Valley still holds a special place in the heart of musician Austin Jenckes

He plays at the Festival at Mt. Si at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13.

This weekend, musician Austin Jenckes will once again take the stage during the Festival at Mount Si in North Bend.

The festival serves as something of a homecoming for Jenckes, a Cedarcrest High grad, who estimates he’s played the gig about 10 different times over the years. But whether it’s a show in Europe, Nashville, or his tenth time at the Festival at Mount Si, the rush he gets before performing never changes.

“It’s all the same,” Jenckes, 35, said via phone from his Nashville home. “It’s the same exact feeling I got when I was a kid.”

Growing up in North Bend and later Duvall, Jenckes developed a love of music from his father, who worked a day job at Boeing, but would take his son to open-mics in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood or frequently play guitar in the park.

“I always loved how it brought people together, for no other reason than people just like to hear music,” Jenckes said of his dad’s park performances.

Jenckes learned to play songs from Lynyrd Skynyrd and Tom Petty on his dad’s old Takamine guitar — an instrument he still owns to this day. One of his first shows in the Valley came when his middle school band The Show Offs played at the Carnation Fourth of July celebration.

Austin Jenckes performs at the 2015 Festival at Mount Si. (File photo)

Austin Jenckes performs at the 2015 Festival at Mount Si. (File photo)

After college at Western Washington University, Jenckes made a cross country journey from King County to Nashville, hoping to make it as a songwriter.

The move paid dividends in 2013, when a friend helped him score a career-altering audition on NBC’s “The Voice,” a reality singing competition.

At the time of the audition, Jenckes was working as a forklift driver. But since his top-ten finish on the show on the team of country singer Blake Shelton, he has “basically” made music his full-time pursuit.

In his post-“Voice” years, Jenckes has played shows in Europe, debuted at the renowned Grand Ole Opry and has gotten several mentions in Rolling Stone.

He also dropped a nine-track album in 2019, called “If you Grew Up Like I Did,” featuring songs about his time of adolescence in the Valley. Jenckes said he wrote hundreds of songs for the record over a five-year span.

The project, he said, was processing the emotions of his youth and reflecting on the memories that flood in every time he drives through the Valley.

Jenckes credits a lot to the Valley. He said he can never quite explain how he has ended up getting to play music for a living, except for the support he received from teachers, friends and family back home.

“I’ve been able to travel and play music, but the heart of it is back in the Valley,” he said. “I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without all the people who have supported me over the years.”