Copyright 2018 Julie Horner for the San Lorenzo Valley Post
Copyright 2018 Julie Horner for the San Lorenzo Valley Post
By Julie Horner
Peering through a jagged window, the bare bulbs of workmen’s shop lights illuminate what seem like bones and sinew – open studs and joists – which frame little now but bareness and dust. The fireplace where the lounge used to be stands alone without walls. While stairs and banisters remain as anchors, the remainder is mere hull with views into the next room or up to the rafters. Fresh lumber is stacked next to salvaged architectural elements. Outside, gable decorations sport gaps like broken teeth. Bottle shards, antique tools, and rusted children’s toys, once clever décor along the building’s foundation, are tortured remnants in crumbling concrete collage. The eye is drawn to a missing panel of stained glass; it was never replaced after the night one of the more colorful patrons started a fight over not having mustard for the bar pretzels. She was summarily escorted out but delivered a parting blow by throwing a rock through the fine old window.
The ghosts of those who have breathed life into this place have fled to the Brook Room where filtered light still flirts among the faded underpinnings. The Brookdale remains breathtakingly beautiful behind her dirt-streaked glass and cobwebs. Like a dark bride in ripped lace she bides, her house empty, awaiting new love and purpose.
New owner, Pravin Patel, says, “It had been declining for a long time. There is about 60 years of deferred maintenance.” And everything is taking longer than anticipated. “Please don’t lose your patience. It’s not as easy as it seems.” The permitting and county processes, deciding what can be salvaged and what must be replaced. And everything must be rebuilt for safety. “We’ll get it open,” Patel promises.
He can hardly wait to open the first phase, which will include the renovated 46-room hotel separate from the Lodge, a full service local market “where families can come and do shopping,” and a coffee shop to rival the old Pancake House and Grill. “Pablo was leasing it years ago until it was shut down. The community tells me Pablo had the best pancakes.” Fresh paint and new windows are finishing touches and the building could be open as soon as the end of this summer.
Next on the list is the hotel lobby and a new sports bar. After that, the Brook Room and Fireside Lounge. “Things are coming along…the good days outweigh the bad days.”
Also on the list, the return of the cherished mural. “The original James Dean was up there for years and years, but one of the messes Sanjiv Kakkar, the former owner, made was painting over James Dean…out of his wild imagination. It was low quality, a joke. The community was in an uproar over it.” Patel made it clear in a town hall meeting: “We are going to replace the mural in high quality.”
The canvas has been prepared. Patel joined forces with Maryanne Porter of Brookdale Lodge Mysteries Explored and owner of Santa Cruz Ghost Hunters/Haunted Tours to find the perfect muralist. An ad was placed on Craigslist. “The mural is a huge deal not only to the community but also to the history of the Brookdale Lodge,” Porter says. “I mean, this is not something that we are taking lightly – this will be a fixated iconic portrait which represents the Lodge and San Lorenzo Valley for generations to come. Mr. Patel is not only creating new history but he is also trying to preserve the old.”
The process to find a muralist has been a lengthy one for its applicants. The individuals sought for serious consideration were requested to submit a sketch of James Dean to determine their artistic ability and to see how the artist’s vision meshed with the community’s vision. “Each artist has a different style, so it was important to find someone who shared a similar vision.” The right artist should also have a relationship to the Lodge. “We wanted a muralist who had some memory or connection, not just someone who looked at it as a job.” And they wanted someone local. “It was important to Mr. Patel to find a local artist. Keeping our history in our community. I can’t wait for the project to be completed and the Lodge’s new history to begin!”
“I love the community input,” Patel says. “This mural thing is exactly what I mean. Let’s get a local artist in here. A homegrown Santa Cruz artist to put his name on it…it becomes a legacy.”
The top three finalists have been chosen. “The next step we will be meeting up with the county and then moving forward to determine who will be selected as the next muralist for the Brookdale Lodge,” Porter says.
“You’ve got to remember, this is history in the remaking. The Lodge has been robbed and raped over the years…vandals and the former owners took all this stuff. I want to be known 100 years from now as the gentleman who gave it CPR…I revitalized it! I’m trying to do something good here.”
Copyright 2017 Julie Horner for the San Lorenzo Valley Post
By Julie Horner
As antidote to the dark and wet, rustic Jon Lucchese Center stands on a sandy plateau in full sun biding over a sweeping panorama of forest and blue sky. The air, soft and moistly fragrant with oak and bay, is gratefully languid after an eternity of torrential rain, mud, and cabin fever. It is peacefully still, the only sounds being the rush of nearby Peavine Creek and the roaring press of silence. Founded in 1957 by special needs educator, Alex Krem, Sr., Boulder Creek’s family run campground created especially for “giving exceptional people the opportunity to be themselves,” welcomes the coming of spring and “new worlds of discovery, adventure, and friendship.” Summer, says camp manager Christina Krem, “is rowdy” with campers of all ages eager to embark on outdoor educational experiences that will help them build lifelong relationships with nature.
