Conscious American Roots – Steven Graves Band

An interview by Julie Horner with Steven Graves originally published in the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin:

Local musician, Steven Graves, and I caught up with each other to chat about his band’s recent appearance at the Trout Farm Inn and to share thoughts about his music, spirituality, and life!

Julie:  How was your show at the Trout Farm Inn on Dec. 6th?

Steven:  Great. I love the Trout Farm, it is such a special place to play!  Great vibe, warm audience, and a classic historic ambiance make for a very relaxing and intimate place to play.  The owners, Kelly and Yvonne, are really super nice people and I love supporting them. The band sounded great and everyone had a blast!

Julie:  You seem to have a good connection with the San Lorenzo Valley?

Steven: Yes. Besides the Trout Farm, our band has also played Don Quixote’s many times and we love it there as well. I love walking through Henry Cowell and hanging out with the old growth trees and the river. I also got very familiar with the valley through my 25+ years as a land use contultant before I retired to become a full time musician.

Julie:  How has that been for you transitioning from a long time business owner and consultant to a professional musician?

Steven: Well, you know I had this dream of being a professional musician and dedicating myself to my passion for most of my life. In 2011 I finally decided to make the leap of faith and close my office doors and jump into it!!  Kind of a “now or never moment.”  It has been amazing. Certainly not without its challenges but to be able to write, perform and produce my own music and tour the entire West Coast with my awesome band has just been incredible.

Julie: And I understand your band has been touring extensively this year as well?

Steven: This year we toured Oregon and Arizona twice and played venues throughout Northern California. Going on the road with my band has been awesome! We have seen some amazingly beautiful parts of the country, and everywhere we go we find the audiences who often haven’t heard us really becoming engaged in the music. That is the real magic, to feel and watch that happen reinforces our belief in the power of this music!  I’ve also been working with Dennis McNally, the Grateful Dead’s publicist. He helped us get our last CD to #5 on the music chart! We’ve also gotten some great writeups in Relix Magazine, the Grateful Web and several other publications!

Julie:  I sense that you are the kind of person who truly “walks the talk” and believes in putting your heart and passion into everything you do. What motivates you?

Steven: Thank you. Yes, I think it’s all about authenticity when you get down to it.  I think that we are all authentic beings at our core but often life in all its complexities and drama wears that part of us down and popular culture doesn’t support that kind of thing.  I feel so grateful that I can use the medium of music to share with the world sound, vibration and lyrical insights that hopefully makes for a better life experience.  I know that it helps me. I like the idea of “music as medicine” and keeping it fun, too!

Julie:  I noticed after listening to your latest CD, Mission Bell, which I understand is your 6th CD. While your music is old school in its approach, blending a bit of Country and Folk Rock with a smattering of an almost Grateful Dead feel, your lyrics seem to have a spiritual orientation.

Steven: Yes, that’s right. Again, it comes back to that authenticity idea. While there are only so many notes, in a way no music is completely original.  I get comparisons to Neil Young, Dylan, the Dead, the Eagles and others, but rarely does anyone think that we are copying any one style. I like to allow the music to channel through me, and I try to stay out of the way, so to speak.

The world has plenty of songs about negative things or themes that are repeated over and over. For me, I feel like my role as an artist and a conscious human being is to try share something that I have learned through my life’s experience. It’s a rough time on planet Earth!  How do we get up every morning in this chaotic world and create a loving and peaceful journey? How do we navigate this world in a way that we treat everyone we meet with love and respect? Really, there is an endless source of lyrical and musical inspiration when you dive into these meaning-of-life issues. I think that people really are craving and needing authenticity!

Julie:  So what’s on the horizon for you and your music?

Steven: I’m working on a new record, which is really exciting, and I’m loving where the music is going! We’ll be expanding our touring in 2016 to include several more West Coast states, some great festivals, and we’ll be doing some local shows too!

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Julie Horner is an Irish style musician and writer based in the Santa Cruz Mountains, CA.

