Thursday, August 2, 2012

August, “That Solemn Light … and You and I”

August, “That Solemn Light … and You and I”

The solemn light behind the barns, 
  The rising moon, the cricket's call,
The August night, and you and I— 
  What is the meaning of it all! …

It is enough—that solemn light 
  Behind the barns, and you and I.

(August Moonlight, by poet Richard Le Gallienne)

July was filled with music, poetry, and reunions with old friends. The Camp Meeker Players Reunion at Occidental Center for the Arts was a huge success. Carol Burleson beautifully reprised her vocal performances from Bertolt Brecht’s play, Caucasian Chalk Circle. Dave wrote the musical score for this show. Here’s a link to The Song of the Adoption, a melody that Dave later borrowed for his song Bird of Paradise. It’s included in his book Voyages to Ancestral Islands.

Carol spoke for all of us when she aid, “My heart is overflowing with gratitude! Can we even imagine how many hours the committee worked to bring it off? … I am so grateful to those who opened their homes… who cooked for us … the lighting and sound crew and backstage life-savers … the historians who collected and shared the memorabilia … the photographers … the decorators and name-tag distributors, table-watchers, last-minute helpers! Thanks also to the dear spouses who allow us to treasure old fondnesses.”
(Also see our previous blog item of July 23, A Celebration of Brecht’s Three Penny Opera at Occidental Center for the Arts and click on Pirate Jenny to hear Chappell’s fierce performance of this classic song in the show.)

In the second set of the show, we put together a band with Dave on piano/vocals, Chappell on autoharp/guitar/vocals, Carol on backup vocals, Mitch Greenhill on guitar/vocals, John Roy Zat on violin, and Michael Nehm on bass. For the reunion crowd, we rocked and swayed with songs we performed in the 70s, mostly featured by the band from that era, Frontier. We also added a couple of new ones to show we were still kicking.

Mayne Smith, original member of the Frontier band who could not attend the Player’s Reunion wrote about it on the Players Facebook site: “how deeply impressed I am with the recorded evidence of this event. It appears that a whole community reconstituted and celebrated itself in a glorious manner, and there must have been numerous acts of generosity and heroism to make it happen. Art for community's sake, and community for art's sake!!  This is how life should be lived, at least in between the hard and nasty jobs of cleaning up messes, raising kids, and providing the necessities for sheer survival.”

“Art for community’s sake” is a cause close to Mayne’s heart. He was one of the Freight and Salvage team who helped move the famous coffeehouse (open since 1968) from its old furniture storefront on San Pablo Avenue into their new facility at 2020 Addison Street, in the Downtown Berkeley Arts District.

Sandwiched into all the show rehearsals was a reunion in Sebastopol with old friend Nina Gerber and her dog Toots.

Dave’s friend from Toronto, Uldis Fogels, flew into town for the Camp Meeker Players Reunion. Uldis played bass in Dave’s first folk-rock band “Pemmican” that came to California in the 1970s. He and songwriter/ fiddler John Roy Zat revived some of their repertoire from the old Sonoma County band days together with Dorcas Moulton on accordion. They entertained the visiting players at the afternoon potluck and social gathering.

We are returning to Coffee Catz in August where we have frequently played in the past, one memorable time in a joint performance with John Roy Zat. This popular local Sebastopol hangout has a beautiful baby grand piano lit by a chandelier hanging above. We asked the owners Keli and Debbie if we could use it for a photo shoot. Not only did they agree but they enthusiastically want us back for a CD release party in the fall. The picture taking that day is for our upcoming new album. Come out and share in the fun on Sunday afternoon, August 26!

Yes, Chappell and Dave Holt are laying down tracks for the new album, “Stone and Fire,” engineered by Gordon Grotts of G-Cubed Studios in Modesto. He and his wife Sher are generously and graciously extending their hospitality while we work on the project in his basement studio.  Some of the original songs from our live show that will be featured are Bohemian Moon, The Yuba River Song, and, of course, the title song, Stone and Fire, with several more to come. We look forward to sharing music and poetry with you over the next months!

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