Between the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper, of Monterey Pop and of the Summer of Love, Sixties nostalgia is going full force, especially among boomers. As I was preparing for another flashback last week, I got a message from Marvin Samuels, a retired "relaxation specialist” from Blue Lake, saying, “Hey there Bob, Blue Lake's 50th Annual Annie & Mary Day celebration will be happening on Sunday, July 9. We’d greatly appreciate if we could use your ability to get the word out.” (Words I can supply. “Ability”? Maybe.)
Marvin is on the board of the Blue Lake Chamber of Commerce which, he tells me, “sponsors the entire all day event.” He’s job is public relations man so I peppered him with questions like, what is Annie & Mary Day anyway?
“Annie & Mary Day is a celebration of the historic Arcata Mad River Rail Line and supposedly was named after Annie Carroll and Mary Buckley, two bookkeepers who were employed by the railroad around the year 1907,” he said. The rail line, which operated from 1854 until 1985, mostly hauled timber here and there.
Thinking nostalgically, I wondered, what exactly did they do for Annie & Mary Days back in 1967? “Probably dropped acid — no I'm kidding,” replied Marvin facetiously, adding, “I don't know.”
I thought I might root around in the microfiche in HSU’s Humboldt Room and get a contemporaneous account, but I didn’t have to. Marvin hooked me up with Muriel Morrison at the Blue Lake Museum and she’d come across a scrapbook assembled by Eleanor Swanson, Marvin’s counterpart from the ’67 publicity committee, chock full of clippings, pretty much everything written in the papers about the event, plus sundry notes. [Side note and a correction, in an earlier version of this piece I described Ms. Swanson as "the late" Eleanor. The Blue Lake Museum people pointed out that she is very much "alive and kicking." I sincerely apologize for the stupid error on my part. I should not have jumped to a conclusion that assumed she is not with us. I can only hope Eleanor may forgive me some day.]
In his column,”Redwood Country,” historian Andrew Genzoli detailed the happenings: They had a little league baseball tournament and rides on the Arcata & Mad River Railroad from Blue Lake to Korbel...
and the apparent highlight, a deep-pit barbecue
with approximately 750 lbs. of beef and a couple of side dishes: 100 lbs. of baked beans and a mess of mac salad.
Andrew reported that BBQ chef Wayne Carey was assisted by a crew from the VFW. Women handled the sides, Mrs. Bernard Conti from the Grange was chairman of the bean baking committee and Mrs. John LaTorra directed the fire department ladies auxiliary, the Blazetes, making the macaroni salad.
Mr. Genzoli claimed, “Blue Lake has a secret formula for the [mac salad] which is shielded from interception with all the precautions protecting an atomic formula,” but that was hyperbole, either that or the Blazetes missed the secrecy memo, since the scrapbook includes a detailed recipe for their mac salad. It required 74 lbs. of macaroni, 56 dozen eggs, 10 gallons of mayo, 53 pounds of celery among other things.
As far as I can tell, the feast, riding the timber train and ball game were it for the 1967 event, no parade, no dancing, or other things you’d expect in Blue Lake, the freewheeling self-proclaimed “Center of the Universe.”
What does the Blue Lake Chamber have planned this time?
Marvin told me, “The fun-filled day begins with a pancake breakfast at the Blue Lake Grange at 9 a.m. There’s a bike race [starting] at the Mad River Hatchery at 10 a.m., a parade including music, quirky floats, old cars, horses etc. begins at Mad River Brewery at 10:30."
"Action continues at Perigot Park from noon until 5:30 p.m. with the Humboldt Folklife Society presenting the music. This year's bands are The Timber Ridge Boys, The Buckin' String Band, No Pardon (also playing Friday at Humboldt Brews), Gatehouse Well and The Detours. There will be crafts vendors, a car show [Show ’n’ Shine style], pony rides, a petting zoo, a bocce ball tournament, raffle prizes and more,” much more than in '67.
There’s no deep pit BBQ, but Blue Lake's Blackberry Bramble will cook up some tri-tip (and something for vegetarians) along with appropriate sides. (Mac salad? Maybe.) They’ll have adult beverages including Mad River Brewery microbrews, wine and hard stuff from Blue Lake’s Jewell Distillery.
Marvin added, “Plus the Blue Lake Museum (which is really great) will be open in the afternoon. Mad River Brewery will have Lizzie and the Moonbeams performing late afternoon into evening. And of course there's always the Logger Bar,” where you can end the day with more adult beverages. Sounds like big fun in sunny Blue Lake.
“Let the folk be with you.”
As noted, the Humboldt Folklife Society is in charge of the music Sunday. It’s just one of the things going on this week as Dell’Arte’s Mad River Festival makes way for the 39th Annual Humboldt Folklife Festival in the Folkers' ongoing effort “to support and celebrate local music and dance through festivals, dances and workshops.”
They begin at Mad River Brewery Saturday night (July 8) with the Folklife Festival Kick-Off with music by The Detours (that’s right, two days in a row with Blue Lake’s red hot and cool country ’n' western band), plus Thursday Night Bluegrass (I guess they don’t always play the same night) and the kick-ass trio Kingfoot (check out the the vid Chad Johnson shot at a recent Farmers Market). Bonuses: no admission, and for every pint you buy, $1 goes to the Folklife Festival.
