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Tayberry Jam 2012 Is Alive and Well

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Tayberry Jam 2012 Is Alive and Well

Cougar Mountain Farm has a long history of gatherings–the Eugene-based Hoedads cooperative held mountainside work parties there during the 1970s. Shoshoni and Kalapuya tribes held vision quests and other rituals there, centuries before Western settlers arrived.

One of the Wemples' tayberry bushes. A tayberry is a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry.

And, more recently, local environmentalists, hippies, and reggae fans have gathered there annually for the Tayberry Jam, a multi-day summer benefit concert, dedicated to raising money towards an educational resort on the mountainside. The farm’s owners, Noah and Anna Wemple, created Tayberry Jam in 2006, and also hold smaller-scale educational summits on their property.

This year, despite brief speculation that it would be cancelled, the seventh annual Tayberry Jam will be held from Aug. 3-5, this year, at Saginaw’s Cougar Mountain Farm. The general public is invited to attend, and camp under a full moon for the entirety of the festival.

“The Tayberry Jam is a representation of the ideals of the back-to-the-land movement that we represent,” Noah said. “We hope to impact the community at large by teaching sustainable living skills.”

The three-day concert will feature more than 55 different musical acts, hip-hop, reggae and rock acts. Headlining Friday will be electro hip-hop artists Lafa Taylor and Medium Troy, the latter of whom has won three consecutive WOW Music Hall awards in various categories.

Also performing on Friday, for the second year in a row, will be the reggae group Sol Seed. Benny Pezzano, bass player and vocalist for the local band, said the venue is a favorite amongst many area artists.

“We’ve played at seven or eight festivals in the northwest, and so far, Tayberry Jam was all of our favorite festivals,” Pezzano said. “Every musician we talk to pretty much agrees that Tayberry Jam is the best vibing festival around.”

On Saturday, Mabrak and Marv Ellis will headline. Mabrak is a well-respected reggae group with some popular 70s releases, led by veteran drummer Leroy Mabrak. Marv Ellis is a local MC who has performed with many notables in the hip-hop community, including KRS-ONE and Chuck D.

Shortly before either of them take the stage, local didgeridoo master Tyler Spencer is scheduled to play. The didgeridoo is a long, wooden wind instrument originally from Australia, that produces a low, rumbling drone sound.

Spencer has put out several CDs, and crafts his own “didges,” often out of Agave wood he harvest himself in Arizona. This will be his second Tayberry Jam.

“It was unfortunate we had some rain come through, but there were some great bands, some amazing musicians, and a good vibe,” Spencer said of his experience in 2011. “I really like what they’re doing up there.”

The view from one of the Tayberry Jam's campsites, overlooking the Cougar Mtn. Farm apple orchard.

On Sunday, the Cottage Grove-based acoustic group The Harmed Brothers will headline, and much of the day will be dedicated to a permaculture summit, when the Wemples will teach their sustainable living techniques.

The Wemples’ vision of setting up an educational resort on the farm is rooted in their history on the mountainside. Cougar Mountain Farm is off the grid, which means that the Wemples have had to provide everything; food, shelter, electricity, and running water, by themselves.

Both Noah and Anna are descendants of the Hoedads, a Eugene-based forester group that became the largest worker-owned cooperative during the 70s. Anna’s father, Hal Hartzell Jr., authored a book about the Hoedads in which he describes worker parties held on Cougar Mountain during that time. Noah’s father, the late Edd Wemple, was an organizer amongst the Hoedads, and acquired the Cougar Mountain property in 1972.

Since then, the Wemples have built their own two-story house, from lumber on their property. Using solar panels, they’ve supplied themselves with water, internet, and TV. They also grow an organic apple orchard, as well as a litany of other fruits and vegetables, and they keep livestock.

“Around 2002, we realized we had a roadmap of how to successfully implement a sustainable homestead, off the grid,” Noah said. “That’s what moves us; for that opportunity to touch other people’s lives.”

Weekend camping passes for Tayberry Jam are $80 for the weekend, or $40 at the gate for just Sunday. “Early bird” discount deals are available through the Tayberry Jam’s website.

Carpooling is encouraged, and pets aren’t allowed. Cougar Mountain Farm is located at: 33737 Witcher Gateway, in Cottage Grove. The Tayberry Jam will be held from August 3-5, 2012.

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