Marv Ellis

Tayberry Jam 2012 Is Alive and Well


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.

A Conversation with Jah Sun: Reggae, Hip-Hop, World Music


A Conversation with Jah Sun: Reggae, Hip-Hop, World Music

Nate Gartrell, EDN

A picture of Jah Sun, courtesy of Elliot Blair

Based in Humboldt County, Jason McCommas, aka Jah Sun, is an internationally-known reggae/hip-hop artist, who was nominated for an LA Music Award in 2006, for his single “Fiyah Dance.” But he’s no stranger to the Eugene area, having performed in many Tayberry Jams and Northwest World Reggae Festivals.

Jah Sun will be returning to Eugene on April 19, as part of a tour to promote his recently released album, “Battle the Dragon.” In this exclusive interview with Eugene Daily News, he discusses an upcoming collaboration with international reggae artists and Ethiopian youth, as well as how personal struggles growing up led him to music, and ultimately reggae and Hip-hop.

Eugene Daily News: How did you come up with the name “Jah Sun?” Your real name is “Jason,” did that have anything to do with it?

Jah Sun: Yeah. After I started getting into the Rasta livity and learning about Jah, it seemed like a real easy transition from “Jason” to “Jah Sun.”

EDN: How long have you been involved with reggae, and how did you first get involved with music in general?

JS: I’ve been involved with reggae about 17 years. Music, I’ve been involved with since I was about eight.

To know how I got into music you have to know that I was born to a 15-year-old little girl; my mother was 15 when she got pregnant with me. I never met my father. I grew up on food stamps and government cheese. We were poor, and I had several step-dads. It was a dysfunctional upbringing with divorce, and abuse—it was pretty rough.

And then, when I was about eight or nine years old, my mom married a Black American man—he was really nice to us, and it was the first time I ever had a father figure. I idolized him, and he was a rapper and a breakdancer.

It was 1982-83–breakdancin’ was sweeping over the nation. And I was adopted into this large, southern, Black American family. I was exposed to gospel, and soul, and R&B, and rap music. By the time I was 10, all through my teens, I was a fierce MC. I was into rhymin’ and b-boyin’. At 11, I was singing on a local radio station, and by 12, I was being featured on the local news channel.

At times, in my own personal life, I was running around and being a little hoodlum. That lifestyle almost landed me in trouble, and I knew I had to make a change. Right about that time, I discovered Bob Marely, and was just instantly transformed from where I was, to Jah Sun. I wanted to learn about spirituality and about cultures throughout the world.

EDN: How did you end up in Humboldt County, and what’s the reggae scene like down there?

JS: [Humboldt County] is the home of Reggae on the River. Humboldt County and reggae music go hand-in-hand. Reggae thrives here; it’s a good place for a reggae lover to be.

I moved here from LA (Los Angeles) because my partner of 10 years now, Chrystal, and I were going to have our firstborn child. We wanted to raise our baby in a smaller community; we didn’t want to do it in LA. We wanted to be in a place where people shared our ideas of organic farming and natural livity, so we moved here. It was a great choice—we really love it.

There seems to be a bit of camaraderie between Northern California and Southern and Central Oregon. Do you come up to Eugene a lot, and what do you think of the music scene around here?

JS: Really and truly, Eugene is my second home. My partner is from there, her mother still lives there, and my daughter was born there. I’ve played Northwest World Reggae Fest three or four times, I’ve played Tayberry Jam. I love it there, and all over Oregon.

Why do you think reggae has caught on in these parts, so far away from its place of birth?

Photo courtesy of Elliot Blair

JS: Because the message is a universal feeling that people from all walks of life can relate to. It’s a message of love and unity, and it’s a music that raises awareness towards cultural unification and music that fights against oppression. These are all morals and values that resonate to the core of any person who’s awake.

Along those lines, as a songwriter, what do you like to emphasize in your lyrics?

