Friday, 14 June 2024

Arts & Life

LAKEPORT – Local author Marilyn Andersen Brown will sign copies of her book, Route 66 to Mojave, this Friday at Watershed Books.

The book signing will take place from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

Route 66 to Mojave is a nonfiction story about an Oklahoma family and their struggles during the Dust Bowl and Great Depression era.

Having suffered and survived the ravages of tuberculosis, Oklahoma natives Ed and Lillie Brown are determined to raise their family. Leaving friends and family and everything familiar behind, they pack up their children and belongings and make the long journey on Route 66 to Mojave, California.

Soon after they leave for California, World War II begins. The children don't concern themselves with hard times and Ed and Lillie's young son, Charles, and his friends have one adventure after another.

Route 66 to Mojave delivers an unvarnished look at life during the Depression and World War II. The Brown family's triumphs and heartaches create a timeless story, brimming with human emotion.

Author Marilyn Brown lives on a ranch near Kelseyville with her husband, Charlie, who is one of the main characters of this story.

Watershed Books is located at 305 N. Main St., Lakeport, telephone 263-5787.



Fans of “The Simpsons,” arguably the most popular animated show in the history of television, may be asking the question: “What took so long?”

After 18 years on the FOX network, with enough episodes that would require nearly a week to watch in an around-the-clock marathon, “The Simpsons” is so ingrained in pop culture that it’s hard to imagine anyone not familiar with the Simpson family, Homer and Bart, Marge and Lisa, and even baby Maggie. You could have watched only a couple of episodes years ago or perhaps caught all 400 and counting, and still there is something delightfully, amusingly familiar about “The Simpsons Movie,” a full-length feature that is at once in the typical comfort zone and also a bit daring.

Other TV cartoon shows arrived on the big screen in a more hurried fashion. “South Park” comes to mind, but it seemed in a rush to be more crass, rude and offensive, and so the movie title was fittingly “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut.” Aside from some crude language and one amusing bit of cartoon nudity, “The Simpsons Movie” dares to be irreverent in a sensible way that keeps the film in a more family-friendly mode, albeit one that skews in favor of adult appreciation of its offbeat humor. With slightly judicious editing, “The Simpsons” is merely a DVD release away from running as the movie of the week on a TV network.

More by happenstance than choice, I have been out of touch with “The Simpsons” for many years. Complacency may have set in because this is a program that seems destined to remain on the air forever, and so I have taken it for granted. Nevertheless, even the most casual viewer has every reason to rejoice in the sheer fun of this smartly satirical romp through the Simpsons universe, because it all boils down to a few simple truths about the Simpson family.

Homer (voiced by Dan Castellaneta), a simple boob with low expectations in life, is easily sidetracked by donuts and a visit to Moe’s Tavern. His wife Marge (Julie Kavner) is relentlessly upbeat and supportive of the family. Mischievous son Bart (Nancy Cartwright) engages in high-energy escapades, while daughter Lisa (Yeardley Smith), a model of good conduct and book smarts, finds it difficult to fit in with this dysfunctional clan. Baby Maggie has no words of complaint, but may be wiser than anyone else.

The movie opens with the Simpson family attending an “Itchy and Scratchy” movie at the local cinema, which prompts Homer to loudly wonder why anyone would pay good money to see something in a theater that they could easily see at home for free. This is the kind of irreverent jab at its own movie that makes “The Simpsons” a satirical treat. And the pointed humor doesn’t stop there. The filmmakers take a few swipes at the FOX network for assertive self-promotion, and throw in a few pokes at the Disney kingdom as well.

Even though it is Homer Simpson’s epic stupidity that is the brunt of most jokes, there are numerous targets for parody, such as the religious fervor of Ned Flanders, the trendy environmental movement that relies on rock bands and obtuse government bureaucrats. The latter target is very much in play when Homer’s witless plan to dispose of a silo full of pig excrement causes a monumental toxic disaster at Springfield Lake, which draws the unwanted attention of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Russ Cargill (Albert Brooks).

