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Philanthropic folk music

Folk, Americana, blues and other tunes befitting a sultry summer day are set for "An Evening of Folk Music," a concert at Grizzly Peak Winery — a shady spot in the hills of Ashland — that benefits the Jackson County Fuel Committee.

"The show will be a little bluesy, and there'll also be a little romp 'n' stomp," says singer and songwriter Jen Ambrose, whose solo performance will headline the show. Ambrose is based in Grants Pass.

The Tom Clunie Folk Band, featuring string players Gary Creek, Jessica Bryan and Clunie, will perform folk and contemporary Celtic music at the show, and guitarist Dan Dosier and stand-up bass player Eric Hosford will showcase traditional folk tunes and Dosier's original songs.

Live music, food from Ashland restaurants and wine will be available from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, at the winery, 1600 E. Nevada St. Tickets cost $10.

As a songwriter, Ambrose says there's a mix of experiences that trickles into her tunes. She's a member of The Rock Project, a progressive rock band that plays The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull and others, as well as upbeat arrangements of her original melodies.

Ambrose also works with an ensemble called Sound Stage Revue and teaches music to at-risk teens at an adolescent treatment center in Grants Pass.

"My music morphs into different genres depending on who I'm playing with," Ambrose says. "The Rock Project has a different feel than when I'm playing with mandolin and fiddle players."

Ambrose likes to call Sound Stage Revue a variety show.

"There's lots of costumes, and we play everything from the '30s up to today, depending on the venue," she says. "We play country music when we perform at Seven Feathers Casino, and we play our '50s music when we do concerts in the parks in Merlin and Myrtle Creek."

The compassion Ambrose feels for the at-risk teens she works with has a lot of influence on her music.

"These young people, especially the ones dealing with challenging life stories, are interested in writing their own music and learning music.

"I also write from the standpoint of being a woman," she says. "We're all looking for some element of grace while we cope with profound challenges. Whether the ship is floating or sinking, we're all in it together."

Ambrose has two CDs to her credit: "Nectar of Your Dreams" and "Remembering."

"The first is a mix of folk, blues and world-flavored music," she says. "There's more Americana on 'Remembering.' "

Ambrose grew up in New York and lived near Portland before settling in Southern Oregon about 13 years ago. As a youngster, she played piano, flute (she plays the flute parts for The Rock Project's Jethro Tull songs) and oboe. Later, she sang in her church's choir in Elmira, N.Y.

"I was always writing little pieces for the piano and duets for flute," she says. "My songwriting really began when I picked up the guitar as an adult. I couldn't take the piano when I headed to college, and it's hard to sing and play flute at the same time."

Ambrose will perform some of her newer material during the performance at Grizzly Peak Winery.

"The songs will touch on more of a blues and Americana feel," she says.

Call 541-488-2905 for information about the show. See www.jenambrose.org for more.

Singer and songwriter Jen Ambrose plays folk, progressive rock and cover tunes, and she teaches music to at-risk teens. - Photo by Jamie Lusch