VIDEO — Guitarists Mark Hill and Carla Bauer have found a niche for themselves, playing local wineries and tasting rooms, including Enoteca in Ashland, South Stage Cellars in Jacksonville, Paschal Winery in Talent and RoxyAnn Winery in Medford.
Guitarists Mark Hill and Carla Bauer have found a niche for themselves, playing local wineries and tasting rooms, including Enoteca in Ashland, South Stage Cellars in Jacksonville, Paschal Winery in Talent and RoxyAnn Winery in Medford.
"We both like the ambiance, the acoustics and the crowd," Bauer says. "And I love wine. I need to make myself a cardboard sign that says, 'Will play for wine.' "
Born and raised in South Africa, Bauer and her husband, who is German and in the medical profession, moved to the states in 2000 and settled in Southern Oregon in 2002. The couple has 4 acres, four horses and two hogs (the Harley kind) in the country outside Phoenix.
Bauer says she learned to play piano when she was about 6 years old, and taught herself guitar a few years later.
"I don't read music, but play by ear," she says. "I taught myself. I just now started playing out and about. People ask my why I didn't make music a career, but I don't really like that lifestyle, traveling all the time. I like my home too much. I enjoy playing the little venues around here, and I'd like to have a little following in the valley, that's good enough for me."
For the past three winters, Bauer has hosted a monthly open mic on the last Friday of every month at RoxyAnn Winery, where she met Mark.
"Mark showed up and played and later asked me to do a competition with him," Bauer recalls. "The competition fell through, and then we thought, 'Well, let's keep playing together.' That was about two years ago."
As the pair began playing more often, a friend offered to set up a Facebook page for them but suggested they choose a name, so they decided on Just for Fun as it was a good representation of their musical philosophy.
Just for Fun continues to host the monthly open mic at RoxyAnn Winery. The next session will be at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 27, at the winery, 3285 Hillcrest Road, Medford. Sign-ups begin at 6 p.m. Bauer and Hill will kick off the performances with a short set before handing the mic off to the next musician.
"My playing style is very eclectic," Bauer says. "I grew up playing a lot of American music, like the Eagles, Neil Young, American folk-rock and '70s rock, and I still like to play that sort of thing, but I also like contemporary stuff, folk, blues, reggae and R&B. I like to keep people guessing. I think I'm getting Mark out of his box, too, which I think he enjoys or at least I hope he enjoys."
Hill, who moved from Santa Cruz, Calif., to the Rogue Valley in the early '90s, started out playing in churches, solo and in a gospel, bluegrass band. Pre-Just for Fun, his comfort zone was folk, gospel, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, John Denver and everything in between, he says.
Together, the duo's sound is not so easily defined. Sets include songs by Heart, the Eagles, Eric Clapton, Bob Marley and other greats, as well as original songs by Hill's brother, Mike, and several by Bauer.
In addition to guitars, Hill and Bauer take turns on cajon, and Bauer also plays keyboard and PorchBoard, "a little foot-stomping thing you plug in a bass amplifier that gives us a little percussion."
The duo mixes up the instrumentation combinations, takes turns singing vocals, pulls from one another's repertoires, and overall, just has a good time. After all, it's just for fun and, maybe, a glass of wine.