It was an hour before sunrise and absolutely still outside. Not a breath of wind, not a sound. So quiet even the dog was spooked. Then a lone killdeer started its plaintive cry. Last year most of the lakes in Montana still had ice on them in April and the snow hung around well into the month. According to the local groundhog, Montana Murray, spring is coming early this year.
Vann Slatter and Christine Carter Slatter, winemakers at Hunter Hill Vineyard and Winery, are selling the family estate and moving to Montana soon. Or at least that’s the plan. “We are selling everything, hopefully: Home, winery, vineyard and all the equipment for farming and winemaking. We are hoping for the best and a new adventure!”
In the meantime, they have their cabin in Gustine, CA where they spend winters duck hunting, and they plan to go back and forth to Soquel until they sell.
“When we first started the winery we didn’t have a business plan.” They thought, “We’re just growing grapes, making a little wine,” Christine said.
Located in the Santa Cruz mountains northeast of Soquel, Christine and Vann first started growing grapes on the family’s fruit ranch in 1990. Soon the self-taught winemakers were winning awards. “Little by little we’ve put in grapes where the apple farm was…it was supposed to be a hobby. My husband – I call him a visionary – said we were going to grow a few grapes and sell a little wine here and there…”
Now known best for their Pinot Noir and Zinfandel, Hunter Hill Winery makes rich red wines grown on lands formerly thick with redwood forest. “Clay, loam, redwood…wine is a product of the soil,” Christine told me.
Christine’s grandparents bought the acreage in 1906 for a $50 gold piece. The property was logged of its redwood trees, the stumps dynamited away, and the original house, still family occupied, was one of the first built on Glen Haven Road. Her grandfather would haul the harvest by horse and wagon to sell as far away as Boulder Creek. Married just a few years, Vann and Christine took over the property from Christine’s mother in 1968.
Vann grew up in Capitola, “a beach boy,” Christine says, and graduated from Soquel High. He served his country as a Navy Seal, completing three tours of duty. He started Slatter Construction in 1984. In that kind of business, she says, “You become involved in the community.”
Christine grew up in Pasatiempo and considers herself more of a “hill person.” “I’ve always loved the mountains, there are so many fun places you can go to: Forest Pool, the Trout Farm, Pasatiempo Pool, Hollins House…”
“Mountain folk usually stay to themselves. The winery has brought the neighborhood together.”
She tries to be at the tasting room every weekend when they open in spring, greeting everyone she can at the door with a hug. She likes to keep things small, preferring intimate pourings for wine club members and locals who stop in for a sip and a sit in the sun by the pond. The grounds teem serenely with life on a relaxing summer day – dogs, kids, a babbling water feature flitting with wild birds, and occasional live acoustic music.
Long a member of the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association, Hunter Hill has poured at area festivals such as The Scotts Valley Art Wine and Beer Festival, Boulder Creek’s Santa Cruz Mountain Art and Wine Festival, and Capitola Art and Wine Festival, to name a few. For many groups, including Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit’s Gourmet Grazing on the Green in Aptos; Valley Churches United Missions, Tasting Under the Redwoods; and Congregational Church of Soquel, Taste of Soquel, Hunter Hill has graciously donated their wine. “This is still one of the most important things that makes money for all these people – wine is the big sell, it’s all local”
Locally you’ll find Hunter Hill wines at Boulder Creek Pizza and Pub and Redwood Keg Liquor and Deli, and other shops around the valley.
As they prepare for the eventual sale of the land and winery and for leaving the rural California coastal mountain lifestyle they’ve known all their lives, Christine said her favorite moments have been those spent with visitors and friends “sharing this piece of property that we feel is fairly sacred – it’s family property.” And there is the resounding satisfaction of knowing that they’ve done something wonderful with the land.
Hunter Hill Vineyard and Winery
7099 Glen Haven Road, Soquel, CA 95073
An interview by Julie Horner with Tim Welch of Funkranomicon
When taking nighttime strolls in downtown Boulder Creek, I find it tough to resist pressing a wet nose to the window as I walk past Joe’s to see what’s on inside. On warmer evenings the doors are flung open and the sounds of live music entice. I almost always follow the urge to pull up a stool and check the beats.
