Greg Linder (Guitar, Vocals), Kent Powell (Bass, Vocals), John White (Mandolin, Vocals), Rick Ahrens (Banjo, Vocals)
Runaway Train – based in south Puget Sound – was formed in 2000 and has evolved through the years into its current formation of guitar, bass, mandolin and banjo along with strong lead and harmony vocals. They have a traditional sound, but are not afraid to push the boundaries a bit. The band has played most of the major festivals in the Northwest, as well as other music events and private parties. They are the host band for Bluegrass from the Forest festival, which as of 2023 is in its 18th year.
Greg Linder – After being bitten by the bluegrass bug around 1980, Greg played in several local groups, and eventually founded Runaway Train in 2000. Greg plays guitar, sings lead and harmony vocals. In addition, Greg has been active in the music scene and is co-founder of Bluegrass from the Forest festival in Shelton, WA which, as of 2022, is in its 18th year. He resides in Union, WA.
Kent Powell – Kent has been involved in the bluegrass scene in the Pacific Northwest for over forty-three years. He played banjo with Crossfire, a very popular band that competed in the Pizza Hut/Gibson Bluegrass Showdown in Owensboro, Kentucky. He continues to play bass with other local favorite groups, including North Country and String Theory. Kent joined Runaway Train in 2005, originally as the band’s banjo player, However, he now performs as the band’s bass player. Kent contributes with strong lead and harmony vocals.
John White grew up in Michigan and started playing guitar at five. By his teenage years, he was following a local bluegrass band, and that led him to the mandolin. John’s been in bands in Michigan, California, Utah and Washington. Currently, he’s the mandolin player for Runaway Train. If he’s not playing bluegrass, he’s probably woodworking, gardening, cooking or golfing.
Rick Ahrens is a long-time player with Runaway Train and a native of Washington State. Rick has played with several notable NW bluegrass bands over the years, and these days he plays for the pure enjoyment of hanging out with wonderful friends and making music into the wee hours... nothing more. Snohomish, WA is Rick's home.
See you at a festival down the road!
Neil Massey (Guitar, Banjo, Vocals), Al Miotke (Mandolin, Guitar, Vocals), Jeff Anderson (Cowboy Harmonica, Swinging Clarinet), Bob Johnson (Bass, Vocals)
The Cowchips band plays a mix of western swing, bluegrass and cowboy tunes with a tight musical sound and three-part harmony reminiscent of Western swing bands from the 1940's. The group’s current lineup all play multiple instruments and have been together since 2004. Al Miotke, the newest member of the group, brings a background of country, oldies and classic rock while providing melodic mandolin, guitar and vocals to the group. Jeff Anderson, well known for his talent in Dixieland Jazz, can't be topped for cowboy harmonica and swinging clarinet. Bob Johnson and his big ol' bass fiddle holds down the rhythm section and sings high harmony. Neil Massey, the heart of this old-timey group, plays guitar, banjo, fiddle and delivers some of the best darn cowboy vocals anywhere. You're sure to be smiling and tapping your feet when the Cowchips take the stage.
Katherine Nitsch (vocals & guitar), April Parker (vocals, mandolin, accordion), Eileen Rocci (vocals & upright bass)
Misty Mamas - together since 2005 - has made a real name for itself in the Vancouver/Portland acoustic music scene. Collectively these women have decades of experience playing and singing in harmony. MISTY MAMAS serve up Home-Style bluegrass filled with powerful harmonies, traditional and original songs as well as tasty instrumentals combining the American genres of bluegrass, old time, gospel, folk and country music. Family friendly, the band can include interactive songs that engage kids as well as adults. The MISTY MAMAS are Katherine Nitsch (vocals & guitar), April Parker (vocals, mandolin, accordion) and Eileen Rocci (vocals & upright bass).The band got its name from Carol Harley, founding member of the Misty Mamas and the very popular local Americana Band, Misty River. Carol Harley has retired from the band and is enjoying being a grandma!Eager to connect with their audience, the Misty Mamas tailor performances that not only entertain but educate as well. You might hear historical secrets and local lore woven into the music. Timeless melodies and heartfelt lyrics are laced tightly together creating a musical experience rich with history, steeped in tradition and performed with character and exuberance! Released March 2009, Misty Mamas' CD, Wild Rose of the Mountain, genuinely captures the essence of these musicians on stage. Misty Mamas released their 2nd cd, Come On Home in May 2018. Please see our calendar and bios page for information on guest artist(s)with whom we will be performing.
Ranger Sciacca (Violin and Vocals), Mike Sciacca (Rhythm Guitar), Tovi Newman (Guitar), Sarah Yates (Bass), Jeffrey Moose (Percussion and Vocals)
Ranger and the “Re-Arrangers” evoke the spirit of a Paris cafe and the raucous energy of a Romani campsite with their version of Hot Club Swing. “At the heart of their sound is Ranger's sweet violin playing… his sense of melody and daring improvisations” (World Rhythm). The band’s repertoire includes swing standards, traditional European melodies, and the music of Django Reinhardt.
Ranger began playing violin at the age of six. He divided his studies between old-time fiddle and classical violin until a chance encounter with a CD of violin jazz ignited his interest in the music of Joe Venuti, Stuff Smith, Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt. Ranger draws inspiration from all the genres he has studied, and, according to one reviewer, “plays it like the old kings of swing jazz did”.
Ranger and his father Michael formed the band in 2006, after a pilgrimage to the world’s foremost Hot Club Swing event, the Django Reinhardt festival in Samois Sur Seine, France. The band has now released 4 CDs and performs over 100 times each year at music festivals, concerts in the park, swing dances, weddings and events of all sorts.
"Hot Club Swing" (sometimes called Gypsy Jazz) is named after the Quintet of the Hot Club of France. In the 1930's guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli blended their own musical legacies with the new American art form of jazz. Their recordings soon brought international fame to the new genre. Hot Club Swing is characterized by upbeat, high-energy swing on acoustic instruments, especially guitar, violin, bass, clarinet, and accordion.
Mark Iler (Guitar, Harmonica & Vocals), Jess McKeegan (Irish Whistle, Mandolin & Vocals), Annie Henry (Fiddle & Vocals)
Curlew’s Call is…
A Pacific Northwest Celtic Band who’s focus is on Celtic / Irish and Maritime Songs. Think of them as a Celtic Party Band providing lots of songs to sing along with! Curlew’s Call has performed all over the Northwest at Festivals, Pubs, Private Events and have also appeared in a number of Pubs in Ireland!
WAMA is ecstatic to have the renowned Jackson Linder back again as our Pickersfest Audio Technician. His vast experience and professional expertise as a sound technician, along with his acquired familiarity with our own Pickersfest venue, will ensure that the fantastic bands we have in our lineup will sound their very best and that the shows will all be first class. WAMA is once again very grateful for Jackson's service!