'Soul folk' duo plays the Tidings Café

A moving socio-political performance graced the Tidings Café on May 14. Michelle Bellamy and Clayton Di Chiro sang a song reflecting the need for affordable health care at the in-house Ashland Daily Tidings studio.

The duo performed their original song "Dying in the Waiting Room," written prior to a health care rally to bring attention to the plight of hard-working people who often suffer because of the lack of affordable health care.

Harmony is key for the duo and their sound. Both played a guitar and each sang solo verses, then came together for the poignant chorus.

Contemporary soul-folk is the newly coined genre for the pair.

"You can't put genres into a box anymore," Bellamy said as she appeared to struggle for a term that fit their style.

Born and raised in Grants Pass — fifth-generation, too — Bellamy, 22, strolled from class at Southern Oregon University with her guitar over her right shoulder, backpack slung behind her and a striped umbrella serving as a walking stick in her left hand, casually ready to perform.

Bellamy's childhood influences include Whitney Houston and Celine Dion. The T-Club, a Southern Oregon musical legend — in some circles — assisted Bellamy with her start in music when she was a teenager doing video production for the band.

A fresh transplant of two months from Southern California, Di Chiro, 26, arrived in flour-caked pants from his day job as a baker and was clearly enthusiastic about the performance they were prepared to give.

"I like to use my music for social change," Di Chiro said as he went on to discuss how a heavy concept should be addressed with joyful expression, citing Bob Dylan as his influence for such an approach.

"We're dancing our way toward change," he said.

Organizations they're involved with include: The Oregon Action Network, Unite (an organization assisting migrant workers) and Food Not Bombs.

Bellamy and Di Chiro will be open for State of Jefferson at the Applegate Lodge on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

The Tidings Café feature is reflective of the supportive Ashland community, Bellamy said.

"As a young artist, this is affirmation that I'm on my path," she said with her beaming smile.

The special mini-concert video performance featuring Bellamy and Di Chiro can be seen on the Tidings Café group page of connectashland.com and on dailytidings.com.

"I'm just happy I got to play in the original studio," Di Chiro said of the Tidings' rapidly expanding program.

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