Updated: Jan 18
Sebastopol is a little gem tucked away in the North Bay. This little tye dyed town has free concerts during the summer, in Ives Park every Wednesday night, they call Peacetown. On this particular Wednesday night there were two North Bay legends playing to the ever appreciative hippy dippy music lovers - the opening band, Bohemian Highway, lead by the very talented, singer songwriter Doug Blumer. Bohemian Highway is a six piece band, made up of two couples, Doug Blumer and his lovely wife Nancy, co write of all the original music. The other couple, Jane and Kent Fossgreen, are musicians in the North Bay, both members in many bands. Jane plays powerful sax pieces and she's solid on her backing vocals, her husband Kent on bass, Chip Trombley on drums, and multi instrumentalist, Robert Butler on, well, hmm, anything from harmonica and to ukulele and mandolin.
On this day, Jane, Kent and Robert don't have far to commute to their next gig, as they're also members of the next band of the evening, Pepperland, a Beatles tribute band.
Bohemian Highways' Blumer, is an Americana super talent with a voice most singers would die to have, he's been playing music for decades. The very stylish Doug Blumer married the love of his life, Nancy Irish for what will be 27 years in December. When you are in the presence of this couple, its very apparent that he adores her and she him, by the beautiful energy and loving glances between the two. Bohemian Highways' sound is catchy, and melodic with strong meaningful lyrics. One can hear any number of inspirations behind their music from Glen Campbell to Jeff Tweedys' Wilco. Blumer, the leader of Bohi as they're called locally, is a music lover from way back. Born and raised in Southern Missouri, then living for many years in San Francisco with his wife Nancy, (originally from the North Bay), they made the move from the city up north 7 years ago and landed back in Sebastopol where Nancy lived with her family. Sebastopol, is a special little town, rich in good people and great music.
When they lived in the city, Blumer was in a band called The Westerlys, formed in 1994 where one of his bandmates was bass man, Kent Fossgreen. Fossgreen is from a long line of bass players and well known around the north bay, for his little, 'old school' instrument repair shop behind Loud and Clear music store in Cotati. The Westerlys toured and were an award winning band before disbanding in 2000.
After working alongside many different musicians Blumer formed Bohemian Highway in 2011. Each member of BoHi adds their own brand of charm and musicianship to the mix. With Blumers' strength, power and light of his life standing beside him, Nancy, his adoring wife, co writer and guitarist. Together Nancy and Doug create a beacon of light that illuminates the path for this six piece masterpiece. Nancy and Doug write all the songs, sometimes separately, sometimes together always honing a meaningful body of lyrics in each song.
Aside from the two couples, theres Chip Trombly who is the drummer in this band, and a singer songwriter and multi instrumentalist in his own right, recording a solo album of his own soon to be released. Then theres Robert Butler...ahhh...what can I say about this multi talented backbone of Sonoma County....Butler originating from Watertown New York, then lived in DC, came to Sebastopol with his wife and they raised their two daughters here...lucky for us all. Aside from many other strengths Robert brings to this area, he brings his musical talents of which I've been lucky enough to have seen and heard. Robert plays pretty much every instrument one can think of, from the guitar, bass and drums to flute, melodica, stylophone, and he plays one of the meanest harmonicas you'll ever hear! Butlers' harmonica playing is off the charts! With a flute, I've seen him do some amazing Jethro Tull. Complete with the Ian Anderson stance on one leg. Butlers vast musical talents add a certain richness and depth to the Bohi sound for sure.
All in all, if you haven't seen or heard Bohemian Highway, you should. Once you hear the smooth, silky tones in Doug Blumers' voice you'll want to stay for the entire set they play and/or album heard on your device. You don't need to be a twang lover for Bohemian Highway. I'm a punk rocker at heart, and all about rock n roll, but I have found so many BoHi songs thats I love. Some of my favorites are "Live Music Rules" (or "Time Slows Down") written by Nancy. Other faves written by the couple ,"Dreaming of Spring" and "Bohemian Highway" and, "The Party's at Our House" is always fun. So, whether you are a rocker or a fan of the twang...Bohemian Highways' music should satisfy, and be at the top of your shopping list...Well worth a listen!
Pepperland....this is a six piece Beatles tribute band. The band plays perhaps 2 or 3 times a year, and always a special occassion, playing to a loving, enthusiastic audience. The front man/lead singer, David "Davy" Alder comes from Sunderland, (Northern England), which, to Americans, gives this band a beautiful authenticity. The other members of the band are, Robert Butler, lead guitar and vocals, Kent Fossgreen on bass, Jane Fossgreen on sax and vocals, Scott Taylor on drums and Steve Buck on keys. All talented seasoned musicians. They are a band comprised of friends who love each other, and they're more like a family, which is a good quality to have when you're making any kind of music, especially happy music like The Beatles!
Pepperland opened their set with a rousing "Back in the USSR" moving to simple pleasures like "Please Please Me" and "Hard Days Night." Alder has a great stage presence and its always obvious that he's having a good time on stage singing the tunes everyone knows, and loves. When Pepperland plays, its a sing-a-long. Its all about audience participation. The audience dances from the first note to the last, and good times are had by all.
In Bohemian Highway, Butler plays many instruments including the not so common stylophone. Robert uses this small, cheap, handheld synthesizer to duplicate the no longer existing Tubon synth used by the Beatles on "Baby You're A Rich Man". Davy Alder began in music many years ago in the UK as a drummer. These days he sings in a couple tribute bands both in California and Florida, but by day he is a marketing genius. Brought to the U.S. many years ago for his marketing talents. In Pepperland he's the front man, sometimes with his guitar, sometimes not. He usually jumps into the audience at some point in the show, and embraces the music lovers in a true sing along style, allowing the audience to sing with him into the mic. This Peacetown Pepperland performance, consisted of 28 Beatles favourites. Ending with, "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "Twist and Shout".
Ives Park was heaving with smiling music lovers, all knowing they've come for a good time. And a good time is indeed had by all!