Wednesday, 12 June 2024

Arts & Life

LAKEPORT – It's hard to believe that Lake County, with fewer than 70,000 residents, can boast of a symphony which markets many times this size would covet, but it's a fact.

This orchestra, under the inspired direction of John Parkinson, has reached the point that word is now getting out: If you want outstanding orchestral music in the north counties, head for Lakeport.

This was amply born out during the recent 30th anniversary of Clear Lake Performing Arts, the orchestra's one and only sponsor.

Parkinson had created a program which let some of his best players shine – and they did so, brilliantly.

The concert took place at Clear Lake High School's Marge Alakszay Center in Lakeport.

It opened with a special presentation by the Konocti Fiddle Club, directed by Andi Skelton who doubles as symphony concert mistress and first violin, and consisted of a medley of bluegrass and country favorites including " Boil that Cabbage Down," "Shady Grove," "Folsom Prison Blues" and a commemorative version of "The Anniversary Waltz."saluting CLPA's birthday.

The full orchestra then took the stage with Schubert's "Rosamunde Overture," written originally in1819 to a lukewarm reception and then lost until 1867, long after the composer's early death. On its resurrection it proved to be a hit, and the CLPA audience understood why after hearing the flawless rendition by the Lake County orchestra.

Parkinson then brought together two different overtures from operas adopted from the same original playwrite – Beaumarchais – but with the music written by two completely different composers.

The first, the ever-popular "Barber of Seville" was a signature piece by Rossini and his most favored opera. This led into Beaumarchais' second play, " The Marriage of Figaro" which was adapted to opera by Mozart decades earlier than Rossini's "Barber." Under Parkinson's skilled direction, and the skills of half a hundred musicians, the talents of both composers were amply displayed;

After the melodic offerings of Mozart and Rossini, Jacques Offenbach's thunderous opening to "Orpheus in the Underworld" jolted the audience wide awake with clashing cymbals, before lulling into dreamlike melodic sequences captured perfectly by the blended woodwinds and strings of the orchestra. It culminated in a light-hearted rendition of the well-known "can-can" later adopted by several generations of follies dancers.

Following intermission, with complimentary cookies and juice served by the ladies of the CLPA Auxiliary, the CLPA Youth Orchestra, directed by Wes Follett, presented their string version of the traditional Blue Ridge tune "Cripple Creek," after which the annual auction of the conductors baton took place, with last year's winner Richard Birk surrendering the piece to new winning bidder Erhard Arndt of Kelseyville.

Arndt's winning bid was for $650 which gave him the right to mount the podium and lead the orchestra in a reprise of Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro" which he declined to do, opting instead to defer conducting duties to 13-year-old Corey Thomas, who is a CLPA scholarship recipient and also a member of Andi Skelton's Konocti Fiddle Club.

Mozart's "Serenade in D, No. 6" provided a perfect opportunity for individual members of the orchestra to demonstrate their talents, since it includes such interesting instrumentation as a quartet with strings and timpani. The quartet was made up of John Weeks, cello; Rick McCann, viola; with Andi Skelton and Jeff Ives on violin. Ives usually is seated in the cello section, but this time shifted – with great expertise – to violin. They were supported by Tim Ellis on timpani.

The final symphonic selection was Haydn's Symphony No. 104, the last of the 12 symphonies written by the composer during his final visit to London. It is generally conceded to be the crowning achievement of Haydn. Presented in four movements, it established a benchmark for symphonic composition that endures to this day.

The program ended with a well-deserved standing ovation from those in attendance.

Following the concert nearly a hundred CLPA and orchestra members retired to the theater building at the Lake County Fairgrounds for a no-host catered barbecue buffet and the chance to toast both Clear Lake Performing Arts and the Lake County Symphony on their three decades of providing fine music to Lake County.

Charter member Mildred Pickersgill provided a brief background for both groups. She was also a member of the orchestra for 20 years.

The symphony's next appearance will be the annual Christmas concert on Sunday, Dec. 20 at 3 p.m., also at Clear Lake High School.


Singer Neon Napalm and legendary guitarist Mike Wilhelm are part of the Bottle Rock Blues and Rhythm Band. Courtesy photo.


