A Simple Aesthetic

Local Artist, Nicky Gaston, Reimages the Aesthetic at Steel Bonnet Brewing Company

By Julie Horner

The community packed the Boulder Creek Brewery Outpost on its final Friday to wish the business bon voyage as it prepares to move operations north of town. Local brewers, Donald and Susan Cramb, owners of Scotts Valley’s Steel Bonnet Brewing Company, were in attendance along with local artist, Nicky Gaston, their new beer label designer. Long a tasting room loyal, Nicky recently began work designing hand-illustrated labels for each of Steel Bonnet’s handcrafted brews. With a major artistic appetite, the labels are part of his freelancing efforts late into the night after his 9-to-5 in Santa Cruz.

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A full-time graphic designer currently working for NHS distribution, the parent company of Santa Cruz Skateboards – and a voracious skateboarder himself – he’ll stop by Steel Bonnet on his way back to Boulder Creek and “get a beer…maybe two!” With an impressive graphic art portfolio in hand, Nicky remembers his initial meeting with Don: “After about five minutes, Don said, ‘when can you start?’”

He began work about six months ago producing the labels in batches of four. “Don trusted my creative judgement.” It was Nicky’s design for Hop the Heck IPA – his favorite of the brews at Steel Bonnet – that inspired the aesthetic for the other labels in the series. “There are roughly five colors per graphic,” he says, and each graphic is reflective of the theme of the beer itself, rich in finite detail and saturated hues that you would find in nature. Hop blossoms are naturally green and yellow, for instance, and he’s matched the color of the real thing as closely as possible on the label. Likewise, the color of a Hawaiian sunset for the Pau Hana brew, or the tones of the forest for Bear Creek Brown, the nano brewery’s tribute to Bear Creek Road in Boulder Creek; stomping grounds for the Crambs.

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Already known for his graphic artwork for Alice’s Restaurant and for the Parks Project, among others, and enthusiastic about continuing to build his freelance opportunities, the labels he’s created for Steel Bonnet will also translate to tap handles, T-shirts, and other merchandise. For Nicky it’s all about mutual respect and keeping it local. “Their beer is good, I support what they’re doing and how they make their beer. Not only do I want to work with them, I love what they do.”

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Nicky just finished the last of the 14 labels, which was in honor of Donald and Susan’s new grandbaby, Connor. “The beer is entitled ‘Conski Cream Ale’ and the graphic consists of an illustrated image of Connor after a full messy meal.” Ironically, the graphic was completed on the day of Steel Bonnet’s recent 2nd year anniversary, “which was a wonderful way to finish up all 14 images,” Nicky says. “Steel Bonnet does an excellent job at both perfecting their crafted beers and staying innovative with new limited releases of seasonal offerings.”

“Stop by Steel Bonnet’s wonderful Scotts Valley location and grab a pint of some of the best beer around!” And while you’re there, check out the new beer labels created by San Lorenzo Valley’s Nicky Gaston.

Nicky Gaston:

www.instagram.com/nickygaston | http://ngcreativeco.com

Steel Bonnet: www.facebook.com/SteelBonnetBrewing
20 Victor Square B, Scotts Valley

Copyright 2017 Julie Horner for the San Lorenzo Valley Post

https://www.facebook.com/San-Lorenzo-Valley-Post-107557427361672/

VANYA and SONIA and MASHA and SPIKE

Ben Lomond’s Mountain Community Theater delivers with world-class production now through May 28, 2017.

The Bottenberg & Horner Report

Mountain Community Theater presents the 2013 Tony Award winner for Best Play, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang, directed by Peter Gelblum. The production opened at Ben Lomond’s historic Park Hall on Friday, May 5, and continues on weekends through Sunday, May 28. The cast includes: W. Scott Whisler, Daria E. Troxell, Robin Aronson, Correll Barca-Hall, Ashley Sue Perry, and Sasha Voigt.

Bottenberg – “The cast was brilliant, brought the right level of believability to big emotional roles with a wonderful understanding of the comedy of the book. The ensemble played so well with and against each other. Strongly and professionally directed. Pace and timing was great, balance of the humor and the sadness so well done. A wonderful play – balancing long standing family issues and unhappiness with a satisfying resolution. So much fun to be immersed in a good play with good players. Mountain Community Theater is a gem.”

Horner – “A realistic portrayal of the everyday that lifts the characters out of daily drudgery to tap into the submerged reservoir of dead-end re-visited, re-considered, and ultimately rejected. Family, conceit, insecurity, introspect…and hope, misplaced then re-kindled and re-purposed. Through the characters, we gain courage for living to individual potential without fearing judgement. Perception is not necessarily fact and we learn, with sparkling wit and biting humor, that we are all yearning for our own version of the glittering bauble and that you-must-have-the-wrong-number phone call for a first date on Saturday night. Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is pure voodoo…it’s just a pinprick but it makes its point. As always, an enthusiastically packed house at Park Hall, chuckles and laughter to the rafters. And how old is Spike, exactly?”

