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 Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin. Originally published in the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin November 2017 print edition. https://santacruzmountainslocal.comwww.facebook.com/SantaCruzMountainBulletinwww.facebook.com/leap2threepublications

Flow Boulder Creek – Yoga and Wellness Collaborative

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By Julie Horner

Westering sunlight filters through diaphanous drapery, warming the newly re-finished floorboards to a honeyed hue. The expanse is immediately welcoming and calm, the subtle, provocative scents of a well-loved old building mingling with hints of lavender and spice. Meditative ethnic devotional music instantly melts the day’s cares.

Positive energy seems to have settled upon the south end of downtown Boulder Creek, now with the grand opening, September 10, of Flow Boulder Creek Yoga and Wellness Collective in the sunny yellow building between the former Boulder Creek Brewery building and Ace Hardware.

April Winona Levine and Adam Tracy Mendoza opened the space as a wellness collaborative offering yoga, meditation, and massage. Adam says. “We provide a place for artists, teachers, and practitioners to gather.”

Yoga is the first component. They’ve started by offering 3 to 4 classes a day, Monday through Sunday, with local teachers and new teachers from Santa Cruz teaching all levels. Adam says the backstory is really kind of remarkable. “April finished her yoga training – an amazing journey – now what do you do?”

You open your own yoga studio.

“Our grand opening day was nothing short of magical,” April says. She calls yoga a labor of love, and her journey through yoga inspires Adam. “We have a lot of great plans. We want to bring in other components, a juice bar, a vegan snack shop and other ideas to support wellbeing.” Cacao, superfoods, easy recipes you can make from home. “I would love to have some community synergy with New Leaf. We’d like to have a café here.”

The main area is a yoga floor that accommodates up to 20 people for classes. They are interviewing massage therapists now.

Adam says, “Practitioners can come and have the space. Our success will depend on our partners. Without getting too globally out there, we need to start healing, start small. It starts at the community level and branches out. We’re charged by that. Whether it’s one person or a group of people, singers, musicians, having a sense of space is so important…that’s the tool we’re offering.”

“We want to grow to be a viable resource for wellness in SLV.” They see youth mentoring, peer counseling, healing and learning going hand in hand. They plan to have after school activities for the little kids and welcome SLVHS and UCSC students. “Growing spiritually, it’s a learned activity, it’s not a get well quick thing, it’s tools to help people on the path.”

They also offer an open mic series on Fridays in addition to Saturday night acoustic music in the garden. Saturday nights are already booked through early October with local acoustic artists.

Flow Boulder Creek is open every day of the week for a variety of classes including many styles of yoga and meditation. Reiki sessions are available Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays.

Adam says, “We offer a variety of classes to suit all your wellness interests. It’s an open door and an open invitation. We offer rejuvenation, healing, and most yoga offerings will be for all levels, focusing on centering and grounding.”

“And it’s a cool hang, too. Being amongst people who are just alive. This is a great place for Flow. This is our tribe. We’re going to have an amazing time.”

Flow Boulder Creek

13026 Highway 9

(831) 703-4727

On the Web: flowbouldercreek.com

On Facebook: www.facebook.com/flowbouldercreek/

Originally published in the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin: http://mountainbulletin.com/article/flow-boulder-creek-yoga-and-wellness-collaborative/

Also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SantaCruzMountainBulletin/

Julie Horner is a writer and Irish style musician who lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Contact The Crooked Road Ceili Band for lively Irish music for any occasion.

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

This article was originally published in the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin: http://mountainbulletin.com/

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Tilting Gravity ~ Kenny Hill, Luthier

By Julie Horner

A solo classical guitar breathed seductively into the winter chill as I let myself into the Hill Guitar Company showroom in Ben Lomond, CA. Gentleman luthier, Kenny Hill, sat just inside, momentarily absorbed in music making, hands wrapped purposefully sensuous around one of his own instruments. The music was written by someone he knew, “It’s a lovely piece, full of tucks and folds.”

Master builder of contemporary nylon strung classical guitars in San Lorenzo Valley since the 1970s, Kenny Hill enjoys a personal and well-rounded relationship with guitar making.  He started out as a guitarist – an aspiring classical player – who began making guitars as a hobby “to get a more complete feel for the instrument as an extension of the music, to understand the instrument more biologically.”

