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Ashland Folk Collective wants to play on the move

The Ashland Folk Collective wants to take its music on the road.

The group is fundraising to create a solar-powered mobile stage. Its goal is to raise enough money to pay its artists a reasonable wage to sit atop a slowly moving trailer as it maneuvers through the flattest parts of town to perform for about an hour and a half at a time.

Jacqui Aubert, co-founder of the nonprofit, said the idea would make it possible to perform while still maintaining social distancing.

The route isn’t confirmed, but one possibility is to wrap through the Railroad District, from Main Street to A Street to Mountain Avenue and maybe to Helman Street, Aubert said.

If a donor gives $100 or more, the stage would come to their house, as long as they live within the general route area. The stage would stop for a song or two and keep moving.

It would move slowly — “parade style” — to keep any large crowds from forming, she said.

If fundraising is successful, the route will be publicized. Aubert said the stage would cross public areas, so people who don’t live in the downtown area could see it.

“We don’t want to support any large gatherings,” Aubert said. “We want to work with the community and make sure our goals for this are really clear.”

The organization has so far raised about $1,500 of its $2,750 goal.

Paying the musicians a living wage — and paying them before they perform — is a goal of the group, because in the world of music those two things don’t always happen, Aubert said.

“It’s our responsibility to step up and take care of our family,” Aubert said. “We all appreciate and reap the benefits of the hard work that artists do, and they often don’t get taken care of as well or as often as they deserve.”

The Folk Collective plans to attach a donation basket on a six-foot pole on the back of the stage trailer so people can donate in person.

The trailer, to be built by Ashland company Solarrolla, would contain solar-powered batteries to run the amplifiers and mics. The trailer would be towed by an electric, solar-powered van that belongs to Solarrolla.

The company builds vehicles with the ability to plug in and charge if needed, but with a focus on solar energy, Aubert explained.

Use of the equipment is being donated by the company. Aside from the environmental benefits, the electric vehicle is quiet, and the musicians wouldn’t be breathing engine exhaust.

The Folk Collective includes the Brothers Reed, Cedric Lamar Royer, Michal Palzewicz Trio, Peia Bird, Alice DiMicele, King Roy Wing, Fellow Pynins and Hollis Peach.

Hollis Peach consists of AFC co-founders Aubert and her partner Dan Sherrill, often accompanied by one to three other musicians.

She said some bands, hers included, may need to pare down to fit on the 5-by-10-foot trailer stage.

The shows will be somewhere between the hours of 6 and 9 p.m. so kids are still awake, Aubert said.

The goal is to have the first show in about a month, she said.

The Ashland Folk Collective had just begun its third year of shows when the lockdown hit. It had also just begun hosting workshops.

Aubert said she’s hopeful COVID-19 restrictions will be lessened, but they will adapt shows to work within the rules.

“We’re going to honor our state guidelines and not push them,” Aubert said.

She said she’s spent the last two years working to make the organization a success, and to see a whole season of events canceled was deflating.

“But it made me look at our values as an organization and the health of our community,” Aubert said. “People are having such a hard time with the pandemic, feeling scared and isolated, and the arts is the total cure for that.”

To donate for the mobile stage, see ashlandfolkcollective.com/donate, or mail a check to Ashland Folk Collective, Attn: Jacqui Aubert, 188 Central Ave., Ashland, OR 97520.

Contact Ashland Tidings freelance writer Caitlin Fowlkes at caitlin.fowlkes@gmail.com.

A crowd listens to Blitzen Trapper in 2019 at Fry Family Farm. Courtesy photo