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/

This article was originally published in the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin: http://mountainbulletin.com/article/on-spirit-wings-medicine-road/

Julie Horner is an Irish style musician and writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, CA. https://www.facebook.com/CrookedRoadCeiliBand/

The Magic of a Chance – Drifting Compass

By Julie Horner

One of summer’s guilty pleasures: Winding home on Bear Creek Road on an exceptionally warm, sunny late afternoon under the redwoods, with windows rolled down and music cranking. Spirits soaring, I was testing the rubber on the familiar home stretch with the soft July wind in my hair, grinning ear-to-ear and somehow managing to resist fist-pumping out the skylight. Eyes on the road, hands upon the wheel.

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The disc in the player was Drifting Compass’s 2015 self-produced EP, Grains of Sand, all-original rock music that reminded me of younger days with uniquely familiar hooks and infectious lyrics about dreams, realities, new beginnings, and the urgent vibrance of living life.

I had just gotten the CD after bumping into singer-songwriter, Dave “Nomad” Miller, at a recent meeting of community members to ramp up fundraising efforts for Yvonne and Kelly McGuire, who lost all in the Felton Trout Farm fire in early June. “We were supposed to do a show at Felton Trout Farm in July and were purposely building anticipation to get the most folks out to the show,” Dave told me. “I consider Kelly and Yvonne to be like family. Ever since they’ve owned the place they’ve been open to suggestions to get good music, inviting people in for pow wows. After the fire it was like, “If there’s anything you could do to help.”

Dave spent years on the road performing as a solo artist and adopted the name, “Nomad,” as a result. “I purposely packed up my van with everything I felt I needed and started heading west. I lived on the road for seven years, playing acoustically at coffee shops…it’s kind of how the name ‘Drifting Compass’ came about.” The open road became muse for his songwriting. “Some of the wisest people I met while on the road.” In Spokane he met a street prophet who told him, “There’s no such thing as wasted time, there’s only wasted lessons.”

He wound up in Santa Cruz by mistake. “I thought a friend lived there but he actually lived in Fremont.” Sometimes a wrong turn can lead to the best discoveries and now he’s set down roots in Santa Cruz. “I’ve been here more than 20 years and love it.”

“I put the band together in late 2006 but didn’t start gigging regularly until mid-2007.” They’ve had some member changes here and there: “It’s hard to find people sometimes. My lead guitar player has been with me for five years. It’s the best I’ve felt about the lineup – I’m really happy right now.”

Drifting Compass is Nomad (guitar, lead vocals); Colin Bockman (lead guitar, vocals); Dana Young (bass guitar, vocals); and Jeff Smits (drums, vocals). Sometimes people sit in on keyboards or harmonica; they even had an opera singer once. While the band is based on originals, Dave says when they throw covers in “people light up.” But they do cover material in their own way, putting a “Drifting Compass twist” to it. “We have a grungy Americana style, we turn whatever we play into that genre. My vocals, Colin’s distorted guitar leads, we’ll turn them around for playing out.”

A name ubiquitous in San Lorenzo Valley, Drifting Compass plays regularly throughout the Monterey and San Francisco Bay Areas. “Our biggest goal right now is to see as many people as possible at our live shows.” They just did a show in Monterey on July 9. “The place was so packed at times that it was hard to navigate through the bodies without spilling drinks. We had a great time!”

They’ll be at the Santa Cruz Mountain Art, Music and Wine Festival in Boulder Creek over Labor Day weekend and at Henflings in Ben Lomond in October. Other performances coming up this fall include venues in Hollister, Berkeley, San Francisco, and at the Mystic Theater Mendocino with Reckless Kelly. And of course there’s the local Drool Pigs Festival, the annual craft beer and local music extravaganza Erik Rozite (Acoustic Shadows) hosts in Boulder Creek, this year on October 17. “We were one of the founding bands – Erik always invites us back. Erik and I were actually doing acoustic shows together before we started up our respective bands.”

Drifting Compass’s next CD, tentatively called “Grit,” is in the works and is being recorded at Gadget Box in Westside Santa Cruz. “Andy and Patrick are amazing…they’re well worth it.”

