Ride To Golden Toad Camp
“Golden Toad” is a camp dreamed up by Kristi and Jeremy McMaster, a pair of organic chef/musician/world music entrepreneurs up in uh..gee, I don’t even know. THEIR friend Renee (who is remotely my friend as well) turned thirty, hosting a party-within-a-music-camp in the redwoods up around Occidental, with 250 of her musical family. I wangled a way to get my C.R.A.P. (collated, rudely assorted packing) up there by !?@#)$#*-mobile, while I rode my (heart)cycle and “saved the planet” (hypocrisy alert!). Actually I was building up an appetite. I’d heard about a legendary chocolate cake by Buffalo, the in-house baker.
The first thing I heard sounded like I’d entered the medina in Fez….I hadn’t heard live middle eastern music before, but I adore the KPFA music of the world program. A fit young woman (Liz Strong)– sans makeup , sans frills, zills or harem pants (more like harem bloomers with a nifty squarish ruffle at the knee) performed belly dance probably the way the women did for their OWN entertainment in days of yore. Mesmerizing….
It was a magic three days, the best of it impossible to separate out from the tangle of densely packed musical opportunities.
What pushed me into check-writing mode (a very rare state hereabouts, I’m sure you regulars know) was that Vasen, a Swedish trio whose style of traditionally-rooted and freshly arranged music is transfixing.
The trio have been together a couple decades, and their mutual respect and playful banter bely brilliant (they’d say ‘lucky’) chemistry. This infects the listener with a similarly brotherly feeling of mutual regard, and by the end of the concert, or class, or session with them, you are ready to sign up for becoming Swedish by osmosis, and joining “Team Vasen“. Such a team really exists (in Bloomington Indiana, where they play at the Lotus Festival), and the team…well, I’ll let the link tell it all..
Overloaded with chances to listen to Turkish Cumbuc (pron: joomboosh)–an aluminium/wood 12-string banjo, saz, nyckelharpa…the camp students and teachers waddle or gallop from tent to room to pavillion, (even with schedule in hand, I couldn’t find the ones I’d chosen), developing hill-climbing legs (the camp is laid out on an angle-of-repose slope). Everyone got a workout, especially the cigarette smokers.
It was strange to know absolutely no one…well, Renee. She was radiant, with her pink hair and squeezebox, performing at the “Teahouse of the Mullah Nasrudin’s Donkey” where the chef special is boiled sea cow. I preferred the chicken.
All around, pillows and mats were strewn, seemingly in case of sudden gusts of gravity, or contact high or something.
I saw a banjo broken, and the frightening situational aftermath…
I rode home and retained barely anything.
My banjo (was not the broken one) and guitar have yet to find there way here…