Big Moments, Cool Collaborations Mark the 2024 Jackalope Jamboree

Amid the country music festival arms race, the massive jaw-dropping talent of megafestivals can certainly entice you, especially to alluring destinations around the country. And for some, that’s the kind of festival experience they’re seeking out. Affordability is no object, and they enjoy being in the middle of the fracas.

But can you really get the most out an experience when there are three stages running simultaneously? Do you really want to be in a crowd of 30,000 people fighting for resources, including for simple things like food, water, restrooms, and shade? Do you want more time to not just see and hear the music, but experience and savor it, and perhaps have a moment to share those moments with friends and family?

The Jackalope Jamboree in historic Pendleton, OR is a bit more of a reasonable alternative to the independent country megafest, yet at the same time is quickly emerging as one of the most important and cherished independent country festivals on the calendar each year.

In 2024, the Jackalope Jamboree (June 27-29) still had some of the topmost names in independent country like Charley Crockett, Kaitlin Butts, and Silverada. It had legends of Red Dirt like Jason Boland, The Randy Rogers Band, and Cody Canada. It also supported talent local to Oregon, and afforded ample opportunities for discovery. But you didn’t have to fight through 30,000 people or fork out four figures to attend.

There were three stages, but no single performance overlapped. Rarely did a line cue up for anything. And with the covered grandstand at Pendleton’s Happy Valley facility, there wasn’t a bad seat in the house, and plenty of shade. The weather happened to be perfect in 2024 as well.

The 2024 Jackalope Jamboree was marked by big moments, and big collaborations. Silverada took the stage at 12:07 Eastern Time Thursday night (9:07 p.m. local time), seven minutes after their new self-titled album dropped. They slayed the crowd, including playing most all the songs from the new record (read full review).

Silverada on the Jackalope Jamboree stage

“We have a habit of releasing albums while we’re in the Pacific Northwest,” Silverada said afterward, reminiscing on how they surprise released their album Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold ahead of a performance at the Pickathon Festival outside of Portland in 2019. That same year and at that same festival, Tyler Childers was also performing and celebrating the release of his new album Country Squire.

In 2024, it was Kaitlin Butts finding a kismet with Silverada at the same festival. She was releasing her latest album called Roadrunner! coinciding with her appearance at the Jackalope Jamboree of Friday. Before she took the stage, she allowed fans an exclusive opportunity to sign their albums and take pictures with her. She was wearing the same “Cowboy Pillows” tank top that inspired her new song “Come Rest Your Head (On My Pillow)” that she recorded with Vince Gill.

Kaitlin Butts meeting with fans

A couple of hours later, Kaitlin was on the stage, killing it per usual, both literally and figuratively, at least in her songs that come with a heavy murder quotient. Kaitlin was dressed in a heart-themed dress, with her band wearing ribbon ties, half with heart symbols on them, and the other half with devil pitchforks, symbolizing the love dichotomy that can result in sweet devotion, and sometimes the crimes of passion that Kaitlin loves to sing about.

John Calvin Abney playing with Kaitlin Butts

As opposed to heading out as soon as their Thursday headlining show was done, Silverada hung out all weekend, becoming the de facto Jackalope hosts if you will. Steel guitarist Zachary Moulton sat in for a couple of songs with the Vandoliers, who got the stage smokin’ hot for Silverada’s Thursday show. Then on Saturday, Moulton became an honorary member of Jason Boland and the Stragglers and blowing everyone’s mind. Old songs, new songs, it didn’t matter, Zach had them licked. Long-time bass player Grant Tracy kept looking over at Mouton, shaking his head in disbelief at how badass he was.

Zachary Moulton sitting in with Jason Boland and the Stragglers

Similarly unexpected but welcomed collaborations unfolded all weekend. When Kaitlin Butts took the stage, attuned fans noticed she had fellow performer John Calvin Abney filling in on guitar for her. Along with being a solo artist, Abney’s known for his collaborations with John Moreland.

Pony Bradshaw is considered a top emerging songwriter by many. He showed up with fellow songwriter and performer Rachel Baiman playing fiddle in his band. It was one of the many reasons some found Pony’s set their favorite on the weekend.

Pony Bradshaw
Rachel Baiman

There were plenty of big names to play the 2024 Jackalope Jamboree. But it was a new name that made a big impression to start it all off in Presley Haile from Texas. She only has a few singles out at this point, but it’s all great stuff, including her recent rendition of “Lone Star State of Mind” originally recorded by Nanci Griffith.

Presley Haile

Early performances each day happened on a new stage at the Jackalope Jamboree called the “Queen’s Barn,” which is a quonset hut-style building where they laid down a lawn in the shade that was perfect for lounging on and listening to the great music. This is also where Pendleton native James Dean Kindle made a big impression with his throwback cowboy-style songs that also work into some atmospheric ambience.

James Dean Kindle

Oklahoma’s Lance Roark took the Queen’s Stage on Saturday. You might have noticed his name in the liner notes of the last Turnpike Troubadours album. Lance co-wrote “Chipping Mill” with bassist RC Edwards. Just like Turnpike, Lance’s music is strongly songwriter based, but with a country rock temperament and attack. Some might have seen him perform acoustically previously. But with his band, Roark takes it to a whole other level. You feel like you’re watching a band about to blow up, and many remarked that he probably deserved to be on the main stage.

