Treefort: BW Chats Up an Oregon Teacher With a Passion For Indie Music


Eric Gustavson cradling his eight-month-old son, Fred.

Eric Gustavson cradled his eight-month-old son Fred in the shade of the Treefort Main Stage’s northwest corner while he waited for Tartufi to play. The baby had been shrouded in a blanket all afternoon, and Saturday’s heat had taken its toll. Fred needed to cool off.

Gustavson and his family are from Cove, Ore.—a small town near La Grande—where he works as a teacher at a K-12 school that is home to under 300 students. For the festival, the Gustavsons are staying with Boise friends for all four days, and put down a little extra to get VIP passes.

“It was kind of cheap,” he said. “There are 129 bands. I didn’t want to miss anything.”

Gustavson is here to see some of his favorite bands—like Finn Riggins, Tartufi, Typhoon and La Grande’s own Sons of Guns.

As a teacher with a passion for music, he’s always looking for ways to expose his students to new bands, and has invited a number of them to play for his pupils. Finn Riggins and Tartufi, two bands performing at Treefort, have already paid his school a visit.

“My goal is to have Typhoon to Cove School within the next three years,” he said.

Part of Gustavson’s motivation is the musical uniformity in his slice of Oregon, which is dominated by commercial radio.

“It’s such an isolated school, I make a point to break away. It’s like the Wal-Mart radio,” he said. “In our whole valley you hit scan and you hear the same thing. You don’t have to be fed this national syndicate.”