Popular Bluegrass Band Coming to Pendleton Center for the Arts


Bluegrass usually comes to the Pendleton Center for the Arts just once a year, but for 2020 the sought-after band the EOCenes is making an exception with a Spring Fling event Saturday, March 21.

The EOCenes (formerly Cabbage Hill) will take the stage at 7 p.m., and doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at pendletonarts.org or by calling 541-278-9201. Early ticket purchases are recommended.

“We’re excited to have the band here for a spring event, since many locals are too busy with Round-Up activities to catch the September shows,” said Arts Center director Roberta Lavadour. “These guys love to play together, and the energy is infectious.”

Ron Emmons, well known as the front man for the group, will be joined by bandmates Hugh McClellan, Duane Boyer, Hal Spence, Doug Jenkins, and Alan Feves.

Emmons and Boyer met during freshmen orientation week in the mid-1960s at Eastern Oregon College and connected with Spence and McClellan through their involvement in the Eastern Oregon College Ambassadors, a musical touring group that performed high school assemblies all over the Northwest. Each man went on to have success over the past five decades on the national bluegrass scene, performing with a wide range of groups and ensembles.

Bluegrass musicians tend to mix and match themselves into different arrangements for different performances. The name EOCenes is a play on the college’s monogram, EOC (which later became EOU) and the Eocene epoch, a period on the geological time scale that occurred 55-34 million years ago.

Emmons lives in Hermiston and has played mandolin and sung lead tenor and baritone with the Blue Mountain Crested Wheatgrass Boys, the Muddy Bottom Boys, Blue Heat and The Thatchmasters, as well as the EOCenes.

Boyer now lives in Haines and plays banjo and guitar, and sings lead, tenor and baritone. He taught banjo and guitar at EOC and played a major role in bringing national bluegrass acts to that part of the state.

McClellan resides in Oregon City and plays rhythm guitar, harmonica and is known for is low, lonesome bass voice. He’s also fronted a country-swing band and sang in a gospel quartet.

Hal Spence of Dallas, Ore., played guitar and sang tenor for 27 years with The Sawtooth Mountain Boys, one of the nation’s best-known bluegrass bands, whose travels included three tours of Europe.

Doug Jenkins first played with the other members at festivals and fiddle contest in the late 1960s. He went on to win many titles with his fiddle, earning the nickname “Lightning.”

The performance is made possible through the support of Dr. Cynthia Holmes and is part of the Blue Heron Live Music Series of the Pendleton Center for the Arts.