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Siskiyou Summit hoedown

Each year, bluegrass band Siskiyou Summit throws a big concert at Roxy Ann Grange in Medford. Each year for the past eight, as a matter of fact.

"It's a self-produced show," says mandolin player Jeff Jones. "All of the band's members pitch in to promote it. We rent the hall, pay the insurance, create posters, sell tickets, set up chairs and put it all together. The fun part is playing music for a bunch of people."

The annual concert will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at the grange hall, 1850 Spring St.

There will be new songs and arrangements, along with tunes from Summit's albums: "From the Top" and "Breakdown."

"We've been working on a new, old-timey song I wrote called 'The Great Without' and a bluegrass arrangement of 'Pictures of Home,' a Deep Purple song from the 1972 album 'Machine Head,' " Jones says.

Deep Purple was one of Jones' favorite bands when he was in his late teens.

"We've got some traditional players in our band," he says. "I was apprehensive about bringing this song to them."

Jones and Summit member Crystal Reeves took the song's riff and created a mandolin and fiddle duet. Bob Evoniuk filled in a Dobro break where the electric-guitar break would be, and Sam Cuenca filled in an acoustic-bass break where there would be an electric one.

"We just get creative and do what we feel," Jones says.

Guitarist Glenn Freese and banjo player Rick Nelson finish the band's lineup.

The new "The Great Without" was written by Jones during a songwriter's challenge.

"Sometimes a group of us will take three words out of a newspaper headline to create a song title, then write the song. This has a typical, old-time theme of a poor boy falling in love with a rich girl. Though I wrote it for mountain dulcimer, the version we play includes banjo, fiddle and bass.

"We'll also be playing a piece called 'Magic Foot' with Jeff, Crystal and Glenn on mandolins and Sam on octave mandolin. Bob will switch to guitar and Rick to bass."

The group went through its CDs and chose about six tunes that it hasn't worked into its sets for a while, Jones says.

Look for Jones' "Through the Walls" from the "From the Top" CD and Evoniuk's "Hard Driving Railroad Man" and Nelson's "Do You Think About Me?" from "Breakdown," along with Gillian Welch's "Rock of Ages" and Lorraine Rawls' "September's Child." There's also Jones' hysterical number, titled "My Disease."

Summit also covers Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down," Rod Stewart's "Maggie May" and Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide."

"We reinterpret songs in our own style, with our own instrumentals and voices," Jones says. "If you're a bluegrass band and you play a Flatt & Scruggs song exactly the way they did it, it's not as much fun as getting creative and rearranging it to make it work for your band. That's the most fun."

Jones notes that Roxy Ann Grange was built in the '30s from timber logged off of Roxy Ann Butte, and that it's the only grange in the county with a spring floor — a floor floating on beams — that's great for dancing.

Siskiyou Summit's CDs will be available at the show. Tickets cost $15, $10 for ages 11 and younger, and may be purchased in advance at Nelson's Brake & Alignment, 1303 N. Riverside Ave., Medford, or Music Coop, 268 E. Main St., Ashland. Call 541-488-0178 or find Siskiyou Summit on Facebook for information.

Crystal Reeves, Rick Nelson, Bob Evoniuk, Jeff Jones, Glenn Freese and Sam Cuenca. - Photo courtesy of Tina Bolling