When it launched in 2016, the Pendleton Whisky Music Fest took Eastern Oregon by storm. Packing the Pendleton Round-Up grounds, the festival hosted the Zac Brown Band–and has since brought the likes of Maroon 5, Pitbull, and Blake Shelton to the city of 17,000.
The city doesn’t always host some of the biggest names in pop, rock, and country–but the popularity of Pendleton Whisky Fest underscores the region’s love affair with live music. And as one of the largest cities in Eastern Oregon, you’re never far from the next live show. Here’s where to catch regional favorites, up-and-coming performers, and more around Pendleton:
Even without live music, Great Pacific Wine and Coffee Company serves as a community gathering spot in downtown Pendleton. There, friends and colleagues get together over coffee, pizza, beer, and some of the shop’s outstanding wine – and the venue’s eclectic live music lineup means that everyone leaves entertained.
Great Pacific hosts live music a few times each month, and the lineup runs the gamut from acoustic singer-songwriters to bluegrass-inspired folk to trios who perform a mix of folk, pop, and jazz with a cello, mandolin, and (believe it or not) typewriter.
As if a great selection of craft beer weren’t enough, local beer bar 40 Taps hosts live music, starring up-and-coming performers, on Thursdays.
The brick wall-lined bar prides itself on hosting original performers, so you won’t hear covers of “Don’t Stop Believin’” or acoustic renditions of “What a Wonderful World.” Rather, recent shows have spotlighted folk, country, bluegrass, and acoustic rock–all from local and regional musicians.
Trade the sweaty, crowded, beer-soaked bar dance floor for something smaller and more intimate – but no less thrilling – at the Pendleton Center for the Arts.
Bluegrass, jazz, Celtic, and rock and roll are just some of the genres gracing the stage of the restored 1916 Carnegie Library building, overlooking the Umatilla River at the northern edge of downtown Pendleton. And on the first Thursday of each month, musicians of all experience levels are invited to take part in jam sessions that cover a variety of genres.
It’s tough to visit Pendleton without stopping at Hamley’s Saloon in the heart of downtown. No matter when you visit, chances are good you’ll stumble onto some live music – whether a regional act on tour or a local musician performing a set for the hometown crowd. Expect a mix of rock ‘n roll, country, blues, and bluegrass.
No story about entertainment in Pendleton would be complete without a nod to Wildhorse Resort and Casino – and no matter what kind of music you’re into, chances are good Wildhorse is hosting it soon.
The casino routinely hosts touring musicians and performers. Earlier this year, for instance, Wildhorse hosted a throwback show starring '90s hip-hop stalwarts Tone Loc, Sir Mix-A-Lot, and Naughty By Nature.
On the horizon, the Wildhorse Sports Bar’s Halloween party features a headlining set from the band Jilt, rocking your favorite '80s hits, while other upcoming performers include country singer-songwriter Britnee Kellogg and the Seattle-based rock group Hair Nation. Best of all, there’s never a cover in the sports bar.
Would you rather sing your favorite hits? If so, head to Cadillac Jack’s Saloon and Grill, which hosts regular karaoke nights alongside craft beer tastings, holiday parties, and other fun events.
Staying the night to catch another great show? Check out our accommodations in the Pendleton area for historic hotels, B&Bs, resorts, and lodges.