LAKE COUNTY – Bottle Rock Blues and Rhythm Band formed in Lake County in August and describes its music as “Smokin’ R & B!” It is not often that one finds a band that has roots as deep and a family tree as broad as this one.

The band coalesced around 1960s legend Mike Wilhelm, vocal and guitar; and Neon Napalm, vocal and percussion.

Wilhelm is known as a founding member of the Charlatans, San Francisco’s first psychedelic group, as well as for his work with cult heroes Flamin’ Groovies.

Napalm, a card-carrying member of the Cherokee Nation, is the popular lead singer formerly with Gary Farmer and the Troublemakers, a Native American band well known throughout the Southwest.

“I had a concept for a rhythm and blues band featuring harmony vocals and a rock style rhythm section,” said Wilhelm. “I designed a logo with the letters 'Bottle Rock,' made from obsidian, common in Lake County and known locally as ‘bottle rock.’ I also had certain personnel in mind.”

First on his list was Napalm, whom he had met in the Lake County Blues Allstars.

“Neon is not only one of the best female vocalists I’ve ever heard – and I have heard many over the years – but we had already been singing harmony together in the Blues Allstars,” Wilhelm said.

Wilhelm and Napalm started playing with guitarist and vocalist Stephen Holland. He hails originally from Clarksdale, Miss, central to the Mississippi Delta, the ancestral home of Chicago blues.

Born in 1950, he has been playing for 44 years and has an original style all his own. He has played with the Bay Area band Cottonmouth and with members of Soundhole, Huey Lewis and the News and Tower of Power.

Holland introduced them to bassist Bill McMenomy, who had recently moved to Lake County after spending a number of years playing in the Portland, Ore., area.

McMenomy is originally from San Francisco. Back in the day, he played with the San Francisco rock trio Aum. He sings backup has a very powerful rock bass style, which is just what Wilhelm had in mind for the band.

Drummer Mark Phillips is probably best known as a member of the Grateful Dead cover band Street Dogs. He is an extremely well-seasoned player having played with P. T. and the Pleasers during the early 1980s in the Bay Area opening for acts such as Greg Kihn and Huey Lewis and the News.

In demand as a recording session musician, Phillips has divided his time between the Bay Area and his native England.

The resulting band has the much-sought-after quality of being more than the sum of its parts.

In addition to the R&B repetoire, they are also mixing in some classic rock from the 1960s and 1970s including songs associated with the Charlatans and Flamin’ Groovies.

For performance dates, visit For bookings email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


The colorful gourd creations will be on display through Dec. 12. Photo courtesy of Linda Kelly.


BACHELOR VALLEY – The Bachelor Valley Gourd Club will be showing their gourds for the third year at the Lower Lake Schoolhouse Museum in November through Dec. 12.

Club members recently worked with museum curator Linda Lake to set up the display.

There are 18 members' gourds represented in this year's display.

A Christmas tree decorated with gourd ornaments placed first and best of show at the Lake County Fair in September.

Museum hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed on Thanksgiving Day and the day after Thanksgiving.

The Lower Lake Schoolhouse Museum is located at 16435 Main St., Lower Lake, telephone 995-3565.




Bachelor Valley Gourd Club members recently set up their holiday display at the Lower Lake Schoolhouse Museum. Those taking part in the setup included, front row, from left to right, museum curator, Linda Lake, and club member Marilyn Crayton; back row, left to right, Linda Kelly, Sheryl Morris, Patricia Eisenbeisz, Terry Kahn and Sandie Coelho-Davis. Photo courtesy of Linda Kelly.





The display also features a Christmas tree with gourd ornaments. Photo courtesy of Linda Kelly.




LAKEPORT – Are you ready to get in the Christmas spirit? Have you been humming Christmas carols for months?

It's time to gather with the community and share in the joy of the season.

Come enjoy some of the talented musicians and groups in our community at Lakeport's 23rd Annual Christmas Festival of Music.

The festival will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5, and is hosted at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, located at 600 16th St. in Lakeport.

