Tending Toward the Bluesy – Damdave and the Left-Hand Band

By Julie Horner

Looking out from the “fishbowl” at the Boulder Creek Brewery Outpost, 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 is front-man singer-songwriter and guitar player for the Boulder Creek-based Americana group, Damdave and the Left-Hand Band.


Asked how he got the name “Damdave,” he explained how he had arrived in Brookdale – some 20 or more years ago – and started a folk jam at the Brookdale Lodge. He was just up from Santa Monica. “I was working for a health club in LA – had short hair and looked straight – one of my supervisors said, ‘You know, Dave, you seem like someone who might enjoy the Santa Cruz area.’” So he moved up and found a 1906 cabin in the mountains within walking distance of the Lodge.

One night he put his kids in bed and went over to check it out. “I didn’t drink at the time,” but he wound up earning his PhD hanging out in the bar. He remembers one of the bartenders, “Jenny Gilbert – Penthouse pretty – the owner’s daughter.” At one point someone asked his name. When he said, “David,” someone else at 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 Tuesday night jam was the forerunner of the Brookdale Bluegrass Festival. Eric Burman came to Dave’s jams and they decided after a time, “’Hey this would be a great place for a festival’…and it took off.” March 2000 was first year of the festival, he recalls, and featured a precursor to a band called the Waybacks, Faux Renwah, and the late yodeling lady, Lolita. “She was a great yodeler – played at the Lodge in its heyday – give her a couple of drinks and “Oh, goddam!”

Now Dave’s 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.”

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 will entertain you with “a mix of dysfunctional bluegrass, country, blues, soul, and a healthy dose of Damdave originals.”

“I’m not bluegrass, I don’t want a bluegrass band,” he says. His sound is 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.”

Damdave and the Left-Hand Band play every Tuesday at the Boulder Creek Brewery Outpost and every few weeks at Casa Nostra in Ben Lomond. Watch for a GoFundMe campaign for Dave’s upcoming CD. Online: damdave.brookdalebluegrass.com | www.facebook.com/damdave.gillett

Copyright 2017 Julie Horner

Remembering Larry Hosford

By Christa Taylor

In 1974, I was gifted with a career that changed my life: The ability to play whatever music I wanted on a very cool and unusual radio station, KLRB, located in downtown Carmel. It was a magical time in my life, and the beginnings of a musical format that was later entitled, “Americana.”

As all new-to-the-job radio DJs were required to do at some time, I was on the air late one night and happened to be gazing at one of the most beautiful record album covers I’d ever seen, by a guy I’d heard lived somewhere in the area – Santa Cruz, I thought. It was by Larry Hosford and the album was called “AKA Lorenzo.” I was playing an especially sweet song from it that reached a special place in my heart, and when the song ended, I opened the mic and said, “Larry Hosford, wherever you are, I love you.” Then the phone rang. Guess who?

Larry invited me to meet him at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz the next day, and thus began a friendship that lasted many years. I was impressed by his talent and attended a great number of his shows, even became roommates with the bass player in his backup band at the time, Fly by Night. Those were fun days, filled with the best music and nightlife, in one of the best places in the nation to enjoy this lifestyle.

Some of my favorite memories took place post-concerts at the Catalyst, when Larry and a bunch of folks would go hang out at what was then the office of Yeah Productions, owned by our old friend, Bruce Mason, who has also left us. We would stay up way too late enjoying the late night ambience from the porch of the Dr.Miller Building where Larry and I loved to sing our favorite song to those on the street, “Your Sweet and Shiny Eyes,” by Bonnie Raitt. We’d change the lyrics to say, “Drinkin’ salty margaritas with Lorenzo” instead of “Fernando,” as the song actually goes. Sweet memories.

We had the opportunity last summer to reminisce about these days and the other good times we had over the years while at the Redwood Mountain Faire. Larry was able to play a bit on stage with his good friends, Ken Kraft, Bob O’Neill, and Harpin’ Johnny. Although Larry was in his wheelchair, he still made the music and the audience happy with his ever-present style. I was touched. I knew somehow that it would be my last visit with my old friend, Lorenzo. May you be raisin’ a ruckus in Heaven, Lo. Thank you for all the great music you gave this world…we will never forget you.

