Sunday, 28 February 2021

Arts & Life

Lead guitarist works the crowd during Lakeport's summer concerts. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


ROBINSON RANCHERIA – The band Real Deal, a favorite among the many bands that entertained Friday evenings in Lakeport during the summer of 2007, returns to the area Friday and Saturday night when they perform in the bar and Robinson Rancheria Casino between Nice and Upper Lake.

The band, led by keyboardist FrankieJ, has performed over several decades as an opening act for some of America's best-known rhythm and blues and soul bands both here and abroad.

Lead guitarist Neil Stallings adds an extra bit of showmanship to his performance. Stallings also has played for many well-known bands during his long career.

E-mail Harold LaBonte at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



More than pleasing and fun for all ages, “Enchanted,” the new Disney film that artfully combines classic fairy tale animation with live action in the gritty modern-day world of New York City, is a true marvel of magical storytelling and technical brilliance.

Poking fun at its long line of animated “happily ever after” stories realized in such films as “Cinderella” and “Snow White,” Disney most cleverly allows the innocence of the traditional animated world to collide with contemporary reality, and in so doing it thrusts fairy tale romance hard up against the harshness of cynicism in a place without magic.

What comes of this combustible mix of animation and reality is one very enchanting and laugh-filled comedy.

True to the “happily ever after” sensibility of its cartoon forebears, “Enchanted” begins its tale in the animated paradise of Andalasia, where lovely Giselle (Amy Adams) sings beautiful songs and has the uncanny ability to communicate with animals.

Her wish to meet the handsome prince of her dreams and to share “true love’s kiss” comes true when Prince Edward (James Marsden) finds her in the enchanted woods. However, the evil Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon) will stop at nothing to keep this girl away from her throne.

On her way to wed the prince, Giselle is ambushed by the evil Queen and her henchman Nathaniel (Timothy Spall). When the Queen says Giselle will be banished to a place where there are no happily-ever-after stories, the putative princess is dropped into a well and emerges from a manhole in the middle of Times Square.

This is where the fun really starts.

Dressed in an enormous white wedding gown, Giselle is confronted with the gritty, chaotic world of Manhattan, which looks definitely frightening to one unaccustomed to the hustle and bustle of the big city. She’s not prepared for people that are angry and rude, and she even responds with gratitude to a sarcastic greeting.

Wandering the city in search of the castle, Giselle comes across a billboard for a casino that looks like Excalibur. Coming to her aid in this strange new place, Giselle is befriended by a no-nonsense divorce lawyer, Robert (Patrick Dempsey), and his young daughter, Morgan (Rachel Covey). Against his better judgment and at the urging of his daughter, Robert invites Giselle back to his apartment when a sudden storm erupts.

Despite his essential kindness, Robert is too detached and unemotional, perhaps due to his line of work and the breakup of his own marriage. However, he can’t turn the strange girl out on to the streets. The next morning, Giselle summons the aid of her animal friends, including pigeons, rats and cockroaches, to tidy up the messy apartment. She also helps herself to the curtains to make a new dress.

Robert is stunned by her odd behavior, such as when Giselle emerges from the shower with only a pair of birds discretely holding up a towel to preserve her modesty. Robert’s longtime, career-driven girlfriend Nancy (Idina Menzel) is baffled by his sudden interest in the mystery woman.

Things get to be even more fun when the clueless, self-absorbed Prince Edward shows up in Times Square, along with the devious Nathaniel and a talkative chipmunk named Pip. Thinking that he has encountered a large metal dragon, Edward attacks a city bus with his sword. It’s just one of many comical encounters with the locals.

More amusing is Nathaniel’s bungling of several attempts to eliminate Giselle, while Pip tries frantically and without success to warn the dense Edward of Nathaniel’s duplicity.

Meanwhile, Giselle meddles in Robert’s divorce work by convincing a bitter couple to reconcile, only because she fervently believes in the magic of love.

Belief in fairy tale romance is at the core of Giselle’s motivation, and the effect she starts to have on others, particularly Robert, is not surprising.

On many levels, “Enchanted” is inspired by the Disney canon of animated films, only to shift gears into something new and original.

It’s hard to imagine anyone not thoroughly enjoying this very funny, sweet movie. The brilliance of “Enchanted” is that it is targeted to the widest possible audience and succeeds beyond all expectations.


At long last, the entire four seasons of the classic spy series “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” is being issued in a 41-disc set.

Starring Robert Vaughn as Napoleon Solo and David McCallum as Illya Kuryakin, “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” series originally aired on NBC from 1964 to 1968, earning 16 Emmy award nominations during its run.

