The Ashland Folk Collective knows how to put on a good show, and Saturday night’s King Roy Wing concert was no exception. Held at the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship church in Ashland, the packed-house enjoyed an evening of boot-stomping tunes and hilarious personal anecdotes from the band.
Before the show, I had the opportunity to chat with a few members of the band. They were welcoming and fun, saying that they had not known each other before they formed King Roy Wing, but now their friendship is what keeps them playing. The band, based in Ashland, stressed the importance of the synergy between themselves and the community, saying there is a magic created between the performers and audience during a show. Henry, the band’s frontman, expressed that King Roy Wing is not about the music, but about the magic that the music creates.
To start the evening, Ashland High School student, Tate Oliva, took to the stage and performed some deeply moving original songs and a cover. Oliva greeted the audience with a smile and explained that her mission as an artist is to bring to light unspoken human emotions and to bring out what is hidden on the inside. Her opening song, “The Inside,” did just that in a relatable and very catchy tune about putting on a pretty face when you’re falling apart on the inside. The audience erupted into a standing ovation after her first song and enjoyed the rest of her performance in attentive appreciation. Oliva had a natural stage presence and a lovely voice that you couldn’t help but listen to.
King Roy Wing went on next. The five-piece band opened with a rousing song that enveloped the venue in a heavy beat and banjo rolls that had the audience clapping along in the first two minutes. The band held the audience’s attention for a full hour and a half, and the whole room swayed, sang, and laughed together. Complex instrumental layers paired with beautiful three-part harmonies while the lyrics told stories that were at the same time funny, deep, and relatable. The audience learned the chorus to the song “Someday We Will All Be Dead” and the venue raised their voices with that inevitable truth of life, smiling together. As I sat clapping and singing with the crowd, I felt the magic Henry had referenced before the show. It was captivating.
The Ashland Folk Collective is a non-profit organization based in Ashland that seeks to build a community of folk enthusiasts, introduce Southern Oregon to new bands, and pay artists a living wage. I had the privilege of speaking with the Collective’s founder and executive director, Jacqui Aubert, and was inspired by her dedication to supporting the arts. The inspiration for starting the Collective was sparked several years ago when Aubert was a touring musician and saw the vast network of friends musicians create on the road. In 2017, she started the non-profit and began booking shows for up-and-coming bands with the intention of giving the bands a nurturing experience above playing a show. Her mission is to give musicians not just a stage and an audience, but an experience that leaves musicians feeling charged and cared-for.
The concert was one of the most fun music events I have been to recently, and I would encourage everyone to check out both the Ashland Folk Collective and King Roy Wing. King Roy Wing will be releasing a new album later this year called These Rolling Hills, so be sure to keep a lookout on your favorite streaming service. The band is also hosting a Kickstarter campaign this month to raise funds for the album, so be sure to check that out as well when it goes live.