A Capella to End All Wars ~ The Gold Standard Barbershop Chorus of Santa Cruz

By Julie Horner

Late night at Jeffrey’s in Santa Cruz who would expect the eight-or-so diners at the back table to rise up singing in perfect four-part harmony? In a fanfare of gratitude, a gesture of thanks for good food and good company, they stood drawn close around the table and sang their version of the familiar Irish blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

The Gold Standard Chorus of Santa Cruz is the local chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, the umbrella organization for the proliferation and preservation of barbershop singing in America. Known for doing things a bit differently, the Santa Cruz group features voices in “mixed harmony” (both men and women singers), a rarity in the barbershop world. All-female barbershop quartets are called, Sweet Adelines, and barbershop singers of all genders refer to themselves as “barbershoppers.” Innately good natured, welcoming, and bubbling with wisecracks and whacky anecdotes, barbershoppers are as much a family to each other – their art a way of life – as bluegrassers and Irish tune-heads, participating in workshops, festivals, competitions, and camp-outs anywhere the fun might be.

Barbershop is a style of singing characterized by simultaneous four-part harmony (tenor, lead, baritone, and bass), sung a cappella with utmost clarity. According to Music Director, Jordon Johnson, because the notes must be sung with an ear to perfection, “There’s nowhere to hide.” He calls it, “the advanced martial arts of the a cappella world” and stresses that it all depends on which side of the pitch you naturally sing on and how are you breathing. Creating harmony is an art form. Singers must always be listening carefully to one another to keep the sound as pure as possible, to achieve that “lock and ring.” He says with the world’s top quartets, “the precision is insane.”

Organized in October, 1989, the Santa Cruz chapter is active all over the county with regular appearances along the route of the Wharf-to-Wharf race, their annual Cabaret 1st Saturday in June at Felton Hall, Scotts Valley’s Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, and caroling at Boulder Creek’s holiday festivities. Their youngest member is 14 nd their oldest is 92. “We love helping ensure that young people get exposed to music and singing in our schools,” so membership dues go towards funding scholarships for local high school music students, helping local school music departments pay for sheet music, hire accompanists, and organize field trips, among other things.

The chorus also presents a popular fall show. Since 2013, “Our fall shows are themed productions held in November each year. This year we’re proud to present an evening of Irish songs, including some exciting new music.” Director Johnson says, “We’ll be singing The Parting Glass, Molly Malone, Wild Irish Rose, and other favorites as well as pieces you may never have heard. We’re even singing a song from The Pogues!” There will be humor, and some special surprise guests like Boulder Creek Irish group, The Crooked Road Céilí Band, joining the magic at the evening show. At the end of the night, everyone is invited to join in singing.

The fall show, Songs of Ireland, is on November 5, 2016 at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm at the Mid-County Senior Center 829 Bay Avenue, Capitola, CA 95010! Tickets for the 2:00 matinee are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. The 7:00 show with The Crooked Road Céilí Band is $18 at the door.

Tickets and more information: www.scbarbershop.org/

On Facebook: www.facebook.com/GSCSantaCruz/

The Gold Standard Chorus welcomes visitors to their rehearsals to listen or to sing. They meet every Wednesday from 7:00 – 9:30 pm at Georgina Bruce Kirby Preparatory School, 425 Encinal Street, Santa Cruz. Call or email Bob Folker for more information: bobfolker@gmail.com | (831) 297-3246 Associate Music Director, Dale Summer, calls barbershop singing an athletic endeavor. “Singing is good for you mentally, emotionally, physically – and singing in harmony with other people is amazingly good for you. It exposes participants, especially young people, to spatial reasoning, and you learn how to breathe and stand better, stay in motion, not be static.”

“Almost all barbershoppers will tell you, they never stop…they’ll be doing this ‘till the day they die.” Director Johnson is sure that “barbershop would stop the wars.”

choir_poster

The Gold Standard Barbershop Chorus of Santa Cruz in concert with The Crooked Road Ceili Band Saturday, November 5 2016 at 7:00 pm.

This article was originally published by Julie Horner in the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin, Boulder Creek, CA.

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.

