It’s a Long, Long Road, Son

Remembering Damdave Gillett

By Julie Horner with Tiffany Gillett, Jessica Gullo, Jennifer Thompson, Elicia Burton, and Eric Burman

The phone rang the morning of November 27, the day before Thanksgiving. The voice on the other end of the line was gravelly, fondly familiar, but the words were uncharacteristically hesitant and choked with emotion. It was Damdave. Children’s laughter could be heard in the background; family and friends from near and far were gathering in Hilo for the holiday. In a watery voice, Damdave said that he wasn’t going to make it. They couldn’t kill the tumor on his lung after all. Months of treatment and pain, hope, humor, and boundless heart, but nothing more could be done. He said, “They say it could be a day, or it could be a year.” His voice trailed off. The musical timbre of grandkids running amok filled the silence. I told him, “I love you so much.”

There had been quite a bit of optimism in August. Dave had been living in Hilo, Hawaii with his daughter Tiphany while undergoing treatment. Dave worked diligently over the summer to regain his health, enough so that doctors would allow him to fly home to Boulder Creek to visit his friends and to attend the Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival, of which he had been a part for many years. It was a rich time spent playing music and sharing memories and laughter. The memories linger still, warm and sweet like the summer sun.

David Gillett, Boulder Creek singer-songwriter, local legend, dad, grandpa, and dearest friend, passed away surrounded by his loved ones on Wednesday, December 4th, 2019.

Daughters Tiphany Gillett, Jessica Gullo, and Jennifer Thompson and their families were by his side to read aloud well wishes sent from beloved friends. Bandmate “Mando” Mike Reynolds joined the family to bid his compadre farewell.

 

Just a couple of years ago, heads close together in comfortable familiarity in the late afternoon light, Dave Gillett and I sipped our “usual” and went to town reminiscing about spirited times in old haunts around the San Lorenzo Valley. Known affectionately as “Damdave,” he was the front-man singer-songwriter and guitar player for the Boulder Creek-based Americana group, Damdave and the Left-Hand Band.

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I asked how he got the name “Damdave.” He explained how he had moved to Brookdale and started a folk jam at the Brookdale Lodge. “I didn’t drink at the time,” he said, but he wound up “earning his PhD” hanging out in the bar. At one point someone asked his name. When he said, “David,” someone at the far end of the bar shouted, “Not another damn Dave!”

Tuesday nights at the Brookdale Lodge were the slowest. “You had a couple of guys from the bar and we formed Damdave’s Odd-Ass Instrument Jam on Tuesday nights from ‘98-ish to 2008 or so,” Dave said. The popular Tuesday night jam became the forerunner of the Brookdale Bluegrass Festival. Eric Burman remembers coming to Dave’s jams and they decided after a time, “’Hey this would be a great place for a festival’…and it took off.” Burman recalled, “We’d all get together and come up with crazy things…like the underwater banjo contest. One of the girls asked if it was important to have a costume…when we said no, she jumped in the pool, and the only thing she had on was a tattoo. People forgot that she actually had a banjo. Damdave was definitely one of the judges that day.”

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Burman also remembers one of the most fun things that the two of them would do together was take common songs and rewrite all of the words. “They were all awful,” he joked. He notes that “the biggest thing that Dave did was have that jam at the Brookdale Lodge on Tuesday nights. That’s where we formed our bands, that’s where we wrote our songs, that’s where we jammed with all the musicians from all over. Because we were working so closely with the Brookdale, that was because of Dave. He was instrumental in forming the Brookdale Bluegrass Festival and ran the ‘tweener stage at the Good Old Fashioned.”

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Dave later became a Boulder Creek townie. “It’s a nice little town. I’ve written five songs about this town, I Love These Mountains, Bear Creek Road…there are more.” He’s also written three Brookdale songs, among them, Brookdale’s Burning and Highway 9, a takeoff on the old song Highway 55 co-written with Eric Burman. “She always walks alone, neither flesh and neither bone, ooooo!! There’s some really good lyrics. Eric always made it a 20-minute long instrumental thing with audience participation.”

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For a while he was Damdave and the Hot Damn Band. The name change reflects the distinction that Dave plays left-handed. Along with Graham MacFarlane (standup bass), “Mando” Mike Reynolds (vocals, mandolin), and occasionally “Joebro” Adams (any of whom may or may not also play left-handed), the guys could entertain you with “a mix of dysfunctional bluegrass, country, blues, soul, and a healthy dose of Damdave originals.”

