Foxfire

The Ashland music scene is a vibrant constantly changing community, but for the Foxfire trio, the band has held steady since members started playing together in 1984.

The original Foxfire five-member group got together at Applejam in September of '84. Now it is a trio made up of Bob Evoniuk on Dobro, guitar and vocals; Jeff Jones on mandolin, guitar and vocals; and Glenn Freese on guitar, mandolin and hammered dulcimer.

The trio will play on the patio stage at Standing Stone Brewery, Sunday, Sept. 18, from 4 to 6 p.m., as part of the brewery's Fall Sunday music program.

"I was getting really interested in bluegrass," Freese said. "Then I met these guys and some of it rubbed off on them, and some of them rubbed off on me and now I'm an avid bluegrass fan."

With pronounced bluegrass influences and instrumentation, the men have a broad repertoire they prefer not to classify as bluegrass.

"We'll do everything from Van Morrison to Paul Simon or Bill Monroe to Rolling Stones," Jones said.

"We developed a band sound, especially with the original material," Freese said. "In fact, we coined our own name for our sound called 'sensi-grass.' "

"When we settled in on our permanent bass player we had five lead singers and five songwriters," Evoniuk said. "It's almost like, what do you do with all of this? But we were able to forge that into a band that really had a unique identity and stayed together for almost 14 years."

Ending the 14-year continuity as a quintet was the sudden death of their bass player in 1998, soon after their banjo player moved to Portland. The remaining three members then pursued other musical projects before Freese was offered a gig as a part of Standing Stone Brewery's Sunday music series every fall, where musical acts play on their patio on Sundays, September through November.

"Since we've reconstituted we've played together in Siskiyou Summit for years," Evoniuk said. "There's never been a break in us playing music together. We sort of reformulated as a trio, because it sounded like fun."

With Foxfire's creative arrangements of songs and complex vocal interplay, the group's sound is perfect for listening audiences that want to just relax and be entertained.

For the Tidings Café, the trio played an old Willie Dixon blues number that has more of a gospel sound to it.

Evoniuk explains that when the band first got together in the '80s they had almost immediate success getting booked for several gigs within months of forming.

"The core of the band was the three of us, plus Larry the banjo player," Evoniuk said. "We were just in the right place at the right time, in terms of exposure and timing. The band just took off and sometime after that Tom Olbrich ended up managing us, because of all of his arts connections in the Northwest, we got really busy really fast."

Foxfire toured throughout Oregon playing in small cities all over Eastern Oregon before touring on the East Coast. Eventually the group signed a record deal with a Nashville label putting out four albums.

"We have a lot more entertainment value than typical bands who just get up there and play," Jones said. "We really do a show, that's why we got booked a lot, not just at bluegrass festivals, because we were able to break the mold of a bluegrass band going to a folk festival."

Mandy Valencia is a reporter for the Mail Tribune. Reach her at 541-776-4486 or by email at avalencia@mailtribune.com.

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