Monday, February 3, 2014

Rain & Magik

It was the Bicentennial year, 1976, and the driest California year of the century was wrapped up in red, white and blue. All year, it seemed, we were celebrating the nation's birthday by stitching up Betsy Ross era bonnets, drawing flags on whatever surface we could find and studying up on our founding fathers. I remember collecting the special Bicentennial quarters featuring the colonial drummer and how our school teacher solemnly detailed the importance of the Declaration of Independence. By the day of the big celebration, the 4th of July, though, summer was as marked by the drought as it was patriotism.  As a kid, the drought was a curiosity as much for the concern expressed by adults as it was by the strangeness of not being able to get relief from the heat by running through sprinklers. We easily fished trout out of puddles that once qualified as the local creek, we let the lawn go,  had less fruit on our trees and reduced the fireworks celebration to some sparklers. But while it had lasting repercussions, that dry spell was only  a year. Time went speeding ahead, the rainclouds returned, and soon we were back to contending with flood years (1982). Living with extremes was growing up in California.
Like everything, extremes are relative, and as familiar as it is, in many ways, our current drought is dissimilar to that of the 1970s. The California Weather Blog has a comprehensive comparison of what's going on now vs. then.
So how welcome it was to wake up to the sound of rain on Sunday. How magical it seemed again for clouds to form and drop water, rinsing the air, rinsing the streets, cleaning off the car we haven't washed to add to our 20% reduction of water use. Most of all, it just felt good. I threw on a rain jacket ran/walked to my favorite cafe, not caring I was getting wet for the sheer joy of needed water received.
Speaking of magic, we went to the Magik*Magik Orchestra 5-year Anniversary Concert at The Fox in Oakland on Friday. A celebration of the amazing work of orchestra founder and director Minna Choi, who continues to innovate and expand the sonic landscape with her "made-to-order orchestra for artists and creatives."  
The concert featured a whose-who of Bay Area and beyond indie music acts (ala John Vanderslice, Rogue Wave, The Dodos) who've employed the orchestra for their recordings (Magik*Magik is the house orchestra for Vanderslice's Tiny Telephone studio) or otherwise performed with the orchestra, as well as the also stupendously-amazing Pacific Boys Choir. Highlights of a night of sonic excellence were performances by The Lonely Trees' John Van Deusan (below)and Diana Gameros. But really, the night belonged to Minna and her already-incredible body of work.  Wowza.

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