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He’d said at the time, “I’m not bluegrass, I don’t want a bluegrass band.” His sound was Americana tending toward the bluesy. “I’ve always been a blues kind of guy.” He was raised in Ann Arbor, between Detroit and Chicago. “My voice is kind of gravelly, I grew up with Bob Seger. I like Gregg Allman…I like all kinds of music. I was thinking about this not too long ago. When I listen to people singing, when I listen to blues or Motown, the way they sing a song, the emphasis is on the words and music together. I want to develop my voice and my songs to be able to express the parts of the music I want to express…with an honesty in my voice.”

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“Dave was the kind of guy who could ramble, talk, talk talk, and talk, without any particular point or reason, no punchlines, just thinking out loud,” said fellow musician, Elicia Burton. “I remember playing with Damdave at Don Quixote’s where we featured him and his music. I loved playing the tune Tennessee Whiskey on my fiddle, backing him up. He was always a standard and was great help at the Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival signing folks up for the ‘tweener stage. I also loved his song “Blue Day,” his gruff vocals on that, his backward guitar playing – as you know he was a lefty. And the song about growing up in Kalamazoo was a really great, real American song. I am missing him now.”

“He had a huge sweet side to him, he totally loved his family, his girls were always the apple of his eye.” – Elicia Burton

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“Daddy, Dampa, DamDave. The community lost a one-of-a-kind man. Your silly light-hearted disposition will be missed. I thank you for your artistic, musical nature that you shared with your children, grandchildren, and friends. While I myself have no musical talent inherited, I will forever sing your original song you wrote about our special town, “I Love These Mountains. Jam on Dam dad” – Jenny

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“Dear Naddy (Daddy). I’m so relieved you are no longer in pain and are free to jam, jam, jam until the end of time. You fought hard, stayed positive, continued to play music, and kept a sense of humor to the very end, even when you were in unimaginable pain – qualities that will never fail to amaze me. I am honored to have gone through this journey with you and grateful we were all together during your final days. I envision you surrounded by love, light, music, and hopefully the finest of tequilas! Somehow, It feels appropriate to complete the circle and send you off onto your new journey with the words you wrote on my birth announcement, ‘peaceloveandkeeponkeepin’free.’ I love you forever.” – Ninny (Tiphany)

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“Rest in peace damn dad. I know you’re up there jamming, free of pain. You are loved and  missed more than I have words for. I am so grateful you were surrounded by family and your BFF. I am so grateful for our time together. I’m so grateful I was able to fly out to spend these last few days with you. I will cherish the memories. Thank you for teaching me to not take life so seriously. Your humor through your suffering was admirable. Aloha, Daddy” – Jessica Gullo

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“Love and hugs to our man, Damdave, The Tom Waits of Boulder Creek Bluegrass. Your wonderful family and great songs will carry your name into the future…I’m teaching them to everybody. Enjoy the ride Brother, wink and smile with that twinkle in your eyes as you make that left hand turn.”
– Joe Adams

A memorial for island locals was held on Sunday, November 8 at his favorite spot, the Makuu Cliffs. A memorial for mainlanders will be held after the holidays. With the help of Barry Tanner and Bruce Bellochio, a commemorative collection of Damdave’s music will be made available soon. For more information, send email to Barry: bcmusicworks@gmail.com

Online: www.facebook.com/damdave.gillett

(c) December 2019 Julie Horner for the San Lorenzo Valley Post.

Visit Santa Cruz Mountains Local: https://santacruzmountainslocal.com/2017/02/02/tending-toward-the-bluesy-damdave-and-the-left-hand-band/

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The Gift of Go-To: Boulder Creek’s Barry Tanner

By Julie Horner

It’s all happened here, at the corner of Forest Street and Pine just behind the Odd Fellows Hall in downtown Boulder Creek, in the building that formerly housed the town’s post office and is now often referred to simply as “Barry Tanner’s studio.” Whether for fundraisers, remembrances, band practice, or recording, the studio is as no-nonsense on the outside as its owner. Inside is where the magic happens and the place has become a community hub through the generosity of a man who has energy to burn and an innate talent to make things happen. “I grew up in Davis. My mom was campaign manager for the first socialist mayor in the United States. I was born to organize people.”

