On Spirit Wings – Boulder Creek’s Medicine Road

By Julie Horner

Pablo Eagle used to ride his motorcycle through the Santa Cruz Mountains regularly. For some reason one day he took his pickup. It was a beautiful day for riding, warm and dry, with no wind at all. A motorcyclist with a woman on the back passed him. “God, I wish I was on my bike,” he thought, just man and bike riding free. “Suddenly a branch as big as a small tree landed right in front of me.” It was almost like he’d had a spiritual vision. “I look up… It made me think about the drought…I’d seen it coming.” Another motorist stopped to help but wound up mostly watching. “All the adrenaline was in my body, and I just picked the damn thing up – I was holding it like ‘this’ in my arms – and I threw the log. Had I ridden my bike…it spooked me. Now I don’t ride so much.”

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As singer/songwriter for Boulder Creek based band, Medicine Road, he believes in healing through music. Joined by Dave Kerrey (vocals, drums), Jonathan “Skippy” Sherred (background vocals, bass), and Tom McQuillen (background vocals, lead guitar), Medicine Road “spreads the love of life and healing into the wind so that brother wind will carry the healing tune all over the world.”

Primarily a guitar player and lyricist, Pablo Eagle pays homage to his Yaqui/Mayan roots by adding flute to the Medicine Road sound. “When I picked up the flute, I was amazed I could play it…it was a natural thing.” They decided that the flute was going to rule. He remembers one show, “I was playing notes I didn’t know my flute could play. I was playing through my nose, through my throat, I was flying around…it was an out of body experience. People were coming out of the crannies…I don’t even know where these sounds were coming from. We blew that place away.”

Medicine Road just played the annual Santa Cruz Mountain Art & Wine Festival where he said, “Kids were dancin’, people were listening, and the earth felt happy!”

The music is groovy psychedelic rock jam laced with a haunting Native American sound reminiscent of the music of R. Carlos Nakai. Medicine Road plays mostly original material that is centered on musical healing and positive energy. “We feel our music is good medicine for the heart, soul, and body. Praise for the beauty of nature.” Their song, Earth in the Key of A, is like envisioning a rainforest and bringing everyone into it.

“Our goal is to heal with the music. Through the music and through the lyrics. We put out ideas of the pain of the problem – ‘this’ needs to be fixed.” It becomes a recycling of negative energy, he points out, turning it around into positive and “healing as you go.” “That’s what I do with the music. If we can’t heal ourselves, who can we heal?”

Pablo Eagle has been making music in Boulder Creek forever. He lived in a rented room at the Rainbow’s End back when and remembers asking his landlord, “Are you sure you don’t mind if I play music? She said, ‘I love rock and roll and my husband’s deaf.’” He describes how he wrote, Boulder Creek Mama, a song that has become a Medicine Road anthem: “I wrote it 25 years ago at the Junction before it was a park. There was this beautiful young lady in a bikini…she was about to jump off a rock…I was inspired.” The girl who was Boulder Creek Mama worked at Johnnie’s. He asked her if she wanted to come see his band. She said no. He said, I wrote a song about you. She said she was flattered but that was alright. He said, do you have a boyfriend? She said, yeah, kinda. He never saw her again but the song lives on. “We always end our shows with it because it drives everyone crazy, gets people dancing.”

His grandfather used to sun dance and sing to the sun. Now Pablo Eagle and Medicine Road are part of Native American Heritage festivities at Foothill College. “I will always stand up for Native people. We just got Obama to call off the Keystone project. Now there’s the Dakota pipeline.” He feels he has an obligation to Native peoples…to stand up against those who are “always messing with indigenous people.” He has strong opinions about cutting down our redwoods trees too. “Everything is a catch-22. If it’s alive, it has a positive and a negative aspect…and there’s the grey area where we’re trying to bring people to the positive side.” He wants to give people a positive example through his music.

“In Native American heritage, you have two types of people: Those who follow the red road, and those who follow the black road of negative extremes. Red road people have positive energy, they’re not putting people down, they’re building things. We want to help he people in the grey area. Medicine Road is the healing road.”

“I’ve been Medicine Road for a long time. I want to do it ‘til I die. We’re still a young band…we’ve reared our head around…we’re ready to take off. Our smoke signals are out there.”

On the Web: https://www.reverbnation.com/medicineroad

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/medicine.road.band/

Copyright 2016 Julie Horner for the San Lorenzo Valley Post.