Legendary singer-songwriter and Salinas native, Larry Hosford, passed away Saturday, November 23, 2016 at the age of 73. A concert in Larry’s honor was held at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center on Sunday, January 22 at 2:00 pm. Christa Taylor is a retired KFAT DJ and music enthusiast who now lives in Aptos, CA.

Copyright 2017 Julie Horner

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

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/

Copyright 2016 Julie Horner for the San Lorenzo Valley Post.

Dreams Elemental – JnJ Dynamite


By Julie Horner

It was early for a summer Saturday, walking the few short blocks to downtown in the promising warmth to check out the annual Boulder Creek Harvest Festival. Several local bands were scheduled to play throughout the day, and it was there in the cooler shadows of the morning where I first heard JnJ Dynamite quietly smoldering.

In that moment it all changed. It was as though I’d entered a dreamy, post narcotic state, like I’d stepped into the otherworld of a David Lynch movie. Her voice! And there was something mysterious about the music. It made me think about things. The layers of accompaniment nuanced and peeled back to reveal that stark, haunted vocal. Ripples of teenage nostalgia, joy riding and lazy summer days with nothing to do but hang out on the pier or ride the roller coaster over and over again. Classic cult of small town suburban America, settings both surreal and familiar; pieced together memories of youth and yearning and how to fill meandering time.

I bought the CD.

JnJ Dynamite is a semi-acoustic alt-folk trio based in the Santa Cruz Mountains. With a unique “lo-fi folk” sound, the band composes songs that are powerful and pure, that get down and thrill your soul. Lyricist Julie Di Mauro seems to write from a waking dream, lucid notes on psychological love stories both ethereal and down-to-earth. Her molten vocals drift and in and out of provocative piano arrangements that burn with a hint of discord and a twist of irony. Twin brothers, Dustin and Joel Di Mauro on electric and acoustic guitar provide a canvas of rhythm and sweet melody, while their backing vocals contribute to a sound that is complex yet strikingly spare.

The brothers have played music for a long time together, a hobby which began while playing in their parents’ bands. Joel married Julie and the three family members began making music together in 2008.

Joel says, “When all three of us are connecting and the music gets tight, it’s a certain feeling, and I’m hoping that Julie and Dustin can feel it too.” Julie agrees. “We have fun when we play out. And as Joel mentioned, when we play well, it feels really good. I like to think that our music makes people feel good. It’s been said that our sound seems healing and soothing.”

“We always get a positive response from the listeners,” adds Dustin. “And it’s great because 90% of our music is original. I know how difficult it is to get people to like your music and get it out there. It’s a slow grind and sometimes you feel like you’re going backwards.” Joel agrees and says, “But if people walk away from our show a bit more happy, relaxed and feeling good, then we have succeeded.”

Joel says simply that they’ve learned to enjoy what is around them, to appreciate the people and things that they have in their lives. The music becomes a frame. “Julie writes and sings about all kinds of different things, love, loss, being happy, enjoying your surroundings…maybe opening up to beauty that was never realized.”

The band is looking forward to getting back into the studio to record a second album. “We have a bunch of new songs we are working on. Sometimes the songs take a while to finish but it is always worth it.”

And of living the dream, Joel says the band wants to continue playing shows locally but also further away, “I think road tripping to shows is fun.” Julie has the same idea. “I’d like to get out and see more live music, to support the arts and our community,” and spend some time working on and sharing her jewelry. “And then I would like to plan a mini tour for JnJ, a few stops on the Northern California coast.” Destinations yet untold but well worth road-trippin’ to.

Experience JnJ Dynamite at lille aeske on Friday, March 25 2016. 13160 Central Ave (Hwy 9) Boulder Creek, CA. 95006. For more information, check out the Facebook Event.

On the Web: http://www.jnjdynamite.com/

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


(c) Julie Horner 2015

Julie Horner is an Irish folk musician and writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. Email: leap2three@gmail.com / leap2three.com

lille aesk downtown Boulder Creek