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Music in the Mountains returns to Prospect

Five musical groups will bring a mix of bluegrass, folk, blues and Americana to the grounds of the Prospect Historic Hotel during the Music in the Mountains festival Friday through Sunday, Sept. 26-28.

The hotel's veranda will be draped with masterfully done quilts by Prospect resident Vi Grimes, and festival-goers can bring their own instruments and voices to join in Friday and Saturday night jam sessions with the performers — or just sit back and listen.

The festival begins with Friday's jam session at 8 p.m. and continues through Sunday evening at the hotel, 391 Mill Creek Drive, Prospect. Tickets cost $22 for one day or $35 for a weekend pass. 

The festival will feature four Rogue Valley bands plus Portland fingerstyle guitarist Brooks Robertson.

"It's not a bunch of cover songs you can hear in any bar. It's original music," says Prospect Historic Inn co-owner Fred Wickman.

A sound system perfectionist, Wickman promises the music will be loud enough for listeners to hear the lyrics, but not so loud they can't carry on conversations. Musicians will perform on a natural knoll in a large meadow, surrounded by trees and audience members sitting on the grass or in their lawn chairs.

Singer and songwriter Sage Meadows of Sage Meadows & High Country says she performed last year at the Prospect music festival and is looking forward to returning.

She says many of her songs are inspired by a sense of place.

"A lot of them are inspired by where I'm from — the Salmon River area of Northern California — and my family. I also like to write fun, honky-tonk songs. I like to play with my songwriting," Meadows says.

Her Americana style is rooted in folk, blues and old-fashioned country.

The Bathtub Gin Serenaders draw from Prohibition-era jazz and blues, playing time-honored music as well as their own compositions.

Members of the seven-member group weave together vocal harmonies and violin, accordion, mandolin, guitar, clarinet, saxophone, washboard, ukulele, bass and drum breaks.

"It's music you might have heard in a speak-easy in the '20s or '30s," Wickman says.

Folk-rock duo Gypsy Soul combines Cilette Swann's vocals with the musicianship of Roman Morykit, who plays acoustic guitar, fretless bass and Dobro.

The band Ol' Mount'n Due melds gravelly vocals with fast-paced banjo, acoustic guitar and fiddle. The group could rival any rock band with its high-energy music influenced by ragtime, western swing, bluegrass, folk and jug bands.

Robertson, the fingerstyle guitarist from Portland, may be a solo act, but his music is rich and complex, Wickman says.

"He does rhythm, lead and bass all on one guitar. You'd think there were three guitarists up there," Wickman says. "He'll show people how he separates music and give a presentation on that."

Robertson notes, "It's like being a one-man band or an orchestra."

Inspired to pick up the guitar as an 11-year-old after seeing fingerstyle master Buster B. Jones play, Robertson eventually became a student of his idol. Now an instructor himself, he spreads awareness about fingerstyle to guitar students and audiences.

"If people are new to fingerstyle guitar, hopefully I can educate them about it and why it's important to keep the tradition going," Robertson says.

Fingerstyle guitar relies heavily on picking strings with the thumb and fingers, rather than strumming.

Robertson has more than a decade of playing under his belt, but only began singing while playing his guitar a few years ago. His performances at the Prospect music festival will include instrumentals and songs with vocals.

"Fingerstyle gives you such a dynamic accompaniment to singing," Robertson says.

The Music in the Mountains festival also will feature benefit breakfasts on Saturday and Sunday served by Prospect Search and Rescue beginning at 7 a.m.

Musicians will perform from 10 a.m. until past 6 p.m. Saturday, and from 10 a.m. until past 5 p.m. on Sunday. Friday's veranda jam session is at 8 p.m. and Saturday's jam session is at 9 p.m.

Prime rib and barbecue from the Prospect Historic Hotel, wine from Crater Lake Cellars, beer from Southern Oregon Brewing Co., and arts and crafts from local vendors will be available.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.prospecthotel.com/bluegrass.html or call 541-560-3664.

Left to right: Eric Von Radics, Lawrence Newcomb, David Orr, Melissa Orr, Stephany Smith Pearson and Chari Weatherford are Bathtub Gin Serenaders. Photo courtesy of Heidi Aphrodite Photography