I got back from skateboarding (on 2 new skateboards) on some nice down-sloping neighborhood streets in Soquel with a new friend, Tim (another story, was it fun!) about 6:45 last night.
I saw in the local paper that Hills to Hollers, a group of three women, was playing that night at the Kuumbawa Club – – “American roots music.” Moreover, it started at 7 PM, my kinda time for a musical event. I hustled over to the club and heard the sweetest 3-part harmony as I walked in. It was an utterly magnificent evening of music, a rare time when every single person in the packed room was on the same wave length.
The women, (l-r in pic) Barbara Higbie, Linda Tillery, and Laurie Lewis are unbelievably skilled musicians. Fiddles, mandolin, guitar, banjo and a jazz/blues piano solo by Barbara (fiddler at left) above, that left everyone stunned.
Bluegrass, blues, spirituals (as opposed to gospels), soul, every single song brilliant. Linda, at drums, grew up in Texas, said that when she was a little girl, her mom played Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” over and over, and Linda did a unique cover, channeling Hank’s poetry and pain into a gorgeous rendition.
There were times when the harmonies were so beautiful, I’d close my eyes and breathe deeply and feel like I was about to go airborne. Really.
They talked about roots stuff. Like in the 1700s, hand drumming was outlawed (in every state but Louisiana), so the slaves transferred the rhythm of the drums to vocals. That spirituals quote the bible whereas gospel is a 20th century invention. Jesus is not referred to in spirituals. Then they did “Let Your Hammer Ring.” The group is so new they’re not to be found online. I don’t know where they might play next, but there’s an event in Berkeley on June 12th to raise money for Linda’s knee operation, with Linda and a bunch of other musicians: https://www.freightandsalvage.org/linda-tillerys-new-knee-fundraiser
I got out of there at 9, went to Bookstore Santa Cruz, then got a root beer float at the Penny Ice Creamery, was back at motel by 10 PM.