Curating the Sustainable Aesthetic ~ Foundre

By Julie Horner

Low light spills warmly through watery storefront windows at the quiet and otherwise dark south end of town next to the empty hull of the once buzzing Boulder Creek Brewery. A minimalist frieze of objects, iron, wood, fabric and paper, are melded symmetrically in tandem displays – artifacts dancing on the imagination, suspended in their

cases, as if on stage. The word “Foundre,” burned with blue fire onto a sheet of rusted metal, hangs under the eaves welcoming visitors to duck through the open double doors and over the well-worn stoop.

Boot heels resonate upon the 100-year old wood planks stained dark with use and age, the boards undulating and creaking here and there as the floors of storied old buildings do. The ceiling soars high above giving the space an immediate openness that invites visitors to move among compelling displays, islands of hand-curated wares carefully placed just where the eye lands and the heart seeks to go. Curiosities large and small, from homespun tableware to African made jewelry and utensils; pillows, serving vessels, found objects and the rustic, reclaimed, and re-purposed…most pieces chosen to support worthy global causes or to celebrate the exceptional talent of amazing friends.

By day, the cheery chiffon yellow Victorian, which was home to The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union dating from 1892, is a Santa Cruz County historical landmark and is arguably one of the most handsome buildings downtown. It stands miraculously unscathed after the Brewery fire in March of 2015, an evening that Foundre proprietor, curator and designer, Stephanie Hauck, still cannot bring herself to talk about fully: “There was no smoke in this building. I don’t know how it has survived…earthquakes, fires…” The building remains, enduring and elegant, nestled between one of Boulder Creek’s charming garden alleyways and the busy Scarborough lumberyard.

Stephanie describes how she captures the aesthetic for Foundre, “I buy things that I love…I enjoy small artisan goods,” especially if there’s a cause she can get behind. She carries Sasa Designs for the Deaf, for instance, which offers empowering opportunities for disadvantaged African jewelry artists. She also invites artist friends to display their work on her walls. “I am lucky to be gifted with a 6th sense for finding talented people,” including Santa Cruz iron sculpture artist, Payson Foster McNett, who was featured at Foundre’s recent “Found Friday” community art walk and whose installations are still on display at Foundre through the month of December. She has plans to feature a different artist every month.

A sweeping theater-sized curtain separates cozy, well-appointed living quarters at the back of the building from mercantile space at the front, suggesting a place for stagecraft where the honesty of artistic expression is confessed. “I live here, this is my home…the shop is an extension of my personal aesthetic.” And it continues to evolve. “Creativity fills my soul. I’ve never spent a day without being inspired.”

Impressed by Sarah and James Mackessy’s lille aeske studio, and Scott Graham and Cristy Aloysi’s Viscosity Glass, both located midtown, she also draws inspiration from Jorah and Andi’s rusty Americana meets back-to-the-earth at Mountain Feed in Ben Lomond. “Mountain Feed is one of my favorite places on the planet. They’re one of the reasons why I thought I could make a go of it.” These stores opened “with a vibrance and change…we’re all new to here and we’ve migrated toward each other in a very organic way.” These spaces lend themselves to art and music. “The town is hungry for that,” she says. “We care about making a great community.”

Even with the loss of the Brewery, Stephanie is hopeful. “I just want it to be positive. I want to stay and have it work.” There is a synchronistic nature to what’s happening now. “It’s the right direction for the town.”

Stephanie also takes on a variety of creative projects including professional wedding planning, special events, gifting (corporate or personal), and holiday decorating. She simply delights in exploring new opportunities, including re-designing Boulder Creek’s Goble Coffee Roasting Company’s image: They are now “Coffeeville.” She carries the locally roasted whole bean coffee among the finery on her shelves. “They are my friends, I want them to be successful, sustainable.”

Foundre is a truly eclectic collective of the delicious and the divine, the name itself reflecting something found and something created, as molten metal might be cast into a new form, repurposed to a better use. Indeed, the concept mirrors a vision of transformation: To build upon the best a small town has to offer, changing the business model to attract visitors, the curious and the passionate, to invest in the energy that is already happening.

Chat about tapping in to Boulder Creek’s potential, reach out, and ask questions any time:

Foundre is located at 13026 Highway 9, Boulder Creek CA 95006

Open Wednesdays through Saturdays, and by appointment
831 703 4692

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Julie Horner is an Irish folk musician and writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. Email: On the Web: