Clambake Music Festival

Making its comeback this March is the famed Clambake Music Festival, an occasion celebrating and highlighting America’s favorite hits from traditional jazz to 1950s rock. Shows ran from March 9 through March 12.

The Clambake Music Festival has been around for roughly three decades. The thought of it, however, began with Frosty West, Bob Downer, and Ron Carpani, musicians in The Coos Bay Clambake Jazz  Band, who wanted to preserve and share the music of Dixieland Jazz. At the time, fishing and timber was on the decline so a festival was a perfect way to give the Coos Bay-North Bend area an economic boost. Immediately, The Bay Area Traditional Society for Jazz, or B.A.T.S. for Jazz, volunteered their services to the festival’s very first Board of Directors. It took two years of fund-raising until the first festival was held. 

This year, Jim Ring stepped up as acting President of the festival board after the usual president underwent a medical emergency. In his new found position, Ring had to give up his Vice President duty of finding bands and has started in on the organization aspect of the job. He really took a shine to it. 

“Music to me means bringing people together,” he said. “I think people in Coos Bay, because of our long winters that we have, the rainy weather, it gives them an opportunity to get out and do something.” 

Many of the musicians attending felt similarly, including Shaymus Hanlin who brought his quartet. 

“I really look forward to sharing the music I love,” said Hanlin, a North Bend High School graduate and longtime jazz singer. “I’m just excited to come back home and put on a good show for everybody who’s there to listen.” 

While the music that played at the festival is a tad different that what’s on the radio today, it packs a punch for both new and old listeners. 

“I think this music has been around for a real long time for a lot of reasons. If you listen to it, it just connects with you,” Hanlin said. “Me and a lot of young people are doing our part to keep it alive.”

At the festival, there were nine bands attending, including several from the Bay area. One band, called the Throttles, will be playing 60s style music. Much of the band is made up of current North Bend High School teachers and their mutual friends. 

Amber Yester, a bass and banjo player for the band, was excited for The Throttles’ chance to play as it is her second time at the Festival. 

We are really looking forward to getting to hear the other fantastic bands from out of our area,” Yester said, “We have been hoping to use this as an opportunity to cut our teeth and work on some endurance as a band. We will be pretty busy during the festival weekend so I think we will definitely get that opportunity!”