Wax Moon – Like a Small Fire Burning

By Julie Horner

The sound of two voices bound together in spare, earthy harmony touches a vaulted ceiling – natural elements provide an enveloping warmth, rusted steel, handmade paper and melted beeswax. Walls hum and the space between fills with the subtle yearning of souls leaning unconsciously forward. Spellbound by shared imagining and hands clasped virtually walking as one the well-worn paths of human experience through simple storytelling.

“We’re all part of it – acoustic music,” says guitarist and vocalist for Wax Moon, John Blatchford. “Paul and I have been experimenting with space – space being occupied – giving it room. It’s tricky: Two guitarists, two voices, creating as much room to breathe as possible.”

Singer/songwriter and guitarist, Paul Kimball, adds that the sound of their duo, Wax Moon, is “personal, intimate…we put the lyrics up front. The music is deceptively simple…we try to create as much complexity while still keeping it simple.”

Sensational in the Bay Area house concert scene, Wax Moon is making a habit of playing unusual, “completely awesome” performance spaces, debuting locally on June 11 at lille aeske in downtown Boulder Creek. With two acoustic guitars “played only with their fingers,” in this venue they can sing at a volume that’s appropriate to their songs and “isn’t behind a coffee maker.”

John is a recording engineer, sax player and veteran of hard working bands living, for the moment, in San Francisco. Paul, who writes all the lyrics for Wax Moon, lives in San Jose. He says, “I picked up a disdain for country music while living in Texas and found a love for punk rock.” At some point he was reintroduced to folk music, “a strange meandering path that took them back to country down to Americana.” A mutual friend got them together a couple of years ago. They felt a natural musical connection and started working on their own music not long after that. “It helps that it’s just two of us, all matters are easy to resolve. We take it pretty seriously but there isn’t as much stress as bands with lots of members. We’re not about making a brand but more about creating the moment.”

Their debut EP, Ready or Not, was released in November 2015. “We’ve done a lot of work in the past with rich overdubs. Now we’re focusing on the songs themselves, being as in-the-moment as possible, accepting the vagaries of whatever happens.” Ready or Not is a compilation of live takes, basically capturing the essence of what they do.

“We’ve chosen to record the way that we play. When you’re isolating tracks you can become kind of obsessive.” Recording their way means “the music is performed in its natural habitat” – the control room and live room are the same room. “We’re in a room, hanging out playing music and there just happens to be a person there twiddling knobs.”

Wax Moon transcends “the intersection of visual art and music – we can create new experiences that way.” And it’s another reason why lille aeske is such a perfect fit. “It’s like picking up a conversation. We’re such a small unit, creating the energy in a small space…like a small fire burning.”

Paul says, “What’s important to me as a writer is that you’re communicating – it’s a communion with people – you’re making people want to lean into it. We don’t have the advantage of 150 watt amps…it takes a skilled listener to appreciate.

“A big thing for me in this is the vocal harmonizing…that’s something we can really grow with…I just love singing harmonies with John…it’s so frickin’ flattering to sing with.”

As a newer group, they’re “encompassing liftoff in small batches.” Their most recent digital EP, called Cool Blue Heat, is a continuation of music from the first recording with broader themes while still being very simple and spaced around simple melodies and harmonies. It also includes a booklet featuring artwork by Renee French with lyrics and a fanzine. “People like to have something to take home with them to remember the show…give them something they don’t already have.”

John says the new music is modest on some levels and he’d like to keep developing the “artistical” for larger audiences. “If you have ears and heart you’ll enjoy this.” No strings are attached to this process. “This has been more of a clinic for me – Paul has been such a prolific songwriter – like a master class on how to write songs.” John continues, “I was always wrapped up in the music. I’m such a saxophone melody person that the words layered on top weren’t as meaningful. Now it’s awesome to focus on the storyline instead of the backdrop.”

Wax Moon’s music is intimate and stripped down to the essential; their shared faith in the power of song is the way they connect with audiences and with one another. There’s an inherent optimistic humanism, even while veering towards the melancholy. If they take you to difficult places, you can be confident that Wax Moon will also walk you safely back from the edge.

Everything is so damn fragile
Every goddam thing we’ve got
Here right now, lost in a minute
Whether you’re ready or whether you’re not
Whether you’re ready or not – Title track from Ready or Not by Wax Moon

On the Web: http://waxmoonmusic.com/home

Live at lille aeske June 11, 2016: http://www.facebook.com/events/273869662950009/

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

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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: stephanie@thefoundre.com

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

Open Wednesdays through Saturdays, and by appointment
info@thefoundre.com
831 703 4692

On the Web: www.thefoundre.com

On Facebook: www.facebook.com/thefoundre

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