With the Wind at His Back – Yeshe Jackson Art

By Julie Horner

A great rigged ship plowed through outer space, floating along in full sail aided by rocket thrusters. An astronaut tripped slowly down the plank into the vast starry vacuum while a great white shark and all the pirates looked on, big glass bubbles around their heads (the shark’s bubble was full of sea water, of course). “Everything was ridiculous but rendered with very precise detail…painstaking.” Space Pirates, the gigantic 4’x5’ original painting by Boulder Creek artist, Yeshe Jackson, hangs at Gilded Lily on Mission Street in Santa Cruz.

The SLV native met me at the Boulder Creek Brewery Outpost one sunny spring afternoon for a bit of refreshment and to chat about his art – now a full time occupation – his bread and butter. “Imagine an endless chasm and envision stepping over the edge with trust. Each month gets better,” he says.

Yeshe took his first art class at SLVHS during his junior year. It was an end-of-semester acrylic paint project that became the life-changing experience. When it was time to declare a major at Humbolt State, he said, “Art was the one thing that came to mind that I was good at and that I enjoyed.” And he didn’t do math. “Not that I couldn’t do it, I just didn’t want to do it. Art is real, a valid major…I went for it.”

And after graduation did the whole starving artist thing while trying to find his artistic niche, working in construction and taking what seemed like a pretty cool opportunity as an apprentice tattoo artist at the Gilded Lily in Felton. But tattoos didn’t work out. “I got zero clients, I was starving. Clients had been coming in for free tattoos but that dried up.

During long afternoons with no one to ink, he hand-painted “flash” designs (mockup tattoos in watercolor).  “A lightbulb went off. If I’m not doing tattoos, why not work on my art?” Canvases were on sale “so I bought two” and he started painting landscapes from a few photos that local landscape photographer, Neil Simmons, had let him have.” Someone came into the shop, saw the work, and asked if it was for sale. He sold the piece for a couple hundred bucks.

Now he paints prolifically from his home studio – “taking out all the crutches from under and digging a little deeper” – capturing the movement of life in his own interpretations of local landscapes, underwater creatures, swirling sea and breaking surf.

Recently momentum is off the hook for Yeshe’s “Pint and Paint” events, which he started almost a year ago at New Bohemia Brewing in Capitola. Nubo hosts twice a month and the events always sell out. He’s started a series at Boulder Creek’s lille aeske, Ben Lomond’s Casa Nostra, and other venues public and private.

“I’m still getting my feet wet, willing to try a bunch of different venues. These events help crack the shell on some people who haven’t painted in a long time or maybe never in their life. And having a pint or two is not a bad thing to do, helps people loosen up.”

$45 gets you free beer, a 16×20 canvas, brushes and paint, he provides all the materials. “You just show up and get to take home a painting.” It’s a great way to meet people and network. “Too many people spend too much of their time mind-numbing in front of the TV,” he says. “It’s so much more fulfilling to spend an evening creating something – we all have so much more potential than we realize. If you’re reading a book, painting a picture, sculpting – anything – there’s something about that that’s so much more satisfying.”

The success of Pint and Paint is a testament to the locals. “People want to support you, no matter what it is, like the wind at your back.” And there’s no better life than doing what he loves to do.  “I couldn’t fathom or even stomach the idea of not being an artist. When I think about art I think about possibilities for the future, and I have to be thankful – it feels pretty amazing.”

On the Web: squareup.com/store/yeshe-jackson-art

On Facebook: www.facebook.com/yeshepaints

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
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/santacruzmountainslocal

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Olde Blue – Roots in Windy City Blues

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By Julie Horner

Dashing out of a drenching downpour into the warmth of the Felton Community Hall on a late November morning, I was eager to mingle with local crafters and listen to area musicians who had come together to support the Santa Cruz Mountains Holiday Makers Market. One of the scheduled bands was Olde Blue, a name that has been the local buzz all summer.

Morgan Monticue was the first to arrive, lookin’ sharp all creases and cuffs with slicked-back hair and standup bass, eager and unfazed by the wet weather. The other band members, Marcus Thayer (drums) and Yeshe Jackson (vocals, guitar), set up their rigs in a flash of tattoos and ties, and right on time with a tip of a hat commenced to righteously rock the scene.

Olde Blue started out as a cool duo with a Chicago blues attitude: Marcus’ fat snare and hi-hat adding kickin’ groove to Yeshe’s growling original vocals and guitar-driven electric blues licks, evoking an indigenous urban West Side sound, Muddy Waters meets Howlin’ Wolf. Both guys had years of experience playing with other projects, so when they decided to launch Olde Blue, it was a natural fit. Marcus already had the chops, Yeshe could count off a shuffle beat and Marcus “would just go,” the two of them reading each other’s body language intuitively.

They already had a spate of high-energy gigs, slick YouTube videos, and a CD under their belts when their future third band member threw his hat in the ring. While playing the Boulder Creek Harvest Festival, Yeshe said that Morgan was standing front and center, “You could see it, his fingers twitching.” After they’d finished their set, Morgan invited the guys to open up for his band at Joe’s Bar. Yeshe swears Morgan had it all planned out as part of an evil scheme. Halfway through their first set Morgan asked to sit in with his standup bass, and sure enough it was like a hand in a glove; the trio had the place jumpin’ to a rolling boil.

Looking natty in white button-ups and black ties, they’re packing venues from Santa Cruz and Pacifica to Napa and beyond, performing up-tempo classic blues songs from the legends of the genre, as well as original material inspired by them. While oozing with vintage charm, the music is not “go-to-sleep blues,” as Yeshe puts it. He seems still surprised by the realization that Olde Blue is not just “back-of-the-café background music” but that the band can entertain a “big ol’ club packed full of people” gettin’ down to highly infectious dancin’ blues, a little pop, and good old American roots music.

The guys are having heavy fun figuring out their musical options, working hard writing new songs and wandering off into all kinds of solos on stage with the leeway that having three accomplished musicians affords. Olde Blue’s music and manner harken to a bygone era, when gents held the door for ladies, and people lived by finer standards. Yeshe said he’s learned that live music is a visual experience – anyone can listen to an iPod – but people who come to a show want to connect with the music differently and Olde Blue aims to look and sound the part. Yeshe told me that at a recent performance, the maid behind the bar said, “You’re the band, huh? I can tell because of your hats.”

On the Web: http://www.reverbnation.com/oldeblue

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oldeblueband

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(c) 2014 Julia Horner

Julie Horner is an Irish-American folk musician and writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California.