The Petaluma Music Festival, reminded me of a mini-Bonaroo, for people my age; those who would rather sip fine wine than pass Dixie cups filled with liquids of unknown origin, or eat artisan cheeses versus ganja brownies or meander through fields of grass rather than plots of manure and muck. This is not to say that the festival is a ‘high falutin’ affair; there was not a single note of pretention in the air, as people came together for one very specific reason and united in a common goal; to keep music in the schools.
Did you ever take music lessons in school? Many of us have and school life would not have been the same without band practice or chorus; piano lessons or voice. Aside from the added camaraderie, that every student seeks, here’s some food for thought, about music in schools:
1) The arts are one of the six subject areas in which the College Board recognizes as essential in order to thrive in college, this according to a report by The College Board, New York.
2) Students taking courses in music performance and music appreciation scored higher in the SAT than students with no arts participation. Music performance students scored 53 points higher on the verbal and 39 points higher on the math.
3) Music appreciation students scored 61 points higher on the verbal and 42 points higher on the math.
4) Lewis Thomas, physician and biologist, found that music majors comprise the highest percentage of accepted medical students at 66%.
5) The University of Montreal researched brain imaging techniques to study brain activity during musical tasks. Researchers concluded that sight-reading musical scores and playing music “activate regions in all four of the cortex’s lobes” and “parts of the cerebellum are also activated during those tasks.”
Research goes on to show that music, not only has a positive impact on practically every aspect of academic school life, but also helps kids stay out of gangs, master their emotions and create a more positive future for themselves. However, over the past five years, no matter how many Lotto games are thrust upon society or how many taxes are levied, reports show that kids with access to music in the schools has declined by an alarming 50%. I am reminded of the oft quoted saying by American Anthropologist Margaret Meade; “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
On Saturday, August 4th, such a group came together, with the simple goal of “keeping music in the schools”, and in the process perhaps changing the world in which we live. That group was made up of all sorts of amazing people, from various disciplines and persuasions; musicians, sommeliers, radio folk, crafters and artisans, local and national business leaders. Together, they created a 501(c) 3non-profit organization and from this the fantastic Petaluma Music Festival; an event in which all the proceeds are distributed among Petaluma’s elementary and secondary schools music programs. This is the fifth year of the event, but last year, over $30,000 was divvied up between five local schools. It’s a winning proposition for all, especially us, the attendees.
The admission price, ranged from $25.00 (early bird) to $75.00 (VIP), with student, general admission and sponsorship tickets available. No matter what ticket price you landed on, it was worth every penny; not just because of the charitable aspect, but because of the high quality sponsorship, across the board.
Local brewer, Lagunitas Brewing Company, provided the suds in their trademark fashion; uncompromising, unique and one-of-a-kind. Lagunitas, a premier, Petaluma based micro brewer, well known for an array of signature beers including their Dogtown Pale Ale and Imperial Stout, creates concoctions from goat’s milk, brambles, hops, hops and more hops! Even though many of their brews are regarded as ‘having met the elephant‘, they provided an array of beverages, to delight the most discerning–(or in my case, amateur) of tastes.
From 1p.m.-5p.m., wine and food parings were happening; and considering the area we are in-(Petaluma, Napa, Sonoma) one was not to be disappointed in the selections. For ten bucks, you could get 5 tastes of the best grapes with attitude, the valley has to offer, and a cool Petaluma Music Festival wine glass. There were so many great wines available, (too many to mention), but I made some fun discoveries and picked up cards for complimentary wine tastings for two from Cline Cellars and Russian River Vineyards.
As for the music, there were three stages, with 17 amazing musicians, who kept the crowd on their feet, singing, dancing and loving every minute of it. Six man country band, Truth & Salvage Company rocked the house. These guys have recently moved from LA to Nashville, which in my humble opinion has been a wonderful thing for their sound, focus and direction. A mixture of good ole boy charm, foot stomping fun and a cohesive musical mastery, T&S Co. are impressive, entertaining and downright outstanding. Every member performed optimally, with spot on harmonies, interaction with the crowd and great fun. This is a band that recognizes the talented musicians in their ensemble and allows each of them to step to the front and do a little solo crowd entertaining themselves; showcasing their individual contributions. They looked like they were having a great time which made our experience even that much more enjoyable. They also created a really cool download card, for five bucks, with new music; Salvage Songs. Among their other unique merchandise; a vinyl! Can we say class act from start to finish!
Funk meets jam meets disco. All I can honestly say, is we loved The Pimps of Joytime, and it seemed that the other 500+ bodies shimmying, boogying and getting jiggy with it, would agree. This Brooklyn based quintet, served up good vibes and even better soul on the main Festival Stage. As one of the uninitiated, I didn’t know what to expect from this band; but with the fashionable, sultry and mega-talented Cole Williams adding percussion and female funk, as well as being featured in our upcoming art book, I had to check them out.
Lesson 1: Your arms and legs will suddenly develop a mind of their own and you will dance your ass off.
Lesson 2: You will find yourself chanting, The Pimps of Joytime, long after the show ends, and you are crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.
Lesson 3: You will immediately dig up their social media pages and find their tour schedule-so you can start at #1 again.
The Pimps are the real deal; infectious and compelling; gathering fans, creating great music and embodying what the indie spirit is about. Indie is not a genre; it is about hard work and creating something amazing to share with the world. The Pimps of Joytime, deliver in double doses, Brooklyn style.
Headlining the event was Singer/Songwriter Jackie Greene. I urge you to stop reading this post now and immediately purchase his current album, Giving Up The Ghost, by clicking HERE. You will thank me later. My copy has been on repeat and if there is a bad track, I can’t find it. This local boy, a smoldering cross between a young Dave Navarro with a sprinkling of Johnny Depp and the songwriting sensibilities of Leonard Cohen, laid down a deep blues, roots sound that clearly earned him the moniker “The Prince of Americana” by the New York Times. With accolades as long as my arm, including touring with the likes of Gov’t Mule, Taj Mahal, Buddy Guy and countless others; penning the song I Will Never Let Go—which was used in Brokeback Mountain, having songs on television programs and appearing on late night talk shows, we can add the fact that he is one helluva live performer, to the list. He captivated the audience with his foot-stomping, feel good set of rock n roots, his voice spilling into the perfect night air like silken honey from the hive.
The Krush, the wine country’s roots-oriented AAA(Album Adult Alternative) station, finding its home at 95.9 on the FM dial, was the radio in residence and a major promoter of the event. Spinning the prize wheel, broadcasting live and playing host to the main Festival stage, they owned their tagline of “The KRUSH Cares About Its Community.”
My only regret about this whole event was that I didn’t arrive when the gates opened. There was so much great music, food, wine and festivities, that I ran out of time to enjoy them all. We’ve already devised our remedy. Next year, we will be arriving the night before.
Vixen of Vocabulary who likes to wax poetic about the world of street art, music,busking and all things indie. She has earned two college degrees, traveled extensively and written three books. She is currently finishing the multi-media project, The Noise Beneath the Apple Art-Style Book, to be released in NYC, Spring 2013.