Eight Dollar Mountain, the band, got its name from Eight Dollar Mountain, the geographic feature, located in the Cave Junction area of Josephine County's Illinois Valley.
“We took the name because we loved it, and we heard a great story about how it got the name," said Peter Koelsch, bass player and one of the vocalists for the quintet, purveyors of high-energy bluegrass straight out of Ashland.
Several of the members are “ski bums," Koelsch said, and he's pretty sure at least some of them have ridden Mt. Bachelor in the past. This weekend's trek to the High & Dry Bluegrass Festival, however, marks the band's first trip to Bend as a unit (see “If you go" and schedule).
Now, back to geography and what's in a name.
“There are two different stories" for how Eight Dollar Mountain earned its name, Koelsch said.
“The first one ... was that there was this old prospector who was out looking for gold and he found a lump of gold that was worth $8. This is back in the mid-1800s or something, so adjusted that's like, a good 150 bucks or something, to current standards.
“But what we've heard more of is that it was actually this prospector or surveyor, and he wanted to walk the outer length of the mountain, just to do it.
“It's a pretty wide mountain," Koelsch said. “And by the time he got to the point where he'd started, he'd broken his $8 pair of boots. And that made him so angry that he decided to name the mountain Eight Dollar Mountain, because he lost a brand new pair of $8 boots.
“That one is the more accurate story. If you go out and talk to people in Cave Junction, they're all like, 'Yep. That's what happen(ed),'" he finished with a laugh.
According to the book Oregon Geographic Names, either of the stories could be true explanations of how the 3,992-foot peak earned its name.
As for the music, Eight Dollar Mountain recently played at the Northwest String Summit festival in North Plains, where the guys competed in the band competition.
“We did well," Koelsch said. “We didn't win, but ... we certainly turned a lot of heads. We sold quite a few CDs, and I think we'll be asked back to perform there again."
Besides, his favorite part of the weekend was “staying up all hours of the night and just pickin' all night. It was days and nights of real bluegrass. And I'll tell you, we'll definitely be bringing that up to High & Dry this week(end)."
Pickin' real bluegrass is what High & Dry is all about, after all. The sixth annual gathering of bluegrass lovers will feature three days of performances by out-of-town bands like the Oly Mountain Boys, Fern Hill, Sugar Pine and The Loafers, locals such as The Anvil Blasters, Bare Roots and Wild Rye, and lots more, plus instrument workshops and plenty of jam sessions.
Koelsch promises that Eight Dollar Mountain's live show at the festival will be “energetic and entertaining."
“If you like bluegrass music, you're going to love the music we play," he says. “We have a lot of strong, driving rhythms, nice vocal harmony arrangement, and plenty of low-end thump, I like to say.
“People who come out to High & Dry are not going to be let down when Eight Dollar Mountain hits the stage, I'll tell you that much. It will be a real fun time."