MORNING BREAKFAST IN NEWMAN. HEAT PERSISTS ON DRIVE TO MARIN. FAMILY AND EARTHEN PEOPLE AT RANCHO NICASIO. DAVE ZIRBEL THROWS DOWN. A SURPRISING INCIDENT. HUNTING ACCIDENT. LATE NIGHT GATHERING. REMARKABLE ICE CREAM.
Morning comes gently to the town of Newman one week before the 4th of July. You can tell right away it’s going to be a hot one but it’s not quite here yet. RW leads the band in morning yoga. Ashtanga vinyasas and mild inversions are the order of the day as the departed moon begins to cycle back from the triple potency of solstice, fullness, and eclipse. The stars are with us. We stroll one street and two doors down to Ferris and Dave’s for another kind and home-cooked meal. Ferris regales us while baking a delicious egg and cheese dish along with biscuits and homemade salsa. We sample sip our hosts’ margaritas but wolf down watermelon and the eggs and biscuits. Oh goodness, we are lucky men. We’re seated around a grand piano that’s been transformed into a dining table with a glass top and lights down in the innards. Their whole house has a theatrical flair. We listen to an original LP version of “Sweethearts of the Rodeo” that Dave has had since the 70s.
Departure and farewell come too soon for the Hawks and hosts. We make our way down T Street in the coming valley heat.
The heat dogs us up the 5 and over to and through the East Bay and across the Richmond Bridge to Marin. We wind through Old California(o), narrow road in pastured valley, around a lonely bend and we’re arrived, on time 3 p.m., at Rancho Nicasio. This venerable and venerated music hall and its hilly surroundings have an intoxicating quality. You know you won’t want to leave this place.
And it’s hot. We load in. Ted our sound man and staunch ally and defender greets us and we him, and master pedal steeler Dave Zirbel and lovely Jeanine walk in and it’s a love fest sound check. We are home away from home.
The show is just great. Zirbel’s steel soars, our harmonies are at a peak, many Wallers and Lacqueses salt and pepper the earthen crowd, Marin earth mamas and mushroom cowboys and carpenters swirl on the dance floor or soak it all in. We jam way out on “Humboldt”, and close it out with “Good And Foolish Times,” which feels like a sweet closer till-next-time these days. Our friends want more and we re-goodbye with “Motorcycle Mama” and St. Van Zandt’s “Heavenly Houseboat Blues.”
We linger long in the sweet and lingering twilight, catching up on family lore and conspiracy on the wide Nicasio lawn. Peter Lacques is running for a spot on the Marin County water commission (Water Board?), with a plan for subsidizing home graywater systems instead of building a massive desalinization plant. We support him with our every fiber and will.
Rob W, inspired by the evening and earth’s spiritual bounty, suggests we stop in Fairfax at Fairfax Scoop. We gladly wait in the line snaking out the door and down smalltown street, and are more than rewarded with what must be among the finest ice creams on earth. Honey Lavender Vanilla with the flowers plucked from nearby Mt. Tam, Lagunitas Rasberry Sorbet, Vegan Chocolate.