Not So Friendly Skies – SLV Residents Move to Stop Proposed Jet Flightpath

By Mary Andersen

A new flight path has Happy Valley and Los Gatos/Saratoga residents angry and eager to move it to the San Lorenzo Valley. Some claim that, since their homes are worth more than ours, the path should be shifted out of their neighborhoods and onto ours.

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Photo by Sean McLean

We already have a flight path. It’s called BIGSUR, or BSR, and it routes over downtown Santa Cruz, Pasatiempo, west Scotts Valley, north through SLV to the Summit Skyline area, to San Francisco International Airport (SFO). This path is still in use today and supports older aircraft not equipped with satellite navigation.

In March 2015 the FAA, as part of their Next Generation Air Transportation program (NextGen), implemented a new path, called SERFR, which travels from the coast at Capitola, over Happy Valley and Los Gatos summit towards SFO. This path was designed to accommodate a wide range of aircraft with satellite navigation capabilities. SERFR is low, loud, and concentrated. The FAA says they can fix that.

Neighborhoods under SERFR lodged thousands of complaints. With the assistance of Congressman Sam Farr they organized Save Our Skies Santa Cruz and were later joined by Quiet Skies NorCal. They created a proposal for a new flight path, called DAVYJ, over the City of Santa Cruz, SLV, and communities in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. Keep in mind, this new path would be in addition to the BSR flight path we already have. The proposal was endorsed by Farr and 1st District Supervisor John Leopold.

Community groups from the coast to the airport rejected the Quiet Skies NorCal proposal noting that it eliminated noise for those under SERFR by increasing noise and airplane traffic for communities under the proposed new DAVYJ flight path. In addition, DAVYJ was offered up as the only solution, when in fact other proposals submitted by groups closer to the airport were ignored.

In March, Supervisor Leopold wrote that the proposal constituted a “regional solution” that had been “worked on by all community groups throughout the area.” Congressman Farr stated in his newsletter that he hand-delivered the Quiet Skies NorCal proposal to Michael Huerta, Administrator of the FAA, assuring him that it was “the ideal solution.” Both assertions were false – residents under the proposed DAVYJ flight path in Santa Cruz and SLV were neither informed nor invited to provide input.

In April, Congressional Representatives Anna Eshoo, Jackie Speier, and Sam Farr appointed 12 elected officials (+12 alternates) to a Select Committee on SFO Arrivals. Their charter has been to analyze items labeled “feasible” by the FAA, accept community input, and report to Congress with a set of recommendations.

When the FAA released their study in May, Santa Clara and San Mateo County community groups were frustrated to see that their recommendations were not included. Only suggestions from Quiet Skies NorCal were addressed including the flight path shift to SLV. And the FAA made clear that, while feasible, DAVYJ would be similar to SERFR in its noise impact to SLV. It would be lower, louder, and more concentrated than any flight path we had experienced in the past.

The Select Committee asked why DAVYJ was the only option presented. The FAA said that DAVYJ was the only option offered by Congress. To their credit, the Select Committee is open to other options.

As you might expect, the issue is a political football. In Santa Cruz County SERFR lies primarily in Congressman Farr’s and Supervisor Leopold’s districts. Both SERFR and the proposed DAVYJ are in Supervisor Bruce McPherson’s and Congresswoman Eshoo’s districts. Low flying DAVYJ vectored planes would severely impact Supervisor Ryan Coonerty’s district and the path itself would impact the City of Santa Cruz.

The irony is that the FAA is a $16.4 billion organization with thousands of credentialed aviation experts. Yet, laypeople hoping to remove a flight path from over their homes were allowed to design a new flight path over other communities. That new flight path, DAVYJ, over SLV and Santa Cruz, is currently being vetted by elected officials with limited aviation knowledge, who will then submit recommendations to congressional representatives with even less aviation knowledge, who were misled into believing it was a regional solution when it is not.

Website: www.sanlorenzovalley.info/

Petition: www.change.org/p/faa-stop-the-quiet-skies-norcal-proposal-which-seeks-to-move-an-sfo-flight-path-to-sc-slv-sv

Facebook: www.facebook.com/flightpathfacts/

Join the meetings: flightpathfacts@gmail.com

Additional contributors: George Wylie, Nancy Gerdt, Glenn Lyons, Roz Alley, Alastair Fyfe, Jacqui Rice, Beth Carlisle, Terry Hollenbeck, Thomas Andersen, Colleen Miller, Clifford Stow, Jennifer Parks

With the Wind at His Back – Yeshe Jackson Art

By Julie Horner

A great rigged ship plowed through outer space, floating along in full sail aided by rocket thrusters. An astronaut tripped slowly down the plank into the vast starry vacuum while a great white shark and all the pirates looked on, big glass bubbles around their heads (the shark’s bubble was full of sea water, of course). “Everything was ridiculous but rendered with very precise detail…painstaking.” Space Pirates, the gigantic 4’x5’ original painting by Boulder Creek artist, Yeshe Jackson, hangs at Gilded Lily on Mission Street in Santa Cruz.

