Guitar fest adds second, bigger riff


WALLA WALLA — The founder of local band Coyote Kings and Mush promised everyone last year — “If I break even, I’ll do it again next year.”

With a turnout in 2012 even better than hoped for, Robin Barrett is keeping his word, meaning Walla Walla’s second guitar festival is on the books.

And on the streets of downtown, starting Friday at 7 p.m.

Everything about the venture is bigger this year, Barrett said. The Coyote Kings Invitational Guitar Festival launched last year as a culmination of the band leader’s quest to put his town on the regional map for such musical events.

As leader of Coyote Kings with Mush, he was anxious for two things — to return the favor to the music people who have connected his band to blues festivals around the region. And to show off the town Barrett feels justifiably proud of, he explained in 2012. “I’ve felt for four or five years now that Walla Walla has wonderful wines and foods and those are great reasons to come to Walla Walla. But I wanted to add music as another draw.”

More than two-thirds of last year’s ticket buyers were from out of town, meaning tourist dollars coming in during what is a typically slow time of year, he noted.

People loved the one-day festival, so much so that Barrett grew embarrassed by the abundance of praise, he said last week. “People told me it went off perfectly and I had festival promoters at the event telling me they couldn’t have made it better.”

It quickly became obvious attendees could only be sated by more, and that he had to build the festival, Barrett said. This weekend will feature 17 bands playing 21 1/2 hours of music. And while there’s more, the gigs will be compressed into a radius of under four blocks, making it easier for ticket holders to hop form one spot to another, Barrett said. “So it can all be walked to, even if it’s raining.”

Which is good: Ticket sales in 2013 have more than doubled from 2012, he added.

A new perk this year is the release party of Coyote Kings’ new CD, “Nasty Habits & Dirty Little Secrets” on Saturday during what Barrett has dubbed “the large show.”

Tickets for the event are available at Friday only cost is $20, Saturday only is $37 and a weekend admission package is $55. Lodging packages are available.

Festival participants can also enter a prize drawing for items such as guitars, blues festival tickets, local wine, jewelry and food.


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