Bear Creek Band at Club 66

Bear Creek Band at Club 66

At 6 p.m. every Tuesday night, members of the Bear Creek Band arrive at bassist Craig Juan's home in Rogue River for rehearsals.

"We show up, say 'Hello, how you doin'?' and then it's business," says frontman Roger Lemstrom.

Unless there's a major medical emergency, the band meets every week like clockwork to make song suggestions, practice new material and work out set lists.

"It's quite a democracy," Lemstrom says. "Everyone is responsible for bringing music for the arrangements and for execution. Our rehearsals are pretty structured. It's like watching sausage being made. It's not a pleasant process, but the product is good."

Lemstrom and Rogue River banjo player Peter Sheil were members of the band's first configuration. The second, formed nearly two years ago, also includes Juan, Dave Jackson, Kim Mericle and Jimmy McLeod. Together they play guitar, mandolin, banjo, Dobro, harmonica, bass, ukulele and percussion.

The Bear Creek Band will present one of its well-structured sets at 9 p.m. Saturday, July 27, at Club 66, 1951 Ashland St., Ashland. The cover is $5.

During rehearsals, members pitch song ideas, and the rest vote.

"I'll bring three new songs," Lemstrom says. "Everyone will have a copy of the music and the lyrics, and I'll bring an MP3 of each one so everyone can hear what it sounds like. Then the question will be asked, 'Is this a thumbs up or a thumbs down?' I'll be lucky if one of these three songs is picked."

Song that have made it through this gauntlet include ones by Ray Wylie Hubbard, Ry Cooder, Johnny Cash, Old Crow Medicine Show, AC/DC, The Band and Dolly Parton. Several originals by Mericle and Lemstrom also have passed the test.

"We bring it. We play it. We throw it on the wall and see if it sticks," Lemstrom says.

The band's catalog includes more than 90 songs, ranging from bluegrass and Delta blues to country, Americana and rock 'n' roll. However, love songs almost always get vetoed.

"We have songs about getting arrested, a truck breaking down in Indianapolis (Drive-By Truckers), and we have a song about a snake farm (Ray Wylie Hubbard), ... but we don't have one love song," Lemstrom says.

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