Not So Friendly Skies – SLV Residents Move to Stop Proposed Jet Flightpath

By Mary Andersen

A new flight path has Happy Valley and Los Gatos/Saratoga residents angry and eager to move it to the San Lorenzo Valley. Some claim that, since their homes are worth more than ours, the path should be shifted out of their neighborhoods and onto ours.

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Photo by Sean McLean

 

We already have a flight path. It’s called BIGSUR, or BSR, and it routes over downtown Santa Cruz, Pasatiempo, west Scotts Valley, north through SLV to the Summit Skyline area, to San Francisco International Airport (SFO). This path is still in use today and supports older aircraft not equipped with satellite navigation.

In March 2015 the FAA, as part of their Next Generation Air Transportation program (NextGen), implemented a new path, called SERFR, which travels from the coast at Capitola, over Happy Valley and Los Gatos summit towards SFO. This path was designed to accommodate a wide range of aircraft with satellite navigation capabilities. SERFR is low, loud, and concentrated. The FAA says they can fix that.

Neighborhoods under SERFR lodged thousands of complaints. With the assistance of Congressman Sam Farr they organized Save Our Skies Santa Cruz and were later joined by Quiet Skies NorCal. They created a proposal for a new flight path, called DAVYJ, over the City of Santa Cruz, SLV, and communities in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. Keep in mind, this new path would be in addition to the BSR flight path we already have. The proposal was endorsed by Farr and 1st District Supervisor John Leopold.

Community groups from the coast to the airport rejected the Quiet Skies NorCal proposal noting that it eliminated noise for those under SERFR by increasing noise and airplane traffic for communities under the proposed new DAVYJ flight path. In addition, DAVYJ was offered up as the only solution, when in fact other proposals submitted by groups closer to the airport were ignored.

In March, Supervisor Leopold wrote that the proposal constituted a “regional solution” that had been “worked on by all community groups throughout the area.” Congressman Farr stated in his newsletter that he hand-delivered the Quiet Skies NorCal proposal to Michael Huerta, Administrator of the FAA, assuring him that it was “the ideal solution.” Both assertions were false – residents under the proposed DAVYJ flight path in Santa Cruz and SLV were neither informed nor invited to provide input.

In April, Congressional Representatives Anna Eshoo, Jackie Speier, and Sam Farr appointed 12 elected officials (+12 alternates) to a Select Committee on SFO Arrivals. Their charter has been to analyze items labeled “feasible” by the FAA, accept community input, and report to Congress with a set of recommendations.

When the FAA released their study in May, Santa Clara and San Mateo County community groups were frustrated to see that their recommendations were not included. Only suggestions from Quiet Skies NorCal were addressed including the flight path shift to SLV. And the FAA made clear that, while feasible, DAVYJ would be similar to SERFR in its noise impact to SLV. It would be lower, louder, and more concentrated than any flight path we had experienced in the past.

The Select Committee asked why DAVYJ was the only option presented. The FAA said that DAVYJ was the only option offered by Congress. To their credit, the Select Committee is open to other options.

As you might expect, the issue is a political football. In Santa Cruz County SERFR lies primarily in Congressman Farr’s and Supervisor Leopold’s districts. Both SERFR and the proposed DAVYJ are in Supervisor Bruce McPherson’s and Congresswoman Eshoo’s districts. Low flying DAVYJ vectored planes would severely impact Supervisor Ryan Coonerty’s district and the path itself would impact the City of Santa Cruz.

The irony is that the FAA is a $16.4 billion organization with thousands of credentialed aviation experts. Yet, laypeople hoping to remove a flight path from over their homes were allowed to design a new flight path over other communities. That new flight path, DAVYJ, over SLV and Santa Cruz, is currently being vetted by elected officials with limited aviation knowledge, who will then submit recommendations to congressional representatives with even less aviation knowledge, who were misled into believing it was a regional solution when it is not.

Website: www.sanlorenzovalley.info/

Petition: www.change.org/p/faa-stop-the-quiet-skies-norcal-proposal-which-seeks-to-move-an-sfo-flight-path-to-sc-slv-sv

Facebook: www.facebook.com/flightpathfacts/

Join the meetings: flightpathfacts@gmail.com

Additional contributors: George Wylie, Nancy Gerdt, Glenn Lyons, Roz Alley, Alastair Fyfe, Jacqui Rice, Beth Carlisle, Terry Hollenbeck, Thomas Andersen, Colleen Miller, Clifford Stow, Jennifer Parks

This article was originally published in the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin  September 2016: http://mountainbulletin.com/article/proposed-flightpath-threatens-the-slv/

The Magic of a Chance – Drifting Compass

By Julie Horner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the Web: www.driftingcompass.com

On Facebook: www.facebook.com/driftingcompass

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

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

Positively Sundrenched & Soul-Filled – The Third Annual Santa Cruz Mountain Sol Festival

An interview by Julie Horner with Stephen Wyman, co-producer of the annual Santa Cruz Mountain Sol Festival.

