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Hops and Crops Brew Festival returns to Auburn's Mary Olson Farm

Enjoy cool tunes and cold brews at historic Mary Olson Farm at the annual Hops and Crops Brew Festival. - Reporter file photo
Enjoy cool tunes and cold brews at historic Mary Olson Farm at the annual Hops and Crops Brew Festival.
— image credit: Reporter file photo

The White River Valley Museum's annual Hops and Crops Brew Festival at the Mary Olson Farm is about more than just beer.

Although the chance to sample the sudsy offerings of several of the area's best micro-breweries might be the main attraction of the festival – which runs from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday – Hops and Crops is also about ambiance.

It's about getting in touch with the way things were. It's about leaving behind the chaos and breakneck pace of the modern world for a little while, and enjoying the 60-acre restored patch of 19th century heaven that is the Mary Olson Farm.

The event is a fundraiser for continued restoration and educational programming at the farm, 28728 Green River Road, Auburn.

The festival features a craft beer garden, live music, a craft and farmer's marketplace and a kid's activity area.

Band's gig 'a perfect fit'

When Rachel Burrum, the museum's educational programs and events coordinator, was booking bands for this year's event, she looked to highlight South Sound bands whose music matched the retro feel of the farm.

"We wanted to go with an alternative, country/roots feel for all the bands," she said. "We booked Science!, who are a folk duo, Jessica Lynne who is more traditional country, Really Old Airplanes and The Fabulous Roofshakers, who are a blues band and The Cottonwood Cutups. They're kind of almost a rockabilly band, but it's all different genres that will sound great at the Mary Olson Farm."

For bassist Ryan Ramsdell of The Cottonwood Cutups, a trio consisting of Ramsdell and brothers Jesse Hill and Joel Hill, the gig is a perfect fit.

"I wasn't familiar with the event at first," he said. "But I did some research and it seemed like a pretty cool event. So I talked to the guys, and they said 'absolutely.'"

The Cottonwood Cutups got their start just a couple of summers ago, when Ramsdell and the Hill brothers decided to expand on their campfire jams.

"We're all brothers," Ramsdell said. "Joel is married to my sister and Jesse is his brother. Joel is the guitar player and Jesse plays mandolin and banjo. We always go camping at the Cottonwood Campgrounds in the Hoh Rainforest (on the Olympic Peninsula) and we always brought guitars. About a year ago we officially formed and called ourselves The Cottonwood Cutups because of the campground."

Initially content with just covering the music of bands such as The Devil Makes Three, Lucero, Steve Earle, Johnny Cash and Roger Miller, the trio soon began composing its own songs, filtering its disparate influences through its own experiences, Ramsdell said.

"We started finding our sound," he said. "Our styles just kind of worked out. I added a lot of jazz and the blues, Joel added a lot of ragtime and that boom-chuck and Jess threw in that open-chord, old school country sound. We started coming up with original songs that we had composed on our own and folded them into the band. I think we all equally write lyrics and compose a lot of the melody and rhythms separately, then it all comes together in practice."

The Cottonwood Cutups began playing local open mics and soon were tagging onto bills featuring other local bands last January. The reaction to the band's music has been overwhelmingly positive, Ramsdell said.

"We usually come in from left field," he said. "That's why we usually like to play the middle set. Nobody comes to see the opener, but when they walk in to see the headliner, they come in on your band and say 'who?' And we're usually a little more upbeat than the other bands we tend to be put on the bill with. Usually we're sandwiched between a folk or Americana act, or traditional bluegrass. So we're usually a lot more energy."

The band has a 7-song EP out, but Ramsdell said the band is hoping to scratch together enough to go into the studio this fall and record a full length album, hopefully followed by a West Coast tour.

"Of course the challenge with that is that we all have to have day jobs," he said.

The Cottonwood Cutups will close out the musical entertainment at the Hops and Crops Festival, taking the stage at 5 p.m.

For more information or to buy advance tickets to the festival, visit wrvmuseum.org/hops_and_crops-2012.html.

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On tap

The White River Valley Museum's annual Hops and Crops Brew Festival runs from noon to 6 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Mary Olson Farm at 28728 Green River Rd.

General admission cost for the event is $7, with children younger than 13 free with accompanying adults. Sampler admission for adults 21 and older is $15 and includes a taster cup and five taster tokens good for a 4.5 oz. pour. Additional taster tokens are $1 each.

The event will feature beers from Airways Brewing, Dirty Bucket Brewing Co., Harmon Brewing, Puyallup River Brewing, Silver City Brewing, Soos Creek Brewing Co., Snoqualmie Falls Brewing, Georgetown Brewing, Naked City Brewing and Fish Brewing.

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