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A Mid-Winter Bluegrass Party

The best music can happen when musicians — no matter their level of virtuosity — get together to play music from their roots, focus on community and just have fun.

Ray Miatke — an Ashland resident and guitarist for Rainy and the Rattlesnakes — has put together a group of accomplished musicians he calls the Boston Bluegrass Allstars for a concert of traditional bluegrass music.

The Mid-Winter Bluegrass Party will feature fiddle champion Tashina Clarridge and stand-up bassist Simon Chrisman of The Bee Eaters — a group hailed by Darol Anger as "the instrumental cream of a brand new string nation" — along with mandolin prodigy Dominick Leslie of The Deadly Gentlemen and five-string banjo player Ben Krakauer, who founded Old School Freight Train. Portland musician Luke Price will head up the group, playing guitar and singing vocals with his wife, Rachael.

Rainy and the Rattlesnakes — with fiddler Lela Miatke and mandolin player Rainy Miatke — will open the show.

The all-acoustic concert will run from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, in the Headwaters Room of the Geos Institute, 84 Fourth St., Ashland. Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased by calling 541-552-1665.

The connection among this set of musicians grew from performing together at string festivals and teaching at music camps.

"I've known Tashina since we were kids competing at the National Old Time Fiddlers Contest in Weiser, Idaho," says Luke Price.

Price, a multi-instrumentalist whose instrument of choice is the fiddle, is from Boise, Idaho. He studied at Berklee College of Music, where he met Rachael, before making Portland home.

"Tashina and her brother, Tristan, started a music camp in Mount Shasta, and they got me to teach at it the first year," Price says. "I've taught there for seven or eight years."

The Shasta Music Summit culminates with shows in Weed and Berkeley, Calif. Price met Chrisman and the others at these shows.

Price also tours with banjo extraordinaire Tony Furtado and his band, who recently performed at the Unitarian Fellowship.

He and his wife also perform as a fiddle and vocal duo called Dean, playing Portland venues such as Secret Society and Laurelthirst, the latter a popular spot for folk, bluegrass and country musicians.

"We're writing a lot of music right now as a duo and getting ready to record a second album," Price says. "We weren't married when we recorded the first album. We wrote separately, with Rachael writing most of the lyrics while I worked on the arrangements. Now, we're contributing to each side of the songwriting process. We like the storytelling aspect of it. Our lyrics and melodies can be abstract, though the themes are more tangible.

"Rachael writes beautiful, poetic lyrics, and she's improvisational. I can play something new at a show, and she will come up with lyrics off the cuff."

Bean's first album, "Want It Better," was independently released in 2010. It was recorded in Boston with Bridget Kearney on upright bass, Vishal Nayak on drums and Daniel Hartzheim on keys.

"The Ashland show will be cool for us," Price says. "I usually play fiddle when I'm working with Rachael or as a sideman, but I'll be playing guitar and singing lead on old, traditional bluegrass tunes like 'I'm Working on a Building,' 'Nine Pound Hammer' and 'Cash on the Barrelhead.' That last one was written by Charlie and Ira Louvin. The other songs were made popular by Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys, the Stanley Brothers and others."

A Mid-Winter Bluegrass Party