He played professionally for a few years then dropped out of the scene briefly in the 80s. He got back into it after the earthquake. “I got really shaken up…I was on 17 and wrecked my car.” He came back to guitar making with a more businesslike approach. “I got organized, more realistic about running a business. It was a second beginning.”

Now with worldwide renown, the secret ingredient for him is his lifelong immersion in the instrument as a player, a composer, and a builder. “It gives me a certain insight,” he says. He developed his own uniquely personal guitar building style based on classic Spanish traditions and global influences, pulling from a number of different inspirations to “produce something very full of life for players and for audiences…capable of playing adventurous new music” while still holding true to rigor. “It makes for a great feel.”

Admitting to having a certain creative arrogance from youth, “I wanted to keep my artistic purity pure, so I ignored the past.” Part of his second beginning included realizing that he was a fool for not learning from the ones who came before. “I was a presumptuous schmuck.”

“We tend to be lone wolves, very opinionated and stubborn, which can make for a lot of boondoggles and blind alleys” in making a fine instrument.

The instinct to break barriers remains; to be “tilting the gravity a bit.”

“Innovation is finding a need that no one knew they had. And it helps to be right about it and persistent. I find what pleases me, that’s the best way.” He gets flashes of insight which compel him to straddle different aesthetics. “I love finding something completely new and unexpected. I revere the work of the future.”

Quality is “under the hood” in the engineering that makes his guitars excel. “Playing a guitar, you’re embracing it, caressing it with both hands – that’s one of the things that’s so magical about it.” He explained that nylon strings are softer, more embraceable, and the tension is lower for a more relaxed instrument. “It’s more dynamic, you can shape the sound. I want the player to be able to coax whatever they want out of the guitar. It’s a matter of flavor and style, the guitar will give you back whatever you can put in.”

“Some guitar makers are trying to find an engineered formula, trying to predict outcomes.” Kenny creates things that suit his fancy. Most of the time he doesn’t know what he’s doing going in, he says. “I’m making strokes, seeing patterns emerging.”

He notes that custom guitar makers, especially in the US, enjoy three kinds of prestige: Which famous artists buy your instruments, how much you charge, and how long you have to wait for the instrument to be made. “I don’t like that. I’m a musician.” But of course he’s flattered when a big time artist picks up one of his instruments. “Great musicians inspire me. I become inspired as a maker, a player, as a person.”

Top classical guitarists from around the world revere Kenny Hill guitars. “We have a very good reputation,” Hill says. “And I answer the phone.”

He’s swamped with custom orders right now. When asked how long it takes to build a custom guitar, Kenny says he “puts it together like a meal. Any guitar is made out of 4 or 5 kinds of wood from all over the world. It’s a little bit like selecting ingredients, you want good quality ingredients. I get them from the source.” A Hill guitar takes a few months to build once an order is placed.

“I want to see the instruments getting into people’s hands. I love it when young, upcoming players get one. My most satisfying client base is young kids taking up the instrument and taking it seriously. It becomes part of their growth, part of their musical evolution,” he says.

For Kenny the joy of guitar making is everything from “the wood, the tools, the satisfaction of the craftsmanship, the cross-cultural relationships, an opening of the world – it’s got the whole thing.”

“And it’s very cool to be here in the valley – an ideal, marvelous place to be based.” For his family, the village atmosphere, plus the cultural stimulation from Santa Cruz. “It’s a great springboard.”

“We’re trying to make the world a better place, it’s pretty simple, through affection for the guitar. We’re not destroying resources, not taking away from more important things in life, we’re not bad for your health. It’s low impact in a global sense but high impact on the quality of the person’s life.”

“The intensity of thought, the hope in every living soul. Making guitars has vitality and impact and gives me a great deal of pleasure.”

On the Web: http://www.hillguitar.com/

On Facebook:  www.facebook.com/hillguitarcompany/

Phone: 831-336-9317

Email: showroom1@hillguitar.com

Kenny Hill performs monthly at Casa Nostra and has a CD, Pilgrimage.