One of the regular outfits, Funk and Soul powerhouse, Funkranomicon, is known for their dynamic, high energy, hip, contemporary originals and time-tested old school get-down dance beats – steamin’ local music that one fan called “groovy as hell.”
Band members include Joe “Junior” Neto on vocals, Scott “The Shredder” Polland slingin’ the six string, Warren “WaddyP” Paradise on keys, Anthony “AC” Cannon holding down the bottom end, and Tim “TDub” Welch on the tubs.
I was fortunate to pin down “TDub” for a few questions.
JH: You’ve been around for quite a while and have developed a following. What do people rave about your sound?
TW: The compliments we get are usually about the tightness of the band and the songs we write. They are pretty catchy and have a very funky groove. Our lead singer, Joe Neto, is a great entertainer.
When it comes to songwriting, Joe will usually have a basic melody line and some lyrics and we will start jamming on that and develop it into a song. It usually happens pretty quickly. If it doesn’t we will shelve it and maybe revisit it another time. The best songs usually come together the quickest.
JH: I love your band name.
TW: The band gets its name from “The Necronomicon,” a book featured in the stories by horror novelist H. P. Lovecraft and his followers. If you can’t pronounce the name, don’t worry. Most can’t but, we have a song to help you with that called “Book of Funk.” You will find yourself randomly chanting our name and people will think you are crazy. The only people I have met who can pronounce it are Lovecraft fans. Somebody will say, oh yeah, Funkranomicon, I know you guys and I immediately say, you must be a Lovecraft fan!
JH: Have you gone through a lot of personnel changes or are you pretty much the same guys from the start?
TW: We have had some changes over the years. We started in the late 1990’s and the band went their separate ways in 2001. We reformed in 2009 with original singer Joe Neto and me, the original drummer. There was one other drummer in the very early days but, he only played one show before I joined.
JH: Why Funk? It’s super danceable. What does it for you when you’re playing for a room full of dancers?
TW: Funk had it’s heyday in the late 60’s and 70’s with bands like James Brown (who is also the Godfather of Funk not just Soul), Sly and Family Stone, Tower of Power, The Meters, P-Funk, etc. Artists like Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Prince have incorporated a lot of Funk into their music. Funk has had some resurgences over the years like Bruno Mars Uptown Funk but commercially, it’s usually just a song here and there.
Today’s Funk is mostly on the jam band touring circuit where it remains very strong. Bands like Dumpstaphunk, Galactic, The New Mastersounds, The Greyboy Allstars have all had good success and those groups have spawned other groups from their members. Bands like Jamiroquai have really given Funk a more modern sound in recent years.
In the early days in the late 90’s, our singer, Joe Neto, and Nate Mueller, our bassist and producer at the time, were heavily influenced by Stevie Wonder, Al Green, James Brown, Prince, Michael Jackson, Jamiroquai, etc. After playing together as a heavy metal band for a short time, they decided they wanted to switch gears and go into Funk and Soul and they had the talent to pull it off.
Writing some great songs and getting the ladies to dance certainly solidified the Funk and Soul direction of the band. It’s one thing to play to a crowd who is enjoying your music but, it’s a whole other thing to have them bumpin’ and grindin’ to your grooves in a hot sweaty club and everyone is just having a complete blast. It’s pretty addicting.
JH: Are there any OMG moments of wacky crowd behavior or when one of the band members fell off the stage? What are some really great times when you guys were totally locked with the audience?
TW: Well, fortunately, nobody has been hurt, at least not seriously. Back in the early days we played at club where there were a bunch of tweakers who just wanted to hear heavy metal and they were yelling “You suck!” from the pool room between songs. I remember the room being pretty empty since we were playing out of town as a new band and nobody knew us. It was definitely not a Funk friendly venue, that’s for sure.
