On Spirit Wings – Boulder Creek’s Medicine Road

By Julie Horner

Pablo Eagle used to ride his motorcycle through the Santa Cruz Mountains regularly. For some reason one day he took his pickup. It was a beautiful day for riding, warm and dry, with no wind at all. A motorcyclist with a woman on the back passed him. “God, I wish I was on my bike,” he thought, just man and bike riding free. “Suddenly a branch as big as a small tree landed right in front of me.” It was almost like he’d had a spiritual vision. “I look up… It made me think about the drought…I’d seen it coming.” Another motorist stopped to help but wound up mostly watching. “All the adrenaline was in my body, and I just picked the damn thing up – I was holding it like ‘this’ in my arms – and I threw the log. Had I ridden my bike…it spooked me. Now I don’t ride so much.”


As singer/songwriter for Boulder Creek based band, Medicine Road, he believes in healing through music. Joined by Dave Kerrey (vocals, drums), Jonathan “Skippy” Sherred (background vocals, bass), and Tom McQuillen (background vocals, lead guitar), Medicine Road “spreads the love of life and healing into the wind so that brother wind will carry the healing tune all over the world.”

Primarily a guitar player and lyricist, Pablo Eagle pays homage to his Yaqui/Mayan roots by adding flute to the Medicine Road sound. “When I picked up the flute, I was amazed I could play it…it was a natural thing.” They decided that the flute was going to rule. He remembers one show, “I was playing notes I didn’t know my flute could play. I was playing through my nose, through my throat, I was flying around…it was an out of body experience. People were coming out of the crannies…I don’t even know where these sounds were coming from. We blew that place away.”

Medicine Road just played the annual Santa Cruz Mountain Art & Wine Festival where he said, “Kids were dancin’, people were listening, and the earth felt happy!”

The music is groovy psychedelic rock jam laced with a haunting Native American sound reminiscent of the music of R. Carlos Nakai. Medicine Road plays mostly original material that is centered on musical healing and positive energy. “We feel our music is good medicine for the heart, soul, and body. Praise for the beauty of nature.” Their song, Earth in the Key of A, is like envisioning a rainforest and bringing everyone into it.

“Our goal is to heal with the music. Through the music and through the lyrics. We put out ideas of the pain of the problem – ‘this’ needs to be fixed.” It becomes a recycling of negative energy, he points out, turning it around into positive and “healing as you go.” “That’s what I do with the music. If we can’t heal ourselves, who can we heal?”

Pablo Eagle has been making music in Boulder Creek forever. He lived in a rented room at the Rainbow’s End back when and remembers asking his landlord, “Are you sure you don’t mind if I play music? She said, ‘I love rock and roll and my husband’s deaf.’” He describes how he wrote, Boulder Creek Mama, a song that has become a Medicine Road anthem: “I wrote it 25 years ago at the Junction before it was a park. There was this beautiful young lady in a bikini…she was about to jump off a rock…I was inspired.” The girl who was Boulder Creek Mama worked at Johnnie’s. He asked her if she wanted to come see his band. She said no. He said, I wrote a song about you. She said she was flattered but that was alright. He said, do you have a boyfriend? She said, yeah, kinda. He never saw her again but the song lives on. “We always end our shows with it because it drives everyone crazy, gets people dancing.”

His grandfather used to sun dance and sing to the sun. Now Pablo Eagle and Medicine Road are part of Native American Heritage festivities at Foothill College. “I will always stand up for Native people. We just got Obama to call off the Keystone project. Now there’s the Dakota pipeline.” He feels he has an obligation to Native peoples…to stand up against those who are “always messing with indigenous people.” He has strong opinions about cutting down our redwoods trees too. “Everything is a catch-22. If it’s alive, it has a positive and a negative aspect…and there’s the grey area where we’re trying to bring people to the positive side.” He wants to give people a positive example through his music.

“In Native American heritage, you have two types of people: Those who follow the red road, and those who follow the black road of negative extremes. Red road people have positive energy, they’re not putting people down, they’re building things. We want to help he people in the grey area. Medicine Road is the healing road.”