SMC_3009_plane_landing.jpg

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

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 garden plot I’d purchased in support. 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

#slvpost

http://slvpost.com/

Positively Sundrenched and 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.

sol_fest1.jpg

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

Copyright 2016 Julie Horner

www.slvpost.com

#slvpost

A Sea of Shoulder-High Grasses ~ The Music and Imagining of Laurel Thomsen and Dan Frechette

By Julie Horner

Bending and swaying in unison like tawny tassels of tall grass rippling in a late summer breeze, singer/song writer, Dan Frechette and violinist, Laurel Thomsen, boots and bare feet on the simple Corralitos Open Farm Tour stage, sang to an intimate throng of young families and barnyard dwellers in early October. A chorus of baby goats and a Biblical sized sheep provided unexpectedly hilarious accompaniment while a gaggle of youngsters commandeering four-legged accomplices on tethers ran in capricious circles. Right on schedule, a tractor made the rounds, pulling visitors beaming and bumping on hay bales on tours of the grounds.

The Crooked Road Ceili Band had just wrapped up the morning’s music and we had time to grab lunch from one of the local vendors at this annual farm event held at the Agriculture Museum at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds and enjoy Dan and Laurel’s fresh roots-folk. It was our first time. We sat on the edge of the stage enthralled by perfect harmonies and enchanting lyrics, watching children and baby animals frolic, swept into an easy, rhythmic daydream.

I’d actually just spent an afternoon the week prior chatting with Dan and Laurel over coffee at White Raven. Strangers at the time, serendipity put us together on that farm tour stage a few days later and presented the opportunity to appreciate the music first hand, the words of the artist interview manifested in live performance. And a new friendship was kindled.

During our interview Dan had said, “On stage, you can feel the audience like a collective wave.”  He loves intimate venues where he can see individual faces. “You need them to help you make the show…it’s not just about us.” Music is the real connector. “People come up after your show to say that they had a really personal experience from the song you wrote. And you share the moment when you’re teary eyed, your hearts connect. You can’t just get there any day, it’s a very special experience.”

A prolific and passionate songwriter influenced by many diverse genres, Dan points out that “you want it to make sense, you want to make people excited to hear you…there has to be an occasion for people to come see you. We get really happy when people ask us to play. Better to play when it makes sense to play.”

When writing songs, Dan says, you have to “turn off the more critical side and be in the more flowy side. Step outside of the song and see it for what it is…it’s good to have written the song for the outlet…for validating your life force…at the end of the day it’s gotta be fun.”

Classically trained and sharing a unique chemistry together, Laurel’s violin and voice swirl in tandem with Dan’s vocals and guitar, and as one reviewer put it, “Their energy, winsome personalities, and toe tapping rhythms, keep audiences engaged with every song.” Laurel says, “The music I’m excited about sharing is that which I’m most passionate about. And you can really be carried along by the people, the music lovers’ reaction.”

Dan is a force. Apparent on stage and as an avid audience member himself, he enthused about a recent show he attended, “I remember clapping my hands to the beat so hard I almost broke them.” With his engaging energy and gift for bringing people together, he told me, “I asked to play at lille aeske…that’s how it starts with me for a lot of things.” The duo played in October as part of the downtown Boulder Creek art house collective’s Performance Series. Laurel says, “It’s really cool to be able to play an intimate concert close to home.” When not on tour, Dan plays Casa Nostra on occasional Wednesday evenings as well.

Dan, a native of Winnipeg, Canada, and Laurel, a Monterey, CA native, are a real-life couple now living in Bonny Doon “for community,” Dan says. They’ve recorded two CDs at Justin Meyer’s Bear Creek Studios nearby. “Justin’s wonderful, the facilitates, the music, being there. There’s no negative vibes left behind from the previous recording artists. There’s a connection.”

“The new album is called ‘Between The Rain’ and we recorded it starting in December at Justin’s and just sent it out for production a few weeks ago. This album is our best one yet, and is our most collaborative.” Dan and Laurel are throwing two CD release parties for their latest effort: April 27 at Don Quixote’s and April 28 at Bon Ton’s Lighthouse Smokehouse in Monterey.

As for small town mountain living, Dan said, “I heard about Sugar by the Pound…I’m just thrilled that there’s old time music right up the street from me. We’re both so excited to watch the little sparks fly with new community and just having fun with new people.”

The couple agrees: “The music is an adventure. It’s best having no expectations…only trying to be prepared for magic. The focus is more on the really awesome times…this is our journey. You have to have a genuine path…the people who are there really want to be there…”

On the Web: www.danandlaurel.ca/Home.html

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

Julie Horner is an Irish folk musician and writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. #slvpost | http://www.slvpost.com
Email: leap2three@gmail.com
Santa Cruz Mountains Local on the Web: http://santacruzmountainslocal.com/
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/santacruzmountainslocal

Dan&Laurel282