There was another time back then when our guitarist broke his string and didn’t have another one in the club, so the band continued to improvise while he ran down the street to his car, got a string, ran back to the club, put the string on, tuned it up and finished the song. That was pretty funny because we knew we could not start the next tune without the guitarist and we didn’t want sit around waiting for him so, we did what any good band would do and kept playing for what seemed like an eternity!
In 2011, we won a Facebook contest to open for the legendary Ohio Players at the Jazz Summer Fest in downtown San Jose on the main stage. Michael Buble played before us, so we joke that he opened for us. I don’t know how many hundreds of people were in Cesar Chavez park that evening but, we were pumped! We played a flawless set and recorded it with 5 cameras which is on Youtube. That was an absolute blast!
Some of the best gigs that come to mind where we were really locked in would be a couple of nights at Joe’s Bar when it was packed and everyone was dancing and having a great time. It’s always a great night at Joe’s but, some nights are just magical. A lot of people don’t realize the extent that a band or any entertainer feeds off of the energy of the crowd. It’s a two way exchange of energy all night. The more energy the crowd puts out, the better the band plays and the better the band plays, the more the crowd gets into it. We have had epic gigs at Zelda’s for sure. There’s nothing like the summertime partiers at the beach! We have had some great crowds at Moe’s Alley, Don Quixote’s, Hop N’ Barley Fest, and others.
JH: What are your favorite places to play?
TW: The festivals can be fun but, our favorite regular spots are Zelda’s, Joe’s Bar and we recently started playing at the Quarter Note in Sunnyvale which we all really enjoy. Zelda’s is on the beach in Capitola and we always get a great crowd that loves to dance. Joe’s Bar is like home base for us. The crowd is always appreciative. The bands set up along the wall about 3 feet from the bar so, it’s a captive audience and very intimate. People dance right in front of my drum set which doesn’t happen anywhere else.
The Quarter Note is a nice room with a stage, drum riser, full sound system, sound engineer, easy load in and we can play till 1:00 am. What’s even better is people stay and dance till 1:00 am too. It’s really fun. The staff and owners at these venues are great folks as well. We also play San Pedro Square in downtown San Jose which is always fun. We really like the Trout Farm too. They are huge supporters of local music. We have had successful shows at Don Quixote’s as well. Another great venue.
JH: You’ve also played valley festivals like Redwood Mountain Faire and Santa Cruz Mountain Art and Wine. What’s coming up for you this summer?
TW: We had a great set at Redwood Mountain Faire. We were the first band on the main stage so, people were just starting to trickle in, but we had fun. The crowd there is always great. I think it wasn’t even noon yet and people were dancing. We have applied to play Redwood Mountain Faire this year. We would love to play there again. They will be announcing the bands soon. There are a lot of local bands who want to play so, they have some tough decisions to make. We hope to be invited back again for a slot a little later in the day. It’s been awhile since we played there.
We played the Santa Cruz Mountains Art and Wine Festival at least once. It’s always a great time. It’s always fun to play with a bunch of other bands we know and the crowd is always appreciative.
JH: You list a few of your fave influences on your website, who do you most resonate with and why?
TW: Some of our songs sound like P-Funk and others sound like Maroon 5 so, it’s really hard to pinpoint one artist or band as a main influence. Funkranomicon’s rhythm section is really pulling from a pretty large palette of rhythmic influences from the ones mentioned previously to Afro-Cuban, Afrobeat, Brazilian, and Boogaloo. Joe is heavily influenced by singers like Prince, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. He sounds a lot like Al Green, in my opinion.
I think the reason these artists resonate so much with us is because we grew up listening to them and it’s some of the most innovative music in history. They were the soundtracks to our childhood and coming of age years. Many of the songs we write or cover get the dance floor moving but, the melodies reach people on an emotional level. It’s hard to not move your body and sing along. It’s always fun to see people dancing and singing along especially, to songs that we created.
JH: What’s your dynamic together on stage?
TW: Our live shows always remind me of a James Brown gig. They are very spontaneous. We all follow Joe our singer and we never know what he will do next. James Brown would direct the band on the fly and the band had to respond instantly. It kept things fresh and exciting.
