After more than 25 years in the mix, Ben Folds can still deliver an unforgettable night of live performance. That was the take away after a scorching outdoor show Sunday night at Britt Festival in Jacksonville, Oregon.
There aren’t many performers like Folds. He has created his own genre and style out of thin air. It all starts with one guy and a piano and the ability to rock harder than almost any amplified heavy metal band. And then comes a talent for telling a story. One angry dwarf? In a single line, Folds creates a world.
If you’re a frequent traveler to Ashland, keep your eye on what’s happening at Britt. This was my first visit to this outdoor venue at the base of the mighty Siskiyou mountains. It’s only 15 miles from OSF, and a steady parade of big acts comes through all summer long.
Portrait of the artist as a young troubadour. A commanding and surefooted voyage from childhood into young adulthood and up to the very brink of death – and back. Scheuer’s sung through narrative slowly takes you in, and by the end you are completely powerless to resist. Self discovery and recreation.
You already know Ashland for the world class theatre. But have you ever wondered what else there is to do at night in the Rogue Valley hamlet (other than see HAMLET)?
Despite what you might think, Ashland does not go to sleep at 8 PM when some 2,000 audience members empty out of the town’s restaurants and zoom inside the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s three theatres just before curtain.
In fact, there’s a whole ‘nother side of town that seems to NEVER go to sleep. There is actually quite a hot little night scene going on out there in the Siskiyou darkness. And with the creation of a new event production company to bring the latest in contemporary music to the Ashland Armory, a historic town gathering place that is only 100 meters away from the Bricks and serves as the Rogue Valley’s version of Portland’s Crystal Ballroom, things are only going to get hotter.
This past Saturday, Live at the Armory inaugurated a new era in Ashland music with a March Fourth Marching Band / SambaDá blowout kickoff party. And assuming the lovely Armory building (which was reduced to a smoking hole in the ground by the pounding bass and drums from Portland’s globetrotting glam marching band masters) can be rebuilt fairly quickly, there should be many more enjoyable nights to follow.
The new company aims to snare more of the big name acts that are already cruising up and down I-5 en route between LA, SF, PDX, and SEA. The idea is that the Ashland Armory will become another vital venue on the west coast touring circuit.
Note that some of these shows run later into the night, allowing you to first see a show at OSF and then head over to the Armory to dance off any excess creme brulee or foie grois you may have consumed at dinner. And one thing the people in Ashland can do – particularly the women – is dance.
So in future, don’t go anywhere near Ashland without first checking what’s on at the Armory.
You can read the full story about the new company here.