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Captivating with acoustic-driven rhythms and original songs, Drifting Compass creates music in the Alternative-Rock vein with a little dirt, a little sugar, and a whole lot of fist-pumping vibe. “The biggest thrill of it all is the energy that the crowd feeds to you, you feed to them – everybody has a great time.”

On the Web: www.driftingcompass.com

On Facebook: www.facebook.com/driftingcompass

Julie Horner is an Irish style folk musician and writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains. www.santacruzmountainslocal.com | leap2three@gmail.com

This article was originally published in the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin: http://mountainbulletin.com/article/drifting-compass-the-magic-of-a-chance/

Raffle and Fundraiser for Yvonne and Kelly McGuire – Restaurant Business Owners at the Felton Trout Farm

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FELTON TROUT FARM DEVASTATED BY FIRE!

http://mountainbulletin.com/article/trout-farm-devastated-by-fire/

Purchase a raffle ticket to support the McGuires as they rebuild their restaurant business after the fire that destroyed the Trout Farm and the McGuire’s livelihood. Win one of the following grand prizes:

View the fundraiser flyer: http://mountainbulletin.com/event/2016-07-27_the-trout-farm-family-raffle-fundraiser-event/

Beloved Felton Trout Farm Inn Burns

Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin

June 10, 2016

by Julie Horner

While many of us were reveling in the music and magic at the annual Redwood Mountain Faire on Sunday, June 5, the much loved Felton Trout Farm Inn suffered a devastating fire just two miles away. The fire started in the vent above the kitchen’s grill around 2:20 in the afternoon. Cooks, wait staff, and owner, Kelly McGuire helped safely evacuate patrons enjoying lunch and using the pool as responders from Zayante, Ben Lomond, Felton and Scotts Valley fire departments arrived to battle the blaze. This tight-knit mountain community and all of San
Lorenzo Valley has lost another precious local landmark and social hub.

Within a few minutes of initial news, friends and neighbors were sharing posts on Facebook: “What a terrible, terrible day. Our favorite place has burned down. We are told everyone is okay, which is the most important thing. But now knowing that everyone is safe, we can grieve for our loss, The Trout Farm. We love the Trout Farm and all of the people there. Kelly McGuire and Yvonne McGuire we love you, and will do whatever we can to help you rebuild.”

“We just went there yesterday to play in the pool. I really hope that it can be rebuilt. What a horrible loss to the community. Please keep the group posted about fund raisers.”

“I’m in tears, the McGuire family have worked hard to make The Trout Farm a special place to enjoy the history and the great food and dance bands. We had our wedding reception there and it was a ball! Kelly, Yvonne, Mandy, Luis and the rest of the crew…we will be praying for all of you and the future of The Trout Farm…that this all comes out in the best way.”

“Utterly devastating…so sad. Yvonne, Kelly and the whole team family were so warm and really built a community destination. I’ll miss it terribly but have faith that Trout will rise like a Phoenix. I’ll follow along and be there when the cause calls for lending a hand.”

“I was there with my wife and two kids at the pool on Saturday. We would’ve been there on Sunday too but for the Redwood Mountain Faire. We are all shocked and deeply saddened by this tragedy.”

According to reports, McGuire had been standing at the bar just feet from the kitchen when the fire broke out and the interior quickly filled with smoke. Firefighters responded within five minutes but the dry old bones of the structure
rapidly became engulfed.

“The firefighters did everything they could,” McGuire said in a statement to Santa Cruz Sentinel reporter, Ryan Masters. “They could have been parked out front and it wouldn’t have made a difference. That’s how fast it went up.”

The original bar and gaming room was built across Zayante Creek on land that once housed a trout hatchery. In Ed Jasmin’s Web archive, The History of the Trout Farm Inn, he writes, “In 1942 the bar was moved to its current location and Bill Fischer and his mother purchased it in 1946 from Austin and Jackie Berry. In 1955 he began a small dining room where one could get a steak, trout or chicken dinner for $1.95 while ‘Ma’ Fischer managed the trout ponds. The lounge was later extended in 1956 and 1958. The Trout Farm in the 40’s and 50’s served as an Inn providing overnight accommodations located where the swimming pool now lies.”

