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Tidings Cafe: Jen Ambrose

If Jen Ambrose wasn't a performing artist, she wouldn't be a very happy woman.

"If I don't do song writing and performing, I'm miserable," said Ambrose.

The singer performs regularly throughout the region, from O'Brian to Ashland, including Medford and surrounding cities. A songwriter for the past 14 years, Ambrose often performs solo or as part of a duo, but also enjoys collaborating with a variety of different bands.

In addition to vocals and guitar, Ambrose plays the flute, electric guitar, some percussion and formerly performed on piano and oboe. She concedes her genre of music is tough to describe as she draws from a variety of influences.

"It is bluesy, that's kind of at the core of it, but there are a lot of world music influences," said Ambrose, " I feel most akin to music from the early 1900s like blues and jazz from that era. I love hearing that music and the people that were singing then."

At 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31, Ambrose will perform with Rob Gunderson on guitar at Inti Latin Soul, 109 Talent Ave., Talent.

"It will be a nice little duo show," said Ambrose, "I'll throw in a few covers just to mix it up a little bit. Like some Zeppelin tunes and jazz from the '30s."

For the Tidings Cafe, Ambrose sang an original song she calls "Pick Your Love Up Off The Ground." She performed it in Lithia Park on a sunny summer morning.

"It's too long for the modern ear, but I don't know what else to call it," said Ambrose of the song title.

The artist has two recorded albums under her belt in addition to a third collaborative recording with a jazz fusion group and is writing material for her next recording. Ambrose says she writes as often as she can, in between working at an herb shop in Grants Pass and an adolescent treatment center for at-risk teenagers.

"I teach and do music with them," said Ambrose. "Some kids are wanting to write their own songs right now and I'm just offering them a gamut of things they can explore, like drums and strings. But the one-on-one time and the outlet are important."

A mother herself, Ambrose has more time to perform now that her kids are grown. It's an artistic expression she values highly and hopes to use to inspire others.

"What feeds it, is being able to be in a really honest place with what I'm expressing and especially when I'm in a place where I'm executing it to the level that I want to be," said Ambrose. "Then to have people receive that, it just feeds that loop."

If Ambrose isn't performing solo or as a duo, she's often playing with other bands, such as The Rock Project.

"We do things like Zeppelin and The Beatles," said Ambrose. "It's unique classic rock and some progressive rock from that era and into the '80s — also some of my material, but rocked up."

She also performs with the Sound Stage Revue which is a full variety show with costume changes and performance art.

"We'll be doing a burlesque cabaret show next year," said Ambrose.

In addition Ambrose is part of The Crooked Road Travelers, an acoustic trio with her on guitar along with mandolin and violin instrumentation.

"When people ask what kind of music I do, I don't know what to say sometimes because I do so many different things," said Ambrose.

She hopes that one day music will provide more of her livelihood and dreams of some day setting up a tour on the West Coast or playing at festivals. She also wants to record the new music she's created.

"I really would like to record again; it's just financial restraints and time that get in the way," said Ambrose.

For now Ambrose will continue to plug away at her art, stretching her skills by performing with different groups and hoping to bring inspiration to her audience.

"My aspiration is that there might be something in what I'm doing that will speak to people or inspire them to do their own creative works," said Ambrose. "Everybody has something where they shine; when they do it, they're centered. That's my ultimate goal, to inspire that in other people."