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Blues and eclectic music

As part of its 2009-10 season, St. Clair Productions invites Southern Oregonians to travel to exotic places without leaving the Rogue Valley.

The Eclectic Music and More concert series and the 10th Annual Rogue Valley Blues Festival will bring music from around the U.S. and the world to Ashland.

The Eclectic Music and More concerts shows will start at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7 p.m., at the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 87 Fourth St., Ashland.

The 2009-10 series begins Friday, Sept. 25, with a trip to Hawaii with a return engagement by the 101-year-old ukulele master Bill Tapia, this time appearing with Hawaiian jazz and traditional singer Mihana Souza. Tapia will again be joined by guitarist Bernie Baker and upright bassist Bruce Calin. Tapia and Souza will give ukulele workshops from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 26.

Next, St. Clair Productions will take audiences to Ireland with the storytelling and harp playing of Patrick Ball Friday, Oct. 2. Ball is one of the few harpists who plays a wire-strung Celtic harp.

Next, audience members will travel to Tuva, a small Russian province north of Western Mongolia, when Chirgilchin comes to entertain Saturday, Oct. 10. Chirgilchin is one of Tuva's leading throat-singing ensembles and has recently won the Tuvan national throat-singing competition held in Tuva's capital, Kyzyl. Chirgilchin will give a Tuvan throat-singing workshop Sunday, Oct. 11,

Tret Fure performs next, Friday, Oct. 23. Fure won the 2004 South Florida Folk Festival Songwriting Competition in two out of three categories: Best Up-Tempo and Best Overall. She also was presented with the Phyllis Schliessman Award for Outstanding Contributions to Women's Music in 2004.

Performing Friday, Nov. 13, will be singer and songwriter Ari Hest. Already signed with Columbia Records, he opted out of his label deal so that he could have more control over his art. Hest then embarked on his ambitious "52" project, during which he spent all of 2008 immersed in an effort to write, record, produce and release one new song per week, for 52 weeks in a row.

St. Clair Productions will visit the American Indian world with flutist Mary Youngblood Friday, Nov. 20, as a partial benefit for Red Earth Descendants. A two-time Grammy winner and Emmy nominee, Youngblood, who is half Seminole and half Aleut, is the first American Indian woman to have received a Grammy Award for "Best Native American Music Album" and the first American Indian to have won two Grammys. Youngblood will conduct a workshop from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 21.

On Tuesday, Feb. 16, audiences will journey to Ireland with Solas, a Celtic band based in the United States. The Boston Herald trumpeted the quartet as the first truly great Irish band to arise from America, and the Irish Echo ranked Solas among the most exciting bands anywhere in the world.

Mark Kilana Nelson takes a journey to islands real and imaginary on Saturday, March 6. Bringing together Hawaiian slack key guitar and ukulele plus his Celtic dulcimer, Nelson creates a new, soothing sound. Nelson will give two workshops: 2 to 3 p.m. "Intro to Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar" and 3:30-4:30 p.m. "Fun with Your Ukulele" on Sunday, March 7.

Nashville, Tenn., is the next destination when Bill Evans and Megan Lynch come to Ashland on Saturday, March 13. Bluegrass banjo player Evans and six-time national champion Nashville fiddler Lynch blend tradition and innovation, mixing original instrumentals with creative interpretations of modern tunes and a few well-chosen standards.

Thursday, March 25, audiences will enter the world of contemporary Jewish music at Havurah Shir Hadash, 185 N. Mountain, when Debbie Friedman comes to town in a partial benefit for Havurah Shir Hadash.

St. Clair Productions will bring the world of the Indian mystic when Jai Uttal comes to Ashland on Wednesday, April 7. Over the past two decades, modern kirtan (chanting) master Uttal has released a series of albums offering a mix of devotional chant, world music, folk, funk and more.

Then it's back to California with slide guitarist, banjo champion, acoustic bluesman and songwriter Tony Furtado on Saturday, April 4. Furtado blends rock music with elements of Americana, folk, and pop.

On Friday, May 7, Krista Detor will take the stage at the Unitarian Fellowship. Detor's songs incorporate the musical influence of some of the places where she has lived and traveled in the southern U.S., the Midwest and Europe.

The 14th season of Eclectic Music and More ends with the conscious comedy of Swami Beyondananda and the music of James Twyman, who is known as the Peace Troubadour, Saturday, May 14. Swami's alter-ego Steve Bhaerman will present a workshop based on his upcoming book "Spontaneous Evolution" written with Bruce Lipton.

The 10th Annual Rogue Valley Blues Festival will take place January 15-17, (the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend) at the Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St. Friday evening's acoustic concert will feature Eden Brent and Michael Hawkeye Herman. Saturday evening's dance will feature the Gospel Hummingbirds, The Ty Curtis Band and David Pinsky and his Rhythm Kings. Sunday evening's Under 21 Band dance features the Ben Rice Band, Gabe Young and Friends and the Gunnar Roads Band. There will be workshops Saturday and Sunday at the Armory and free performances at area restaurants.

Tickets are available online at stclairevents.com, by phone at 535-3562, or one month before the event at the Music Coop, Ashland.

Singer and songwriter Ari Hest will be among the performers in the St. Clair Productions Eclectic Music and More series of concerts. - St. Clair Productions