"They hung me upside down in a harness during my solo," says Monterey, Calif., cellist Rushad Eggleston about his recent performance at the Wintergrass Festival in Bellevue, Wash.
"It was during the song 'I'm a Falcon,' and we didn't want it to be a hypocritical song. So, I got hooked up in this harness and I could fly around the stage. During my solo, I flipped upside down and finished the song that way."
This is just one example of the theatrical comedy and mild acrobatics that infuse shows by Eggleston, who will perform at 7 p.m. Friday, March 7, at Headwaters Environmental Center, 84 Fourth St., Ashland. He will be joined by local bluegrass group Rainy and the Rattlesnakes, who will open the show and play a few songs with Eggleston.
Who: Rushad Eggleston with Rainy and the Rattlesnakes
When: 7 p.m. Friday, March 7
Where: Headwaters Environmental Center, 84 Fourth St., Ashland
Tickets: $15, $10 for children
Eggleston originally got into music through guitar but was steered in a different direction by his mother.
"I wanted to rock," Eggleston says. "My mom played the flute, so she thought it would be a good idea if I played the violin. I didn't get much say in the matter."
Eggleston eventually switched to cello because he preferred the sound and it felt more natural for him to play. Because his high school didn't have much of a string program, Eggleston played in regional orchestras until he decided that his playing would be better suited to styles other than classical.
"I realized that I wouldn't be as good as these other classical musicians," Eggleston says. "It's not that they were more serious than I was — I was practicing eight hours a day at that point. Classical music was just their language. It wasn't mine."
Eggleston went on to jam with his uncle regularly and says that those jams were a big influence on him as a teenager.
"I would have these psychedelic jams with him and his friends," Eggleston says. "There would be these magical occasions where we would all spontaneously bust into the same exact lick. It's really where I became a musician."
Eggleston dropped out of high school to focus on his music. At the suggestion of his father, Eggleston auditioned for the Berklee College of Music in Boston and was offered a full scholarship for cello. During his time at Berklee, Eggleston formed the bluegrass band Fiddlers 4 and was nominated for a Grammy award for the band's self-titled debut album. Eggleston also formed the bluegrass band Crooked Still. He ended up leaving those bands in favor of a solo career.
"I like playing solo because the audience feels like another band member," Eggleston says. "When I play solo, all of my influences come out in the cello and make its own style."
Eggleston describes his style of music as folk music from another dimension, which combines the sounds of bluegrass, classical, jazz, opera, reggae, blues and rap. He plays different characters on stage and sings some of his songs in Sneth, the language of the Land of Sneth, for which he is the "ambassador."
Tickets for the show cost $15 for adults and $10 for children and can be purchased at Music Coop, Fretwell Music or by calling 541-552-1665.