“The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Series” includes all 105 episodes, the majority of which have never been available on home video.

This ultimate DVD set is loaded with extras, including the unaired, original color pilot for the series, titled simply “Solo,” as well as the 1966 theatrical film “One Spy Too Many.”

For the time being, “The Complete Series” is only available from the Time Life Web site (, priced at $249.99.

For those with patience, the series is due to be released to retail outlets by Warner Home Video in fourth quarter 2008.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.




CLEARLAKE PARK – Literally reaching for the stars, Clearlake Park’s Mallard & Heron Books has released its debut novel, a science fiction story titled “Zeera” by Mary Dombach.

“Zeera is selling well,” said publisher Mark Bredt, who has realized a lifelong ambition to publish books after decades as a news journalist and editor.

“I have discovered that the production of a book is the easy part of publishing,” Bredt added. “The challenge comes with promoting, marketing and sales.”

Bredt has managed to place “Zeera” with all of the major online retailers including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders and more.

“But getting into bookstores is definitely the bigger challenge,” Bredt said.

Locally, Clearlake’s Wild About Books is carrying the title and several bookstores local to the author are carrying it, too.

“It’s a slow and methodical process of presenting and selling the title to bookstores,” said Bredt.

“Zeera” also debuts the writing talent of Pennsylvania resident Mary Dombach, who had planned to wait for retirement to write her first novel but the central character of the science fiction story had other plans. Perhaps Zeera exercised extraterrestrial talents to get her story told; whatever the case, Dombach couldn’t resist the story clamoring to be heard.

“Zeera” is a book for a wide audience, said Dombach. Obviously a science fiction/fantasy entry, there are enough wry observations on the human condition to appeal to literary readers and a quotient of romantic obstacles that will intrigue romance fans.

Zeera is a comely young woman from another planet, the Daughter of the Sable Knight. She is one of a dozen offspring of Argerian males and captive human women sent to Earth to become pregnant. Survival of the Argerian race depends on the mission’s success.

The plot involves its fair share of extraterrestrial powers and manipulative shenanigans by the Argerian elders, which creates a compelling line of suspense. But the story revolves around Zeera’s learning to understand human behavior and motivations.

She is entranced by Lilly and Walt, the elderly couple from whom she rents a room, and their devotion to each other; intrigued by the couple next door and their young daughter, and often startled by the simple things humans take for granted. Then, of course, there are the vagaries of her search for a suitable sperm donor and her surprising choice.

A review on her Web site,, notes that, “This is a gentle book, even as horrific violent events are disclosed, with a subtle humor and unexpected twists. In the midst of the otherworldly plotline, one is delighted by the author’s caring eye for the doubts and dilemmas wrestled by ordinary people dealing with everyday events.”

Zeera leaves us with plenty to think about. As Dombach writes in her preface: “Of the many lessons she would learn over the course of her travels, Zeera came to know that all races know evil; some even honor it. Perhaps the most important lesson was that there is no need to burden oneself with the debates of philosophy or even religion, because ultimately truth is determined by those in power. The most complex, and probably the most disturbing lesson of all, was that some things matter more than truth.”

Zeera is available for purchase online at, through most major online book retailers and locally at Wild About Books in Clearlake.

Zeera can be ordered through any local bookstore – ISBN # 978-0-9796989-0-3 / Trade paper back $14.95 / Mallard & Heron Books.


LAKEPORT – Take a break from your holiday shopping to enjoy some music and magic at Café Victoria this weekend.

This month host Phil Mathewson will perform along with other local musicians, magicians and poets. The fun starts at 4 p.m. and continues to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1.

If you would like to perform come by and we will fit you in somehow. The open mic is always free with food and drink for sale at the café.

Café Victoria is located on the corner of Third and Main Street in Lakeport.


UPPER LAKE – The Blue Wing Saloon and Tallman Hotel plan to celebrate the holidays in style, with special Christmas events and lots of great music.

The saloon and hotel's owners, Bernie and Lynne Butcher, are planning a special evening on Saturday, Dec. 1, to coincide with the tree lighting in historic downtown Upper Lake.

Enjoy Upper Lake's annual Christmas Lights parade at 7 p.m. and then have dinner at the Blue Wing. That night the Sweet Adelines vocal group will entertain in the hotel and saloon.

On Christmas Day, Dec. 25, the Butchers will open the Blue Wing for a special brunch/lunch from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Throughout the holiday season, the saloon will host a lineup of great music on Mondays, from 7 to 10 p.m.