The day after Sunday’s A&M Day, you can stay in Blue Lake Monday as the Folk Fest has Jazz Night at Dell’Arte’s Carlo Theatre (showtime 7:30 p.m.). Bands du jour? The Low Notes with Doug Mortenson on guitar, Dave Ryan on keys, Rick DeVol on bass and Doug Kamprath on drums, playing what they describe as “unique interpretations of jazz standards and original compositions.”
The nameless BluntSide Quintet are allegedly “travelers from a distant world brought here only by the possibility of discovering the cure for [their] planet’s misery in Earth’s intense jazz vibrations,” since those on BluntSide don’t dance. Then there’s Francis Vanek and The RLa Trio (formerly known as The RLA Trio until Bobby Amirkhanian left to play Vegas and cruise ships). RLa is the versatile Tim Randles on piano, Mike LaBolle on drums and master luthier Ken Lawrence on bass, with special guest Francis, a fine sax man who used to be a Humbolter, but now calls Mendocino home.
That brings us to Tuesday’s Songwriters Night at the Folklife Fest. Jan Bramlett takes a break from Joni’s songs to act as host and sing some of her own. The other songwriters include Leah Grams Johnson, who graduated from Berklee College of Music before moving to Nashville (songwriters central).
Arcata native Ryan Bisio somehow merges his love for basketball with his songwriting — he’s writing a book titled, The Musicality of the Game, so you might hear some sports songs. Scott William Perry is described as “a tall drink of water in a cowboy hat,” which I hope is not a heightist remark. Last but not least you have Rachel Beccari, who grew up in Freshwater, now lives in Fortuna, and is working on her first album, Songbird. There’s also an after party at the Logger Bar featuring songwriter/Deadhead Jeff Kelley.
Next up, next Wednesday (July 12), the Folkfest has “Music Under the Stars!” out back in Dell’Arte’s Rooney Amphitheater with Huckleberry Flint lighting up the night with shimmering music, western swing veterans Kenny Ray and the Mighty Rovers, and Americana quintet Rogues' Gallery (also playing Friday at HumBrews with No Pardon). I’d recommend advance tickets for this show since Huck and co. are so busy with Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate they don’t play out much. (On a side note, weren’t you relieved when that big fire narrowly missed their factory?)
Not enough to get you out to Blue Lake on a Wednesday? The music continues at The Logger Bar with the Joanne Rand Trio with Piet Dalmolen and Tim Randles. Wow.
More Folklife coming
The Folklife Fest rolls on next week with more music out back Thursday (July 13) with “Bluegrass and Beyond,” with the bluegrass supplied by Compost Mountain Boys and Clean Livin’, and fiddler Jenny Scheinman taking us somewhere beyond. More on this show next week, but be forewarned, this is another possible sell-out due to the Jenny factor.
There’s also the traditional Barn Dance with Striped Pig String Band and caller Lyndsey Battle next Friday at the Arcata Vet’s Hall, and of course the all-you-can-eat All Day Free Fest next Saturday with everyone and your cousin. Again, more on those next week. Folk on.
Got an email from one Jamie Bondage: “Just wanted to send out a little press release for our upcoming Rag Doll Revue show at HumBrews in Arcata on Saturday, July 8. Rag Doll Revue presents Doll-Con: a pop culture themed burlesque/geek-lesque show featuring burlesque, belly dancing, comedy and other performances based on favorite characters from movies, video games, TV and comic books.”
The Rag Dolls are Jessica Pow, Lulu Fatale, Stevie Di’Luxe, Maddie Zass and Mama T with Jamie Bondage serving as emcee. Special guests include Jezza Belladonna and Tequil'ya Fancy from Va Va Voom and bellydancer Megz Madrone. The CropDusters (a band made entirely of past and present Mad River Brewing Company employees) provide the musical soundtrack. Doors at 9:30 p.m. Showtime at 10. There’s also an audience Cosplay Costume Contest so dress for the occasion.
Words in Space
Wednesday, (as in tonight, July 5), at Outer Space, it’s an evening of spoken word with Morgan Eldridge, a writer and poet from Indiana, author of Pretty Pretty Prison, who works for the publishing collective Monster House Books, who is on tour with Bella Bravo, also from Indiana, author of a collection of short stories, The Unpositioned Parts. NorCal poet/ceramicist/musician Kelly Schirmann, author of Popular Music, who runs Black Cake, a record label for poetry and other experiments joins them and Alex Norquist, an Arcata writer, artist and “creative placemaker” who is co-founder of Breakfast All Day Collective and helps run Outer Space. They will read to you. Word.
Thursday at Humboldt Brews I’m intrigued by Alma Afrobeat Ensemble, a world beat band by founded in Chicago, developed in Barcelona, now touring worldwide with a vocalist from Nigeria, but as Trevor Noah says on The Daily Show, “don’t got time for that,” since space and time have once again run out. Hum on…