What: Jerry Joseph & The Jackmormons

When: 9 p.m. Thursday and 10 p.m. Friday

Where: The Capitol, 190 NW Oregon Ave., Bend

Cost: $5 plus fees in advance, $7 at the door

Contact: thecapitolbend.com or 541-678-5740

As the grandson of Lebanese, Syrian and Irish immigrants, Jerry Joseph has a personal stake in visiting the Middle East and helping out in countries that have been torn apart by war in recent years.

“My grandfather was from Syria, and my grandmother was from Lebanon and came through Mexico as an illegal Mexican,” Joseph said recently while picking up his kids from school in Portland. “If it wasn’t for immigration, I wouldn’t be talking to you. … For me, I’m acutely aware that I get attention for doing that, and it gives me talking points. But it’s also really important to me, and important with my children when they say, ‘What are you doing?’ I’m going here because showing humanity is the most important thing we can do right now.”

The Portland singer-songwriter, known for his work in bands such as The Jackmormons, Little Women and Stockholm Syndrome (with longtime friend and Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools), at least had some idea of what to expect when he went to Afghanistan in 2014. During his stay at the Rock School Kabul with fellow Portland musician Michael Lewis, he delivered musical equipment, taught classes and even helped out in the kitchen.

Joseph is now preparing to travel to Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, for a week in May. He was invited by a professor at a local university, a fan of Joseph’s who had heard about the Afghanistan trip and wanted the singer-guitarist to come teach the local guitar club, help out at the three refugee camps located near the town and perform a concert.

But the situation is a bit more complicated than the Afghanistan trip. In a lengthy post to his personal Facebook page in late January, Joseph announced the trip and explained the situation: “… As of this writing, there is no singular organization bringing me in … no easy acronym for fundraising purposes as different organizations run the camps and music clubs and venues and I might have to wait till I’m on the ground to know where my involvement is best utilized.”

“This one’s funny because the mission’s a little bit — Afghanistan was like, we’re going to Kabul Rock School, we’re taking $50,000 worth of musical gear,” Joseph said. He kicks off his first tour of the year with two shows at The Capitol on Thursday and Friday. “This (Iraq trip) is a little different. We’re not sure what they want me to bring. If somebody calls back and says, ‘Yeah, we don’t really need guitars, we need sleeping bags,’ then I’ll bring sleeping bags.”

Joseph will soon kick off a fundraising campaign for the trip on gofundme.com. He’s also planning to hold benefit shows for the school in Portland, the Bay Area and possibly New York City.

The new presidential administration’s actions on immigration, including the travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries that is currently being challenged in the U.S. court system, have also motivated Joseph.

He does have some concerns about traveling now, given the current social and political climate.

“I think travel’s gonna be pretty weird; I think our government’s gonna make it as weird as possible,” he said. “I think a sign — and I’m not saying I’m convinced that we’re moving into a fascist dictatorship, but one sign of that is when they start making it difficult to travel. Anyone I know from any type of dictatorship-run country would tell you that that’s the first thing they do, is they start to make it difficult to get a passport. The last thing they want you to do is leave and see how full of s--- they are.

“With that all said, I’m from a traveling family,” he continued. “… I think it’s important, and I learn a lot, and sometimes through modern technology I can share what I learned — a lot more than I could when I was young and going to weird places.”

In recent years Joseph has toured Lebanon, Israel, Iceland and Cambodia in addition to Afghanistan. Often all that traveling is reflected in his songwriting, though not always in the most direct way. As he puts it, “I don’t always remember why I wrote (a song), but I definitely remember where I wrote it.”

His most recent full-length album, last year’s “By the Time Your Rocket Gets to Mars,” was mostly composed while he was in Afghanistan, though he said he avoided writing specifically about his experience there.

“I was trying to write this cluster of songs that was not about being in Afghanistan, that was not about the war,” Joseph said. “The songs for the ‘Mars’ record, a lot of those were trying to be about my kids and about magic and, I don’t know. I just felt like, sitting there, the last thing we needed was another (album of) Jerry Joseph spewing a bunch of … angry bull--- songs.”

The album is one of three sets of songs Joseph recorded with The Jackmormons — drummer Steve Drizos, bassist Steven James Wright and guitarist Jeff Crosby (who has since left the band) — at TRI Studios in California with Schools producing. The first set released from the sessions, 2015’s two-song “Istanbul/Fog of War,” clocked in at roughly 30 minutes. Joseph just finished mixing the third set of songs — and ended up writing and recording another album’s worth of material in the process. That’s not even mentioning the three-song “Craters of the Moon” EP, also released last year.

“I would be psyched if we had something out for Christmas,” Joseph said. “I try to put a record out every year, and I’ve been told many times that I’m an idiot for doing that. Nothing ever really gets a chance to come to fruition as far as people hearing it, but I’m not really sure what the right move is. I always thought it was cool to do that. When I was a kid, it seemed like the Beatles put out something every two minutes.”

Joseph, who is originally from San Diego and has lived in New Zealand, Salt Lake City and New York City, has called Portland home since 1989, when Little Women relocated there. The Jackmormons, which has been Joseph’s main band since the mid-’90s, is a regular presence in Bend — most recently the group opened for Widespread Panic (which is known to cover a Joseph song or two) at Les Schwab Amphitheater in July.

“Bend has always been — it’s become a funny place for us all these years,” Joseph said. “We would go from some massive, packed show to the next time we play, not one person. I think that’s changed a little bit over the past few years, and we have a lot of really good friends that live there. Watching that community grow has been crazy.”

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