The cabins were moved to locations along the creek as permanent residences so that the pool could be modernized to accommodate growing numbers of tourists. “Several owners followed Bill and his partner Bob. In early 2005, the stewardship of this landmark passed to Penny Siler and John Heibel.” The McGuires took ownership of the Trout Farm Inn in 2012 offering a full bar and restaurant, live music performance space and of course, the inviting family pool.

The building was declared a total loss by Troy Adams, Zayante Fire District
Battalion Chief.

Facebook posts continue to accumulate in support:

“My first job was washing dishes at the TF in 1975 … working for Bill and Bob was a wild introduction to the food industry. I’m sorry for your loss … we’ll stay tuned as we vacation every Summer in Ben Lomond. Thoughts and prayers!!!” “I’m so sad to hear this but glad everyone us safe. I grew up at the Trout Farm Inn, knew Ma Fisher, Bill Fisher, Bob. Had my first job there at the pool and worked as a waitress for several years back in the early 70’s. My mom was a hostess. Lots of great memories. I’m heartbroken. We just watched old videos of swimming in the pool when my brother and I were young.”

“My grandmother, Bernice Fischer, started the Trout Farm in the mid 1930’s. My dad, Bill Fischer, owned it for 50 years, selling it in the mid 80’s. We moved the cabins to the creekside (from the current location of the pool), built the pool, expanded the bar and dining room, had luaus, floated Christmas trees in the pool and never missed the Friday night fights on TV in the bar during the 50’s. So much history – another chapter in life, closed. I pray for the owners to get through this tragedy, and extend my condolences to you!!! Thank you ALL for caring about the property, the business, and the historical landmark that it became. God give you strength, hope, and new vision. Sincerely, Cheryl and Francis Busa – Montana”

From all of us at the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin, huge condolences and much support. We will post updates about fundraisers and rebuilding efforts as we get them.

More about the Trout Farm: http://edjasmin.com/assets/Pages/8-Web/websites/thetroutfarminn/assets/pages/history.htm

On Facebook:

www.facebook.com/troutfarminn

www.facebook.com/feltontroutfarmfamily

To read Kelly and Yvonne McGuire’s first communication to the public and other comments from the public regarding this huge loss to our community, read this month’s From the Mail Bag.

#FeltonTroutFarmInn

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Heathen Hill – American Roots Music

By Julie Horner

The Memorial Day weekend weather was perfect. Burgers and bacon on the grill, Richard Thompson on the iPod, a cold brew in hand, and the happy din of laughter and live music drifting through the forest and among the tents and tapestries as another day of magic at Strawberry Music Festival transcended the twilight between sunny lounging on the green and the communal energy of all-night acoustic jams. I was sharing the vibe (and a mean plate of tasty BBQ) with San Lorenzo Valley’s Americana/Bluegrass “house band,” Heathen Hill.

“We originated as people who jammed together at Strawberry,” my host and Heathen Hill singer/songwriter, Mark Becker, told me. “We’ve been an evolving band over the years,” with an impressive roster of musicians. The core of the band, Mark (guitar, vocals), Rick Ednie (guitar, vocals), and Jeff Hayes (standup bass, vocals), all Santa Cruz Mountain dwellers, have been playing together for years, starting out at the Strawberry Music Festival at Camp Mather setting up camp year after year on a knoll they named, “Heathen Hill.”

Known around the valley for hosting Sunday Bluegrass jams at the Boulder Creek Brewery, and lately playing 4th Fridays at the Felton Trout Farm, their first big performance together was at The ShobeFest acoustic music festival in Santa Barbara. Familiar faces at the Brookdale Bluegrass Festival, the original foursome kicked off with Mark, Rick, Jeff, and Dave Kaufman on mandolin. “Dave contributed his originals to our covers before he moved to San Francisco…he could jump in on the guitar, banjo, and piano in addition to mandolin,” Mark said. “Since the Brewery burned down, we ended up ultimately going into our current configuration.”  Randy “Rando Mando” Hudson recently joined the group with his lightning fast fingers.