When you come to a Funkranomicon show, you never know what will happen. It’s never the same show twice. We might actually create a new song right in front of the audience. It’s happened before. One of our best known songs, Book of Funk, where we chant our name “FUNK-RA-NOMICON!” was created impromptu at one of our first gigs in Santa Cruz. Joe started singing it and we all just came in with something. It was really cool. We recorded that on the EP “Book of Funk.” Joe is really good at making up lyrics on the fly. It’s really helpful when he forgets lyrics too. If it’s a cover tune, people just figure he’s putting his own spin on the tune which, he is! I often like his lyrics better than the original.
JH: You’ve recorded two albums, one at Barry Tanner’s PASS Studio in Boulder Creek.
TW: We recorded our first EP, “Blood to Groove,” at Future Rhythm in Campbell in 2001 with Don Budd who now runs Tone Freaq Studio. The “Book of Funk” EP was recorded at Barry Tanner’s studio which, is the old post office in Boulder Creek. Milton Davis produced and engineered it. Milton played bass for John Mellencamp and has produced tons of great artists including Brandi, Aaron Neville and The New Mastersounds just to name a few. His brother is Eric Davis who played with the 49ers. They are both from Alabama and they both ended up in the Bay Area.
Milton is a great producer and he really got the band to gel. He showed us our weak spots and told us how to improve them. He had a very specific sound in mind that he achieved for that EP which, was very different from the first one. We then spent some time reproducing some of that sound for our live shows.
JH: You guys are busy with work and family, how does that influence your ability to perform and practice. You must be pretty selective with the type and frequency of the gigs you choose to do.
TW: Yeah, Joe has three kids, Pete our bassist has two kids, Scott our guitarist has two kids, and I have one. It definitely limits the practice time. We really only get together for a rehearsal three or four times per year, so we have to make the most of it. We still add new cover songs but it has prohibited us from writing new material. We try to keep the gigs to once a month, sometimes twice a month.
Most of us play in other bands too so, we stay pretty busy. Scott plays with a bunch of different people and we host the jams at Joe’s Bar every first Thursday with Whisker Biscuit. Warren, our keyboardist, sometimes joins us. Jackie Turner, our second vocalist has her own band that stays busy – Scott and Warren also play in that band. Pete, our bassist, plays with the local Moroccan band, Aza, and I think two or three other Jazz bands.
I play with a few different bands. In addition to Whisker Biscuit, I am a backup drummer for Shotgun Suitor as well as The Stingrays, and I occasionally do gigs with The Jackie Turner Band and Badenov, another Boulder Creek band and one of the many to form out of Barry Tanner’s studio. In fact, Barry is in the band.
JH: Is it hard getting gigs in general? Are you guys in major demand or do you have to sort of beat the bushes a little?
TW: It depends on the venue. Between Santa Cruz and the South Bay, there are a TON of good bands. We have to stalk the booking agents in the beginning but, once we get in and they hear us, they invite us back. We just played The Quarter Note in Sunnyvale and they booked us for the next three available months, April, May, and June, so that makes it easier than always scrambling to find the next gig. We are on a regular rotation now that keeps us as busy as we can be, given our availability. We would still love to hear about interesting parties, festivals, and clubs, and we will do what we can to make it happen.
The Santa Cruz Mountains, and Boulder Creek in particular, have really fostered music and the arts. People are very appreciative. We consider Boulder Creek our home town as a band because we reformed there in 2009 at Barry Tanner’s studio, and Barry has created a music scene where there wasn’t one before. Barry books the bands at Joe’s Bar that play every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and I don’t even know how many dozens of bands were spawned from that.
Since about 2008, bands have been jamming together first at the studio and then at Joe’s Bar on Thursday nights. I have probably met and jammed with a couple of hundred or more musicians because of Barry. I can’t even guess how many hundreds of musicians he has brought together by creating a scene here in Boulder Creek, and the town shows their appreciation every time they come to one of his events around town. It’s been the most fun I have ever had in music, and my playing has improved 10-fold because of it. We all are grateful to have Barry Tanner in town and for his studio and music venue at Joe’s Bar.