In addition to sprucing things up for the anticipated 500 or so adults and young people with disabilities who will revel on this mountaintop over the course of the spring and summer, the staff at Camp Krem is also about to do it up for Do-It-Ourselves, the fifth annual DIO Festival, a reliably sold-out weekend music experience which brings world-class up-and-coming talent to Boulder Creek for three days in late April. DIO Fest is one of the groups outside of regular summer camp programs who responsibly rent the facility; the intention is to present an intimate festival vibe while giving back to the community.
The connection between Camp Krem and the DIO Fest goes back to when DIO Fest co-founder, Jon Labeaud and his wife, Andrea, worked as camp counselors. And in part because of that relationship, Christina says, the team that puts on DIO Fest has given back to the Camping Unlimited community by donating a portion of festival proceeds to the camp’s musicology program, with monies going directly to the salary of the on-staff music therapist. And the team of volunteers who set up and tear down lend their energy every year to improving existing infrastructure; Christina noted specifically the addition of a permanent roof on the amphitheater and new and reinforced structural stage elements inside Jon Lucchese Center. These are performance areas that campers use during the rest of the season for the talent show, a highlight of the camping experience, which helps develop a sense of individual self-worth, while being built-in fun.
Part of the ethic of giving back includes the opportunity for musicians, dancers, and artists of all kinds to volunteer their time at Camp Krem to help inspire and delight. Several musicians who have performed at DIO Fest have returned at later dates to share their music, Christina said, including Kendra McKinley, Big Bear, McCoy Tyler Band, and Marty O’Reilly & the Old Soul Orchestra. Local talent is very much invited to come share what they do best. Whether by volunteering time or by making a monetary gift, “donations are hugely appreciated.”
Updated April 2021: Camp Krem was sadly mostly destroyed in the CZU August Lightning Complex Fire. The camp is planning to rebuild at 102 Brook Lane, Boulder Creek and donations are accepted. Call (831) 338-3210 or visit: www.campingunlimited.org
Read more about the Do-It-Ourselves Festival: www.facebook.com/DoItOurselves/
By Julie Horner
Another glorious hot summer day under a bright blue sky, bare feet stompin’ in the cool grass of a mountain meadow. A sea of sun-browned revelers sway as a human tide among blankets colorfully unfurled. Music festival season is in full swing and on stage: The Leftovers, ‘sick’ locally grown Santa Cruz Mountains reggae.
It’s a groove that gets right into your bones. The bass thick and heavy, with steady snare, powerful skank, and the distinctly playful ‘rap rap rap rap’ of the timbale. Everyone’s moving, bobbing to the rhythm and somehow you know every little thing is gonna be alright.
Guitar player/vocalist, Sean Conner, told me, “We did the Hop N Barley Festival this year – I love day gigs – it’s a totally different vibe. We play the bars, attract the nighttime partiers. But in the day you get to jam out a little more, interact with the crowd – it’s a different feeling.”
Based in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Sean said, “Some of us went to school together at SLVHS. Back then Sean played in a metal band with drummer, Travis Salangsang. Now as The Leftovers they have gigs just about every weekend, sometimes twice a week. “The music, it’s so much fun – that’s what started it for us – we didn’t even think of a band.” Then someone said, “Why aren’t you guys playing out?” So they decided to give it a shot. “We all just love playing music so much.”
“We’ve been around for about four years now,” Sean said. He and Joey Storm (guitar/vocals) are the originating members, and they recently added Travis and Andrew Zook (bass), David Churchill (keyboards/vocals), Greg Del Bene (Percussion), and Vince D’Andrea (saxophone/vocal). “Sometimes we have girls singing with us (Taylor Rae and Sydney Gorham), but this is the core.”
Sean said they started off definitely reggae-rock. “Now we’re a lot harder to describe. If I had to pick a genre, I’d say reggae, but at the shows we’re all over the place. One minute we’re playing roots reggae, next we’re doing hip hop reggae.” They’ve started calling it “mountain reggae.” It’s simply “The Leftovers sound.”
“We do about half and half, originals and covers that we rotate through. We totally collaborate on new material.” Sometimes they draw inspiration from shows they go to. He cites Raging Fire as an influence when he saw them at the Catalyst, and after seeing Boostive at Bocce’s Cellar, Sean said “We got back from that show and were just feeling it. We were supposed to be practicing and we wound up just jamming out.” They came up with a trippy instrumental with an eerie groove that they named “Frankenstein.” In the key of F, of course.
The Leftovers have played just about every music venue in Santa Cruz County including Zelda’s (one of Sean’s favorites), Moe’s Alley (always a great spot), the Crow’s Nest, Felton Trout Farm, Henfling’s, Don Quixote’s, and outdoors at Junction Park and the Santa Cruz Mountains Art, Music and Wine Festival, among others. And Joey and Sean do an acoustic guitar set every other Tuesday night at Pono Bar and Grill in Santa Cruz. “It’s sort of a residency there.”
“We’ve done well in Santa Cruz…the music is so popular…people seem to want us back.”
