Striking an original note

The new interim manager for the Lithia Artisans Market is ratcheting things up a notch when it comes to entertainment.

"The market is all about handcrafted, authentic arts and crafts, so I'm focusing on making the music that way, too," said Marcus Scott, who joined the market in 1994 and was on the board for 15 years before accepting the interim position recently. Scott wants to apply the same principles the market has for its vendors to the musicians it hires to play.

One of the complaints he's heard over the years is that the market features the same musicians. Now that Scott is in charge of booking the music, he's working to change that.

"I'm trying to impress," he said.

Scott wants to vary the acts by scheduling locals and traveling musicians coming through Ashland. "Through social media, other bands are seeing us and wanting to play here," said Scott.

He also is scheduling only musicians who play original tunes to save money on fees paid to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers or other royalties.

"We don't expect people to play for free," said Scott. "We have to pay $40 a day to ASCAP for covers. That's $2,000 a year. That got me looking for original guys."

The market pays $35 for a solo act, $75 for a duo or band, and allows musicians to put out a tip jar and sell CDs.

"Because I'm a songwriter and the emphasis this year is on original music, that expectation is really exciting," said Jen Ambrose, who plays the market frequently.

"The music that I play is music that I've written, so my music is handcrafted the way the stuff there is, so it feels like I'm part of the whole thing," said Doug Warner, a blues musician who regularly performs at the market.

"The last time I played there I sold a ton of CDs and made a bucket full of tips. It's just a real nice, pleasant venue."

"I want it to evolve," said Scott. "Plus I have to be down there, too, and I want to be entertained."

Scott hand-cuts stone beads for his business, The Stone Bead, and sets up his booth across from the performance area, where he takes photos of the musicians. Scott uses the photos in entries he writes about the market for the Local's Guide and the Lithia Artisans Market website and Facebook page.

"If you're not savvy with social media networking, it's hard to connect with these people," said Scott of his efforts to recruit more musicians and bring awareness to the market. "What we're doing is kind of like two mini-Green Shows."

Admittedly a metal head at heart, he doesn't let his own preferences cloud his judgment when booking performances. He has included more than 25 new musicians this year already.

"Since we've had a better Facebook presence, that has made a difference," said Scott. "We've had crowds of 20 to 25 people watching the bands, which is unusual."

Some of the new musicians are familiar faces who have returned to town, such as Jeff Stanley, or new faces, such as Phoenix Sigalove. Others are well-established in Ashland but are new to the market gig, such as Kites and Crows.

"Marcus and all of the artisans are so incredibly kind and receptive and inspiring," said Sigalove. "Marcus is just an amazing organizer, and he really makes you feel special and at home. ... It really feels like a community and, frankly, that's the reason I came to this area, because people are doing and creating beautiful things, and I find it a very inspiring place."

"We all need to step it up another notch, as artists and in our businesses — ask more of yourself," Scott said. Scott still has some open slots for musicians in September and into the fall. Musicians can contact him through the Lithia Artisans Market page at

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

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