RON HARTMAN/CHRONICLE PHOTOBarry Klusman, left, jams with JaSkaMon at the Brewstation this past Saturday.
COTTAGE GROVE -- The flyers at the Brewstation proclaimed that none of the five major vaccine manufacturers are as effective as JaSkaMon – especially when dealing with rare tropical disorders such as Raskanitis.
“We did this song ‘Raskanitis,’ and then the pandemic hit,” JaSkaMon singer-songwriter Barry Klusman said after Saturday night’s show. “It’s just a coincidence that we had this song already on our 4-3-2 album.”
“I wanna get together, but I’ve been told
That the Raskanitis has got my soul.
Been rockin’ the ska till the break of dawn
I’m wonderin’ if my baby is still at home.
I wanna make it in before the sun
But the Raskanitis won’t let me run.
What’s that, baby? Give me one more chance
But when I hear that beat, I just have to dance.
I said, Baby, baby, when I hear that beat
The Raskanitis knocked me off my feet.”
Klusman says he wasn’t always into reggae.
“I was a pretty normal guy, I played rock, country, folk rock. Then about 20 years ago I got the bug … the Caribbean beat! I started So-Ca, which I use with Caribbean beats,” the guitar player said. “For instance, that song ‘Civilization,’ that used to be a country-rock song, but I can change that to a So-Ca song, which is soul-calypso, which is Caribbean, and it gives you a break from the reggae, and it’s fusion.”
Klusman said he’s always looking for ways to put new spins on songs, to freshen them up. He says it helps keep him young – even as he prepares to celebrate his 71st birthday next weekend as JaSkaMon joins three other bands at the Otis Cafe, which sits atop a mountain near Lincoln City.
Blending together with other cultures is a concept Klusman is intimately familiar with – his wife, Phuong, is from Vietnam.
“You should be a vegetarian if you go there – even if you’re not a vegetarian, watch out! You’ll be eating who-knows-what, it’s all protein over there – so be careful,” Klusman said.
“Her parents died, because she’s from the South, and the North came down and got their retribution. They took their business and her parents basically died when she was 13. She didn’t get electricity until she was 13.
“First time I went over there I was in culture shock. Going back I got used to it, but in a developing country, everything is just different. We send money back – that’s what you do, because you’re in the wealthy country and they’re in the developing country.
“I have hundreds of in-laws and they just love you because you’re from America,” Klusman said.
It didn’t take Asian crowds long to warm up to Klusman.
“I imagined they’d be offended by this Northerner thinking he could play,” Klusman said.
At one point he put together his own show at the Yoko Club in Saigon.
“I found this band online and we got together and they could fuse some reggae and ska, so I taught them some tunes and we did a show,” Klusman said.
“You know I could travel around and do this in every city around the world.”
And maybe someday find a cure for Raskanitis.