Honky-tonk truth

Songwriter and guitarist Thad Beckman draws influences from English literature and American roots music for his mix of blues, country, folk and rock.

"When I was younger, I studied English lit at colleges around the country," Beckman says. "I was interested in the things people thought and felt, and how they could put those ideas into poetry or literature.

"My first real loves, though, were blues guys from the early 20th century. Then I got into country music and listened to a lot of Hank Williams, George Jones, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and others."

Beckman will perform at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at Paschal Winery & Vineyard, 1122 Suncrest Road, Talent. He'll be joined by stand-up, acoustic bassist Joe Cohoon of Ashland.

During a literature course at St. Martin's University in Lacey, Wash., Beckman read Herman Melville's "Billy Budd."

"It was a story of injustice and the tragic end to an innocent life," Beckman says. "It opened my eyes to another world. At any particular point in your life, you can reach an epiphany that will change your life.

"If you look at lyrics by Williams, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, The Beatles, Willie Nelson and others, they do the same thing. They deal with matters of the heart and of the soul."

Now a professional musician for more than 30 years, Beckman's original songs tell the stories of modern America with styles that range from growling Delta blues to contemporary folk music. He has about seven albums to his credit, and his newest recording project, under the working title "Born in Smoke," is slated for a late-summer release.

Raised in Portland, Beckman and Cohoon met while playing Little League baseball.

"I don't think either one of us had a clue we'd be musicians," he says.

Tickets for the show at Paschal cost $7 and are available by calling 541-488-0799.

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