An interfaith and community gathering, the festival will feature returning favorites, the Sweet Adelines, Lakeport Ward Choir, and the Clear Lake High School Sax Quintet will bring a jazzy feeling to the holiday season.

Attendees will be serenaded by vocalists Katy Tipton, Sally Spoon, and cellist Clovice A. Lewis Jr. will accompany singer Keely Southwick. Piano soloists include Matt Weiss and Shao-Jia Chang.

A particular treat will be Wesley Follett, who is conducting the Clear Lake Performing Arts Youth Orchestra, as well as the Middletown Adventist School Choir. An talented ensemble from the Mendocino College Lakeport Campus is another first-time performer this year to the festival.

Admission is free and refreshments are provided.

All are invited to support the local talent in our area and enjoy an evening of holiday cheer.

Although the program is full this year, all interested performers are invited to come and sign up for next year.



With a title borrowed from an Ian Fleming short story, “Quantum of Solace” seems designed to prove that a story is somehow unnecessary to realizing a James Bond movie.

Surprisingly, there are three writers credited to crafting the screenplay, when it’s obvious that a graduate student at film school, possessing knowledge of James Bond lore, could have managed just as well.

“Quantum of Solace,” tricked out by its aggressive video game sensibilities, is so heavy on action that there’s hardly a moment of respite. You may have heard this elsewhere, but it bears repeating that James Bond is now almost indistinguishable from the Jason Bourne character.

Forget about Sean Connery, Roger Moore or even Pierce Brosnan. Daniel Craig is the James Bond for a new generation, even if he comes off as a possibly grittier version of Matt Damon.

Craig’s James Bond can still wear the tuxedo with elegant grace, but this guy’s tougher than Steven Seagal in a dozen martial arts films. He delivers the goods with the brutal efficiency of an almost robotic assassin.

Steeped in its revenge story, “Quantum of Solace” presents agent 007 as an unstoppable killing machine, indestructible in pursuit of his mission. But just like his boss, M (Judi Dench) the head of the British Secret Service, you may question exactly what his mission is about.

Picking up where “Casino Royale” left off, the opening scene has Bond being pursued by a carload of baddies, probably because he’s got Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) stuffed in the trunk of his Aston Martin.

Not exactly a sentimental guy, Bond is nonetheless anxious to track down the criminal mastermind behind White’s sinister organization, knowing that it may enable him to exact revenge for the death of Vesper Lynd. As you may recall, Vesper is the woman he fell in love with, despite good reasons to be wary of any romantic entanglements.

After an interrogation of Mr. White and an unexpected betrayal in a secret location in Spain, Bond is off to Haiti to track down an MI6 traitor.

In a case of mistaken identity, Bond is introduced in slapdash fashion to the beautiful but feisty Camille (Olga Kurylenko), who has her own vendetta agenda, but one that coincides with Bond’s plans.

Camille leads Bond straight to the bug-eyed Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a ruthless businessman who hides under the cover of his environmental credentials. Al Gore will be none too pleased at how this green planet advocate abuses his trust.

Linked to Quantum, Greene has sinister plans to take control of vital natural resources in Bolivia for his own gain, primarily by forging a deal with corrupt General Medrano (Joaquin Cosio), itching to stage his own coup d’etat.

The scheme turns out to be barely more evil than the theft of water from the Owens Valley in “Chinatown.” Whatever happened to ominous plots for world domination? Bond villains, like Ernst Stavro Blofeld and Auric Goldfinger, used to have ambitions that matched their outsized egos. Now we have some creepy environmentalist telling a gathering of gullible rich folks to support his green initiatives.

Pared down to the shortest running time of any Bond film in history, “Quantum of Solace” expends its energy mostly on an almost nonstop sequence of car chases, fights, running across rooftops, explosions, airplane chase and more fights. Especially when Bond dashes across tile roofs in hot pursuit, it seems like another chapter in a “Bourne” movie.

With all the chasing and fighting, there’s little time for Bond to display much personality. Though the consummate tough guy, Sean Connery always had time to drop a few witticisms. Humor is almost nonexistent in this all-business affair.

