Ashland artist Michael J. Sanderson likes to keep things short. It usually takes him about 6,000 words to do so. A 12-string musician, songwriter and free-stylist, Sanderson has more thoughts in his head at any given moment than the state of Texas. Ten minutes with Sanderson and one gets the sneaking suspicion that they are in the presence of some kind of genius.

"I went to a numerologist once and was told I could make a living off of my good taste," said Sanderson. "I love this town. I feel that this valley is blessed with a lot of talented individuals. I feel it's great to have that reciprocity and support of other artists, musicians, etc."

Then he's talking about Maya calendars, crystals, art, life, women, organic food, his family, his roommates, his favorite bands, etc. Asking Sanderson a question is like watching a flower bloom. Is he painfully shy? Is he touched? Is he crazy? Probably all of the above.

Being organic is Sanderson greatest joy. He eats that way, he lives that way, he takes his interviews that way. He's walking towards the cemetery and a neighborhood mystery mutt with a purple collar starts following him, trotting in circles. Halfway there, a van pulls up. The head that pops out the window hollers, "Hey, dude, I'm selling it all &

moving to Maui!"

At the freezing cemetery Sanderson starts talking about the beauty of life, the beauty of death, the most intriguing ways to die, his past relationships, his neighbors and starts composing new music. All of this takes five minutes. The rest is an encyclopedia recitation in fast-forward.

Sanderson had been a musician for some time. Prior to moving to Ashland, he had two albums out, specializing in 12 string acoustic. But, once in Ashland, things seemed to harmonize for the galvanized Sanderson. One shining moment came from when he found himself free styling with the Godfather of conscious hip-hop, KRS-1 at a concert a year ago. Since then Sanderson shifted his music a bit into what he now calls "folk-roots-reggae-rock."

He has embarked on a project called "Earthsong" with his roommate, the poet Shawn Beasley, and Jeremy Jones on percussion and James Marks on bass. The flavorful blend has been taking the open mic scene by storm.

Music, for Sanderson, is a vital part of existing in the society and in the self. "Earthsong" is coming when society needs it most. A song from him and Beasley starts slow, old-school. Then spins a little faster, capturing audience focus. Audience members take the stage, pulling out their instruments. The rhythm intensifies and a sea of feeling rolls up the walls. It happens again and again for Sanderson, who know has twelve songs and miles of freestyle under his belt with Beasley and is working on completing the group's debut album.

"Music is the great connector in the Mayan culture. Life equals art, art equals life. I find that equation in Ashland as well, and our culture (as a whole) could benefit from that," said Sanderson. "I'd like to express gratitude to the great Creator; God, Goddess, all-that-is, for the gift of life. And I have so much thanks and so much love to al my family and friends for all their encouragement along the way. We should take care of ourselves. Kill cell-phones, watch less television. I feel a lot of this stuff has been snaked on us by people without our best interests at heart. I think things are going to happen to bring this t the surface to heal."

Sanderson grew up in small town Ohio. After graduating high school, he move to Laguna Beach, California and worked at the Crystal Image gallery for 10 years. It is one of the world's largest natural art galleries. Eventually he moved to Mt. Shasta and then to Ashland a year and a half ago. Once in Ashland, Sanderson became a raw food chef and a snowboard instructor at Mt Ashland. He is now living in a philanthropic house with Pamela Joy and Beasley and the group helps feed over a thousand hungry people a month. "Moldavite Mike," as he is called, for wearing a meteor around his neck, also has a passion for crystals, water-purification and organic green drinks and he'd like to talk to you about all that, and about a million other things. Catch him at local open mics, Sundays at the Wild Goose, Tuesdays at Northwest Pizza an Wednesdays at Alex's.