JS: I think an artist goes through changes and grows, and as a songwriter I just write what I’m feeling at the time. At one point, I felt passionate about veganism and wanted to move that message. I have other songs about organic farming, and I have some songs about herb.  But mostly, what I like to write about is people believing in themselves, and trying to gravitate towards love—I feel like there’s a lack of love in our society.

The world can be such a beautiful place, and life is the ultimate blessing. So many lives are spent in dysfunction, and wasted. I want people to realize their potential and tap into it and shine, and reflect that beauty to the world.

Do you have any upcoming shows lined up?

Yeah, I’m doing a little CD release tour in just a couple weeks. I start off April 18th at the Mateel Center with Midnight. Then I’ll be up at Luckey’s with Marv Ellis, on the 19th. I’ll play 4/20 in Southern Oregon, and then the 21st up in Seattle. Then the 25th, in Bellingham, Washington.

After, I’ll be going to Ethiopia, Africa, for the first time.

What will you be doing there?

I was invited to be a part of this really amazing project called the Youths of Shasha. It’s about Shashemene, a Rasta community. When Haile Selassie I was in power in Ethiopia, he dedicated a large chunk of land to anybody who wanted to compatriot back to Africa. And so, Shashemene has been a community there for the last 40 years.

Youths of Shasha is being funded by a label in Italy. Eleven children from Shashemene were selected, and each was paired up with an international reggae artist. They’ll be a cd, a documentary, and some music videos. I was asked to be a part of it, and I’m going to meet the kids, and speak at some schools.

What are some of the struggles associated with being an independently signed artist? Do you feel that certain messages are favored in the mainstream?

There’s definitely that element; you sing about bling-bling, or you talk about naked girls, and you have a chance to bust out and go much bigger.

I also think that, in our country, we just don’t respect the arts so much. Art programs always get taken from schools. In other countries, if you have a band and you get invited there to play, the government will pay for your ticket and be proud to showcase the talent that region has. We don’t have that kind of support here, and our idea of good music is auto-tuned pop music. So, players of instruments and songwriters and singers are definitely struggling.

But, at the same time, I’m not trying to be a pop star. I’d like to just be able to make a living at it, and take my family around the world.

The struggles are a bit disappointing. It’s tough to make money and it’s a lot of work. Being in the car for hours, going through airports, being on buses, staying at shaggy hotels, being ripped off by promoters. But there’s no greater joy than having someone say, “I got a lot out of that song, it really helped me in my life.”

What was your latest release, and where can people find it?

My new album, “Battle the Dragon,” is available on iTunes and on CD. I want to encourage people to support independent artists and buy the album—don’t bootleg it.

Friday Night On the Town


11/11/11 is numerical anomaly that has a few people taking notice. What with Veteran’s Day, the heralding of the “Age of Aquarius” on some calendars and a birthday party going on for the oldest bar in Eugene, there are plenty to choose from for a special “date” night.

Marv Ellis

Luckey’s is celebrating a centennial anniversary tonight; yes, the club has been around for 100 years, reinventing itself in various downtown locations.  During the prohibition years, Luckey’s was a cigar club and pool hall.  Today, indoor smoking is banned and the booze flows as fast as the bartenders can pull a tap.  What hasn’t changed is that Luckey’s is still a gathering place for folks looking to blow it out on a Friday night.

Often featuring local bands struggling to build an audience, Luckey’s is offering up the cream of the crop for their own birthday bash.  Matthew Hayward-Macdonald hales from Portland – just up the road a couple of hours.  A treat of a songwriter with a voice that draws you in to the original story lyrics, I imagine his laid back style has been selected for opening the show.  The harmonies are amazing, worth showing up early and sitting close to hear this emerging singer/songwriter.  Following up on the bill is Marv Ellis, an international hip-hop artist with three albums under his belt.

Reeble Jar

Ellis says he’s from Eugene, Portland and Mars.  I think he should pick one and go with it.  As the evening continues on, Eleven Eyes (Eugene Celebration and Whiteaker Block Party favorites) followed by Reeble Jar will keep the energy ratcheting up to an all out frenzy.  Expect a big crowd for this one.  Show starts at 9:00 with a $10 cover, next to nothing to get a dose of four great acts and a piece of the party.