Performers include:

  • Nov. 26 – Lake Blues All-Stars with Mike Wilhelm, Jim Williams, Jon Hopkins – and Neon!

  • Dec. 3 – Lake Blues All-Stars.

  • Dec. 10 – Toler Brothers Band.

  • Dec. 17 – Levi Lloyd and Robert Watson Band.

  • Dec. 24 – Enjoy a quiet Christmas Eve dinner with Stephan Holland on guitar.

  • Dec. 31 – Start your New Year’s celebration at the Blue Wing with Dan Mayer on guitar and vocals.

For more information, contact the Blue Wing Saloon at 707-275-2233, or the Tallman Hotel, 707-275-2244.


KELSEYVILLE – Every time 18th century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart makes a posthumous appearance in Lake County he generates large audiences, and last Sunday's symphonic concert was no exception.

A near-overflow crowd jammed Kelseyville High School's student center to hear conductor John Parkinson lead the Lake County Symphony in an all-Mozart program consisting of a mixture of full-orchestra numbers and selections targeting the talents of individual players.

The concert was presented by Clear Lake Performing Arts in collaboration with the Mendocino College Lake Center.

The opening number featured all 40-plus members of the orchestra in one of Mozart's most beloved works, the overture from Mozart's first and arguably most successful – operas. “The Abduction from the Seraglio” tells the story of the kidnapping of a noble Spanish woman by Barbary pirates and her subsequent rescue by her beloved. Written in 1782 it was an instant smash hit, and continues to be so to this day, with the overture obviously being familiar to Sunday's audience.

This was followed by the “Sinfonia Concertante Quartet” with the orchestra headlined by a breakout group consisting of Beth Aiken, oboe; Nick Biondo, clarinet; Ann Hubbard, bassoon; and Randy Masselink, horn. The first three are all Lake County residents, while Masselink hails from Healdsburg.

The virtually flawless playing of the four soloists won enthusiastic acclaim from the audience as the soaring notes of Aiken's oboe meshed with the lilting swirl of Biondo's clarinet, and both instruments were first led, then answered, by the mellow tones of Hubbard's bassoon and Masselink's horn.

Between movements Parkinson dryly noted that one of the drawbacks of woodwind performances is the necessity to pause briefly from time to time to clean out valves, which Aiken did.

The next soloist was Darrin Michaels, whose history in playing the horn has included appearances throughout California with musical groups ranging from full orchestras to the popular Dora Street Brass Quintet. He played Mozart's “Horn Concerto No. 3” a particularly difficult piece the composer wrote originally for his lifelong friend Joseph Leutgeb, undoubtedly one of the premier horn players of his time.

Like Leutgeb, Michaels played with his right hand thrust into the bell of his instrument. Leutgeb did this because with the valveless horn of the time, he was able to change the music by as much as a full note.

In Michaels' case he said the same technique permits him to “mellow out” the sound, so it sounds less like a hunting horn and more like a musical instrument, and also to change intonation to stay in tune with the orchestra. These techniques, coupled with his absolute mastery of his instrument, resulted in a thunderous round of applause at the completion of his piece.

Following intermission, with complimentary cookies served by members of the Clear Lake Performing Arts Auxiliary, the orchestra took up Mozart's “Symphony No. 40 in G Minor” one of his latest and best-known works. This piece clearly demonstrates why Mozart continues to be so popular, with its musical brilliance and memorable themes.

The obviously knowledgeable audience properly withheld their applause until the conclusion of the final movement, at which point they were on their feet to give Parkinson and the orchestra a tremendous standing ovation.

Parkinson later noted that Lake County audiences were an asset when he recruits musicians from other places. “The out-of-town musicians always say they love to play with the Lake County Symphony because of the great reception they're given here,” he said.

The size and superior acoustics of the Kelseyville High School Student Center also gives more people the chance to attend these concerts. Paul Brewer, president of CLPA, said his group as well as the orchestra, are grateful to the Kelseyville Unified School District for making the facility available.

The next and final symphony concert of the year will take place on Dec. 16 at the same venue. It will be the perennially popular Christmas Celebration and this year will spotlight well-known jazz vocalist Paula Samonte, as well as youthful local musicians Laura and Darin Smith playing fiddle and cello duets, with John Parkinson conducting the orchestra.

The concert will start at 3 p.m., with admission still pegged at $10 for CLPA members, $15 for the general public and youngsters under 18 admitted free.

For more information call 707-277-7076 or visit


Upcoming Calendar

03.06.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
03.13.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
St. Patrick's Day
03.20.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
03.27.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
04.03.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
Easter Sunday

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