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

Copyright 2017 Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin. Originally published in the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin February, 2016. www.santacruzmountainbulletin.net

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

Second Annual Santa Cruz Mountains Art, Wine, & Music Festival 2015

art and wine fest

Labor Day Weekend – Saturday & Sunday, September 5 & 6 2015
11:00 am to 6:00 pm
Garrahan Park, Hwy 9 Boulder Creek
On Facebook

By Julie Horner

Enjoy the last days of summer with family, friends and community at the second annual Santa Cruz Mountain Art, Wine, and Music Festival at Boulder Creek’s Garrahan Park. Showcasing local artists and musicians, the Boulder Creek Brewery and mountain wineries will be pouring. Expect great food and drink, groovin’ times in the sunshine; face painting, a jumpy house and other activities for the kids. More to be announced!

http://www.scmountainfestival.com

Proceeds benefit the Art Masterpiece program at Boulder Creek Elementary (see story in the Arts section) and the SLV High IOOF Scholarship Fund.

Here’s a taste of some of the artists and musical talent lined up for this year’s festival!

The Crafty Fox – Heather Richman

I love working with glass in all its forms – molten glass is probably my favorite.  When the glass is heated to molten, it can be manipulated into simple shapes like spheres, cylinders, and barrels.  It can also be rolled and pressed and then decorated with more molten glass, or it can be sculpted into complex shapes – like plants and animals.

 LW glass Pendant

My inspiration comes from nature.  Anyone who sees my glass work would probably say I love the ocean and all its creatures.  My torch-worked glass bead creations are often sculpted creatures (sea stars, jellies, turtles, etc.), but I also create mini ocean scenes on my pressed glass beads.  I make 3-D aquarium beads that are a bit like swimming in the reef (only smaller).

I also work in fused glass – cutting sheet glass and melting it in a kiln.  Some of my plates include Monet-like backgrounds with inlaid copper sea creatures and hand-pulled glass “plants” – creating the illusion of depth.  While my Ocean Series plates tend towards the cool colors of blues and greens, my Caribbean Series plates are very bright and colorful.  I love working in different color palettes, often pushing myself to try new combinations.

While I love the ocean, I also love the forest.  The redwood and oak forests speak to me in birdsong and babbling brooks rather than in crashing waves.  I often use the forest solitude to come up with new ideas and directions.  Standing beneath the redwoods and looking up can make one feel quite insignificant – a bit like a banana slug.

Originally from Riverside, California, I spent 8 years in Seattle, WA before returning to the Golden State and making Santa Cruz my home.  I’ve been here for 15 years and still love it!  The majority of my glass work is available at Art of Santa Cruz (inside the Capitola Mall at the Target end) and Monterey Bay Artisans (Monterey).  I also have limited work at Beach Girl, Many Hands Gallery, Henry Cowell, Seacliff State Beach, and Santa Cruz Mountains Art Center.  I do many shows and festivals in Santa Cruz County, including Open Studios.  My studio is also open by appointment.

On the Web: http://glass.crafty-fox.com

His Broidery – Eric Olson Artist

“Express who you are through embroidery art.” The art of raised stitching can transform ordinary clothing and fabric into stylish personalized expressions of one’s self. Embroidered designs can be frilly, whimsical, edgy, strong, or compelling. While flowers, puppy dogs, and swirly letters have provided decorative flair for shirts, coats, pillow cases, and towels for eons, so much more is possible. In addition to cutesy, stitching can be alarming, disarming, and sublime.

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San Lorenzo Valley is full of culture… there is so much to find here.  We have Buddhists, we have people who were part of the 60’s culture change, and we have the outdoors and beautiful trees.  All of these things are great for inspiration.

I still make everything at my house in Boulder Creek and my family and I show most of what I make at art shows.  Originally I started making things I wanted to wear, doing whole jackets and hats that represented my aesthetic.  What I create has changed over time, adding some things here and there that, while they may not be what I would wear, I think others might.

I guess one thing about my embroidery is that it reflects different cultures in some way.  My inspiration may be from the Pacific Northwest Native American Tribal art, or Norwegian (my ancestry), or Japanese.  I know it when I see it and I can’t get it out of my head until I can do something with it.

On the Web: www.hisbroidery.biz/index.htm

Carol L. Riddle Watercolors

“It is my hope that viewing my paintings will evoke a sense of peace and fond recognition, by locals and visitors alike.”