The SLV native met me at the Boulder Creek Brewery Outpost one sunny spring afternoon for a bit of refreshment and to chat about his art – now a full time occupation – his bread and butter. “Imagine an endless chasm and envision stepping over the edge with trust. Each month gets better,” he says.

Yeshe took his first art class at SLVHS during his junior year. It was an end-of-semester acrylic paint project that became the life-changing experience. When it was time to declare a major at Humbolt State, he said, “Art was the one thing that came to mind that I was good at and that I enjoyed.” And he didn’t do math. “Not that I couldn’t do it, I just didn’t want to do it. Art is real, a valid major…I went for it.”

And after graduation did the whole starving artist thing while trying to find his artistic niche, working in construction and taking what seemed like a pretty cool opportunity as an apprentice tattoo artist at the Gilded Lily in Felton. But tattoos didn’t work out. “I got zero clients, I was starving. Clients had been coming in for free tattoos but that dried up.

During long afternoons with no one to ink, he hand-painted “flash” designs (mockup tattoos in watercolor).  “A lightbulb went off. If I’m not doing tattoos, why not work on my art?” Canvases were on sale “so I bought two” and he started painting landscapes from a few photos that local landscape photographer, Neil Simmons, had let him have.” Someone came into the shop, saw the work, and asked if it was for sale. He sold the piece for a couple hundred bucks.

Now he paints prolifically from his home studio – “taking out all the crutches from under and digging a little deeper” – capturing the movement of life in his own interpretations of local landscapes, underwater creatures, swirling sea and breaking surf.

Recently momentum is off the hook for Yeshe’s “Pint and Paint” events, which he started almost a year ago at New Bohemia Brewing in Capitola. Nubo hosts twice a month and the events always sell out. He’s started a series at Boulder Creek’s lille aeske, Ben Lomond’s Casa Nostra, and other venues public and private.

“I’m still getting my feet wet, willing to try a bunch of different venues. These events help crack the shell on some people who haven’t painted in a long time or maybe never in their life. And having a pint or two is not a bad thing to do, helps people loosen up.”

$45 gets you free beer, a 16×20 canvas, brushes and paint, he provides all the materials. “You just show up and get to take home a painting.” It’s a great way to meet people and network. “Too many people spend too much of their time mind-numbing in front of the TV,” he says. “It’s so much more fulfilling to spend an evening creating something – we all have so much more potential than we realize. If you’re reading a book, painting a picture, sculpting – anything – there’s something about that that’s so much more satisfying.”

The success of Pint and Paint is a testament to the locals. “People want to support you, no matter what it is, like the wind at your back.” And there’s no better life than doing what he loves to do.  “I couldn’t fathom or even stomach the idea of not being an artist. When I think about art I think about possibilities for the future, and I have to be thankful – it feels pretty amazing.”

On the Web: squareup.com/store/yeshe-jackson-art

On Facebook: www.facebook.com/yeshepaints

Julie Horner is an Irish folk musician and writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. #slvpost | http://www.slvpost.com
Email: leap2three@gmail.com
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/santacruzmountainslocal

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A Sea of Shoulder-High Grasses ~ The Music and Imagining of Laurel Thomsen and Dan Frechette

By Julie Horner

Bending and swaying in unison like tawny tassels of tall grass rippling in a late summer breeze, singer/song writer, Dan Frechette and violinist, Laurel Thomsen, boots and bare feet on the simple Corralitos Open Farm Tour stage, sang to an intimate throng of young families and barnyard dwellers in early October. A chorus of baby goats and a Biblical sized sheep provided unexpectedly hilarious accompaniment while a gaggle of youngsters commandeering four-legged accomplices on tethers ran in capricious circles. Right on schedule, a tractor made the rounds, pulling visitors beaming and bumping on hay bales on tours of the grounds.

