Celebrate songwriting at Juniper Jam
Linda Bauk photo
Juniper Jam returns for a full day of music across two stages. The music festival celebrates songwriting and songwriters. The event also raises funds for the Wallowa Valley Music Alliance.
ENTERPRISE — Musician and poet Beth Wood will lead a songwriting workshop before Juniper Jam. The songwriter leads similar workshops throughout the year and she recently published a collection of written poems.
“(Songwriting and written poetry) feel like two separate tracks in my brain,” Wood said. “I’ve found poetry to be more freeform, whereas I usually try to shape a song into a certain form. For me, songs take more sculpting.”
The trick, Wood said, is to pay attention.
“One of our biggest jobs as a songwriter is to be alert, so when that ding or that bell goes off, you recognize it could be a song,” she said.
Wood grew up in a family of bird watchers, so she’s well versed in the art of sitting and waiting for things to come to her. She said that’s a skill that can be honed, “just like any other skill,” though.
“It’s just a matter of tuning into the world around you,” she said.
Alternatively, Juniper Jam performer Alexa Wiley said songwriting is about having something to say.
“When I was growing up, women’s voices were often veiled,” Wiley said. “It was rare, even then, that women were speaking out. Then all of a sudden, I discovered music by women who were saying their own words.”
“I think it’s innate to us as humans,” Wiley said. “It’s our roots to storytelling.”
The Juniper Jam event coordinators would likely agree with Wiley as the all-day music event exists to celebrate songwriting and the people who do it.
Sept. 2 marks the eighth annual music festival in Enterprise. Juniper Jam is a fundraiser for the Wallowa Valley Music Alliance. Held at the Wallowa County Fairgrounds, Juniper Jam features non-stop music across two stages.
The event promises a variety of music styles including folk, country, Americana, rock and blues, as well as food, drink and children’s activities.
Tickets cost $18 in advance or $20 at the gate. Children ages 12 and younger get in for free. Advance tickets are available at Joseph Hardware, Lear’s, The Bookloft, M. Crow & Co. or online at www.juniperjam.com. Parking is free.
The festival kicks off with performances by the TR Ritchie Memorial Songwriting Contest finalists at 1 p.m. on the Tunesmith stage.
Jezebel’s Mother, a “rootsy-bluesy-lively-lovely” Americana duo based in Enterprise, will perform at 2:50 p.m. Locals Janis Carper and Carolyn Lochert comprise the band.
Alexa Wiley & the Wilderness takes the Tunesmith stage at 4:40 p.m. Oregon Music News once described the Portland-based group’s sound as “Wild metaphorical music that rocks.” Wiley’s lyrics are surrounded by the Americana-rock of Bret Malmquist on lead guitar, Sean Oldham on drums, Dale Turnbull on bass and Steve Dearborn on multiple instruments.
Wiley said the group has performed in Enterprise before during the Tunesmith Night events.
“We’re really excited to be a part of this community event,” she said. “We enjoy being out there.”
The singer said the group will perform a few songs that haven’t been recorded yet in anticipation of an album she hopes to complete in the fall.
Beth Wood, who creates soulful, organic music, will perform at 6 p.m.
“Her exceptional musicianship, crafty songwriting and commanding stage presence have been winning over American audiences for 18 years” according to the Juniper Jam press release.
Wood said she is eager to perform on the same stage as so many other talented musicians.
“I’m always super inspired to be around and listen to new writers I’ve never heard before,” she said. “I’m looking forward to being able to channel that into my own performance.”
Wood will also lead the songwriting workshop that precedes the music.
Finally, Catskills goes on at 7:50 p.m. The psychedelic rock band from La Grande features songwriter Gregory Rawlins on guitar and vocals. The group also consists of Wayne Callahan on bass, Jeff Grammer on guitar and keys and Andy Steele on drums.
Bigfoot Mojo is the first to grace this year’s main stage at 1:55 p.m. The strings group features upright bassist Belinda Underwood and national mandolin champion Josiah Payne, who met on the bluegrass scene in Portland. Bigfoot Mojo promises “groove-based melodies and impeccable vocal harmonies,” according to the press release.
Brad Parsons Band, a Portland-based psychedelic Americana group, will go on at 3:35 p.m. Parsons said making music is more than just recording a digital file.
“You’re trying to create a place in people’s minds, and you do that through the layers, textures, tones and feelings you put into it,” he said.
Parsons grew up in Lewiston, Idaho, and is familiar with Enterprise’s community. He’s also heard about Juniper Jam from regional groups that have played it in the past.
I’ve wanted to play this festival for a long time,” he said. “(Enterprise) is a community that is excited about music and art. You don’t see that very often where everyone is legitimately excited about it.”
The two winners of the TR Ritchie songwriting contest will be given headliner treatment on the main stage starting at 5:25 p.m.
David Luning goes live at 6:45 p.m. Luning is a bluesy-rock performer from California who dropped out of college to pursue songwriting.
Run On Sentence, led by frontman Dustin Hamman, is back in high demand after the group’s 2015 Juniper Jam performance. Run On Sentence wraps gypsy, folk, gospel and pop into its original sound.
Finally, the night concludes with a jam session on the main stage.