fb pixel

Log In

Reset Password

Folk for Fuel

The sounds of mandolins, banjos, guitars and a washboard will drift across the foothills of Grizzly Peak outside Ashland as musicians converge for the Fifth Annual Folk Music Festival.

The festival featuring two singer-songwriters and three bands runs from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2, at Grizzly Peak Winery, 1600 E. Nevada St., Ashland.

Admission is a suggested donation of $10 and includes food provided by Ashland restaurants. There will be a no-host bar featuring Grizzly Peak's wines. Tickets are available at the event or in advance at Music Coop, 268 E. Main St., Ashland.

The festival benefits Jackson County Fuel Committee, which provides free firewood for low-income people in Southern Oregon. The wood often comes from projects to thin wildfire fuels in local forests.

Singer, songwriter and guitar player Gene Burnett will play music from his catalog of original songs, along with such folk classics as Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A Changin'." 

"I'm going to focus on nature-related and community-related positive songs," Burnett says.

Poet T-Poe Varnado will join Burnett on stage. The poet is known for teaming up with musicians to mix music with poetry, as well as hosting poetry slams.

Burnett, a repeat performer at the annual Folk Music Festival, says the relaxed event takes place in a shady lawn area of the winery.

"It's an outdoor folk festival with friendly people, great food and a nice vibe," he says.

Jen Ambrose, another singer, songwriter and guitar player, will entertain listeners with her vocals and intricate finger and flat-picking. Her music is inspired by Delta Blues of the early 1900s, swing jazz of the 1930s, classic rock from the 1960s and world music.

Mandolin and guitar player Jef Ramsey and guitarist Kathryn Casternovia from the bluegrass and vintage county group Blades of Grass will perform a mix of covers and originals, including instrumental music.

After playing popular folk music of the '60s and '70s, Ramsey experimented with Texas swing and jazz music, creating an eclectic musical pedigree.

He says the festival will feature diverse acts — all playing for a good cause.

"The Fuel Committee provides firewood to people who don't have access to heat in the winter time. They do a lot of outreach to people who are having problems who don't usually say anything to anybody," Ramsey says. "They make sure they're proactive about finding people in dire straits."

The band St. Cinder — known for dressing in old-fashioned clothes and playing in accessible locations such as streets and farmers' markets — will perform its signature mix of ragtime, blues and folk. Dagan Bartholomew keeps the rhythm with a washboard, spoons or a suitcase-bass, while his bandmates accompany him on guitar, harmonica, violin, clarinet and mandolin.

The name of the band is an homage to St. Cinder, the patron saint of traveling musicians.

The group Ur Mom, pronounced "yer mom," will appeal to all ages at the family-friendly event by drawing on music from six decades of popular tunes.

Ur Mom's set will include "Listen to the Music" by The Doobie Brothers, "I'm on Fire" by Bruce Springsteen, "If You're Wondering If I Want You To" by Weezer and new pop and rock songs such as Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" and Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive."

Explaining the four-member band's varied picks, member Lynn Kunstman says, "Usually we're trying to get something that's danceable, but especially we want something that moves us. We have a repertoire of about 80 songs. We take turns doing lead and the others harmonize."

A retired middle school teacher who has stayed on top of musical trends, Kuntsman adds, "We'll have songs people will know and like. Our audience spans the decades."

The Jackson County Fuel Committee is an association of forestry and timber workers, low-income seasonal workers, students, local businesses and other community members. Participants work to address the disparity between the lack of access to energy sources and the abundance of energy and heating resources in the area.

Their work includes gathering and distributing firewood, aiding with weatherization, advocating for a moratorium on utility shut-offs of vulnerable households during extreme weather conditions and encouraging the Oregon Legislature and Oregon Public Utility Commission to grapple with rising utility costs.

For more information, call 541-488-2905.

Dagan Bartholomew, Charlie Tony, Colton Ort and Jon Ratliff are folk band St. Cinder. Photo courtesy of Jackson County Fuel Committee