Tickets and info: http://spike.brownpapertickets.com/ | https://mctshows.org/

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Copyright 2017 Julie Horner for the San Lorenzo Valley Post

https://www.facebook.com/SanLorenzoValleyPostNews/

A Capella to End All Wars ~ The Gold Standard Barbershop Chorus of Santa Cruz

By Julie Horner

Late night at Jeffrey’s in Santa Cruz who would expect the eight-or-so diners at the back table to rise up singing in perfect four-part harmony? In a fanfare of gratitude, a gesture of thanks for good food and good company, they stood drawn close around the table and sang their version of the familiar Irish blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

The Gold Standard Chorus of Santa Cruz is the local chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, the umbrella organization for the proliferation and preservation of barbershop singing in America. Known for doing things a bit differently, the Santa Cruz group features voices in “mixed harmony” (both men and women singers), a rarity in the barbershop world. All-female barbershop quartets are called, Sweet Adelines, and barbershop singers of all genders refer to themselves as “barbershoppers.” Innately good natured, welcoming, and bubbling with wisecracks and whacky anecdotes, barbershoppers are as much a family to each other – their art a way of life – as bluegrassers and Irish tune-heads, participating in workshops, festivals, competitions, and camp-outs anywhere the fun might be.

Barbershop is a style of singing characterized by simultaneous four-part harmony (tenor, lead, baritone, and bass), sung a cappella with utmost clarity. According to Music Director, Jordon Johnson, because the notes must be sung with an ear to perfection, “There’s nowhere to hide.” He calls it, “the advanced martial arts of the a cappella world” and stresses that it all depends on which side of the pitch you naturally sing on and how are you breathing. Creating harmony is an art form. Singers must always be listening carefully to one another to keep the sound as pure as possible, to achieve that “lock and ring.” He says with the world’s top quartets, “the precision is insane.”

Organized in October, 1989, the Santa Cruz chapter is active all over the county with regular appearances along the route of the Wharf-to-Wharf race, their annual Cabaret 1st Saturday in June at Felton Hall, Scotts Valley’s Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, and caroling at Boulder Creek’s holiday festivities. Their youngest member is 14 nd their oldest is 92. “We love helping ensure that young people get exposed to music and singing in our schools,” so membership dues go towards funding scholarships for local high school music students, helping local school music departments pay for sheet music, hire accompanists, and organize field trips, among other things.

The chorus also presents a popular fall show. Since 2013, “Our fall shows are themed productions held in November each year. This year we’re proud to present an evening of Irish songs, including some exciting new music.” Director Johnson says, “We’ll be singing The Parting Glass, Molly Malone, Wild Irish Rose, and other favorites as well as pieces you may never have heard. We’re even singing a song from The Pogues!” There will be humor, and some special surprise guests like Boulder Creek Irish group, The Crooked Road Céilí Band, joining the magic at the evening show. At the end of the night, everyone is invited to join in singing.

The fall show, Songs of Ireland, is on November 5, 2016 at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm at the Mid-County Senior Center 829 Bay Avenue, Capitola, CA 95010! Tickets for the 2:00 matinee are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. The 7:00 show with The Crooked Road Céilí Band is $18 at the door.

Tickets and more information: www.scbarbershop.org/

On Facebook: www.facebook.com/GSCSantaCruz/

The Gold Standard Chorus welcomes visitors to their rehearsals to listen or to sing. They meet every Wednesday from 7:00 – 9:30 pm at Georgina Bruce Kirby Preparatory School, 425 Encinal Street, Santa Cruz. Call or email Bob Folker for more information: bobfolker@gmail.com | (831) 297-3246 Associate Music Director, Dale Summer, calls barbershop singing an athletic endeavor. “Singing is good for you mentally, emotionally, physically – and singing in harmony with other people is amazingly good for you. It exposes participants, especially young people, to spatial reasoning, and you learn how to breathe and stand better, stay in motion, not be static.”

“Almost all barbershoppers will tell you, they never stop…they’ll be doing this ‘till the day they die.” Director Johnson is sure that “barbershop would stop the wars.”

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The Gold Standard Barbershop Chorus of Santa Cruz in concert with The Crooked Road Ceili Band Saturday, November 5 2016 at 7:00 pm.

This article was originally published by Julie Horner in the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin, Boulder Creek, CA.

Felton Trout Farm Devastated by Fire

Beloved Felton Trout Farm Inn Burns

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”

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

#FeltonTroutFarmInn
#slvpost
http://slvpost.com/

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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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