It’s comforting to know that Bond still has some of his bad habits, though they don’t seem to include smoking or drinking martinis shaken not stirred. Still, he manages time to seduce the very attractive Agent Fields (Gemma Arterton), while going undercover as part of a teachers’ group that apparently hit the lottery jackpot.

Sadly, Fields’ most memorable moment is a tribute to “Goldfinger.” Not so memorable is Bond tailing bad guys doing business at the avant-garde Austrian opera house. Nor does he have any truly memorable scenes with the sexy Camille, who appears stripped of any real personality. Oddly enough, there’s zero chemistry between Bond and Camille.

I have enjoyed every single James Bond film, all 56 or 57 of them if you count the Woody Allen spoof. Despite a few misgivings on style and substance, I find “Quantum of Solace” another worthy entry, though for reasons far different than the early Sean Connery ones. The action and the stunts are absolutely breathtaking, and Daniel Craig is the definitive contemporary Bond.

Nevertheless, a few things amount to letdowns, the most egregious of which is the worst Bond title song ever, even more dreadful than the one by Madonna.


I am wondering when the DVD market will reach the saturation point. If you don’t want to watch current TV shows, Paramount Home Entertainment is pushing old series at a rapid clip.

This week alone brings at least four oldies, including “Star Trek The Original Series: Season Three,” now remastered for the first time.

“Odd Couple: The Final Season” allows the last look at Tony Randall and Jack Klugman as the two comic misfits, one a slob and the other a fussbudget.

Wouldn’t it be great to have an acting career working on location in Hawaii? The enduring popularity of “Hawaii Five-O” continues with the release of its fifth season.

Not exactly in the vintage category, all eight seasons of “Charmed: The Complete Series” features some beautiful women as sibling witches. The Deluxe Edition has a suggested retail price above $300, and I am curious about the volume of sales for this type of product.

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


MIDDLETOWN – Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt, Uncle, Friends, grab your favorite kids for Coyote Film Festival’s final screenings of 2008!

A Kids' Fest filled with great animation and short films will be on Saturday, Nov. 15, at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Every ticket is $5 at the door.

Both screenings are at Calpine Geothermal Visitor’s Center, 15500 Central Park Road, Middletown. The program will be approximately 75 minutes.

The animation and short film lineup is appropriate for kids ages 5 through 14 and those of us who are kids at heart.

Please come at least 15 minutes before the show begins. There will be popcorn, candies and drinks for sale, as well.

Some of the titles for this weekend’s fest include “CrabFu” ( a crazy kung-fu crab), “The Ringbearer” (Sometimes dogs just do what they want!), “The Zit” (need we say more), “Gopher Broke” (gopher plans gone awry), “Hold the Onions” (a tween orders fast food), “Mommy, Mommy, There’s a Monster on the Stairs” (a boy’s imagination runs wild) and many others.

All films have been well received at kids' fests across the country. They'll keep the program going fast and fun.

In addition, a food drive will be at Coyote for folks to donate food from the list below and receive $1 off the ticket price for each item. You can get in free with a frozen turkey or canned ham, or five items. This will help families in the South Lake County to celebrate the holidays.

Food donations needed are: frozen turkeys, canned ham and meats, canned cranberry, corn bread mix, Bisquick, corn meal, flour, sugar, brown sugar, canned pie filling, pie crust mix, Jell-o, pudding mix, canned veggies, yams, marshmallows, stuffing mix, instant mashed potatoes, rice, dried beans, fruit cocktail, canned fruit, canned gravy, broth and canned milk.

Coyote Film Festival is the fundraising arm of EcoArts of Lake County, an arts nonprofit dedicated to bringing visual arts opportunities and education as well as ecologic stewardship to the residents and visitors of Lake County, California. Visit or

See you at the movies!


Upcoming Calendar

06.13.2024 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Middletown Area Town Hall
Flag Day
06.14.2024 3:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Clearlake Summer Concert Series
06.14.2024 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Middletown Days team roping
06.14.2024 8:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Kelseyville High School commencement ceremony
Senior Days
06.15.2024 8:00 am - 06.16.2024 1:00 am
Middletown Days
06.15.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
Father's Day
06.16.2024 8:00 am - 9:00 pm
Middletown Days

Mini Calendar



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