“I’ve been Medicine Road for a long time. I want to do it ‘til I die. We’re still a young band…we’ve reared our head around…we’re ready to take off. Our smoke signals are out there.”

On the Web: https://www.reverbnation.com/medicineroad

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/medicine.road.band/

This article was originally published in the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin: http://mountainbulletin.com/article/on-spirit-wings-medicine-road/

Julie Horner is an Irish style musician and writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, CA. https://www.facebook.com/CrookedRoadCeiliBand/

The Valley’s Legendary Dr. Madd Show

By Julie Horner

Picture Thanksgiving, 1976, San Francisco’s Winterland. The Band is performing its last concert coming down from 16 years on the road. Some numbers they do just them, other songs include guest artists. Together they played tribute to “the friendships, the harmonies, the hijinks, and the wear and tear that add up to a last waltz.” (IMDb, “The Last Waltz,” 1978)

On Sunday, November 29, 2015 Don Quixote’s hosts The Dr.Madd Show, an evening like no other featuring a full cast of local music legends including the Doctor himself (guitar, vocals), Louie (sax), Diana (keyboard, vocals), Johnny (drums), and Norm (bass). Doc says they’ll be “playing some of the good originals, getting some of the old band members on stage.” There’s going to be a lot of variety: Rock, country, their own pieces, and “Louie doing some blues…joyous covers, swingy and easy, with creamy sax that’ll get yer trotters shakin.” And all timed perfectly for Dr.Madd’s 70th on December 1.

The man known as Dr.Madd grew up in McKeesport, PA, near the confluence of the Monongahela and Youghiogheny rivers where the biggest steel mills used to be that manufactured iron pipe and sheet metal that was shipped to Detroit to make cars. “You could wash your car and an hour later you could wipe the dust off with your finger.” Blast furnaces at night made the sky glow red and “people would go down, park, and watch the slag dump…pig iron…I can say I know molten hot metal.”

He was a medic in Viet Nam stationed at two neurological hospitals. “We got all the head cases. I remember thinking, I gotta do something with these hands.”

“First time I played rock n’ roll was in the spring of 1965 in army medic training, talent night, played the drums behind a Mexican kid doing a Peter & Gordon song…that was before they sent me to Germany.” He remembers walking back to the barracks one night. “I got in the middle of a mortar attack…the ground shakes and your spine rattles and instantly you know there’s a round coming. Instead of a weapon I had an electric guitar.”

One night he walked into the service club after dinner. “A guy runs up starts shaking my arm, ‘You gotta hear this! You gotta hear this!’ It was Bob Dylan.” After the next pay day, he went out and bought a nylon string guitar and started finger picking, buying Dylan records. “Then Jimmy Hendriks came along and turned everything on its head.”

He wound up playing bass for 35 years. In 1969, after his stint in the war, he lived in Philadelphia “when Led Zeppelin was new.” It was then that he “turned his back on rock n’ roll and started studying jazz…from Coltrane to Louie Armstrong.”

He left in the middle of the night, “started hitchhiking with a couple of knapsacks from Philly to San Jose” eventually hooking up with “an unmanageable dozen or so” musicians from music theory class at San Jose City College. They became the legendary outfit, Dirty Butter, gigging around San Jose and Sunnyvale until ’73, when the Doctor and some of the other members moved up to Boulder Creek and stumbled upon the now-infamous Club Zayante. At some point some of the members lost track of each other. Dr.Madd went to New Orleans for a while to play on a yacht in the Dr.Madd & Jesse James Band, which cycled through a few players to become “The Dr.Madd Show.”

Dr.Madd says it’s been quite the trip: “50 years of rock and roll and you survived.”

At the November 29 gig at Don Quixote’s, they’re playing the first set, “all our covers and originals.” The second set will be “like The Last Waltz…with all the old friends.” And the venue, he points out, is veteran friendly with easy wheelchair access. It will be a night rockin’ good times to remember.

To have your name placed on the concert reservation list, go to: http://www.donquixotesmusic.info/form_file.php

(c) 2015 Julie Horner

Originally published in the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin November 2015 http://mountainbulletin.com/

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