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JH: This has become a major outdoor festival for the area so how did you get into it?

SW: Ironically. I’ve been volunteering with Redwood Mountain Faire since its rebirth at Roaring Camp. And as one the owners of the Boulder Creek Brewery, I was interested in producing events that would help drive our business forward. And in broader terms, events that would help bring economic vitality to our community. Fill restaurants, fill motels, hire local folks, local food vendors, and provide artists with an outlet.

JH: How are you able to attract such amazing performers to the event?

SW: Michael Horne is the genius of the business partnership. He’s been a Santa Cruz promoter for over 30 years and has presented more than 3,000 shows! It is very complicated to put great lineups together, so it’s his years of relationships with musicians and agents.

JH: You’ve got Edward Sharpe, George Clinton, and Sheila E at the top of a really impressive lineup of artists.

SW: We have certain artists whom we truly admire and hope to bring to the Santa Cruz Mountains, artists that we and our community have a connection to. We try to bring a blend of classic and new artists. We consider the venue and our neighbors. Although we can’t make everyone happy, we try to be considerate.

JH:  Name some of the acts that you’re especially excited to have on board this year.

SW: That’s a loaded question, because every artist we book is a favorite for one reason or another. This year we were inspired by the loss of Prince. We talked lots about the influence he had on music and culture. And we also dug deeper in our discussions like who influenced Prince and how he was so into the 1970’s Bay Area music scene. He came to SF in 1978 to record in the studio used by Santana and other Bay Area greats. Sheila E.‘s dad, Pete Escovedo, was playing in Santana’s band at the time. So this led us to invite Sheila E. and Katdelic and to ask George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic. George Clinton is an icon and we feel the chance to share is now – George Clinton turned 75 this year!

JH: I would imagine the variety of music will appeal to all age groups. What have you got for the younger scene?

SW: On Saturday we have Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. They headlined Coachella this year and had a sold out show this spring at the Greek theater in Berkeley. They should bring some concert goers to Felton who haven’t visited our valley before. And I think folks my age will have a treat in discovering this kind of artist.

JH: It must be an enormous task transforming a quiet mountain meadow into an outdoor good-love-and-vibrations festival space.

SW: Aside from the monetary considerations, there are so many details to contend with. Routing, logistics, travel, backline, staging, etc. Multiply this by every artist timeslot over the course of the weekend and you start to get an idea of the juggling job that is required.

JH: How does the venue at Roaring Camp suit the event, do people just love it?

SW: We love Roaring Camp. It’s an amazing space. There is the beautiful meadow, parking, and some infrastructure. Attendees having been glowing about the festival. We have 4.9 stars out of 5. We’re working on the missing fraction! Roaring Camp and its director have been supportive: Roaring Camp is keenly interested in supporting economic vitality in the valley.

JH: More people than ever seem to be falling in love with summer festivals and I hear Mountain Sol is attracting more peeps! You guys must be feeling pretty stoked!

SW: We are steadily growing. It’s our third year. That’s like Wednesday in the festival business. We’re trying hard to get to the weekend.

JH: What makes the Sol Fest so wonderful?

SW: Our event is a boutique festival. It’s small compared to most music festivals. It’s intimate. Everyone is close to the stage. Festival goers feel a direct connection to the artists and to their community. You’re not looking at a giant live video screen. You are there and in it.

JH: So this festival is all ages and locally do-able.

SW: Named by many of our fans as “the hometown throw down,” it’s more like a community party. We see our neighbors and friends there. People are generally kind and thoughtful – watching out for each other. We attract a wide range of guests: Local families, couples, and college-age young adults.

JH: What can festival goers expect from this year’s festival as far as good vibes, food, and things to purchase?

SW: In addition to our amazing artist lineup, there will be local food vendors, artists, a kid’s area, and of course train rides!

JH: What would you advise people to bring with them?

SW: Bring a hat, refillable water bottles (free filtered water is available), ear plugs for the kids if you’re bringing young children, a designated driver…NO drinking and driving! No, no, no! Low back folding chairs and blankets are allowed but please no dogs and no bad attitudes. DO bring smiles, an open heart, and dancing shoes!

JH: I was at last year’s festival and had such a relaxing, boogie-filled uplifting time! What makes you the happiest about putting on the Sol Fest?

SW: When folks in the community stop me to tell me what wonderful time they had!

Santa Cruz Mountain Sol Festival September 17-18, 2016 Roaring Camp Meadows. Felton, California 95018 On Facebook: www.facebook.com/scmsfest

Tickets: www.santacruzmountainsol.com/tickets.shtml

Email: info@santacruzmountainsol.com

This article was originally published in the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin: http://mountainbulletin.com/article/positively-sundrenched-soul-filled/

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

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FELTON TROUT FARM DEVASTATED BY FIRE!

