RON HARTMAN/CHRONICLE PHOTO

Lead singer Jah Sun, whose real name is Jason, interacts with a young fan during the Friday night show.

COTTAGE GROVE – The overflow crowd at The Brewstation did a commendable job Friday night in giving Jah Sun & The Rising Tide some air beneath their wings. 

After all, they were playing the first night of a summer tour that will go through nine states, so they were hoping to launch the tour with some good karma.

They got a double shot of that … and then some. 

“I absolutely loved tonight,” Jah Sun (his real name is Jason) said after the free show. “It’s been so long since we’ve had a chance to play music. To hear people expressing joy and having fun and dancing, and seeing from children to elderly enjoying themselves, this is the way it’s supposed to be. 

“It was great, it was great. I know everybody in the band was so pumped. If every show on this tour is like this show in Cottage Grove, it’s going to be one of the best tours ever.” 

From start to finish, there was an electric vibe during The Brewstation outdoor show, with more than 150 people in attendance. There was even a small tailgate party going on across the street. 

Great to see live music finally becoming a “thing” again. It seems that business is rocking and rolling at The Brewstation.

“We’re at full staff now. We’ve actually hired several people for the summer,” said Brewstation owner Emily Rinck. “We plan to continue having live music. We have our regular bands that play here, and then sometimes we get surprise bands like Jah Sun, which was a real treat.”

The hiring process hasn’t been so easy at music venues, like the Village Green. 

“We’re starting to get more business, but our biggest problem is employees,” server Arleth Christensen said. “People apply, then they don’t even show up.”

“A lot of us feel like we are overworked, and we always have to work overtime. We feel overwhelmed sometimes, but it also makes us closer; if we’re all going through this together, we care about each other more.” 

Jah Sun & The Rising Tide, based in Ashland, Ore., performed several songs from their new album, Running Through Walls, including “Rock Paper Scissor.” It’s one catchy tune – and it has special meaning to Jah-Sun.

“It’s a love song,” Jah Sun said. “Everybody has had their heart played with in love.” 

Jah Sun says he lost everything during the pandemic. He managed to persevere by keeping his mind on writing songs.

“I went through a big separation after an 18-year relationship,” the singer-songwriter said. “Then I lost my North Ashland home. I had no home insurance, I lost everything. All I had was a pair of clothes.” 

Jah Sun said he has probably written 40 songs since losing his home to a fire last year.. 

“Man, I’d be dead or in jail without music,” he said. “Music changed my life a long time ago and set me on a path where I wanted to do good and try to put a nice message in music and uplift people and make them smile and have fun.”

There were plenty of smiles in the mostly mask-free crowd Friday -- from the cute little tyke who ventured up front a couple of times, to Springfield couple Dana and Colin, who stayed long after the show to chat up the band. 

Jah Sun plays a blend of old and new reggae, with a dash of hip hop and other genres. He says while growing up in Austin, Texas, his greatest influences were Stevie Ray and Jimmy Vaughn, other blues artists, Paul Simon, African fusion and many types of world music.

“But at the end of the day I’m just a simple songwriter and I’m lucky enough to know some great musicians to help me bring the songs to life,” Jah Sun said. “These guys are all international stars.”

And Cottage Grove gave them the star treatment.