Guitar lovers and aficionados are in for a treat with Willy Porter in town.  Appearing at Sam Bond’s tonight, Porter has been described as a guitar wizard.  After listening to “Available Light”, I simply want to hear more.  Ethereal and bluesy at the same time, I can see why Porter’s style is called “experimental”; he doesn’t follow the rules, he makes up his own.  “Hard Place” is a great tune for Veteran’s Day, a ballad about a Marine with the line “semper fi is not a slogan, but a living legacy.”   Show opens at 9:00, $15 at the door.

Willy Porter is in town

What is up with the 11/11/11 thing, anyway?  I guess the new age types think that something cosmic is being dished out by the universe astrologically and even thought the Age of Aquarius is supposed to start in December, 11/11/11 gets the ball rolling with great planetary vibes.  The Granary is getting in the spirit with Honey Vizer and Hansa El Din & His Happy Guitar.  Both of these performers specialize in that old-time Americana sound, but the show is billed as rock, go figure.

Finally, what better way to honor veterans and their special holiday than taking in a blues show at Mac’s at the Vet’s Club?  Featured at the 2011 Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, Kevin Selfe and the Tornadoes are offering up delicious slide guitar with gutsy vocals for a good time on one of the best dance floors in town.  Get out and get those feet moving, people.  See you there!

Original Music

Dave Norem, The Microbials: acousticWandering Goat – 9:00

Moondog Matinee, Giggle Party: Indie RockBlack Forest – 10:00

$1-11 Honey Vizer, Hansa El Din & His Happy Guitar: “11/11/11” Celebration; American folk; rockGranary – 10:00

$5 Betty & the Boy, Kendl Winter, Joe Capoccia: AmericanaAxe & Fiddle – 8:30

$10 One Hundredth Birthday Party! with Mathew Hayward-Macdonald, Eleven Eyes, Marv Ellis, Reeble Jar:  Rock, Fusion Luckey’s – 7:30

$15 Willy Porter: Singer/Song writer adult alternativeSam Bond’s – 9:00

Cover & Tribute Bands

Milepost, Downseekers: RockMulligan’s – 9:30
Coupe De Ville: Classic rock covers Embers – 8:30
Blazin’ Eddie: Party RockHappy Hours – 8:30
Rock ‘n Roll JamQuacker’s – 9:00
Manic Mechanics: ZZ Top cover bandVillage Green – 9:00
$3 Hemlock & the Entity: RockDowntown Lounge – 10:00

Blues, Jazz & Country

Gus Russell: Jazz, blues pianoLavelle’s – 6:00

Molly Nord: Piano Improv Hidden Valley – 6:00

Barbara Dzuro: Adult contemporary pianoGranary – 7:00

David Rogers: Classical guitarThe Beanery – 7:00

Christie & McCallum: Americana, Johnny Cash coversWest End Tavern – 8:00

The Essentials: Soul/R & BOak St. Speakeasy – 9:00

$5 Keith Anderson, Brian McComas, Aaron Benward, Bump in the Road: CountryWhiskey River Ranch – 9:00

$6 Kevin Selfe & the Tornadoes:  BluesMac’s – 9:00

$10 Matt Hayhall, Storm Nilson: JazzJazz Station – 8:00

Dance, DJ, Hip Hop, Other

Trivia Night: Interactive game with prizes – Rogue Public House – 8:00
Philly Phunkstra, The Longshots: Funk, SoulCozmic Pizza – 8:00
Freek-Nite Party with Audio Schizophrenic: DJ DanceCowfish – 9:00
Patrick & Girl: Acoustic O’Donnell’s – 9:30
DJ Crown: Raggae, hip hopDavis’ – 10:00

LA Thompson-EDN

Night on the Town


FRIDAY – Night on the Town


The Eugene Celebration Parade

Kicking off today is the Eugene Celebration!  Hooray!  I can’t believe this celebration is actually 28 years old this year!  I wonder if next year it will continue to be hailed 29 years old from there on out?  Ha!  Ha!  Starting at 5pm tonight and going till midnight, there is plenty of music to check out downtown!