JH: So you host the Thursday night Pro Jam at Joe’s…in fact you invited little ol’ Crooked Road Ceili Band to come jam a few Irish tunes, thanks, that was a blast! How are the Pro Jams going in general, what’s the energy around town? Does the jam bring in a lot of players and fans? Do any of your other band members play the jam?
TW: The jams at Joe’s have been a blast. I host every first Thursday with Whisker Biscuit. Some nights it’s completely packed. Some nights it’s not, but it’s still a good crowd. We have had a real mix of players from Boulder Creek and the Central Coast mostly. It’s a little harder to get musicians out to Joe’s because Boulder Creek is pretty far for musicians on the coast on a Thursday night when they have to work on Friday morning. I tend to do a lot of personal invitations like I did with Crooked Road and that was a lot of fun! We need to do that again.
We have been doing theme nights. We had a really successful Reggae night and Jam Band night. We are planning a Funk night for March or April. We get musicians of all levels. We welcome everybody. I only host first Thursdays, but there is a jam every Thursday with a different host. Just ask the band to sit in. It’s best if guitarists and bassists bring their own axe. There’s usually a drum set and sometimes a keyboard to sit in on, depending on the night. People really love it and we always have fun. You never know what will happen next!
JH: You also helped kick-start KBCZ, Boulder Creek’s new radio station. How’s that going?
TW: The station is on the air and streaming on the Internet at kbcz.org. Check it out. Support them any way you can. It’s a small town and people have busy lives. This is the perfect opportunity for kids in school, retired folks, etc. I have been super busy with music but I hope to put together an interview show soon. KBCZ is very supportive of local music. I have heard quite a lot of it and I’m sure they are spinning Funkranomicon,but it doesn’t hurt to call and ask…hint, hint!
JH: So many really great music icons have passed recently…were there any in particular who influenced you growing up?
TW: Joe just posted about how much Maurice White of Earth Wind and Fire inspired him. He said they were best show he has ever seen. Nobody makes music like that anymore. When David Bowie died, we decided to do Let’s Dance as a tribute to him. It’s not really a Funk song but it’s definitely funky and easier to pull off than Fame which is definitely a Funk song! We didn’t have time to rehearse it either so we played it for the first time together in front of the live audience at the Quarter Note and it was as if David was guiding us. We pulled it off perfectly and it will now be a part of our shows. It was really cool but it’s really sad to lose such a great talent.
I am a big fan of Scott Weiland, Allen Toussaint’s writing and producing, and of course BB King. We also lost the lead singer for the Ohio Players recently, Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, who we opened for at Jazz Summer Fest. It’s strange how we are losing so many great artists so quickly. That generation of music innovators are all in their late 60’s and early 70’s now and I’m sure they did their share of partying!
JH: What advice would you have, given the fleeting time we have on the planet, for anyone playing live music or who aspire to play live music?
TW: I think what made the biggest difference for me was playing live in front of an audience with as many different musicians as possible and not being afraid to play a lot of different styles and practice, practice, practice of course! And always use a metronome. Once you play live with lots of musicians over and over again, you get really comfortable and confident and your playing improves dramatically. That’s probably why we all play as often as we can. It’s pretty addicting. In Funkranomicon, we all have interests outside of Funk so, we do a lot of other things and it keeps us sharp.
JH: What’s next for the band? You’ve got a cool gig coming up at the Quarter Note…what do you want to tell potential audience members about what’s not-to-miss about the experience you provide?
TW: Well, like I said earlier, we improvise a lot. You will never see the same Funkranomicon show twice. It’s always fresh and we always give it everything we have no matter how tired we might be from the kids, work, life! Joe is one of the most energetic frontmen I have ever seen. You really have to see him in action.He is truly inspired. He is on fire!
Scott is well known in the area for his incredible lead guitar playing. He has been playing for well over 30 years and it shows. Every guitarist I know at every level is impressed with him. Pete November is just an absolute Funk monster on bass. It is such a pleasure to groove with him as he lays down the sickest, fattest Funk lines. I seriously think he knows every Funk line ever played. It’s amazing.
