Phoenix Sigalove

Singer, songwriter and poet Phoenix Sigalove will present tales and songs chronicling his yearlong adventure on horseback across the American West during a Oregon Shakespeare Festival series called OSF Presents.

Sigalove arrived in Ashland a year ago.

"I love it here. I definitely feel home," he said. "I feel like this is the place I've been looking for, for most of my life."

His performance will begin at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 21, in Carpenter Hall, 44 S. Pioneer St. Tickets are $20 general, $10 for students, and are available by calling the OSF box office at 541-482-4331 or by visiting

Sigalove left Montana in September 1999 and traveled more than 1,700 miles on his horse Moseby, accompanied by his border collie, Blues, and a packhorse named Corona. A year later, Sigalove arrived just north of the Mexican border outside Tucson, Ariz.

"I started writing songs coming out of that horseback ride," said Sigalove. "Traveling for a year, I did a lot of singing, writing and talking to myself."

Sigalove said he began his journey at a very dark time in his life and had no real intention of returning from the trip. "My intent was to depart this place in an honorable way," said Sigalove.

Hunting birds and rabbits for food to survive, Sigalove somehow found the will to live during his journey. "When it's a challenge just to find water, food and a place to camp, it forces you to be 100 percent present," he said.

"One of the main themes I write about is redemption," he said. "I feel that when you go through a lot of difficulty and unhappiness and you know sadness in a very intimate way, it creates this capacity for joy and it really carves out this vessel to contain an abundance of joy and happiness and hopefulness that seems to be a central theme that I'm still writing about."

For the Tidings Cafe, Sigalove performs an original song, "Right Here in Front of Me," in the alley next to the Varsity Theatre in downtown Ashland at night. See the video at

Claudia Alick, curator and producer of OSF's Green Show, said she's spearheading this new series as a way to showcase local artists.

"It's not meant to be redundant; our community already has some great presenting spaces and producers, so these are like one-off nights," she said. "We're just doing these things at random times throughout the season. And we're talking to a lot of other artists. We'll probably do three or four more of these."

Sigalove's music is influenced by blues, folk, rock and country, he said. "I would call it American and earthy. I can't get away from that nature influence, because my songwriting really is sparked mostly from my time in nature and the things I've learned and tools I've picked up along the way."

With Native American ancestry of his own, Sigalove spent time with members of the Navajo Indian tribe in Arizona. So, among themes of redemption and survival, Sigalove's musical performance and storytelling touch on American Indian topics as well.

"That journey was really the greatest defining event of my life, or experience of my life," he said.

Sigalove said he taught himself to play guitar from childhood. "A lot of musicians understand the mathematical relationships that are happening on their instrument, and I don't get those things," said Sigalove, "If it feels good and it sounds good, than that's probably what you're supposed to be playing."

Sigalove said Ashland is a place rife with possibility.

"It's the kind of place people say 'yes,' " he said. "When people ask for help or to stop and talk, they say 'yes'. It's not 'I'm too busy,' or 'it's not important to me.' That's what community really is, and that's why I came here."

Mandy Valencia is a reporter for the Mail Tribune. Reach her at

Photo by Mandy Valencia | for the Tidings

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