Hello ... my name is Jeff
What's in a name? That which we call Jeff, by any other name would play music as sweet.
There are a number of great guitar slingers named Jeff — and one Jef — living and working among us in the Rogue Valley. There's Jeff Pevar, a guitarist whose skill takes him on the road with dozens of mainstream performers, and Jef Fretwell, whose penchant for bluegrass and alt-country music has led him to stages at music festivals around the country. Jeff Stanley records and performs his original rock; Jeff Kloetzel plays consistently in local venues; and Jeff Ebnother plays with The Rhythm Kings and teaches. Jeff Addicott is a versatile, freelance bassist who plays with Sage Meadows and High Country, The Muskadine Blues Band and Salsa Brava Guitar; mandolin player Jeff Jones is a longtime member of bluegrass ensemble Siskiyou Summit and Foxfire Trio; drummer and singer Jeff Smith, aka Billy Rock Smith, is with Leonard Griffie's R&B and old-school blues band In the Pocket; and sax player Jeff Richmond is a music instructor at Southern Oregon University.
"They're all friends on my Facebook page," says Ariella St. Clair, artistic director of St. Clair Productions. "There are probably more musicians named Jeff in the Rogue Valley than any other name. I thought it would be a nice concept for a concert of local musicians. I just see it as a whole lot of fun."
The Jeff All-Stars will get together for a three-hour mash of everything that is Jeff from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14, at Grizzly Peak Winery, 1600 E. Nevada St., Ashland. The show will be emceed by Geoff Riley of Jefferson Public Radio and Jeff Golden, a political activist in Southern Oregon. Tickets cost $15 and can be purchased online at www.stclairevents.com, Music Coop in Ashland or by calling 541-535-3562. Proceeds will benefit St. Clair Productions and Modern Roots Foundation.
"Each of us will take turns on lead and backup," says Jeff Jones, who is organizing the concert. "We'll play some acoustic and some electric sets."
Trying to get this many freelance musicians together for a rehearsal must be like herding cats, but with the exception of Stanley and Richmond, that's precisely what took place last Sunday afternoon.
"It was my vision to get us all together to form some reasonable semblance of a set list," Jones says. "Rather than work on arrangements as an ensemble, we've all got songs that we want to play solo and with various configurations of each other. I've got a couple of songs I'd like to bring, and Kloetzel and Addicott know what they want to do. These guys are so good, they can pick up anything quickly."
Jones will present at least two of his original songs at the show. One — recorded with Siskiyou Summit and called "Through the Walls" — is a country rocker that he feels would work well with this group. Another, "Sometimes It Works Out Like That," is a bluesy rock tune.
"It's a little philosophy-of-life song," Jones says. "I like it, but I've never been with a band that could play it. I took it to Siskiyou Summit, but it didn't work out because they're bluegrass and there was no banjo break. So, I'm thinking that this show is going to be a great opportunity, like a gospel, bluesish, rockish thing, that these guys will be able to pick up on easily."
The first set will be filled with solo performances — letting the Jeffs showcase music they've written or enjoy playing — along with duets, trios and maybe quartets.
"The second set will be more raucous and include the full ensemble," Jones says. "I'm really looking forward to it. I've never played music like some of the other Jeffs. How fun and cool. I wonder what I can do with them."