That EPA chief Cargill is an overzealous fool comes into play when he convinces U.S. President Arnold Schwarzenegger (Harry Shearer) to allow a quarantine of Springfield by a diabolically ingenious plan to cover the entire community with an unbreakable glass dome. A vengeful mob descends on the Simpson household, and the family makes a narrow if wildly improbable escape that has them relocating to Alaska.

Homer is anxious to start life anew out in the wilderness, but when word arrives that the government will take drastic action against Springfield, everyone but Homer wants to return home. As is usually the case, Homer comes to his senses at the last possible moment in order to do the right thing.

Running at a length approximately four times that of one TV episode, “The Simpsons Movie” deftly keeps its gags, jokes and wacky ideas moving at full steam from start to finish, thus putting together its irreverent and satirical humor in a coherent frame. The laughs are as consistent as Homer’s innate foolishness, and the energy level is higher than any mischief that Bart could cook up. Despite Homer’s musings, this is one TV-inspired movie well worth the price of admission.

Tim Riley writes film reviews for Lake County News.



The summer concerts have been drawing larger crowds each week. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



LAKEPORT – Week seven of the Summer Concerts in the Park series continues this afternoon in Lakeport's Library Park.

The Reggae band Rootstock of Ukiah will bring their most unique sound to the multitudes that gather each Friday afternoon.

Warms temperaturess and light winds, great music and KNTI's top DJ Eric Patrick welcome and make comfortable the many hundreds who are enjoying the 19th year of the concert series.

The concert begins at 6:30 p.m.


LOWER LAKE – The Tuscan Village Friday Night Concert series in Lower Lake featured Dennis Purcell, local folk singer, performing a variety of music for the capacity crowd on July 27.

His performance ran the gamut from old American folk songs to Broadway tunes, like Summertime, which had the audience singing along.

His rendition of obscure Bob Dylan songs went over very well as did the Beatles tunes, which were well-remembered by the mostly baby-boomer crowd. Even the children seemed entranced.

Since the seating consists of picnic tables, it is limited and getting there early is a must.

The Aug. 3 concert will feature Travis Austin, local classical guitarist. The Aug. 10 concert will showcase Phil Mathewson, local song writer-musician and his friends. You never know who will be playing with Phil when he invites local musicians from the audience onto the stage. The concert runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The Tuscan Village is located on Main Street in historic Lower Lake right near the post office. Call 2 Goombas Deli, 994-3354, for more information.


Yanahay Hooper and Lex Krauss get into the music at Friday's concert. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


LAKEPORT – As luck would have it, while the temperatures rose so did the late afternoon winds, balancing the 93-plus degrees burning down on Lakeport's Library Park, home to the Summer Concerts in the Park series.

Cooking up more heat and adding to the summer time fun was Rootstock.

Enjoying their third trip to the 19-year-old concert series, the Ukiah-based Reggae band Rootstock drew in another huge crowd to what has turned out to be another of Lake County's hip destinations.

Not a single $150.00 ticket could be found anywhere ... yet, once again, a crowd estimated at 2,000-plus filled the park. Several dozen to more than 100 people at anytime enjoyed the dance lawn all afternoon, into the evening and right up to the final number.



Just three shows are remaining in this year's summer series. Attendance is expected to remain high and the fun returns next Friday afternoon when Levi Lloyd & The 501 Band crank up the bluesy tunes for week No. 8.

Don't miss out! The Summer Concerts in the Park and summer itself will end before you know it!




A closeup of Rootstock's trumpter, Jim Dooley. Photo by Harold LaBonte.



Another big crowd attended Friday's concert. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

Bettie Mae Fikes had the audience in the palm of her hand during her performances at the festival. Photo by Abbye Brenner.

UPPER LAKE – The two sets performed by Bettie Mae Fikes on the night of Thursday, July 19, during the inaugural Blue Wing Blues Festival were preceded and augmented by the Levi Lloyd Band whose members were identified in part one of this article.

Although Rob Watson of James Brown's Soul Generals was advertised as the band leader, a last-minute gig for the Soul Generals in Italy required Rob to call on Levi LLoyd and his crew to provide instrumentation for Ms. Bettie. Ironically, Ron Perry, the bass player, gave Rob Watson his first gig and mentored him early on in his career.