Mark and crew travel in a wider family of esteemed musical company, so much so that several of the Heathen Hill Americana/Bluegrass bandies also have a hand in Homebrew Jam, a new local Americana/Folk outfit. “We play with so many talented folks, it was better to put different styles into two different bands.” Homebrew Jam was one of the last bands to play at the Trout Farm, on a sweltering first Friday in June, filling the room to the rafters with lively toe-tapping down-home music. A fine sendoff, indeed, as the Trout Farm succumbed to fire two days later.

Heathen Hill plays with a warm, welcoming upbeat energy. “It’s part of what we like to do – we started at the Strawberry Festival with the idea of having fun, lending that festival feel to create a good atmosphere.”

Heathen Hill is gaining momentum in the mountains. “Most folks like our sound. We have a good following and we get people out to come see us. We’re happy to be local.” This year they were invited to play at the Redwood Mountain Faire, sharing a stage with legendary performers such as Harpin’ Johnny and Larry Hosford.

Mark said, “After the ShobeFest there was talk about getting us into shows in LA and into the studio in Santa Barbara to record a CD…no way we could do that with our day jobs and family. Sounds exciting but it doesn’t offset the money you’d make at your regular job.” While a locally produced CD is certainly being considered, he says it’s rewarding to play just for the success of improving, working on new material, and being with good people. “The real payback is the camaraderie and having people really enjoying themselves when you’re playing for them.”

Heathen Hill plays a mix of original and cover songs in the Americana style with a progressive Bluegrass edge. Powerhouse singer/songwriter, Rick Ednie, contributes much of the original material. “Rick has his solo album [White Turtle Dove] and we do a lot of his material.” With his roots in Rock, Mark wrote “Work” and “We’re Flying on the Wind,” “Keep on Dancing,” and “The Hot Tub Song,” among others, in the Americana vein with catchy choruses, almost a Country feel. “I try to run the gamut, mix it up quite a bit.”

An evening with Heathen Hill promises good times and good sounds. “We like to throw in a Dead song or two.”

Heathen Hill plays at LuLu Carpenter’s in Santa Cruz about once a month, and Mark says they’re hoping to become regulars at the Summit House up on Highway 17. “We had the great treat and good fortune to be invited to play at Redwood Mountain Faire…maybe in the future we’ll be asked to play at Roaring Camp.”

“All I can say is my heart just aches for the folks at the Trout Farm, the staff, the whole family working there. It is an oddity that a couple of places that we’ve played at have burned down. I’m hoping they’ll be able to get back on their feet quickly.”

“We live and play in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Performing is our way of generating and sharing festival energy all year long.”

On the Web: heathenhillmusic.com

On Facebook: www.facebook.com/HeathenHillMusic

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Julie Horner is a writer and Irish style musician living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, CA. This story was originally published in the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin, June 2016: http://mountainbulletin.com/article/heathen-hill-american-roots-music/

The ‘grass is Always Greener – Rick Ednie’s Bluegrass Roundup

By Julie Horner

Singer-songwriter, Rick Ednie, has advice for budding musicians and writers: Keep whatever you do. In 1998 or so he first tried writing songs, by hand, which he held onto in a folder for years, dragging it around thinking, “why am I saving this crap?” “Some of the thoughts were immature,” he felt, “Not focused, rambling.” He kept the old material anyway and it has proven to be a goldmine. “It might instill something in you that might inspire something else.” Like a seed. “I have this image of people writing something then saying, ‘oh this sucks,’ and crumpling it up and throwing it in the trash. Don’t do that!”

Locals will recognize Rick as a lead proponent in Santa Cruz Mountains-based band, Heathen Hill, favorites on the regional Americana folk music scene who play regularly at the Trout Farm, Joe’s Bar, LuLu Carpenter’s downtown Santa Cruz, and who used to have a regular Sunday slot at the Boulder Creek Brewery before fire gutted the building in March, 2015. Rick is quick to mention that Heathen Hill is far from a bluegrass band. “There’s no fiddle, no banjo.” It’s something they’re always talking about, he says.

