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Tender Heart


Ashland-native Bekkah McAlvage doesn't mind the moonlight miles that come from hitting the Oregon highways to perform. In fact, it's a welcome respite from teaching.

Country-folk singer/songwriter Bekkah McAlvage draws inspiration from the raw beauty of the Southern Oregon region where she lives, infusing her music with echoes of forests, rolling hills and the untamed spirit of the outlaw country troubadour. With a command of country, folk and indie elements, McAlvage showcases her soulful and haunting voice in every song, weaving together a musical tapestry that invites listeners into her world.

Though her words resonate deeply with those who appreciate storytelling through music, McAlvage admits that she first honed her lyrical skill with very little instrumental knowledge.

"I actually wrote my first song before I learned how to play guitar," McAlvage said. "I just had this melody in my head and I started coming up with lyrics before I thought maybe I should write this down," she recalled with a laugh.

As she prepares for her show at River's Place on Sunday, Jan. 14, McAlvage has been teasing fans with glimpses of her latest performances and travels through social media posts on both Instagram and Facebook. McAlvage's latest performances have been set across various venues in the Pacific Northwest and are incredibly intimate gatherings where fans can immerse themselves in the singer/songwriter's mountain melodies.

On her 2022 album, "Madrona," McAlvage's ability to craft narratives that evoke a sense of nostalgia and reverence for a life full of love is on full display. The first track of the album, "Timber Town," launches listeners across broken roads with flat-picking and steady beats that are reminiscent of Appalachian folk. The song's lyrics recount the experience of a young woman heading out on new adventures and the bittersweet emotion of being homesick. With the fifth song on the album, "Have You Changed Your Mind?," McAlvage's lyrics deliver a completely different tone and theme, painting a conversation between two desperate lovers in a relationship on its last legs. The rhythm section is minimal, allowing her acoustic guitar to be buoyed against the country sound of fiddles and sweet stringed vocal harmonies.

While McAlvage stretches her creative muscles through her music, the accomplished musician also pulls double duty as a full-time public school teacher and also plays with bluegrass band, The Rosa Lees.

"They tend to inform each other quite a bit," McAlvage said about her multiple projects and groups. "Writing for myself is always internal or personal in a lot of ways. With the band, there's songs that can really work with that bigger sound. There's a lot more communication and collaboration about the creative process when working with a band. You have to think about what fits where, when everything and everyone is creatively flowing."

With genuine warmth and connection at the center of her playing, McAlvage effortlessly creates an atmosphere where each song transforms as a personal conversation shared between her and her listeners. "Recently, I've been thinking a lot about what kind of narrative I want to put forward as a solo act compared to when I'm in a band setting. I hope that folks are intrigued by that and come out to the gig," confessed McAlvage.

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Photos by Justin Gordon

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