Strawberry Music Festival

by Kathy Kallick

September 18, 2014

Here in the reflective afterglow of Strawberry 2014, I feel so lucky and grateful to have been part of it all this year. It was a glorious festival, and we just made it through the weekend before the smoke from nearby fires encroached and made everybody relive the sad story of last year's Fall Strawberry.

There were so many happy/sad moments and memories, as there are with any kind of recurring event, which takes on a kind of reunion feel, whether intentionally or not.

For me, the fact that this "new" Strawberry was held in the Nevada County Fairgrounds lent a rather dreamlike quality, as it rolled the two major festivals in California into one. In that way I dream about real events, and people the dreams with people who've passed away or weren't born yet or are doing something they'd never do, but enjoying the heck out of it -- that surreal way things happen in dreams.

So, there was the spectacular Hot Rize set, and I was happy beyond my own belief to see and hear those guys. I was thrown back to sitting in the front row watching Hot Rize with the rest of the Good Ol' Persons in the mid-80s. We all wore vintage ties, and sat on the ground laughing, and being moved to tears with their wonderful music and show. The current Hot Rize has all that power and zing, and I miss Charles, and I love Bryan, and it's all ok. And the Praying Mantis?!?!?! Yeah, Pete said they didn't know what to expect when they paid the union $75 for an animal sidekick, but they thought that guy tried to steal the show.

Some people were saying they thought that Praying Mantis was the spirit of Sarah Elizabeth Campbell. I don't know, it definitely had her hilarity — and sense of timing. Sarah Elizabeth was everywhere throughout that festival. She must have come along with her dear friend Marcia Ball, and grooved to that killer bluesy, kickass set.

I loved the big shout out to my home town Oakland. Tower of Power tore the house down, and my bluegrass cohorts loved it. I was delighted to see all the fine music from Oakland. I felt the incredible diversity of our city was displayed by the variety of the huge show from Tower Of Power, plus The T Sisters, American Nomad, California Honeydrops, and, well, the Kathy Kallick Band!

It was lovely to reconnect with some old friends, folks I haven't had a chance to sit and talk with for many years. I had a sweet time talking with Jerry Douglas, who was so plain and up close I kinda forgot he's a HUGE star with many rays emanating throughout the big sky and lighting up so many parts of the musical universe. We just laughed — he loves to laugh — and recalled some funny other times, and talked about our kids, current musical projects, and reconnected. Nice.

And we loved talking with Jon Sievert, the fabulous photographer who's interviewed and photographed too many illustrious folks to ever count, but retains every bit of the wonder and enthusiasm of a first timer. He loves the music, and the people, and the amusing anecdotes, and his laughter and delight are totally infectious. Can't wait to see all his pics from the weekend.

The KKB had a fine time indeed. Our sets were fun, the playing felt easy, the singing felt from the heart, the conversation between us was flowing, and we found new things to say. I loved singing Precious Memories in the Revival show, and letting all the memories of that site wash over me. I couldn't ask for more, really, but there was more anyway. We had a true Strawberry moment when Joe Craven joined us and brought an entirely new, perfect, fitting quality to our new song Tryin' So hard To Get To You. Thanks for that!

As a little side note, while I was standing and talking with an old friend Sunday evening, she began to appear to be under stress, and soon was saying she was in extreme pain from something like a pinched nerve. It was unclear, came on quickly, and was very alarming. Looking around I saw Dulcie who had been supervising CD sales all weekend. I told her about my friend, she quickly communicated with the medical team, and my friend was assessed and taken to the ER in Grass Valley within a very short time. The Strawberry medical crew was efficient, warm and friendly, and mostly, effective as all get out. I was so impressed and grateful.

Charlie, Max, Luke, Jody, Larry, all the amazing folks who worked so hard to make this festival happen, I hope you had some fun, and felt the love and gratitude. The Strawberry Festival is a community, a family, a huge force for good in the world. Wherever and whenever Strawberrians gather, it will happen!