The Crooked Road Ceili Band had just wrapped up the morning’s music and we had time to grab lunch from one of the local vendors at this annual farm event held at the Agriculture Museum at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds and enjoy Dan and Laurel’s fresh roots-folk. It was our first time. We sat on the edge of the stage enthralled by perfect harmonies and enchanting lyrics, watching children and baby animals frolic, swept into an easy, rhythmic daydream.

I’d actually just spent an afternoon the week prior chatting with Dan and Laurel over coffee at White Raven. Strangers at the time, serendipity put us together on that farm tour stage a few days later and presented the opportunity to appreciate the music first hand, the words of the artist interview manifested in live performance. And a new friendship was kindled.

During our interview Dan had said, “On stage, you can feel the audience like a collective wave.”  He loves intimate venues where he can see individual faces. “You need them to help you make the show…it’s not just about us.” Music is the real connector. “People come up after your show to say that they had a really personal experience from the song you wrote. And you share the moment when you’re teary eyed, your hearts connect. You can’t just get there any day, it’s a very special experience.”

A prolific and passionate songwriter influenced by many diverse genres, Dan points out that “you want it to make sense, you want to make people excited to hear you…there has to be an occasion for people to come see you. We get really happy when people ask us to play. Better to play when it makes sense to play.”

When writing songs, Dan says, you have to “turn off the more critical side and be in the more flowy side. Step outside of the song and see it for what it is…it’s good to have written the song for the outlet…for validating your life force…at the end of the day it’s gotta be fun.”

Classically trained and sharing a unique chemistry together, Laurel’s violin and voice swirl in tandem with Dan’s vocals and guitar, and as one reviewer put it, “Their energy, winsome personalities, and toe tapping rhythms, keep audiences engaged with every song.” Laurel says, “The music I’m excited about sharing is that which I’m most passionate about. And you can really be carried along by the people, the music lovers’ reaction.”

Dan is a force. Apparent on stage and as an avid audience member himself, he enthused about a recent show he attended, “I remember clapping my hands to the beat so hard I almost broke them.” With his engaging energy and gift for bringing people together, he told me, “I asked to play at lille aeske…that’s how it starts with me for a lot of things.” The duo played in October as part of the downtown Boulder Creek art house collective’s Performance Series. Laurel says, “It’s really cool to be able to play an intimate concert close to home.” When not on tour, Dan plays Casa Nostra on occasional Wednesday evenings as well.

Dan, a native of Winnipeg, Canada, and Laurel, a Monterey, CA native, are a real-life couple now living in Bonny Doon “for community,” Dan says. They’ve recorded two CDs at Justin Meyer’s Bear Creek Studios nearby. “Justin’s wonderful, the facilitates, the music, being there. There’s no negative vibes left behind from the previous recording artists. There’s a connection.”

“The new album is called ‘Between The Rain’ and we recorded it starting in December at Justin’s and just sent it out for production a few weeks ago. This album is our best one yet, and is our most collaborative.” Dan and Laurel are throwing two CD release parties for their latest effort: April 27 at Don Quixote’s and April 28 at Bon Ton’s Lighthouse Smokehouse in Monterey.

As for small town mountain living, Dan said, “I heard about Sugar by the Pound…I’m just thrilled that there’s old time music right up the street from me. We’re both so excited to watch the little sparks fly with new community and just having fun with new people.”

The couple agrees: “The music is an adventure. It’s best having no expectations…only trying to be prepared for magic. The focus is more on the really awesome times…this is our journey. You have to have a genuine path…the people who are there really want to be there…”

On the Web: www.danandlaurel.ca/Home.html

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/danandlaurel

Julie Horner is an Irish folk musician and writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. #slvpost | http://www.slvpost.com
Email: leap2three@gmail.com
Santa Cruz Mountains Local on the Web: http://santacruzmountainslocal.com/
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/santacruzmountainslocal

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Puttin’ on the Ritz – Mountain Community Theater Presents Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein

By Julie Horner

“What knockers!,” I wanted to burst out, but the creaking double doors to Park Hall’s hallowed downtown Ben Lomond performing arts theater parted freely with a humorously haunting ‘scree’ without my having to rattle any hardware…jokes about ogling impressive accoutrement or rolling in the hay aside.

Rehearsal for Mountain Community Theater’s current production, Young Frankenstein, was underway so I took a seat unobtrusively near the entrance. The voices of a dozen or so actors filled the space – I’d stumbled upon the scene when the villagers have just discovered that the monster, newly sentient with an “Abby Normal” brain, has broken free from Frankenstein’s laboratory and has gone missing among the misty streets of the nearby village.