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

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

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

Beloved Felton Trout Farm Inn Burns

Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin

June 10, 2016

by Julie Horner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facebook posts continue to accumulate in support:

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

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

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

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

On Facebook:

www.facebook.com/troutfarminn

www.facebook.com/feltontroutfarmfamily

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

#FeltonTroutFarmInn

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Heathen Hill – American Roots Music

By Julie Horner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the Web: heathenhillmusic.com

On Facebook: www.facebook.com/HeathenHillMusic

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

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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Scots, Wha Hae!

The Santa Cruz Mountains Celebrate the Return of the Scottish Highland Games

By Julie Horner

A fair breeze tempers the early afternoon warmth, occasional showers of leaves whisper a hint of autumn and the last of the outdoor festivals and refreshing river plunges. The change of season comes sooner for those who live closer to the lee side of Ben Lomond Mountain as midday rides lower along the ridge. The shadows have grown longer, slanted sun puddles drench the valley floor, and the morning air is tinged with the sweet familiar tang of wood smoke.

Indian summer is time suspended, and everything smells dusty and rich and thirsty. It’s a time to celebrate the harvest and follow the urge to linger outdoors while the weather allows.

On Saturday, October 3 under the crackling blue sky, Roaring Camp welcomes the Big Trees Scottish Gathering and Highland Games, a colorful larger-than-life festival of music, sport, dance, food and flavor steeped in Celtic tradition and compelling history.

Scottish and Irish family groups, or “clans,” come together at the Highland Games to discover and celebrate their heritage, often wearing the wool plaid twill “tartan” associated with their family or particular ancestral region. “Everyone wants to belong to something noble,” said long time valley resident, event organizer and Games Chief, Jeff Simpson.

“What I find unique about this type of event, it’s not like any other kind of festival. People come as spectators and leave as participants after visiting their clan tent and finding out they have heritage… and a sense of belonging to something that they never knew about before.”

A spirited Highland festival can take you out of the present and into the living pages of a passionate and hard-lived history. For those who study the ancestry and participate in the Games, Jeff says, “We tend to surround ourselves with people who would rather be in a different era…living in the modern day is only a placeholder until they can get back to where they really belong.”

Jeff, along with former Boulder Creek business owner and Celtic jewelry artist, Garth Duncan, helped bring the games to the valley in the 1990s with the inception of the Loch Lomond Celtic Society. Inspired in part by the legendary “Scottish Days” at Ben Lomond’s Highlands Park back in the 1960s, Jeff said, “We started conceptually in Garth’s shop on Memorial Day 1994, while talking about doing a Games and a Celtic educational venture in the San Lorenzo Valley.”

Jeff has been Chief since 1996, and Garth spearheaded what became the popular Loch Lomond Games at Highlands Park from 1997-2006 before moving his family and his craft to Scotland.

The Loch Lomond Highland Games attracted professional athletes, skilled artisans, internationally renowned Celtic musicians, and thousands of visitors, which, as the festival grew, resulted in traffic difficulties along the Highway 9 corridor. The games were renamed and moved to San Lorenzo Park in Santa Cruz to more readily accommodate the growing crowds, but increasing costs and other factors contributed to the decision to suspend the Games in 2014.

Now with the Big Trees Scottish Gathering and Highland Games, Jeff breathes new life into the celebration of all things Scottish and rekindles the sense of connection to the Santa Cruz Mountains. “The reason we want to have the Games in the valley is because of the rich Scottish heritage.” Place names such as Ben Lomond, Bracken Brae and Bonny Doon; road signs bearing the names of the valley’s Scottish settlers; a stone fountain near Highlands Park marking the location of the long vanished 19th century Rowardennan Hotel , the name referencing an enchanted Scottish flower and the Celtic word for “high woodland.”

The opportunity to host the Games on the green at Roaring Camp offers festival goers a sumptuous natural expanse to marvel over centuries-old athletic competition, living history displays, hand crafted finery for sale, hearty traditional fare, local ale, bagpipes, and live Celtic music and Highland dancing. Jeff says, “For me, it’s all about keeping things local…I love Roaring Camp…so many festivals are at a fairgrounds next to the road…Roaring Camp is under the redwoods in the mountains.” A befitting place where notorious mountain man, Isaac Graham, himself of Scottish decent, established a sawmill and distillery in the 1830s – an encampment so boisterous that it became known as “Roaring Camp.”

“It is with great honor and anticipation that I invite you to join us as the clans once again gather in the highlands of the Santa Cruz Mountains! Bring your family and friends and for a day immerse yourself in the sites, the sounds, and the taste of an ancient culture kept alive in the hearts and by the hands of its proud descendants.” – Jeff Simpson, Chief

Saturday, October 3, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Roaring Camp Historic Railroad
5401 Graham Hill Road
Felton, California 95018
RoaringCamp.com

Adults: $16-$20
Senior (65+): $12-$15
Juniors (11-17): $12-$15
Children 10 and under free
Discount advance tickets on the Web: http://bigtreescots.com/

The Big Trees Scottish Gathering and Highland Games share the grounds at Roaring Camp October 3 with The Harvest Fair & Steam Festival.

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

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