Build the Barn Dance

David Pinsky's Royal Blues Revue will be serving up a family-oriented evening of dancing to live blues music from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Ashland Community Center, Winburn Way across from Lithia Park.

Organizers of the "Build the Barn Dance" plan to raise funds to restore one of the oldest timber-frame buildings in Jackson county, the old yellow barn at Willow Wind Community Learning Center in Ashland. All proceeds from the event will go toward the capital campaign to restore the century-old barn.

Plans are underway to rebuild the old barn creating an assembly hall for the school while retaining the look and feel of a turn-of-the century barn. Grants from regional foundations and gifts from many local donors have funded the restoration of the interior historic timber frame structure and some initial foundation work has been completed. More funds are needed to complete the full rebuilding project.

According to a press release from Jeanne Chouard, the barn was built in the 1890s on a pioneer ranch on East Main street, just outside the city of Ashland. While many old barns in Jackson county have fallen down or burned, the Willow Wind barn has survived over 10 decades.

Originally built as a home for cattle and horses, the barn served as a dairy barn from the thirties to the sixties. In the 1970s, the Ochs family moved to the ranch and started the Chatauqua Ranch School on the property.

A menagerie of animals was kept in the old barn during these years, everything from rabbits to llamas. The Waldorf School of the Rogue Valley was moved to the property in the middle 1990s, but when the Waldorf school experienced financial difficulties, the old farm was put up for sale.

Ashland School District purchased the property in the year 2000. The old pioneer ranch has served as the site for Willow Wind Community Learning Center, an alternative education program for Ashland public schools for more than seven years. In it's present condition, the old barn can only be used for storage, but once fully restored, the facility will used as classroom space for performing arts classes and a gathering space for families.

Pinsky co-owned The Brooklyn in Ashland back in the 1980s. The place was a magnet for well-known blues musicians who would stop over in Ashland for live shows between gigs in San Francisco and Portland. The Brooklyn would regularly host acts such as Clarence Brown, Robert Cray and Albert Collins. Pinsky, along with a cadre of fellow local musicians, would often share the stage with these blues icons. Although the Brooklyn is long gone, local musicians have continued to play together in an effort to keep Ashland's local music scene alive. The Royal Blues Revue is a mixture of local blues artists all of whom have more than 25 years of professional playing experience. "This is a chance for Ashlanders of all ages to come hear the come hear some Baby Boomers play the blues and help raise money for a worthy cause," Pinsky said in the press release.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and there is a special family ticket for $25. Tickets will be available at the door. Food and beverages will be available and there will be a silent auction featuring items donated by local businesses.

Call 488-2684.

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