Once on the coast, he jumped deep into the Santa Cruz music and theater scene. He lived off-grid in Last Chance for a while and then bought a place in Boulder Creek in 2003 when, he says, “places were boarded up…it was dead.” He had choices…and a little inheritance…so he spent some time traveling, most notably to New Orleans and France, where he spent years playing music in a 7-piece jazz/blues band. “I never saved any money doing it but got paid well and treated well.” He bought a tiny apartment overlooking the Mediterranean and was inspired by vibrant festivals, painters, jugglers, and dancers. He brought that joie de vivre back to Boulder Creek: “I either had to move or create some kind of scene here.”

In 2004 he was instrumental in organizing live dinner music on Friday and Saturday nights at the Blue Sun Cafe (where Los Amigos is now), “and from there to Joe’s,” he says. Then he landed the old post office. It was a “serendipitous horsehead in the bed” moment: He could either “keep running around Europe eating French food” or make an offer.

“This building has led to Joe’s Bar and Boulder Creek Music Works. From the minute I took possession of the building people started showing up…Tim Welch (Funkranomicon) was waiting outside with his drums in his pickup truck.” Barry’s studio filled a need, and word-of-mouth the news got out. “There’s so many phenomenal musicians up here; the studio provides a pivot point, a hub, to rehearse and record, all those kinds of things.”

“It’s what I love doing…I’d be doing it anywhere…that’s my curse.” But he’s doing it here.

He and Todd Reed started regular music at Joe’s in 2008. “There’s a long list of musicians who played benefits there, but we were the first to start regular music on Thursdays for the Camp Krem kids. All money from the tip jar went to Doctors Without Borders – this was right after Haiti.” Every Thursday is the pro-jam now, where top talent comes together to form ad hoc bands for a night. Dozens of local bands got their start playing together at Joe’s, he says. Barry himself plays bass in Badenov (“as in Boris and Natasha”), an example of what he calls “putting a band together at short notice.”

“I book and do sound for over 200 bands a year at Joe’s, plug-and-play.” And this doesn’t count local festivals. He gets calls from three or four bands a week from around the world, he says. And he’s just completed a series of seven First Friday concerts at the Odd Fellows Hall; he often finds himself running back and forth across the street between Joe’s and the I.O.O.F.

Countless bands have recorded albums and shot video in Barry’s studio, and he just got his 16-channel system up and running. “Everyone and their brother has a home setup. I have the perfect room for recording a large group.” Funkranomicon, Take One, Live Concert Series with Carolyn Sills, Vito and Friends, Research and Development, all have recorded at Barry’s. Agents for some of them, like High on Fire and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, “sneak their people here to get them out of the cities to help them get focused.” The recording space is more like being in a living room than being in a high-pressure studio. “I measure my success by how busy the studio is, how much is getting done.”

Barry’s studio also boasts fully operational live-broadcast radio capability. The equipment was initially set up for KBCZ 90.1 Boulder Creek Community Radio before the station moved to the Visitor Center. “I started with the radio before there was even a station. It was just a dream.” Barry lay the groundwork to broadcast from his place, produced the morning show from there, and trained volunteers. “I love teaching. I was having a ball teaching people how to be on the radio.”

“Go-to people pop up, they’re going to make it happen. There are people in this community who have that gift.” But, he says, everybody should step in and lend a hand. “You gotta get your shovel out to keep the go-to people from burning out.”

Three years ago, Barry was told he would only be alive for another year. Now he doesn’t waste his time. “I’m going to go to festivals…I’ve got to get my tickets to Kate Wolf…I’ve got an air mattress that fits perfectly in the back of my van, my folding chairs…”

Contact Barry: BCMusicWorks@gmail.com

Copyright 2017 Julie Horner for the San Lorenzo Valley Post

www.facebook.com/SLVPostNews

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/

Copyright 2016 Julie Horner

Healing for the Human Tribe – Boulder Creek Welcomes SLV Alano Club

By Julie Horner

The south end of Boulder Creek’s main drag is humming with life again as SLV Alano Club fills the empty space left by Video 9. A frequent downtown stroller, I admit I hadn’t walked that distance along Highway 9 since the video store closed, usually making it only as far as the new Village Farm to tend the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin garden plot. It was a pleasant surprise to enter the familiar premises to find comfortable sofas, a big screen TV with folks gathered round to watch a DVD, and tables of community members busily collaborating. The atmosphere was convivial, casual, and welcoming to a stranger blowing in off the street.