Lance Roark

Surprisingly energetic and animated sets seemed to be the name of the game in Pendleton as performers brought their A-game. Saving Country Music has witnessed Aaron McDonnell perform multiple times as a local to Austin (though originally from the Pacific Northwest). But when you get these guys out on the road, you often get an elevated effort like McDonnel turned in. Colby Acuff is no stranger to the festival circuit, but came out on the Jackalope stage like he was shot out of a canon and put on an extra impassioned performance.

Colby Acuff

Yes, there is a FOURTH generation of Hank Williams in the form of Coleman Williams and his outfit IV and The Strange Band. Similar to his father Hank Williams III, he’s not here to be a reenactment or to tow anyone’s line in the industry. He’s a completely independent artist trying to keep a bloodline alive, while also trying to make a name all his own with a distinctly underground sound.

He gave a really impassioned speech about his great great grandfather from the stage of the Jackalope Jamboree. “He’s not a T-shirt to me. He’s not a statue to me. He’s not a tag on social media. He wasn’t a great man because of his name. It’s because he worked his ass off … his blood is in my veins,” Coleman Williams said during an impressive set.

Coleman Williams of IV and The Strange Band

Ellis Bullard who drove all the way from Austin, Texas to Pendleton in his Honky Tonk Mystery Machine just to play the after party Friday night. They initially didn’t turn the stage lights on for Ellis, who showed up in a sparkly gray western suit adorned with the herb and lightning bolts. But he didn’t care. Bullard laid down the hardest honky tonk set you will ever witness right there in the heart of historic downtown Pendleton.

Ellis Bullard

Where Ellis Bullard pulled into Pendleton in his Chevy van, Friday night’s headliner Charley Crockett showed up in two tour buses and a semi truck sporting his name. Charley Crockett went from busking on street corners to needing a semi truck to haul all of his certified badassedry around the country. It really underscored the possibilities for where independent music is headed.

Always aware of where he is and how to ingratiate himself to the crowd, Charley Crockett came out on stage in a Pendleton Wool jacket. Along with being the home of the massive Pendleton Round Up Rodeo right next door to the Jackalope Jamboree location, Pendleton is the home of the legendary Pendleton Woolen Mills, the Hamley’s Western and Saddle store (considered the oldest Western store in existence), and other landmarks. Stepping into Pendleton is like stepping back into time.

Charley Crockett in his Pendleton Jacket (picture unedited)

The grand finale of the 2024 Jackalope Jamboree took the form of The Randy Rogers Band inviting both Mike Harmeier of Silverada and Cody Canada on stage for an epic performance of Merle Haggard’s “I Think I’ll Just Sit Here and Drink.”

The Jackalope Jamboree is quickly becoming part of the historic Pendleton, OR legacy, while playing a crucial role in giving performers an opportunity to expand their footprint out West. Jackalope is leading the way in recognizing artists like Charley Crockett and Silverada as the headliners they are as opposed to side stage acts, is willing to book artist and bands like Ellis Bullard who are coming up quickly, Jade Jackson and Pony Bradshaw that seem to be criminally underrated, as well as supporting local talent like James Dean Kindle and Portland’s Mac Cornish.

Perhaps there are bigger festivals and beefier lineups. But as those who are making a habit of attending the Jackalope Jamboree will attest, Pendleton, OR is one of the collest and most important places to be each year.

– – – – – – – –

For more photos and media from the Jackalope Jamboree, follow Saving Country Music on Instagram. Apologies to any performers not mentioned or pictured.

Randy Rogers Band blowing out the main stage
Emily Nenni, whose new record Drive & Cry is considered by many as one of the best of 2024 so far
Jack Quiggens of Teddy and the Rough Riders, who regularly back up Emily Nenni
Heather Thomas playing with Emily Nenni. Always cool to see a woman behind the drum set.
Steel guitar player Muskrat Jones comes with his own following. He’s played with many. Pictured here with Emily Nenni.
Portland’s Mac Cornish entertains two-steppers in the Queen’s Barn
Mac Cornish and these folks were seen two-stepping all weekend
Bella White
Emily Rose and Paige Anderson of the band Two Runner who seem to always show up at the best shows and festivals.
Paige Anderson
Emilie Rose
Connor Author of the quickly rising band The Droptines, drawing complimentary comparisons to early American Aquarium
Droptines bass player Dillon Sampson. (It’s pronounced “tines” like fork tines, FYI)
Red Dirt legend Cody Canada of The Departed
Aaron McDonnell put on an especially inspired set
Jade Jackson stunned many
Jason Boland and his forearm troll of Ronnie Dunn’s “Cowboy” tattoo.
Jackalopes are real
The Red Twerk abides (and seems to be everywhere cool)
Cat Clyde brought some refreshing indie rock influence to the fest
Buffalo Kin brought their rural cowboy tunes to Pendleton
Zachary Moulton was all over the place on the weekend.
Zach playing with the Vandoliers
Vandoliers whipping the crowd into a frenzy
Joshua Fleming of the Vandoliers
Travis Curry of the Vandoliers
Dustin Fleming with Travis Curry
Trey Alfaro of the Vandoliers
Cory Graves of the Vandoliers
Mark Moncrieff of the Vandoliers
Evan Redsky was one of numerous Native American performers on the weekend.
Samantha Crain made the trek from Oklahoma
Dancers and representatives from the nearby Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation to participated in the festivities.
Crowd participates in the “circle dance” led by tribe members
Alison Self brought a good time
Logan Ryan finds the mild place where pop country and Texas music meet, cajon and all
The crowd in historic downtown Pendleton for the afterparty
The crowd going crazy for Charley Crockett’s arrival on stage.
The Randy Rogers Band, Cody Canada, and Mike Harmeier closing things out
© 2024 Saving Country Music