The 8th Annual Pickathon Roots Music Festival may not be in Seattle, but it sure is doing its damnedest to lure our residents down to Portland to participate in the fun on Friday, August 4, and Saturday, August 5.

Let's start with the most important component: the music. This year's talent roster includes big names like Iris DeMent, the Wood Brothers, Kelly Joe Phelps, and even CJ Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band. Wait a minute... zydeco?

"We aim to represent what is going on in the indie roots scene, pitched between the jam bands at one axis, and the more traditional, bluegrass or blues festival, at the other," says festival director Zale Schoenborn. "We tend to break uncharted ground by mixing styles up, which can be blasphemy in some circles. We believe that not only musicians, but audiences, have wide musical tastes."

Toward that end, the programming has grown increasingly diverse over the festival's history. While making sure to book some big names to draw larger crowds, Schoenborn and his cohorts also aim to introduce audiences to acts they might not know, but will most likely appreciate. They also keep a strong focus on regional talent: not only from PDX (Phelps, the Juanita Family), but Seattle (Danny Barnes) and San Francisco, too.

"The scene at Pickathon represents what is going on here in Portland, and in the Pacific Northwest in general, where there is this willingness to cross-pollinate music styles." Schoenborn cites North Carolina trio the Avett Brothers as the act on this year's bill that perhaps best embodies that spirit. "They are completely in line with what we are about; they have done a great job of making themselves hard to categorize. They almost come from an indie-rock sensibility, but they are clearly playing banjo, guitar, and bass."

Want more incentive, Seattle? How about the ease of getting to and from Pickathon—which this year relocates to the 80-acre festival grounds of Pendarvis Farm, behind Mount Scott—without even driving. "We are hooking up a biodiesel shuttle from the light rail, so if you want to come to Portland, but not rent a car, just take the train down, roll into a hotel, and take the shuttle to and from our festival." Or visit to view maps of cycling routes, organize carpools, and other transportation alternatives.

And then there's the site itself. "This last weekend, we just built a truly epic amphitheater, out of 26,000 square feet of fabric, 11,000 square feet of shade cloth, 38 poles, all this fabric tension—something that, if you didn't know exactly what you were doing, would be an absolute death trap." But fear not: A team of crack landscape architects, cartographers, and experts in tent design and kite construction all participated in executing this vision. And after the festival? It all comes down. An arena-size venue that can be easily disassembled. Wow. Would that Seattle could let go of its stadiums so easily.