Out in the idyllic setting of west Marin County, Big Mesa Farms is a locally grown success story. The five-acre, certified-organic farm has been owned and operated by Caymin Ackerman since 2011. Originally aiming for a few key crops, the farm has expanded to grow everything from beets, broccoli and cabbage to squash, strawberry, tomato and even fresh cut flowers. The farm is a big hit with several restaurants in the North Bay, and with locals who like to know where their food comes from.
Big Mesa Farms is also a hit with Bay Area songwriter Lucia Comnes, who recently debuted a music video, “On the Farm,” that is dedicated to Ackerman and her agricultural journey. Through a series of snapshots, the video tells the story of Big Mesa with a charming country melody and harmonic folk heartiness. Watch the video now and be on the lookout for Ackerman at the next Marin County farmers market.
Folk and Americana duo Eight Belles is made up of Michigan-born and longtime Bay Area-based singer Jessi Phillips and Sonoma County native songwriter and guitarist Henry Aloysius Nagle. The pair met in 2010 and first made noise in 2012 with their debut album, “Girls Underground,” hailed as a vividly beautiful country rock record.
Now, Eight Belles is back in the spotlight with a new self-titled album on Saint Rose Records, a recently premiered music video and an upcoming record-release show at the Last Record Store in Santa Rosa on Saturday, Dec 12, at 2pm.
Even with their impressive debut, the new self-titled record proves to be an even stronger effort, with Phillip’s lovely voice sounding like a mixture of Patsy Cline and Carol King, and evolved melodic arrangements performed with a full band of popular Bay Area musicians.
To get a taste of the new album, Eight Belles offer up a music video for their single, “The Old Life,” that matches their timeless country folk with enchanting black-and-white visuals, click on the video below to watch.
This weekend’s release show at the Last Record Store will feature the pair playing in an intimate setting, with Sonoma County songstress Ashley Allred opening. Vinyl and CD copies of the self-titled album will be available. The show starts at 2pm and is free.
Slide guitarist and songwriter Roy Rogers has played with some of the biggest names in country and rock and roll in a career that spans forty years, from John Lee Hooker to Bonnie Raitt. Still, the accomplished musician has largely eschewed the big label approach to making his own music by self-releasing his albums on his independent label, Chops Not Chaps Records. With his long-time trio the Delta Rhythm Kings, Rogers again offers up a foot-stompin’ assortment of blues-tinged jams with his latest album, Into the Wild Blue.
Made up of eleven tracks, the album kicks off with the dance hall rocker “Last Go-Round,” showing off a sizzling electric riff over a two-step beat. Rogers follows that up with the upbeat jam session of “Don’t You Let Them Win.” Rogers’ effortless slide guitar is in full effect on the record, and the Delta Rhythm kings keep a steady southern influence over the beat, like a hoedown happening in the bayou heat.
Recorded with long time bassist Steve Ehrmann, drummer Kevin Hayes, keyboardist Jim Pugh, and violinist Carlos Reyes; Rogers feels right at home throughout the record, laid back and carefree in his songwriting. Into the Wild Blue is available now, Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings will be in the North Bay on Wednesday, August 5, performing at the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa.
Check out the funky track “She’s a Real Jaguar” below:
Along with uninteresting bookings like Styx and Rick Springfield, Konocti, which is owned by Local 38 Union of Plumbers, Pipefitters and Journeymen, has consistently brought the biggest names in country music to the area. Look at the list of performers who’ve played there, and it reads as a who’s-who atop of the country music charts: Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, Toby Keith, Carrie Underwood, Brooks and Dunn, Faith Hill, Trace Adkins, Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley and Brad Paisley all come to mind.
Country music stars are often just as easy to make fun of as leftover arena-rock slop like Lynyrd Skynyrd and KISS, but with Konocti closing, where around here are people going to be able to see them? Toby Keith can’t play the Wells Fargo Center; it’s simply too small. Maybe someone could book him at the Petaluma Fairgrounds, but will he really want to play on a temporary rented sound system in a dirt rodeo grandstand? Konocti had a solid working relationship with these artists, and they kept coming back to the place, as run-down and decrepit as it may be.
Some people say it’s just as well that Toby Keith, a confirmed douchebag, can’t play around here anymore, to which I recall the last time I went to Konocti, to see Trace Adkins. He sang songs about soldiers and mama and workin’ hard and America. To see the fat shirtless guys cheering, the disabled veterans crying, the kids in wheelchairs smiling, the toothless MILFs dancing, and the plumbers, pipefitters and journeymen and their families all singing along was to witness a culture that we too often criticize without understanding.
The bottom line is that a slice of happiness for these people has been lost.