This is super drummer Dave Raven’s first trip with the Hawks, and it’s been so great that we fear we’ve set the expectations bar a bit high for him. “It’s not usually this cushy, bro.” Our third day extended and heightened the mellow dreamlike nature of our northern wandering.
We took the 5 South of course, back on what our friends Old Californio might call The Mother Road**
Then westward on Highway 20 and some beautiful hairpin mountain roadage that transformed the landscape from dry grass and oaks to lush vineyard — ringed by dry grass and oaks. Southward through mysterious valley to edge of bustling Napa prosperity. The streets are jammed with Ferraris and tour busses. It’s a cross between Park City in the winter and Yosemite Valley in the summer. The highway becomes Main Street, St. Helena, mysterious St. Helena. New and old wealth manifested in immaculately kept Victorian and Craftsman houses on huge redwood shaded lots.
We pull up to our host Joanne’s turn of the (last) century two story wood frame house, yard drenched in balmy afternoon Napa sunlight. This party is a mini-summit of local vintners and friends, and the tree shaded lawn is action packed, local wines and cheeses laid out on long tables as the guests filter in. Paul Marshall, whose lovely and cool wife and daughters are also here, is in oenophile heaven. The vintner’s wares are sampled, to much earnest discussion among the imbibers. This is indeed wine country. There’s a refreshing and earthy Viognier. An elephantine old vine Zin. A Pinot Egregious just coming into its own. A not overly-oaked or malolactic, lean, crisp Chardonnay. Paul Lacques seems to randomly favor the Chablis, which he pronounces “cha-bliss.”
We do two electric sets alternating with funky folk rock jazz combo Free Peoples, a quintessential northern California band, with a fat groove, great playing, a phenomenal young violinist (or is he a fiddler?) named Karl, who sat in with us, to most beautiful effect. A blast was had by all, perhaps us Hawks most of all. The dream state continues.
** note: Old Californio’s Mother Road is Route 66, they’re all Pasadena/Temple City locals. The only truly all-locals band in the Southland?