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Felton Library Watercolor by Carol Riddle

I try to capture the beauty of our local scene, choosing to depict what one might see while visiting Santa Cruz and the surrounding areas. I think my favorite thing is “getting lost” in the painting while creating.  That and the “surprises” that the watercolor medium presents.  You just have to adjust as you go.

I like landscapes and the out-of-doors. My family went for camping vacations growing up. Our favorite was the Redwoods, so when I got the opportunity, I bought a house among them. I love color. I use color to represent how I feel when visiting the places I paint.  Since I am SOOOOO into detail, I take my own photographs on location and paint at home in my Ben Lomond studio. The light changes too fast when I try to paint while I am at the location, and it is never the same the next day. So when I see something which inspires me, I take photos. I don’t try to replicate the photo; I try to paint what I felt while at the site.

My best memories in SLV are of quiet, peace. Home.  I volunteer at the Henry Cowell Nature Store at the State Park in Felton.  It is run by local volunteers and Mountain Parks Foundation, which supports Henry Cowell and Big Basin through educational programs for the public about how to preserve our heritage.  We appreciate all the local support.

On the Web: www.artbycarol.com

The Naked Bootleggers

Local favorites from the Santa Cruz Mountains, The Naked Bootleggers are reviving the standards of yesterday while writing the standards for tomorrow. Local musicians Don Mackessy (banjo/vocals), Ona Stewart (guitar/vocals), S.T. Young (guitar/harmonica/vocals), James Mackessy (bass/vocals), Jeremy Lampel (mandolin/vocals) span the gap between old time and contemporary music with captivating vocal harmonies, lyrical creativity and that high lonesome sound of old.

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We love all the great music that comes through this area, and we really enjoy working together to present our art for people to enjoy, especially if they like to dance, drink and get just rowdy enough to make it pure fun.

On the Web: www.reverbnation.com/thenakedbootleggers

The Leftovers

The Leftovers are a reggae rock group from the Santa Cruz Mountains, a close group of friends that grew up together in the San Lorenzo Valley. Joey Storm and Sean Conner started the band about three years ago writing songs on the beach in their free time. Slowly adding members Travis Salangsang on drums, David Churchill on keyboard, Brendan Brose on bass guitar, Greg Del Bene on percussion, and female backup vocalists Taylor Rae and Sydney Gorham; the band now consists of seven members.

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We play upbeat and fun music by fusing roots-reggae music of the past with popular reggae styles of the present, as well as some rock. Some of our biggest influences include Sublime, Rebelution, The Expendables, Bob Marley and many others.

The goal is to create “feel-good” music that will put smiles on the audience’s face as well as lure them out onto the dance floor to join in on the fun. We love music and are very excited to be able to share our passion. We love playing for the local community because they are so supportive, and because we grew up here we know most everyone!

On the Web: www.reverbnation.com/theleftoversSCM

Acoustic Shadows

They say an acoustic shadow can cause sound to be refracted to an unexpected location similar to how light is transformed by mirage. Acoustic Shadows all-original jam band was born deep in the redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

acoustic_shadows

Infectiously affable, Erik Rozite fronts the band with a signature conviction, that right hand in constant motion driving the rhythm on guitar. Lead guitarist, Zac Clow never breaks a sweat squeezing out the high wail, and Paul Stevens holds down some serious drum beats while “Wygz” William Van Kol keeps it cool and steady on bass. Jim Anderson (booty shakin’ percussion), and Brian Valentine (screamin’ harmonica) fill out the Acoustic Shadows sound, an intoxicating jambalaya of solid rock rhythm and atmospheric groove.

The group has released five CDs professionally recorded at local studios, and they are ever present in the mountains and performing at familiar venues all over the greater Santa Cruz area. The band is eager to share their “cask fermented and high times” Acoustic Shadows vibe!

On the Web: www.reverbnation.com/acousticshadowsshadowman

Who’s Holdin’

Hailing from SLV and Santa Cruz, Who’s Holdin’ is a kick ass rock band that’s been around for over a decade creating an energetic, ultra-addictive sound!

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Featuring Ian McDonough (vocals, guitar), Matt Harris (guitar, vocals), Troy Tano (horn, vocals, percussion), Morgan Monticue (bass), Zac Farmer (drums), Who’s Holdin’ promises “slammin’ rock, high energy, punk-tinted, groove- laced, thoughtful-fun music for partyin’, playin’, drivin’, downloadin’, home chillin’, layin’ around the pool drinkin’ and just about anything.”