Based on the book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan with music and lyrics by Mel Brooks – he of the infamously funny movie, which I can say is probably my favorite of all time – MCT is pulling out the stops and putting on the Ritz with this dramatic romp with meticulous nod to detail.

“He’s loose, he’s loose, he’s loose!” the villagers sang, imaginary implements, rakes, torches, and broomsticks thrusting into the air to punctuate the urgency. With a few words from Director Daria E. Troxell, Igor (pronounced “eye-gore”), played by Galen James-Heskett, swept from near where I watched toward the stage. “Where are you, you big ugly brute!” he exclaimed, and disappeared with a mournful cry as the villagers rushed from all quarters to their places on stage.

Galen’s older sister, Whitney James-Heskett, stepped in then to choreograph the next scene while Daria took a quick meal break to chat with me about MCT’s latest offering.

This is Diana’s 3rd show with MCT as director. She told me there are 18 actors in Young Frankenstein ranging in age from 16 to 60-plus. While many actors are regulars, she says, some drop in occasionally when life allows and some are new. “I hope there’s at least one new person with each production.” SLV resident, Jennifer Hennig, who grew up in theater, joins the chorus, returning to the stage after a long hiatus. She finds the experience “fun and exciting.” Benjamin Canant, who takes on the role of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein – played in the movie by Gene Wilder – calls his appearance “a triumphant return” from his last stage role when he was 15.

Canant says, “It’s a gigantic role with a lot of singing.” He said, “Daria likes to stay close to the movie – a lot of the same scenes, a lot of people’s favorite jokes. Most of us have seen the movie and we’re all on board to bring the movie to life.” He was invited to audition for part. “Obviously, I’m a fan – I love Gene Wilder’s work. This was something I had a shot at and seemed like a fun thing to do.”

Galen said that he auditioned specifically for the role of Igor. It’s his first show with MCT but he worked with Daria in Santa Cruz County’s Little People’s Repertory Theater (LPRT) when he was younger. “Daria is trying to stay true to the original,” he said, accents and all.

Karen Solomon has been with MCT since the beginning and now plays the role of Frau Blücher. “Certain parts I get magnetized to, the Wicked Witch, Mame. I love Cloris Leachman. She was a debutante from Chicago – she was gorgeous – I knew I wanted to play her.” Karen was at the theater that night to be measured for her costume.

Designer Alaina Boys says proudly that she’s starting to become known for her costumes. “My costuming gets good reviews!” She continued, “This show will be a bit tricky – but ingenious thrift store finds help.” She’s done several shows with MCT. “It’s my fifth time costuming in some form or another since 2012 – I do at least one show a year.”

Back on stage the search for the Frankenstein monster continued. Inspector Kemp is played by David Halper. “I think it’s time we pay a visit to this young Frankenstein!” he proclaims in a perfect Germanically Transylvanian accent, “Do some ‘schnooping!’” From the house Daria counts in a clutch of agitated villagers: “Five, six, seven, eight!” They exchange their lines then bustle off, pitchforks bristling, to continue the hunt. At the same time a bewildered looking monster lurches off the opposite way. A near miss.

The human behind the monster is Scott Kravitz. He told me, “I’ve been acting for a while and was looking for a part that suited my eyebrows.” He described the challenge of the role: “Even though I don’t have a lot of lines to hide behind, I have to express the emotional impact of being alive again – trying to fit in and failing miserably.”

Scott has been acting in the valley since 2003 after moving here from New York in 2002. “I love working with MCT – I’ve been actively involved for 10 years. It’s a great group, a lot of really nice theater. It’s quality at the community level.” And there’s always room for more actors, he says, and stage hands, prop builders, costume designers. “I think that everyone at some point of their lives should be involved in theater, to be part of something so much greater than themselves. Theater is an ancient and sacred tradition – every character I’ve played has something to teach me.”

Tickets for MCT’s Young Frankenstein are available at Brown Paper Tickets: http://frankie.brownpapertickets.com/

On the Web: https://mctshows.org/

Box office: 831-336-4777

Mountain Community Theater: 9400 Mill St. Ben Lomond, CA 95005

Julie Horner is an Irish folk musician and writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. Know an outstanding local artist, actor, craftsperson, author, musician, wine maker, or microbrewer you’d like to read about in the San Lorenzo Valley Post? Send email to: leap2three@gmail.com

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