In the meantime, Rick has branched out by forming another musical endeavor, which he calls Rick Ednie’s Bluegrass Roundup. “I’ve been a gig getter for many years. I wanted to get gigs but didn’t necessarily have the musicians to support it.” So he’d call around to find players to plug in to various gigs as he got them, basically rounding them up. He’d get calls from musician friends saying, “Hey Rick, why don’t you do another roundup gig?” So with a core group of four or five members in rotation, he started at farmers’ markets then helped make popular the Wednesday night Java Jam, which used to be at Coffee Cat up in Scotts Valley and is now down at LuLu Carpenter’s with a rotating roster of top folk musicians.

And with the help of his core posse, Rick Ednie’s Bluegrass Roundup has a new CD called White Turtle Dove. It’s his second CD and third time working in a studio environment. “I find it a challenge – the right people have to be together – there are so many variables, like getting the same people to focus on similar goals. We’re all just weekend warriors; I try to make a better effort.”

Most of the people on the CD are close friends, a few were hired as professional studio players. The album includes Rick on guitar, vocals, and mandolin; Bradley Richter on mandolin and vocals; Suzanne Suwanda on bass; Jason Lampel on banjo; Luke Abbott on fiddle; Liz Smith on fiddle and vocals; Mike Witcher on dobro; and Jered Chaney on banjo and vocals. Recorded at Joe Weed’s Highland Studios in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the album features outstanding bluegrass musicianship and showcases Rick’s songs, some new, some reworked from his saved archive of originals from his early songwriting years.

“I’m really happy with it. The first CD I did was definitely Americana, singer-songwriter stuff. This one is contemporary bluegrass. Or at least it’s structurally traditional – but I’m not from Tennessee, it’s how I hear the music, my expression.”

“Recording is a great way to improve your craft, to learn what you can do in that kind of environment – it’s not forgiving – it’s made me a better musician.” And he’s still feeling the love of recording with really professional players. “To have them on the project was encouraging for me, made me step up to the plate to play at a better level.”

This year Rick has been invited to play at the upcoming Brookdale Bluegrass Festival Spring Fling put on by the Northern California Bluegrass Society. The event takes place March 18 and 19 at Scopazzi’s in Boulder Creek – Rick Ednie’s Bluegrass Roundup plays Saturday the 19th from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm and Rick says they’ll be doing a lot of songs off the CD. “The CD has some of the best songs I’ve ever written.”

“It’s my hope to get my music out there – I like to play music with people, and I also want to do more solo work.” He thanks the guys in Heathen Hill for being patient while he reworked his originals for the CD and for performing with them. “They allowed me the space to do that…to work through that. They weren’t judgmental about it…I mean, sure, they’d bust my balls about it, ‘You’re changing the song again?’ But they always allowed me the space to do it.”

Rick is a “project person” and with White Turtle Dove has a hand in everything from the artwork and design of the trifold CD case (make sure you look for the insert) to the promotion and booking. “I love the project aspect of it – it’s there to do – I feel a sense of accomplishment.”

The songwriting is the heart of it. “When I get a song the right way, I can say it’s new, it’s very fulfilling. I have the experience at the Brewery to thank for that, Heathen Hill, the music rights people,” who forced him to turn away from performing cover material and focus on writing his own songs. With White Turtle Dove “It’s not all me. I produced it, I’m on the cover, it’s got my name, but it’s more than that.”

Rick’s CDs, A Fine Place to Start and White Turtle Dove, are on the Web: www.rickednie.com/home/

Experience Rick Ednie’s Bluegrass Roundup at the Brookdale Bluegrass Festival at Scopazzi’s March 19th at 6:00 pm, 13300 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek, CA 95006. Full festival schedule: http://www.brookdalebluegrass.com/

Julie Horner is an Irish folk musician and writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. Email: leap2three@gmail.com

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Conscious American Roots – Steven Graves Band

An interview by Julie Horner with Steven Graves originally published in the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin: http://mountainbulletin.com/

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 jambands.com 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!

On the Web:  www.stevengravesmusic.com

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

Julie Horner is an Irish style musician and writer based in the Santa Cruz Mountains, CA. leap2three@gmail.com