On the Web: www.facebook.com/pages/Whos-Holdin/125428067503661

Medicine Road

“Our theme is Native American rock centered on musical healing and positive energy. We feel our music is good medicine for the heart, soul, and body.”

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Boulder Creek’s Medicine Road formed in 2008 and has been playing steadily ever since. We love every single song we do. How could a band play music just for someone else and not themselves? It’s the same as how can someone love you if you don’t love yourself? We love our music; therefore, we are putting out love in the most peaceful and loving way.

The medicine is the music, which heals the soul, nurtures the body’s need to move in a positive flow, and stimulates the brain to think about the positive change needed to heal ourselves and our planet. When viewing the earth from a distance, we look like ants with our ant hills, living close to each other to advance our ability to survive. Every living thing on this planet is sacred. Every living thing is exactly that, living. If you value life as a huge thing, then all things fall under that huge thing, ALIVE.

On the Web: www.reverbnation.com/medicineroad

Grampa’s Chili

Born in the Bay Area and adopted by the Santa Cruz Mountains, this legendary group of players is more than a band; they’ve created their own community attracting generations of people from all over to their shows to groove together. Grampa’s Chili has a long history starting in the 1990s with original members from Old Dead Bug, The Bliss Ninnies, and Soup and they’ve kept a following of fans from the early days known collectively as the “Vibe Tribe.”

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The current incarnation of Grampa’s Chili includes Mike Boston (vocals), Victor Manning (guitar, vocals), Jerry Brown (bass, vocals), Tom McQuillen (guitar), Michael Palladino (drums, vocals).

“Songs are like children, you can’t force them to be something they’re not, they’ve got to take their own direction.” The band has been going through a prolific period of writing new songs, and the new material wants to be played.

On the Web: www.reverbnation.com/grampaschili

Crooked Branches

The Crooked Branches Band plays original music with lyrical influences ranging from soul to roots rock and country.  Their songs exhibit a blend of styles from their current home in the Santa Cruz Mountains and former homes in the Midwest, Southern states and Latin America.

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The band has two members from San Jose, two from southern California, and one from Illinois. They now all reside in Santa Cruz County (three in the mountains and two in Santa Cruz) and play most shows in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Band member, Manny Steffen says, “My favorite thing about playing music in this band is that I get to hang out with four of my best friends…our friends, family and others who have come out to our shows have been so great in showing their support. They’re the best part of each of our shows.” The bass player recently got married among the redwoods here, and when they can, they partake in the local hiking and swimming hole action.

On the Web: www.crookedbranchesband.com/music

Rollin’ Hazard

Whiskey driven, heartbreak influenced, good time music, Rollin’ Hazard is an original country, alt-country outfit out of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

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Including members, O.T. Duvall on 6-string flat top (also the band’s eye candy), Anders ‘Virginia Nasty’ Steele on Telecaster (with attitude), Ebin Lee on Bass, Boss Doss on drums, and the ghost of John Barleycorn as spiritual advisor.

On the Web: www.facebook.com/RollinHazard

(c) 2015 Julie Horner

Julie Horner is an Irish folk musician and writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California.

Email: leap2three@gmail.com

On the Web: leap2three.com

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

Time Out of Sequence – Hennig Studios and Camp Climax Pottery

By Julie Horner

Weaving playfully through the crowded village, a garland of flowers among flowing locks, with a flounce of skirting she turns her head smiling and then she is gone among the dust and merry din. Hands move purposefully over wet clay on a potter’s wheel, coaxing and caressing with a lover’s touch while the simple sounds of acoustic instruments play melodies forged from antiquity. Drinks are drunk, hand-made goods are traded, and light-hearted dramas play out, leather, steel, and succulent indulgence.

For those who have dabbled a toe into the Northern California Renaissance Faire, the scene is immediately familiar: For a moment you have transcended the confines of the here and now and are transported to a time of simple earthiness, unbridled romance and lusty revelry. “Play Faire,” an indie movie dreamed up and filmed by Los Angeles based film maker and grownup “Faire brat,” Teo Guardino, has a warm “come explore with me” feeling about it. And its roots are entwined in the Santa Cruz Mountains with Boulder Creek artists and beloved friends of Faire, Dan and Laurie Hennig, owners of Hennig Studios and Camp Climax Pottery.