As of Tuesday, The NEXT BIG THING the final two finalists were announced, Tyler  Fortier and Betty and the Boy, and will be performing Saturday.  So for all those musicians who played for FREE at the Lane County Fair…TOO BAD!  Thankfully both of these bands are actually from Eugene.  There are more than a few bands who are scheduled to perform over the next several days at the Celebration who aren’t even from Eugene… from my calculations the number of Eugene based bands performing are less than a half… Hmmm…. For the record, I’m holding my tongue here.

The bands I will be checking out tonight are fun! Am in the mood to move, so I’ll head over to 10th Avenue and Olive to catch Marv Ellis sometime around 8:30pm.  With an expected 40,000 people expected to attend this weekend, I’d recommend not driving… biking, carpool or some other means would be best.  Should be a nice night… perfect for checking out all the vendors, the exhibits and the host of people that make up Eugene!

Unkle Nancy

I think I’ll be good for an hour or so as I have an issue with LARGE crowds, so I’ll head over to the Goat to check the indy band, Rodent, and then over to Sam Bond’s to check out Unkle Nancy and the Family Jewels.  (Ironically this band lists as one of their influences, Marv Ellis!)   Rounding the night off with an acoustic indie set with songs like “Just a Boy” and “Off the Meds.”

Once again, a jammin’ night filled with good music, what is sure to be good company with the entire city, and some great ice cold beverages!  Definitely need some very comfy shoes!

I will see you out there!









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Original Music

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FREEBeanery:  Jaw Knee Now, Marquee—8PM
FREE:  Black Forest:   Pantheon, New World Sinner, Jean Grey, Rocket Propelled Chainsaws—9; Metal
FREE:  Cozmic Pizza: Memory of Green, Dreamdog, Americanistan, Laura Kemp Trio—6PM
FREE:  Wandering Goat:   Rodent—9; Indie, n/c
$5.00: Granary Brooks Robertson—7, $5; Brimstone sound w/DJ Crown—10. $5
$5.00:  Sam Bond’s Vida Girls—9:30; Rock, $5

Cover Bands & Tribute Bands

FREE: Mulligan’s: Mully’s All-Stars—9:30PM
FREE: Quackers: Rock ‘n’ Roll Jam—9pm
FREE: Yukon Jack’s The Survivors—9pm; Classic rock
$3.00: Creswell Coffee Co. The Brekettes­7; R&B, soft rock
$5.00: Whiskey River Ranch Sonic Storm—9pm; ‘80s Arena Rock

Blues, Jazz, Country & Specialty

FREE:  Davis:’ Gerry Rempel Trio—8pm
FREE:  Downtown Lounge:  Jonezer—10; Jazz, funk, fusion
FREE:  Mack’s: Coast Fork Bluegrass—6pm
FREE:  Pizza Research Institute: Olem Alves Duo—6:30; Jazz, blues
FREE:  TJ’s Restaurant:  Cowboy Cadillac—9; Country, rockabilly
FREE:  Village Green:  Rough Stock—9pm; Country
FREE:  WestEnd Tavern:  Piano Bar w/Rhianna—8pm
$5.00:  Axe & Fiddle:  Johnson Creek Stranglers—8:30; Country, rockabilly

Dance – DJ – Jam – Other

FREE: Cowfish:  “Freek-Nite” Dance Party w/Audio Schizophrenic—9pm
FREE: Embers: Retro—9pm
FREE: Oak St. Speakeasy:  Hip Hop Monthly w/ Marv Ellis, Metric, Fresh Til Deaf, Luminous Genus—9; Hip hop
FREE: Rogue Public House:  Trivia Night—8pm
FREE: Sam’s Place:  Riffle—7:30; Rock, variety
FREE: Two Friends Pub: Flashback Friday—9pm
$2.00: Subzero:   Fascination St.—10; New wave, dance, video