Co-owner Rickey E rose from the conversation to greet me, offering a warm, well calloused working man’s hand. He gave me the tour, peering into the meeting room in the back where rows of sofas and chairs were arranged facing forward awaiting meeting night when people from all walks of life come to lay down their burdens and hear much needed words of encouragement. He pointed to snacks, water, and sodas in a refrigerated case and a plate of donuts on the counter, all of which, he explained, are gratis to anyone who has come to the center for support and needs something to tide them over. Donations are accepted but they cannot charge for the refreshments.

He invited me to Google “Alano Club” and continued with his own description: “Alano is a worldwide chain of centers for helping folks become clean and sober – we facilitate a space for Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) 12-step recovery meetings.” These centers are privately owned businesses that supply a safe, clean place to recover along with the fellowship of supporters who are also in recovery. “We will not turn away anyone who is hungry or needy,” he said.

“In this room we have people who have been sober anywhere from 6 months to 30 years; it’s a diverse group. We have plenty of sofas, plenty of room, plenty of people to help and who are willing to share their experience with people who need help.”

Along with fellow business owners, Joe E and Indrich M, and staff members, Carl S and Charles W, who welcome visitors on the day to day (the tradition in recovery communities is not to use last names), SLV Alano Club hosts 17 A.A. meetings a month and an “Anything Goes” group of Narcotics Anonymous (N.A.) that meets twice a month.

Rickey says they’ve been up and running for about two months now. “We’re modeling our startup after all the others, and there are literally thousands of them worldwide, even in Eastern Europe,” he said. With a donated pool table that the teens mostly use when their folks are in meetings, and free Wi-Fi for anyone who needs to be connected, they’re planning to make the new location permanent as soon as they get confirmation from the building owner. For now, it’s month-to-month, and they have a backup location chosen in Felton just in case. But he has a good feeling about Boulder Creek and is sure, “It’s up and onward from here!”

Rickey has decades of experience helping others. “Many of us came from the Ben Lomond Fellowship.” That’s the always bustling location on Highway 9 in a house that he says belonged to a once-upon-a-time Superman and was left to the group in the actor’s will…they have a 99-year lease, he says.

“Alano Club operates as a full committee of community members that helps guide the ship. By purpose and regulation, no one person has the power…it’s set up to be a group effort.” A.A. at large does not advertise: They base their efforts on attraction rather than promotion. “Alano Club is a separate entity – it’s like separation of church and state – neither tells the other what to do.” Rick facilitates community connection and runs the meetings but says, “I am your servant, not your boss.”

The main takeaway for people who are new: “We’re here to be of service to help people become and stay sober.”

The greater community of neighbors helping neighbors includes SLV Museum, which has opened up their grounds to the group for horseshoe tournaments, block parties, and parking, and Boulder Creek United Methodist Church, which hosts A.A. and Al-Anon meetings. Rickey says his mother-in-law plans to start another Al-Anon meeting at SLV Alano Club as well.

“There are a lot of folks in need in the area. And we’re not all poor.” It’s a point about perception that resonates. Alcoholism and substance abuse can affect anyone, regardless of economic or social status. Rickey says, “The ‘financially recovered’ help carry those who are new or having a harder time. Therein lies our open-door policy. Anyone trying to stay clean and sober is welcome.”

While much of the efforts focus on serving portions of the community who cannot pay for help, they do take donations, and in fact, memberships are necessary to help keep the doors open. The cost of a membership at SLV Alano Club is $200 a year and companies and individuals who step up to sponsor Alano programs are listed as generous donors on Alano Club’s vast online network.

One of the most rewarding moments in service of those in need is “the new guy who walks in the door and he’s still shaky. We pretty much circle around him.

SLV Alano Club is kid- and good dog-friendly. “Our doors are always open – from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm – come on in and say hello. Any time.”

12550 Central Ave, Boulder Creek, CA 95006 | 831-217-5034

Copyright 2016 Julie Horner

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Felton Trout Farm Devastated by Fire

Beloved Felton Trout Farm Inn Burns

June 10, 2016

By Julie Horner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facebook posts continue to accumulate in support:

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

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

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

On Facebook:

www.facebook.com/troutfarminn

www.facebook.com/feltontroutfarmfamily

#FeltonTroutFarmInn
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