The shows are really well attended. “Zelda’s manager was blown away. First he was shocked, ‘Wow, you guys brought so many people!’” Sean admits, “It was so packed it was crazy…you couldn’t even walk around. You had to dance – dance where you were standing!” So the manager invited them to play regularly once a month. It’s been so packed that now the manager wants them twice a month. “Bar sales were through the roof…he was pumped, we were pumped!” People seem to be seeking the necessary nourishment of positivity…and a guaranteed great time out on the town.
With a stage show that includes their own disco ball and laser light experience, Sean says “It’s been getting better and better, there’s such good energy.”
With day jobs and a blazing performance schedule, they’re also somehow finding time to commit their sound to on-demand media. “We’re really pushing on recording.” They did a self-produced 5-song EP but they really want to get a full length professional album made. They’re working on new material with Henry Chadwick at Indigital studios in Santa Cruz. “We grew up with him so we’re already super connected – it’s really easy to work with him, he’s a super awesome guy and a talented musician in his own band. He has a lot of good ideas – it’s good to have an outside voice who’s been there and done it.”
The Leftovers radiate vibrance and positivity like a breath of fresh air. “We just love the music. If you give someone positive energy, they will give it back – it’s in our nature. That’s our goal with our music is to share the love, that’s what it’s all about.”
Get a taste of The Leftovers at the Santa Cruz Mountains Harvest Festival in Boulder Creek on September 24, and at venues throughout Santa Cruz.
The Leftovers Cali roots reggae: #feelgoodmusic
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/Theleftoversca
Julie Horner is an Irish folk musician and writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. Email: email@example.com | www.slvpost.com
By Julie Horner
For two luxurious sun-drenched days, the Santa Cruz Mountains Art, Wine, and Music Festival invited revelers to stay local, kick off their shoes, dance on the green to live music, and enjoy a final taste of summer among the redwoods. On hand to pour hand-crafted suds: Boulder Creek Brewing on Saturday and Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing on Sunday.
Local brewer and owner of Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, Emily Thomas, remembers when the Art and Wine Festival was on the street and how, like the Redwood Mountain Fair, these home grown festivals bring everyone out. “The mountains needed another incarnation of being outside as a community.” Now that the Art and Wine Festival is at Garrahan Park, she says, “It’s successful and will continue to keep growing.”
“So many places are void of life and creativity. A mountain town so close to the beach captures the best of both types of people, mountain people and beach communities and brings them together. You want people to come here and experience it…if you’re raised in Fresno and that’s all you know, that’s kind of a shame. Living in the mountains – the nature of it – can change your whole perspective on life.”
Fresh from Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery to the redwoods, Emily welcomes visitors to her new tap room and restaurant, a clean, simple space without pretention at the historical Cremer House in downtown Felton where locals and travelers enjoy tasty plates and award winning, certified organic craft brew.
The Cremer House will celebrate its one-year anniversary in December and from all accounts the endeavor has been a raving success with a consistent customer base of mountain dwellers and weekend warriors from over the hill and Santa Cruz. Emily says Saturdays and Sundays are busiest. “We get a lot of foodies, and the beer selection is pretty unique” from flagship ales to “wildly inventive seasonals that will bend your taste buds and challenge your senses.”
Emily has always loved food. Her mom was the cook at the Quaker Center in Ben Lomond when Emily was growing up in SLV. But it’s the brewing that ultimately sparked the idea of getting into the restaurant business.
While at college in Portland in the early 90s, two uncles who “didn’t believe in books” taught her how to “brew beer, work on cars, and clear brush.” She did earn her software engineering degree and moved to San Diego to live the corporate life. Eventually eschewing cubical confines and back in the Santa Cruz area to raise her family, the urge to brew bloomed and she opened Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing on the Westside in 2005.
“Our original model was a tasting room to take your beer home with you. But the first week we opened there were hundreds of people drinking the beer in the sun along the railroad tracks.” That got her thinking, “What are the spaces where people hang out?” So she created the tap room and beer garden.
That’s where the beer is brewed for the Cremer House because Felton’s infrastructure at the site won’t support the necessary ebb and flow of craft brewing in volumes enough to serve throngs of the curious thirsty.
Emily made the proposal to SCM Brewing co-owner, Bob Locatelli, to do a joint restaurant as well. She said that neither of them was initially of a mindset to take on a project that big but in the end decided to go for it. It took four years to get all the permitting in place, and the old Cremer building needed to be retrofitted to support modern requirements while still maintaining the historical elements. Emily designed the interior space, local contractor, Chuck Reason, updated the structure.
“That’s how we differentiate ourselves – craft brewers are only 10% of the market, big corporations are still dominant – so small brewers work together, looking for things that make us look unique in our own business.”
The Cremer House serves lunch and dinner and showcases a variety of 25 craft beers on tap including Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing and select offerings from other local brewers, ciders, wines, and homemade sodas.
The Santa Cruz Mountain Art, Wine, and Music Festival thanks Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing for sharing their hand crafted brew at the festival and for keeping gracious community spirit alive in the mountains.
(c) Julie Horner, September 2015 for the San Lorenzo Valley Post.
Julie Horner is an Irish folk musician and writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
On the Web: santacruzmountainslocal.com