On a typical Friday night in Woodinville, the inviting sounds of live music waft through lounges and tasting rooms from one end of town to the other.
At Village Wines in the Hollywood District, a buoyant, multi-generational crowd is buzzing with conversation when 24-year-old singer-guitarist Robbie Christmas opens his set with a stirring version of Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl.” People take notice, and soon they’re making requests. “I’ll play any song as long as it isn’t Christmas music,” he says with a grin. Christmas (yes, that’s his real name) is engaging, edgy, and fun, offering classic songs by the Eagles, Eric Clapton, Coldplay, James Taylor, Fleetwood Mac, and other iconic artists. Pairing live music with wine has become increasingly popular in Woodinville, home to more than 100 wineries and tasting rooms. “All the wineries in our complex have featured music in the last two months,” Tim Bowen of Village Wines notes cheerfully. “I believe that live music offerings will just continue to grow.”
At nearby Columbia Winery, singer-songwriter Carly Calbero performs a spirited version of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” as well as an original song from one of her EPs. Down the street at Fireside, the plush bar at Willows Lodge, acoustic folk band Side Project plays James Taylor’s dreamy, nostalgic “Copperline.” And Mairin & Friends, who mix rock, blues, R&B and jazz, play to a large crowd as part of the “Friday Night Live” series at Matthews Winery.
In the fall of 2010, Matthews Winery was among the first to book live music during extended tasting room hours, with light fare provided by food trucks. “The idea was that people would stop by after work or after dinner to enjoy some live music and a glass of wine without going through the tasting lineup,” says Diane Otis at Matthews. “We thought if we extended our hours a little longer, we might capture more people.” Otis also sees a benefit for Northwest musicians, whether it’s a singer-songwriter just starting out or a seasoned band such as Rain City Time Machine. “It’s a way of letting the community know what kind of talent we have in the area,” she says.
Woodinville is also home to bucolic Bear Creek Studio, where the Lumineers, Foo Fighters, Soundgarden, Brandi Carlile, James Brown, Eric Clapton and many others have recorded. Long before there was a recording studio, or wineries with live music, Woodinville made Northwest music history with the raucous Seattle Pop Festival in July of 1969.
It’s hard to believe, but the lineup at Gold Creek Park featured such now-legendary acts as Led Zeppelin, The Doors, The Byrds, Chuck Berry, It’s a Beautiful Day, Santana, Ike & Tina Turner, Tim Buckley, The Youngbloods, Chicago Transit Authority, and others. Local residents complained about traffic and the festival’s “hippie atmosphere.” But the event spurred a lifetime of memories.
It was years before major concerts returned to Woodinville… by Gene Stout