I became aware of Jeshua through my interview with Greg Delgado. Greg spoke very highly of him, so I reached out. But Jeshua was in Palestine. Several weeks later, I interviewed Sasha Lawless and she also recommended Jeshua. I reached out again and was lucky enough to meet during a 5-day stint of his being home. I heard that he and his band, Larry and His Flask, are local celebrities, but being new to town, I didn't know that. I purposely didn't do much research on Jeshua or his music before meeting with him, though. I just wanted to communicate with him as a member of this community and someone who came highly recommended by other great members of this community. We met at a tiny house that Jeshua is renting and had a really cozy chat on a very bright and warm spring day.
Who are you?
My name is Jeshua. First and foremost I'm a human being. I'm a musician. I consider myself an activist of some sort. I just try to be a genuine person with a worldly outlook to life.
Where do you come from? What brought you to Bend?
I was born in Baker City, Oregon. My father was also born there, but my mother is from British Columbia, so I'm a dual Canadian-American citizen. I've lived in Canada. I spent the last maybe 13 years touring, playing music. Our family relocated to Redmond, actually, in '96. So I went to middle school and high school in Redmond, graduated, and then just started working on my band and traveling first just the U.S. and Canada and then Europe, among other places.
What do you like about Bend?
Definitely the nature was the first attraction, just being able to not be confined in a city. I always grew up in the country and I like the openness. I like the mountains and the clean air. And the people - it's a really good community of outstanding people. Growing up here, I was always just like, Oh, I want to get the hell out of here. I want to go somewhere else. And then, touring and playing music, I'm very privileged to see so many amazing places. But the more I saw, the more I realized that where I live is actually awesome. You know? I always came back and continue to come back. I still find that it's a really great place to live.
How do you contribute to the community?
I try to just give back in positive ways through whether it be music - just to help build a culture of independent art - as well as, I'm somewhat involved politically. That's how I got to know Greg Delgado really well. I was working with him on his campaign last year when he was running for Senate. I just try to do what I can to show that there's another point of view living in Central Oregon. I don't want it to get dominated by a right wing outlook, which, you know, it was. When I was growing up, this was like a redneck place. I have no problem with rural life and farming and everything, but it doesn't need to be covered in hate. (Laughs) You don't need to hate other people to farm or whatever. I just want to try to be as positive as I can and contribute to the community with music, especially.
The first time I worked with Greg was through a nonprofit called Rise Up. Now I'm on the board, but at that point we had just started working with them - playing shows for fundraisers and through different events that they hosted. Rise Up and Greg created an event for Dia de los Muertos, so we got asked to perform at a place called the Poet House that was this art space that Rise Up ran. So we played in there and that was the first time I got to know Greg and work with him. Throughout the years, we've just kind of been acquaintances. He told me he was running for State Senate and I was excited and right away wanted to support him. I performed at his dinner kick-off/celebration party. He asked me if I knew anybody that could help him out in the last couple months of his campaign. At the time, I had been working at Whole Foods and they pulled this corporate card on me and were trying to screw me out of some money. I was over working for a corporation and so, I thought about it for a minute, and was like, Dude, what about me, man? (Laughs) We met up and I jumped on that campaign. It was an incredible learning experience and a pleasure to work with him and get to know him better on a more personal level.
Through playing in the band, we kind of started out as kind of a punk band - I guess we still kind of are punk. At least our attitude (laughs) and the way we do things is pretty punk rock. Just to get our name out there in like a grassroots kind of way we put up these paper stickers. We would go down to the printing spot and make all these paper stickers and just put 'em everywhere. (Laughs) I remember getting an email to the band email from the Bend City Office or something just being like, You need to stop putting stickers everywhere or we're going to fine you $500 for every one. The contrast of being kind of hated by Bend and then growing our fan base and finally coming to a place where I feel like we're respected. And now we play city events (laughs) and stuff.
I went to Palestine to work with Rise Up. They started working on a film in Jordan - in Amman - about this skatepark. It's called Seven Hills Skatepark. It was created by a nonprofit that goes to developing countries - generally places that have high refugee populations. They'll build a skatepark through volunteers. They'll house volunteers, but different skaters from all over the world come and teach, offer workshops and classes to refugee and local kids to teach them how to skateboard. That was a really really incredible experience. For a lot of these kids, that's the one thing they have to do and look forward to and the one time they get to actually leave their camp or their part of town and come and exercise and have fun and skateboard and do something kind of out of their cultural boundaries.
What do you wish for the future?
I just want to remain young at heart and just keep constantly learning and continuing to contribute to society in a positive way. And just to be open-minded and continue to create art and be a positive example, I guess. I would really like to see Bend become more self-sustainable. I think we already are. The community is really great there. We can definitely improve on that, having more of a local economy where we don't need to ship in so much goods from other places when we could create them here. Especially with farming, I think local farms - local stuff - could be embraced a little bit stronger. It's happening, I think. It's already on the positive track to becoming more available, as far resources and stuff. I would like to see our community continue to have open arms to people and not to get in a collective mindset of being afraid of foreigners or Californiansor whatever and be a welcoming place and not a place surrounded by walls (laughs) because that doesn't help anybody.