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Partial to Oregon

In the same way Tom Petty and Lucinda Williams tout the South, singer and songwriter David Jacobs-Strain establishes a strong sense of place, specifically Oregon, in his music. "I want to write the landscape that I grew up in and connect with," says the 28-year-old roots musician, who splits his time between Nashville, Tenn., and Portland.

His fifth album, "Live from the Left Coast," featuring harmonica ace Bob Beach, was released in September and contains several geographically centered originals, including "Play It Again," "Hurricane Railroad" and "Halfway to the Coast."

Jacobs-Strain says his new album is more true to his live performances and accurately portrays where he is as a musician.

He moves effortlessly between fingerstyle and slide guitar, sometimes adding percussive slap bass and clawhammer banjo styles for an additional pulse.

Jacobs-Strain will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Unitarian Fellowship, 87 Fourth St., Ashland.

Since the age of 12, he has been performing at country fairs and festivals throughout Oregon, Washington, California and the East Coast. At 15, he became the youngest faculty member of the Port Townsend Guitar Workshop, teaching blues slide guitar.

At first, his music was set strictly in Delta blues, but he has since plundered the genre, keeping only the soulful vocals and breadth of emotions that blues encompasses.

"The best part of the blues is the raw emotion ... that's more interesting to me than the chords and scales that everyone knows are the cliches of the blues," he says.

Now he jokes about whether to define his music as "gangsta-grass," "geek-a-billy" or "one-man arena rock." While he doesn't deny a blues presence, he also doesn't bill his music as blues, "because people associate it with the electric Chicago blues ... and I don't sound anything like that," he says.

“It doesn't sound like standard blues any more than Ray LaMontagne sounds like folk music,” he says.

Blues guitarist Ben Rice will share the bill at the concert. He and his band, The Ben Rice Blues Band, placed second in the King of Beale Street competition at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn.

Jacobs-Strain and Rice will each offer a slide and blues guitar workshop from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m., respectively, Sunday, Nov. 20, at the Geos Institute, 84 Fourth St., Ashland. Cost is $40 for one class or $60 for both.

Tickets to the concert cost $18 in advance, $20 at the door, $10 for ages 12 through 17 and free for ages 11 and younger. Tickets are available at Music Coop in Ashland, www.stclairevents.com and by calling 541-535-3562.

David Jacob-Strain patterns his guitar-playing after greats such as David Lindley, Ry Cooder, Taj Mahal, Stephen Stills and Robert Johnson. - Photo by Tara Laidlaw