By Mandy Valencia for the Tidings – Posted: 2:00 AM May 21, 2011
Cornflower is most certainly a one-man-band. He stands alone on stage with only his sound equipment at his feet, but Cornflower has found in Ashland a local community of support that keeps him centered. With his unique beat-boxing, singing and harmonizing, Cornflower creates a whirlwind of sound with the help of his looping machine.
“There’s no pre-recording, no samples. The only thing is the effects, which I can manipulate live,” he said. “That’s my whole thing. Nothing you hear has been done before that moment.”
The dynamic beats and melodies that Cornflower strings together are so intense it’s hard to believe he’s creating all that sound by himself, something that Cornflower is used to explaining.
“In the past few years, after my first one or two songs, I stop and say who I am, what it is I’m doing and how it’s happening,” said Cornflower. “DJs for some reason get away with it, but when it comes to an artist that doesn’t have a couple of decks in front of them, it’s still new to people.” Since his debut performance in Ashland in 2004, Cornflower has gained a local following, and has learned through the experience of performing how the Ashland music scene works.
“You know how Ashland is. Ashland is funny. I think if I was to move and come back here, I’d have a sold out crowd, I think there’s that ‘oh he’s local I can see him anytime’ ” he said. “But I do feel like I have a strong local family here.”
For now Cornflower only plays in Ashland when he is asked to.
“I’ve stopped trying to put on gigs in Ashland, it’s a small town, and there’s a lot of creative people making things happen all the time,” he said. “You can oversaturate real quickly here.”
Cornflower describes it as not trying to swim upstream, and, being more at peace with the pace his career is going at, he feels his music has a deeper purpose.
“I know I’ll be guided to where and when and how,” he said.
Since getting a break in 2006 opening for Scott Huckabay, Cornflower has played all over town and has one album, “Journey into Sound” which was mastered by popular local musician Jeff Pevar.
“Jeff Pevar has been a huge mentor of mine, really helping me understand the music industry and how to not get consumed by it, and still maintain your integrity,” said Cornflower.
Even though Cornflower is a one-man act, much of the work of keeping a music career going can be attributed to Cornflower’s wife, Nikita Gearing, who supports his music.
“It’s really the two of us, she does so much and helps with management and administration, keeping me in line and really is so much more than just an energetic support,” said Cornflower.
Cornflower credits his wife with much of the work and relationship-building that helped him get his recent gig playing at the Joshua Tree music festival in California.
“I’m just like a band, but I don’t have a band to delegate and I don’t have a booking agent, so it’s me and my wife doing everything,” Cornflower said.
Due to so many responsibilities falling on two shoulders, Cornflower has used social networking to bring awareness to his music.
“That’s my main thing, to engage my fans and the audience and really try to have a relationship with them, because my music is all about that,” he said.
Cornflower just got his own website updated with all the social network connections, which was easy for him since by day he and his wife are web designers. Eventually he hopes to tour all over, taking his work, music and wife on the road with him.
“There is a deeper spiritual purpose for my music and it’s tricky because you have to market yourself,” said Cornflower.
But in doing so, Cornflower has stayed true to his beliefs on sustainability making an effort to be environmentally friendly in any way he can.
“I’ve been releasing a lot of live recordings as digital downloads only, trying to cut back on physical product and production and just be mindful of my output and wanting to be eco-friendly,” Cornflower said, “I’m trying not to make a bunch of trash, I don’t know if anybody’s going to like it so I better make it available digitally,” he added laughing.
Cornflower just finished an EP called, “AzTheEarthChanges,” a digital album available on his website www.cornflowermusic.com that is donation-based, with donations going to the Japan relief effort.
“The whole recording was in honor of Japan, so it sort of imbues that in the music, it’s all improvisation, because I wanted it to be a kind of prayer. It’s really haunting. This is a really heavy thing that just happened,” he said.
The proceeds for the track go to Peace Winds America, a Seattle-based nonprofit that is working to help tsunami victims and radiation victims.
“They are a really solid group. They’re not a flimsy nonprofit,” Cornflower said.
Luckily for locals, Cornflower has been asked to play at the Jackson Wellsprings tonight with visiting band Afrofunk Experience for an all-ages show, which is important because Cornflower’s fan base spans from 2-year-olds to 90-year-olds, he said.
“They were coming to play in Ashland and asked me to come down and play with them,” he said, “It feels so good, their music is so infectious and groovy, it’s right up my alley.”
The show starts at 7 p.m. at the Jackson Wellsprings, 2253 Hwy 99, Ashland. Tickets are $10.
Mandy Valencia is a reporter for the Daily Tidings reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Watch Cornflower play “Heartshine II” for the Tidings Cafe: