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July 18, 2019
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Showing off rope tricks Skating during Cotati Kids Day parade Vehicle crashes into house Suicide leading cause of death in youths U10 Cal Ripken champions say Aloha Free school supplies Warnings weren’t enough! Rohnert Park City Council all about safety A young child making a big difference City of Cotati switches to 100% renewable electricity Trades Intro Program (TIP) leads to career Red flags fly at all fire stations during “Red Flag” warnings Alert resident foiled attempted burglary of neighbor’s home Wrong way bicyclist rides into path of SMART train School Year 2019-2020 for free and reduced-price meals Ca. Dept. of Justice announces ammunition regulations Promotions in the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety Homelessness spikes in RP Home delivery changes Technology High School construction on schedule Fresh faces on the CRPUSD board 73rd Miss Sonoma County competition held at Spreckels Straus Family Creamery moving to RP TAG building grand opening RP City Council, not business as usual Newsom’s vision “cradle to career” RP Downtown project underway Schools, facilities and bonds: Plans but no money DUI driver crashes into 7-1 Teen arrested for shooting at RP RP votes to restrict fireworks Grand Jury recommends improvements for So. Co. Water Bad air quality cancels sports Official election winners as projected by the VOICE  RP swears in new council member 2018 local stories which made history ArtStart brings art to the RP Senior Center Holocaust piano now in Cotati CRPUSD seeking a new superintendent Superintendent search begins Cotati Council moves ahead Planning Commission approves hotel Happenings at Cotati City Council Fun family Christmas events in Cotati Cougars’ season comes to a tearful sad conclusion CalFresh clients get Feb. benefits early Rohnert Park Station Ave. update Cuts suggested for school district The “Healing Wall” comes to Sonoma County Cotati memorializes victims Rohnert Park considers firework restrictions CHP to check motorcycle safety in local area Cotati honors and appreciates Undercover operation identifies prostitution at local massage parlors Dr. Dominguez and Hawkins named as director and co-director for Hanna Institute University Elementary School to host Maker World at SSU Animal Shelter League of RP receives grant Cotati Council reshuffles seats Help save lives by donating blood New laws on purchasing and concealing handguns Fencing in Sonoma County School district leaders tackle 1.9m deficit School district seeking new superintendent Cotati protests CASA compact School district balances budget More high density in Rohnert Park Put down your phone April is distracted driving awareness month SSU Police make arrest in sexual assault case CRPUSD district’s good news in May The long summer grinds The Community Voice endorses candidates DA’s office awarded DUI Prosecution Grant Rohnert Park kid joins TCU El Camino graduates Rohnert Park Council says we don’t need another agency Rancho students excel in Poetry Out Loud  SC public safety heroes of the year Don’t drive with an open container Traffic concerns top RP survey SSU Equestrian looks to go national Brace yourself for mosquitos Station Avenue project An offer has been made and accepted on Rohnert Park’s corporate yard SMART to offer free rides... School district set to begin new year Frightful, fun, free Halloween activities Cougars crush Ukiah Election projected winners November 6, 2018  Sonoma Clean Power offers no-cost energy upgrades Rancho advances to semifinals RP’s n­ew Director of Public Safety A stand-off with barricaded, suicidal woman ends safely in RP RP has a new director of public safety Mackenzie leaves SMART RP officers spent Sat. car chasing A shimmer of hope against the angry heavy sky SSU to host North Bay Women of Color conference Rancho’s TAG building, now a reality Mayors of So Co write angry letter Dodd’s college student food bill passes Rohnert Park caregiver arrested Sheriff’s canine apprehends convicted felon Rohnert Park residents awarded law degrees Public invited to give input on Downtown RP Site School board candidates voice opinions Woman stabbed on west side of RP LandPaths connects people to protected land Tech High Girl's Soccer Undefeated champions! AG Becerra issues consumer alert on price gouging in fire-affected communities Learn to docent at the SSU Fairfield Osborn Preserve New signs point in the right direction Where are the ski lifts? Is Cotati being targeted? New alcohol fees for Rohnert Park Sonoma State president testifies for tax relief for disaster victims Fixing Cotati’s roads RP driver identified Burglary suspect found with firearms Joint Legislative Wine Committee to meet at SSU State Farm property steams forward to Station Avenue Scrappers Steal Win RP Foundation issues grant Cotati allows second dispensary New residential building lands approved In Singapore Strait aboard a missile destroyer PG&E has a prediction model USCIS presents free training on how to apply for citizenship RP investigates new site for Corp. Yard Two arrested in RP motel for mail theft  Is Juuling the new norm? Cotati considers $15 min. wage No criminal charges filed against PG&E in northern Ca. wildfires  RP decides on west side Vintage race cars on Sonoma raceway track May CalFresh month celebration DMV offices will close for half day Rancho Cotate Band fundraiser BBQ Jessica Holman: Thirty-five years of Rancho Spirit Titans crush Mustangs Station Avenue gets final approval Cotati Council reviews trash plan Baseball League receives donation from local motorcycle club Cotati Police Chief Parish swears in new officer Garber A Sunday afternoon with retired football players Injury collision closes Golf Course Dr. Giving Kids Smiles in Rohnert Park Neighborhood watch meeting scheduled New Executive Director at SSU Reckless vehicle ends in DUI arrest New interim superintendent Krispy Kreme Doughnuts comes to Rohnert Park  Cougars blow past Gauchos  Rohnert Park honors its Veterans and Servicemen CHP reminds all of increased crimes Cougars beat Bulldogs More than 276,000 Dreamers have renewed DACA White receives Matt Walsh Memorial RP and Sunday festivities SSU fraternity banned for five years Name correction: Grand Jury report on SoCo jail system Water Conservation Car washes and water waste Cotati Chamber of Commerce Oktoberfest Rancho crushes Analy CA Homemaker Association needs volunteers Active duty honorees at the RP Veterans Day program Santa now knows her secret CPI receives funding to offer counseling in schools Caltrans works toward decarbonizing California transportation The Rancho Cotati Rotary Club hosts Humanitarian Award dinner SSU and SCOE offer high school internship Illegal robocalls and spoofing Stray sways the crowd RP’s new interim police chief Big changes to big project in Rohnert Park A possibility for Snyder Lane to have four lanes soon Rohnert Park road updates Sheriff’s Detectives arrest SR man after controlled delivery of ecstasy pills. Cotati comes out against CASA Llamadas ilegales y spoofing Penngrove Community Church celebrates 120 years Cotati approves tree lighting City of Cotati has apartment housing parking problems Operators ordered to pay for false advertising violations Becerra urges Ca. businesses resources to help prevent human trafficking Possible change to parking rules Enroll in Transportation Security Administration Elder abuse rising in So Co Students at University Elementary discussing the labyrinth Rohnert Park City Council Candidates NHTSA reminds motorists to drive sober this season Cotati’s code of conduct School board follows its policy R P Foundation gives grants to NOAH and Petaluma Bounty Summit State Bank annual report FEMA awards Sonoma Water grant RP moves to curb false alarms Doggone hot days are here! March for the blind highlights need for more accessible sidewalks Cougar to Bear — Simmons’ new pelt SRJC picks up local quarterback The Cougars defeat the Jaguars at homecoming New laws take effect Jan. 1 Boards approve plan to offset proposed groundwater fee Groundwater sustainability fee adopted in Santa Rosa Plain Kids and firefighters compete in RP RP local, Petri Alva, 14, a nationally recognized athlete SSU named one of the best universities Verity is hiring to work with survivors SweetPea celebrates 31 years Seawolves serve up a victory Students almost ready for kindergarten Would you make a great foster parent? 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Music alive in Cotati

  • Ann Kay rocks out to "Hangman's Daughter" at the Cotati Music Festival in La Plaza Park. Photo by Robert Grant

By: Janet and Lanny Lowery
June 21, 2019

Saturday, June 15, downtown Cotati, alive along Redwood Highway with brunch walkers popping in and out of the main street’s restaurants and taverns, stirred by the excitement of set up activity just north across West Sierra at La Plaza Park.  Overcast skies with a sun wanting to break through the clouds as the park filled with concession stands and the sound system called a sort of midday reveille with “Testing, testing.”  Cars and trucks passed beneath the banner extending from the park to the rear of the fire station that announced “The Cotati Music Festival.”

The Cub Reporter’s main assignment:  Discover why Jud Snyder’s beloved “Cotati Jazz Festival” has been changed to “Cotati Music Festival.”  Feeling the honor and the pressure of fulfilling such a worthy assignment, the Cub checks in with Liz Derammelaere at the Chamber of Commerce who points to Neville Hormuz, owner of Loud and Clear, Cotati’s renowned music store.

Hormuz unable to contain himself, erupted with enthusiasm, telling much about the bands that he booked, their style of music, his love of animal rescue and Sonoma County musicians, and his desire to see a festival filled with people moving freely and swaying with the music.  Hormuz developed the poster, served as the master of ceremonies, hired the main stage and the help and set up the sound system along with booking the bands.

Nate Lopez, bearded with checked shirt, sunglasses and faded jeans, working with drummer Libby, started the park jam.  Lopez works hard, mostly with his eight-string guitar performing solo.  The man and his swift moving, adept fingers play 250 gigs per year.  The crowd danced around the main stage, the park vibrated with the strings and the accompanying percussion.  And Lopez introduced the next song, “Inspired by ‘Nightrider,’ a little tune called “2000.”  He hit the bass with the low sounds and the melody with the high ones.  Libby, who worked with many bands and recording sessions, complimented Lopez nicely with a slow blues tune from his youth.  Lopez tapped his instrument as he strummed and told how the movie “Us” inspired his song “Them.”

Hormuz promised no gaps in the music. The Bluebyrds delivered working an alternative stage between headliner performances.  Based on the crowd’s response, The Bluebyrds seemed to be a fifth headliner group.  Billed as a “Folk/Rock Reprise,” they promised “a tribute to the roots of folk/rock the jangle and harmony of:  The Byrds, Crosby Stills & Nash, Buffalo Springfield, The Lovin’ Spoonful and many more.”  The music never ceased, the crowd danced and swayed and sung to many familiar tunes.  The Bluebyrds could have entertained the music lovers all afternoon.

Hormuz told more about why the jazz festival became the music festival.  In the last years of the jazz festival, attendance fell to 100-150 and jazz was not actually being booked.  People seemed to like rock and wanted to dance.  Vendors dwindled.  But this second year of the music festival revived the sounds in the park and brought back more vendors.

Vendors horse-shoed from across the park from the left to the right of the stage.  The Bus Shoppe, a mini-school bus painted white and light blue presented a mobile fashion boutique displaying fancy and unique clothing that appeals to music types explained its proprietor.  Just as I spy a flashy rack of men’s clothing, along comes Cotati City Manager Damien O’Bid and his family.  I suggest, “Damien, buy some of these spicy duds to put some Tabasco into your city council meetings.”  

Walking the horseshoe, I encounter a variety of snack booths from Filipino adobo to Aunt Betty’s Gourmet Hot Dogs.  The Chamber of Commerce and the Bear Republic offer enticing libations.  Have dessert with Fruity Moto, smoothie or a fruit bowl or a frozen delight.  Still hungry, grab a slice from Mountain Mike’s, many offerings from Down to Earth Café, or roasted almonds from Bryerton’s.

More delight for those who love chatting with non food vendors:  music lessons from School of Rock, stun guns and pepper spray from Damsel in Defense, skin care from Gina’s Journey, jewelry, tattoo information, t-shirts, nail polish, window replacement, music at the Green Center, property from ReMax, children’s boutique from a family RV, pendants, wood art, and more musical information from SOMO Village Event Center.

Back to the main event and now appearing on the mainstage, Hangman’s Daughter, a name familiar to Cotati music goers during the past several decades.  The lead singer, Sherrie Phillips, reminds the audience this band that has been together for 30 years has just returned to the Sonoma music scene after several years in Nashville.  

The group, alive with more than just sound, all dramatize their sounds as they move lively across the stage.  Along with Phillips, two guitarists, a drummer and a tambourine playing back up singer are up and dancing throughout the performance.  Phillips belts out Janis Joplin’s “Say that it’s over baby” as she makes contact with every eye in the crowd.  Ann Kay, hearing Hangman’s Daughter for the first time, swings her dark red hair soulfully as she says, “I go all over the place for music and will next see Smashmouth in Santa Cruz!”  She likes to dance on the side and have one-to-one communication with the performers.

Phillips gives background for each of the other members of the band.  She emphasizes the family nature of the group as she talks about 21 year old Zoe, her backup singer and protégée, daughter of one of the musicians, who grew up as part of the band.

Phillips, heated from all of the dancing, dramatizing and singing, patiently responded to the Cub Reporter’s inquiry:  “Where does all of the energy come from?”  And she replied, “It comes from my soul.  I take from the audience and give back throughout the performance.”  She improvises gestures, expressions and dramatics as she feels vibrations from the crowd and from her band.

Following another Bluebyrd interlude, Gator Nation, a zydeco washboard group with Southern sounds from New Orleans and Cajun Country, gets everybody up dancing as the crowd swells with the progressing of the afternoon.  Everybody sways to the accordion player’s “Momma’s got a squeeze box, Daddy never sleeps at night.”

In the crowd, two men, volunteers from the Sonoma County Bird Rescue, walk with an owl and a hawk tethered to their arms.  Donors line up at the sound booth to contribute to the raffle to help fund a building at the old Cotati golf course.  Organizer Hormuz has set up a 50/50 split between the bird rescue center and the lucky donor.  The pot, at $440, ready for drawing, produces $220 for the lucky winner, Margie Mendes, and another $220 for the rescue center.

More fun with The Bluebyrds and Big Fit, funky and fun out of Sebastopol, cap a very successful music festival.

Headed to my car, I pass the Jim Boggio statue, think of Jud Snyder’s love for the jazz festival and realize that his true love was music, festive atmospheres, and people having fun.  The Jazz Festival lives through The Cotati Music Festival.  While some things change, simple things continue to make life good.