Warren, like Scott, is schooled in music and he is a great musician. He really knows his theory as does Scott. Warren went to Berklee and Scott studied at UCLA, I believe. These guys really know their music and help us navigate tricky parts and string things together our own way. Warren covers the big chords, all the horns and the funky clavinet type stuff that is a huge part of the Funk sound. He even does some cool vocal stuff on the vocoder. The audience loves it!
Our most recent addition is Jackie Turner on vocals. She does all the harmony stuff and sings some lead too. She is a lead singer in her own band and brings such a soulful sound to the band and gives Joe something to work off of. She is a real talent and we are lucky to have her. One of the bartenders told me she is the best singer they have ever heard in that bar. I would say that would go for just about any bar. Come see us. You won’t be able to sit still! We post our gigs on Facebook and our website www.bookoffunk.com We also have a mailing list you can join on our website.
JH: Would you consider yourselves to be really focused and serious or more laid back and fun loving?
TW: We are always having fun, cracking jokes and generally goofing around and I think it comes across to our audience that we are having a great time, although we can probably look pretty serious at times with our Funk faces on. Funk can be serious business. You can’t fake the Funk, baby! Come see us.You won’t be able to sit still!
Funkranomicon plays The Quarter Note in Sunnyvale April 1st at 9:00 pm and Joe’s Bar April 29th at 9:00 pm.
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.
In bold late October sunshine, Filoli House stood magnificent and sprawling, its lush gardens, vines, and hedges sweeping like wings verdant and moist against the dry, tawny expanse of rolling California oak lands. Catering staff was adding finishing touches to the tables stationed throughout the grounds – local wine, lustrous crystal and silver on small tables draped with white linen under fragrant boughs.
The Crooked Road Céilí Band had been invited to play traditional melodies in the courtyard at the storied mansion’s front entry – hammered dulcimer, fiddle, and guitar to welcome guests as they arrived for a gala garden party as if from a page out of Alice in Wonderland.
The motorcade pulled abruptly to the graveled walk promptly at 3:15. Irish President Michael D Higgins and his wife, Sabina, escorted by an entourage of secret service and local insiders, were ushered past, smiles and polite nods, into the reception in full swing. What an honor to share this glorious day of music and cheer with the Bay Area Irish community – a rare, celebrated instance of international import.
Based in the Santa Cruz Mountains, The Crooked Road Céilí Band is anchored by Julie Horner and David Chadwick. David and I met at the Sunday traditional Irish seisiún at O’Flaherty’s Irish Pub in San Jose a dozen years ago and have hosted the Tuesday night seisiún there ever since. I cut my teeth on Celtic music at John Taylor’s iconic King’s Head Pub seisiún in Campbell back in the day and performed for many a Highland Games in the 1990s with the now defunct group, Celtic Blacklyst. David rode his bicycle across Ireland with a mandolin strapped to his back, spending years woodshedding the music on fiddle back at home.
The Crooked Road Céilí Band features a high-ranking roster of professional musicians to round out the trio, and sometimes a quartet, to provide lively acoustic music for a wide variety of events including weddings, dances, and public and private occasions of all kinds. We share our love of traditional music prolifically, keeping a calendar bursting with musical endeavorings.
We discovered our regular third member, guitarist and singer-songwriter, Ken Bewick, at the seisiún at the Poet & Patriot Irish Pub in Santa Cruz. Ken puts the groove to our traditional tunes, taking the energy to new levels. Adding another layer of interest, we often ask local bluegrass legend, Mark McCornack to join us on 5-string banjo, which gives our sound a down-home Americana feel. And when we’re fortunate, bodhrán player, Russ Bennett is available when an event calls for the drive of the traditional frame drum.
Together in many forms, The Crooked Road Céilí Band has been invited to play on stage at Ardenwood’s annual Tartan Day celebration; the highly regarded international music festival, Church Street Fair in Santa Cruz; the Big Trees Scottish Festival and Highland Games at Roaring Camp; and for the South Bay Scottish Society Robert Burns supper – eight years running if you include the years we were playing as Cooking with Turf!
