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Off the Grid in Williams: The Grayback Mountain Jam

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Folks Enjoying the Jam. Photo by Daisy Pickens


When you are off the grid, trying to hop back can be off-putting. Consider how my interview with Nazel Pickens (aka Robin Terranova Host of The Folk Show on Jefferson Public Radio) started out: “The phone lines are down,” he explained, “and I had to drive to a friend’s house and borrow his cell phone to call you back. I don’t use cell phones much.” 

Seems fitting, though: The Grayback Mountain Jam, which we are talking about, is about keeping things simple—and rural.  

Pickens is a new radio show host, but an old-time musician and event organizer who plays in the band, Distilled-Spirit Rebellion (DSR), and handles the sound for all the bands at the upcoming Jam. He is like the guy pushing the truck filled with all his friends riding down the hill who jumps in at the last second, pops-the clutch, and steers so they all get where they are going and have a great time doing it. In fact, he “jumps in at the last second” at the end of the Grayback event. Pickens refers to it as, “The Grayback Mountain All-Star Jam where DSR is joined onstage with players from the previous acts. It is the final crescendo—the last waltz—the blow-out jam!”

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Going back to the roots of the happy hoedown, Pickens explains how it began: “The Grayback Mountain Jam started as a barroom conversation between myself, Jason Dae West of Intuitive Compass, Lob from The Strillas, and Christopher Smith who has played drums with all of us and the band Mudlark. We’ve all played in each other’s kitchens and porches, around campfires, on each other’s albums, and occasionally, on stages together for years, and we wanted to bring that down-home feeling to a larger event, kinda of an old-style
revue-type performance highlighting our different directions we take folk and country music.” 

He goes on, “The Grayback Mountain Jam harkens back to the rural outdoor hoedowns or barn dances of a simpler time, before the festival scene overshadowed the more community-centered gatherings. We seem to be getting bigger and bigger each year as the word spreads. But we will keep it very real and local.”

This year’s event is extra-special because it is paying tribute to a dear friend who passed this year—Scout. Pickens describes her as, “A revolutionary spirit, and musical inspiration. She was supposed to play again this year with her band Mudlark and was an incredible source of power.” Although her presence will be missed, everyone who attends will be honoring her with theirs. This is what community is all about.

Additionally, two new acts will be performing: Fire Your Boss and the duo Nathan Rivera and Jessie Andra from California. 

Here’s the lineup and order for the third annual Jam:

Warren John Wolfe (cowboy MC): He will be the “Cowboy MC” and has hosted the local open mic around Williams for years and a great western singer-songwriter. He’ll start off the afternoon and entertain between bands.
Fire Your Boss (folk punk) This Illinois Valley staple will give the event an early kick off. Show up early to catch them. We won’t tell your boss!
The Strillas: Alley and Lob were voted William’s cutest couple two years in a row. They turn domestic chores into blissful pleasures through song.
Nathan Rivera and Jessie Andra: A California-based eclectic duo performing folk, jazz and country.
Jason Dae West: The all-original vintage one-man music machine and Southern Oregon treasure from Intuitive Compass will perform folk, country western.
The Distilled-Spirit Rebellion: A six-piece backwoods blend of honky tonkin’ cosmic outlaw country rockin’ featuring banjo, pedal steel, electric guitar, and a rhythm section fronted by Nazel Pickens.


Grayback Mountain Jam
4 – 11 pm, Saturday, September 21
Sugarloaf Community Association, 206 Tetherow Rd, Williams
$10 suggested donation, kids free


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