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Published: 2001/08/27
by Margot Main

Marin County Music Festival, Lagoon Park, Marin Civic Center- 8/18

On August 18, 2001, Lagoon Park at the Marin Civic Center was home to the
seventh annual Marin County Music Festival. California famed sixties rock
group, Sons of Champlin, headlined the event. Concert organizer Steve
Ringel planned this day of music, love, food and history to coincide with
the 32nd anniversary of 1969's historical Woodstock shows. As Ringel was
quoted in the August 17th, San Francisco Chronicle: "I believe a lot of
people want to relive those dreams and memories. Also, everyone from that
era can now bring their children to share in experiencing the magic and a
great afternoon."

Nestled in between the lush green hills of Marin County, California, Lagoon
Park was an excellent location for this local event. Food vendors offered
everything from cheeseburgers to sushi and falafel. $1 bottled water was a
favorite beverage as was beer and lemonade. A unique and refreshing
delight, apple/peppermint ice tea! Hydration was necessary as temperatures
soared close to ninety in a cloudless blue sky (no humidity). Festival
goers danced their barefooted, tye-dyed hearts out on clean grass, blankets
and quilts. Children laughed and played in the inflatable dragon jumping
room, had their faces painted and ate whatever yummy treats Mom and/or Dad
would give them. The one day festival seemed to serve as a metaphor for
one generation giving way to the next; Sons of Champlin demonstrating an
era's musical maturity to newer band's talented adventure of unbridled
musical jubilance.

To start, Ten Ton Chicken had the honor of launching at 10:00am on the
second stage. Even though they had just finished playing a few hours
earlier in Santa Cruz, they powered up and jammed out their set with
natural enthusiasm. Their songs were saturated with psychedelic funk
grooves flavored with rock and nuances of bluegrass. They seamlessly
bridged their way from one jam to the next. One of the more original
stanzas were chords that sounded middle-eastern. Jamison Reed on sax,
truly an interactive performer, stepped off stage and into the growing
crowd – never missing a note or a dance step. The guitar
player, Gary Morrell, stood side-by-side running notes back and forth while
Rich DiBenedetto (drummer), Tom Fejes (bassist), and Nick Peck on keys kept
the music moving forward with solid rhythm.

11:15am Buffalo Roam was already warming up the main stage. They
demonstrated their experience as practitioners of keeping the art of Dead
alive. Rich Brodsky, Jim Garcia, Doug Budzak, Steve Ellis, Chuck Rosene
and Dave Morgan played tight as they interpreted various Grateful Dead
themes into some classic Dead as well as non-Dead covers. During
"Candyman" a gentle breeze flowed over the audience seeming to capture the
essence of what was then and what is now.

The schedule listed Sister Soul and Her Mystery Band to follow Buffalo
Roam. Unfortunately, her band will remain a mystery as there was none.
Instead, she delivered an acoustic performance. Singing songs off her new
CD, "Love Rules", her soft, folksy voice floated through the air. Central
to most of her songs was the ageless concept of love's love and all the
love it takes to make love good love.

A short stroll over the field of love to the second stage welcomed Taos
Hum. WOW! Immediately waking up the weary traveler; within minutes of
starting, this San Francisco original group had their jam so fierce and
tight the sizable crowd jumped into grooving, moving, twirling and
schwirling. Eli Nelson strutting on fiddle along with Danilo Lopez on
percussion were surfing a Latinesque funk zone while James DePrato (rhythm,
lead/slide guitar), David Scott (keyboards), Nick Heustis (bass) and Phil
Hodges on drums kept the refreshing jazzy rock vibe flowing. Nelson, who
also plays rhythm, slide/lead guitar, hopped through circles of sound on
stage and pumped up the band's energy to match the audience's. An
instrument in his own right, Michael Sullivan (the band's sound
engineer/effects manager) was on top of quality. There were no screech's
or feedback during what could be Taos Hum's signature tune, "Maserk"; truly
a quintessential 21st Century California jam. Luscious up-tempo funk
combined with riffs of soul and rocking ethereal beauty.

Calming down without losing power, the mood shifted ever so slightly as A
Beautiful Day started playing on the main stage. The moment Linda LaFlamme
and David LaFlamme's vocals harmonized all eyes of all ages looked toward
the stage with varying degrees of contemplative thoughts. Parents' faces
showed bittersweet memories of the band's status as a music staple in the
sixties and early seventies. Children smiled as they recognized the songs
from their parents playing the albums at home. Everyone in between these
two generations captured the moment and thought of what it was like to be
part of the largest social revolution this country has ever had – equally
grateful it did happen. This band's music; specifically, "White Bird"
naturally fit with the trees, hills and hawks flying overhead. Val Fuentas
is still the band's drummer; he is also, a personification of stability in
the wobbly climate of the music industry. A beautiful vibe in the early
afternoon of a glorious day.

Tree O Frogs hopped on the second stage and liberated the crowd's hips with
dancing rhythms. Another San Francisco original, Tree O Frogs uses their
ingenuity to power out improvisational jams reminiscent of thick seventies
funk but with enough jazz/rock flavorings to keep it sounding fresh and
new. Krystal Jones is a female vocal powerhouse. Her ability to encourage
the audience to dance and sing increased the fun.

The crowd had a few minutes to catch their breath before Joy Of Cooking
opened the time portal to 1969. Known equally for being a rock band fronted
by two women (Terry Garthwaite and Toni Brown) as for their music, they
essentially played the tunes of their era they were regionally adored for.

The Flying Other Brothers, Elza's Trio as well as Dave and Friends competed
for attention with environmental booths for education on saving
California's Redwood Trees and keeping Marin's water clean (listen to
KMUD.org for more information).

Even after a full day of music, Sons of Champlin motivated the crowd onto
their feet. Playing the familiar slow drag on the backbeat, the Sons
effectively replayed the groove loyal fans heard a generation ago. Bill
Champlin hasn't lost his swanky touch playing his organ. Terry Haggerty
ripped through his guitar riffs while his solos broke through the time
barrier and added a fresh dimension to the music. Tom Saviano demonstrated
how sax can make music so much sweeter while Mic Gillette rounded out the
brass section with aplomb. James Preston on drums and Geoff Palmer on keys
kept the vibe moving forward as the sun began to set over lush Marin
countryside.

Another beautiful day in paradise.

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