Sound man D. Wills was a great crowd warmer with his dancing and singing antics on "It's Your Thing." Levi Lloyd's rendition of Jimmy Reed's "Big Boss Man" was dedicated to festival organizer Bernie Butcher.

From the opening chords of the great ballad "Soul Serenade," on through "Let The Good Times Roll," a medley combining T-Bone Walker's, "Stormy Monday" and B.B. King's "Nobody Loves Me But My Mama," was Bettie Mae improvising, testifying and singing the blues at its finest, despite struggling with allergies during her first set.

Remarkably, her voice was stronger during the second set and those in attendance marveled at the ease in which Fikes improved upon excellence. She truly had us like putty in her palm. She summed her expertise by commenting, "Though I love jazz, pop and country, the blues and gospel are what get me through this experience called life." Kudos to Lake County resident Mike Magbie for guesting on harmonica on "You Got Me Running."

Look out for Bettie's next CD, currently being recorded in Lake County.


Summer Of Love Legend Mike Wilhelm and Lake Blues All-Stars featuring Jim Williams and Jon Hopkins were an early crowd favorite on Thursday night. Their set included Robert Johnson's "Love In Vain" and B.B. King's "Rock Me Baby."

Hopkins, the "Barrister of Bass," did a fine rendition of Jimmy Reed's "Big Boss Man," playing bass and harmonica simultaneously.

A female vocalist named Neon guested on "The Thrill is Gone" and "I'm Tore Down." When not singing she worked the crowd admirably and did great percussion work.

Jim Williams put the great Mike Wilhelm's career in perspective by mentioning that Wilhelm was Jerry Garcia's favorite guitar player. Wilhelm interjected that he was playing though an amp that he bought from Garcia. (On a side note, both Mike Wilhelm and Betty Mae Fikes were pictured in recent issues of Rolling Stone Magazine.)

Wilhelm displayed great virtuosity and chops in his note selection during his solos. The band closed with "Red House' and "Further On Up The Road" to a great ovation by the crowd. Great set!


Though this writer has seen Twice As Good on two other occasions, the way they played Friday night was simply uncut, blistering, high energy blues power. It seemed like a different band. Celebrating the release of their new CD, Live At Pala Casino 2007, Rich and Paul Steward, Bruce Hodge and Chris Ho really gave it everything they had.

From the new CD, they started off with "T-Bone Shuffle.” From his first duck walking guitar solo, Paul was on fire. They did Jimmy Reed. They did Albert King. From the 1920s they reprised Big Maceo Merriweather. Paul played keyboards, blew saxophone and harmonica, sometimes intermittently within the same song.

They did Elmore James. They did the self-penned "Rancheria" from their first CD. They did Santana, Solomon Burke, Bobby Bland, Ray Charles, Santo & Johnny, Big Joe Turner and a little "Mustang Sally" too.

Their aunt danced nonstop on stage. It was her 400th show with her nephews!

The crowd was enthralled and adoring. It had to be seen to be believed.

This writer has heard a rumor that Paul Steward sat in with the critically acclaimed Robert Randolph & The Family Band recently and outplayed Robert Randolph. Mind you, it's a rumor. But I believe it was the great Jimi Hendrix who sang, anythang is possible, with the power of soul!


Unfortunately, this writer was unable to attend Saturday's closing act at the festival, Blues Express recording artist, the great Frankie Lee. From all reports I've heard, Lee put on an incredible show, which included Claudette King daughter of King Of The Blues, B.B. King.

I guess Butcher will just have to have them back sooner rather than later. Blues, blues and more blues in Lake County. What a concept!

Thurman Watts writes about music for Lake County News.




Paul Steward of Twice As Good with Robert Randolph of the Family Band. Photo courtesy of Paul Steward.



Upcoming Calendar

Flag Day
06.14.2024 8:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Kelseyville High School commencement ceremony
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
06.15.2024 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Middletown Art Center exhibit opening
Father's Day
06.16.2024 8:00 am - 9:00 pm
Middletown Days
06.16.2024 9:00 am - 11:30 am
Moose Lodge Father’s Day breakfast
06.18.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

Mini Calendar



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