Shot on location at Hennig Studios, the Northern California Renaissance Faire, and Santa Cruz High School, with flashes of the familiar throughout Santa Cruz County and the mountains, the film includes local musicians and features actors from Ben Lomond’s Mountain Community Theater, the Hennig clan, and of course the extended Faire family of revelers.

“Play Faire” centers around a young ceramics student who spends a summer apprenticed to a potter at the Ren Faire. Learning the slings and arrows of the roving potter’s life, the apprentice also finds his fantasy, discovering his first taste of true love. Dan Hennig, who plays the master potter in the film, says the movie touches on the whole process of clay, “From forming it on the wheel, to glazing, to firing and then on to the Ren Faire” to sell. Laurie Hennig notes that the Renaissance Faire is a perfect backdrop for the romantic elements of the film because Faire is “out of time sequence…that’s why it has always been popular…you park your car and put your keys in your pocket and leave your life behind.”

The Hennigs have been making pottery together in Boulder Creek for over 40 years. Laurie graduated from SLV High, Class of 1964, Dan grew up in Salinas. Their son, Iver, teaches ceramics at Santa Cruz High and wife, Jennifer, teaches summer ceramics classes at Mountain Arts. What distinguishes Hennig family pottery and compels such must-have awe is the whimsical figurative sculpture and fantastic animals adorning all manner of vessels from drinking cups to vases.

Laurie says she and Dan each have “affinities with certain animals…rabbit jugs, lidded dishes.” She leans toward lizards, he’s got a thing for crows. “We used to do piles of lizards,” Laurie said. “They can crawl up a stump or morph into something else.” When the crows start arriving in Boulder Creek and hanging out in the trees, Dan says, “Ok, I’ll start sculpting these guys.” He sees them as pranksters and chuckles, “I saw the funniest thing… there was a big old raven hopping along with a whole pizza box in its beak… “

“I like to make stuff, it’s something that Laurie and I need to do,” Dan says. If we spend too much time away from the studio it makes us feel itchy. I love the production aspect, to be there doing the work. We both like the rhythm of making the pottery, working the clay.” Dan looks at Laurie and says, “I wonder how many pieces of art we’ve created since 1972?”

“Dan is the glaze master, a great thrower,” Laurie says. “We share ideas. That’s what’s great about clay…every firing is like Christmas: If you get tired with it you just change your focus. It keeps it going forward.”

They use a natural gas kiln to fire the parade of smaller pieces, and a few times a year they’ll use the enormous “car kiln” with a floor that can be rolled in and out on tracks, which makes it easy to load and fire bigger pieces. They’ve just added a much smaller electric kiln to their arsenal, which has a different firing temperature range to allow them to experiment with new glazes and color palettes.

The Hennigs spend winters at their studio in Baja, CA where they go to “dry out the bones.” The work they do there is totally different, Laurie says. At home they work in porcelain and stoneware clays, but in Mexico “there’s no clay store,” so they have to process their own low-fire terra cotta or earthenware clay. They’ve settled on a mixed media approach melding pre-fired pottery figures to found metal objects like old oil cans, for instance.

The middle of the summer is when they start making things for Ren Faire and Open Studios. This year they’re skipping Open Studios and plan to be open random Saturdays instead. “We’re not doing as many shows or going out so much, we’ve been putting signs out on the road to let people come to us.” A garden of wonder awaits, where clay figures emerge in animate array from every possible nook.

And staying home gives Dan more time to play reggae and jazz. Laurie jokes that “Dan makes pottery to support his music hobby!” This year Dan is honored to be the featured artist at Mountain Arts Center Ceram-A-Rama and he promises to be “showing some major tricks” at his Saturday, September 5th workshop. The movie “Play Faire” will debut at the Center the previous evening, September 4th.

Hennig Studios: http://www.hennigstudios.com/

Santa Cruz Mountains Art Center: http://www.mountainartcenter.org/

Northern California Renaissance Faire: http://www.norcalrenfaire.com/

(c) 2015 Julie Horner

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

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