Doug Lowder (fiddle) and Jack Gilder (concertina, flute) make up The Crooked Road quartet. We met at the famed Plough & Stars Irish seisiún in San Francisco, and Jack, David, and I are regulars at Lark in the Morning annual music and dance camp in Mendocino. The Crooked Road plays once a month for Irish set dancing at the Plough and we host the enormously popular twice-a-year Irish céilí at the Felton Trout Farm Inn.
The Crooked Road Céilí Band is also in demand to play traditional dance music for Scottish céilídhs, joining forces with callers Linda Henderson and Juliet Davoren for numerous private parties throughout the year.
One of our favorite specialties is providing music for weddings. We’ve traveled as far as Mammoth Lakes and Lake Tahoe to help families celebrate very special moments, performing in cathedrals of stone and cathedrals of redwood forest alike. The hammered dulcimer is much sought after for adding an evocative magic to traditional pieces like Amazing Grace and Pachelbel’s Cannon in addition to melodies from the Irish and Scottish tradition.
The Crooked Road Céilí Band plays for the sheer joy of making music and being able to share our enthusiasm with our community, aiming to put a jig in your step and a song in your heart! Longtime hosts of the traditional Irish seisiun at O’Flaherty’s Irish Pub on Tuesdays in downtown San Jose, the Poet & the Patriot in Santa Cruz, and Thursday’s at Rosie McCann’s in Santa Cruz (RIP).
Support your local Santa Cruz Mountains newspaper! Invest in your community!
Did you know that San Lorenzo Valley has its own newspaper? The San Lorenzo Valley Post: www.slvpost.com
The Santa Cruz Mountains is home to a rich array of restaurateurs, musicians, artists, crafters, writers, makers, growers, educators, brewers, business owners, healers, do-gooders, and contributors of all kinds to the local economy. We boast dozens of wineries and vineyards in a booming wine region that is touted to be one of the most unique natural environments in the world. We are home to Big Basin and Henry Cowell State Parks, the Santa Cruz Sandhills, Fall Creek, and countless natural destinations. We attract international and local talent to several live music venues, and offer sumptuous dining opportunities at any number of fantastic locally owned and operated restaurants.
Welcome to the San Lorenzo Valley Post, an independent, local women-owned, community supported newspaper and online news and event resource for the San Lorenzo Valley and the Santa Cruz Mountains. Considered and curated content, balanced local reporting, robust community calendaring, dedicated information sharing. Co-founded by Julie Horner and Mary Andersen with support from a team of writers, editors, graphic designers, and community advocates in the Santa Cruz Mountains in collaboration with the people and organizations of the San Lorenzo Valley, we are “The Valley’s Voice.”
The San Lorenzo Valley Post invites excellent writers to join our team. Articles should be 500-700 words for print. Longer articles can be posted on our web page and social media. Note that all submissions will be professionally edited for length, accuracy, spelling, and grammar.
Submit news, stories of local interest, calendar items, and opinion. Other topics for consideration:
Arts and Entertainment
Local merchants, featured merchant
Parks and Outdoors
Welcome Advertisers and Underwriters
Consider placing an advertisement or underwriting one of our columns. Rates are highly competitive for the area, and special pricing is in place during the health crisis. Ads should be received in print-ready PDF form or you may send high resolution images with your text, and our graphic designer will create something for you. Available ad sizes:
Full page: 11.5 x 10
1/2 of a page vertical: 11.5 x 4.94
1/2 page horizontal: 5.81 x 10″
1/4 page vertical: 5.81 x 4.94
1/4 page horizontal: 2.89 x 10
1/8 page: 2.89 x 4.94
1/8 page vertical: 5.81 x 2.42
1/16 page vertical: 2.89 x 2.42
1/16 page horizontal: 2.89 x 4.88
Tower size: 2.42 x 11.41 (one column)
Bottom banner size: 10 x 2.71 (quarter page)
As we turn our hearts and efforts toward the “think local” movement, consider displaying, reading, and advertising in the San Lorenzo Valley Post. Small town newspapers are the life blood of the community, and when the community pulls together, we all succeed.