Karrgo Bossajova

Through formal education and real-life experience, the three members of Karrgo Bossajova are able to forge a career in the music business starting right here in Ashland.

Blake Norris, guitarist and manager for Karrgo Bossajova, and Sean McDermott, who plays trumpet, both will be graduating from Southern Oregon University soon as music majors and will take their lessons with them on the road as they tour.

Joining Norris and McDermott is Zack Karr, who up until recently was also a music major but had to leave school because of financial problems.

"I get my education on the road," said Karr. "Repairing your van out in the middle of the woods before you have to be 300 miles away in another city, you can't learn that in school."

The three hope to play shows in Ashland until they finish up their final term at SOU in the fall, then, with nothing holding them back, they want to take to the road.

"We're trying to book a little mini-tour in Seattle," said Norris. On a sunny afternoon in Lithia Park, Norris, Karr and McDermott gathered together to play an original song inspired by Eugene called "The Euge" for the Tidings Café.

As the band prepared to play, a man walked up to them in the park and asked if they would like some free pizza. The three young men quickly replied "Yeah!" in unison, as the man gave them two whole hot pizzas, one cheese, one veggie.

"Wow, that's so great, thank you!" said Norris, folding a large slice in half and chowing it down.

With two guitars and two vocalists, the trio plays funky folksy music that McDermott spices up with his trumpet to bring a bit of a jazz element to the sound.

"Generally people have trouble not dancing to it," said Karr. "Even if you don't dance you'll probably wiggle a little bit," said Norris.

Most tunes Karrgo Bossajova plays are originals that the band describes as a funky bundle of love.

The group's unique name, with the "j" in Bossajova pronounced as an "h" like in Spanish, is sort of an inside joke.

"People ask where we got our name, and we just say we can't tell them, because it's that random and we don't have a very good reason for it," said Norris.

"It's become a symbol for what we're all about, it's so random a name and our music is this random collection of music," said Karr. "It's all about fun — Karrgo Bossajova, it has a ring to it that just describes what we play."

With influences from Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead, Karrgo Bossajova is definitely a jam band that supports free improvisation. The three members are about to release their first album, which consists of recordings from two live shows, one at Alex's and one at Northwest Pizza, both in Ashland.

When they aren't playing live shows in Ashland, the group is out meeting other Northwest bands and booking shows. One of the biggest shows the group has organized is the third annual Apple Jam, a three-day music festival in Williams going on today through Sunday, May 20-22.

"It's all West Coast musicians, local and regional. In the past it's been all local bands like our friends, but this year we have a band from Olympia, Wash., a band from the Bay Area, a band from Portland, and a band from Austin, Texas," said Norris, Apple Jam's head organizer.

"100 Watt Mind, us and the Illies are the local bands. It's like a 45-minute drive, and we're donating to the Ashland Food Bank, so it is an Ashland event. We're trying to be as community-driven as we can, because the festival is all about that," said Karr.

Apple Jam will be held at the Provolt Store, 14299 Williams Highway, Williams, and cost is $15 a day or $25 for the weekend.

To check out Karrgo Bossajova in Ashland, see the band at 9 p.m. June 3 at Alex's.

Mandy Valencia is a reporter for the Mail Tribune. Reach her at avalencia@mailtribune.com.

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