Lodge and VFW Post 992 will be the four venues used for the festival.

“Sapolil Cellars has been an integral venue in this festival since its inception,” she said. “We are a main music venue in this market, and we fully support live music.”

Sapolil Cellars, a common venue for musicians in Walla Walla, has played a role in helping this festival come into fruition by building connections with local bands they have hosted and also by recruiting the band The Evangenitals to the festival.

One of the local bands that will be present at the festival is led by Whitman Music Assistant Phil Lynch. His band, Phil Lynch & the Reubens, has been together six months and has played at local venues such as Sapolil Cellars. Lynch played at the first guitar festival two years ago, but this will be his first appearance with his band at this particular festival. His band will be playing at 10 p.m. on Friday, March 15 at VFW Post 992, located on 102 N. Colville St.

“It’s always fun to see bands from the Pacific Northwest region. However, I think it’s cool that people from out of town get to hear the wealth of local talent here in Walla Walla,” said Lynch in an email.

Lynch will also be teaching two clinics at the YMCA from noon t0 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 16. Both clinics will be geared toward kids 12-17 years of age and will focus on blues fundamentals.

Tickets and a schedule of events are available online at the Walla Walla Guitar Festival website. Tickets are available for $20 for Friday night, $40 for Saturday night and $60 for a weekend pass.