Archive for December, 2011

Hemet/Valle Vista Pot Dispensary to Close

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

The pot dispensary in Valle Vista will be pressured to close.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The “medical” marijuana dispensary operating across from the Shell Station in Hemet/Valle Vista is on Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone’s hit list.

It’s one of 36 pot dispensaries illegally operating in unincorporated areas of Riverside County, which have been banned since 2006.

According to the Dec. 14th issue of The Californian, this move from the County Supervisors comes one month after a state appellate court upheld the city of Riverside’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries.

“That gave us the legal comfort to aggressively pursue what we have always thought was an illegal operation,” said Supervisor Stone to The Californian. “This is going to put people on notice. They had better cease and desist.”

According to Corinne Daly, one of Supervisor Stone’s legislative assistants, the property located at 44518 Florida Avenue in Hemet/Valle Vista, is on their current list of closures.

“Our office is working closely with Code Enforcement and our legal and law enforcement team in having those activities come to a halt,” Corinne wrote to us in a recent email.

The exterior of the pot facility looks like a legitimate doctor's office.

“I think most people believe that dispensaries really cater to the recreational user of marijuana,” Supervisor Stone said in the Dec. 14th article.

The county intends to invoke code enforcement powers and lawsuits to pursue dispensaries unless operators voluntarily shut down. The county also plans to seek recovery for all legal costs associated with its efforts.

For weeks, Idyllwild Me has been rallying to close that dispensary down. It has a tremendous amount of activity at all hours of the day and night.

Cars drive up and park and within 30 seconds, they take off again. It happens at 6 a.m. as well as 8 p.m. on Sundays and holidays.  Is all this activity legal? Are all of these people terminally sick with legitimate green cards? We hardly think so.

However, after reporting the activity, the Hemet police said there was little that could be done. (See Idyllwild Me blog post, “Little Recourse for Hemet/Valle Vista Marijuana Dispensary,” dated Nov. 28)

“The only way an officer could investigate that medical marijuana dispensary is if someone said they were able to buy marijuana there without a green card,” the officer said. “We would need actual information.”

The Valle Vista pot dispensary is busiest after dark

However, according to the Dec. 14th article in The Californian, police officers have been lobbying elected officials to find a way to close pot dispensaries down for years.

Now they have Supervisor Stone’s bite and the state’s legal backing, it’s time to “Get Er Done.”

They could start by looking at the dispensary’s books. Bet the hundreds of customers the Valle Vista pot dispensary sees each day only pay quick cash, and there’s no credit card and check receipts. Perhaps the IRS would like to see the books too, and get their fair share.

Corinne Daly said Supervisor Stone’s office would keep us apprised of their progress.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

Idyllwild Townies Support Student Jazz Efforts

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The Tuesday night, Dec. 13, student jazz concert was the place to be in Idyllwild. Everyone was there. And not just parents, faculty and students. Hubert Halkin and Frank Ferro from Cafe Aroma were there, and musician Barnaby Finch, along with countless others who packed Stephens Recital Hall at Idyllwild Arts Academy to over capacity. It was standing room only three deep to the door. No one seemed to mind and no one left at intermission.

One look at Marshall Hawkins’ face, and you’d know he was pleased with the turnout. (After all, that guy never smiles).

“My friend is in the chorus and he’s also Korean,” said Kevin, a Visual Arts student.

“I came to support Marshall,” said Peter Askim, Idyllwild Arts music director.

“I think Casey Abrams brought a lot of popularity to jazz, even on campus,” said Mary, who was taking pictures for the academy.

“I came to see what great jazz musicians this school is cranking out,” said Hubert. “We want to talk them into playing at Cafe Aroma soon. We’ve already got Lake.”

Regardless of their reasons for coming, there was a festive mood about the place.

When I arrived (30 minutes late), the new Idyllwild Jazz Choir was performing, “Centerpiece.” Anne Farnsworth, their vocal instructor, introduced the piece from the piano bench. The group of nine was dressed up and crowded around a half circle onstage.

“There isn’t much stage room because of all the instruments on stage,” Mary explained, as she maneuvered to get better photos of them.

The overhead spotlights weren’t great for taking pictures either. The lights were least effective in the back of the multi-purpose room.

Towards the end of “Centerpiece,” each of the students took turns and “scatted” one line each. All of them were good, and left you wanting them to scat a little more. And maybe move around a bit too. But I had to keep reminding myself that this wasn’t Billie Holiday, but teenagers at their first concert.

The Jazz Choir continued with “You Send Me,” “Shenandoah,” and the shorter “Tenor Madness,” arranged by Anne.

Throughout each song, one well-dressed middle aged guy closed his eyes and shook his head to the beat. He was happy in his own little jazz world. Barnaby was listening intently to each word. Some students in the audience were hugging each other and singing along.

After a brief intermission (in which no one left or gave up their seats!), Paul Carman’s Combo took the stage. According to the program, the night was split up into three parts, including Marshall Hawkins’ Combo (which I missed!), the Jazz Choir, and now Paul Carman’s Combo. Paul works closely with Marshall, and, according to the jazz students, each has his own teaching style.

Paul’s Combo was comprised of Lake (guitar), Luca (piano/keyboards), Mary (bass) and Max (drums). Paul introduced the group, and then quickly bowed out.

“This is Lake’s group,” Paul said.

Lake looked every bit the boss. He was dressed in a white blazer, dark shirt and a new haircut. His expression was serious, but the group could “read” his cues from behind him.

They played “Windows,” a modern Chick Corea tune, to start. It was a decent effort, and the crowd was enthusiastic and appreciative. But the four entertainers never smiled. This was serious jazz.

Katie, dressed in a black halter dress, looked every bit the part of an up-and-coming jazz singer. She introduced the Duke Ellington tune, “Solitude,” from behind her long bangs. After the first line, she had everyone in the room captivated.

For Christmas, I wished for a spotlight for her.

Next, Lake lead the group with the favorite Thelonious Monk tune, “Criss Cross.” He seemed to ease up a bit and moved his lips to playing the tune. Luca was moving his lips too. Guess that’s what jazz musicians do.

“Marshall does that too,” exclaimed another student. “It’s funny, but you don’t notice it after awhile.”

When the Korean singer (don’t know his name!) introduced the next song, “The Way You Look Tonight,” it drew a loud “Awwww!” from the women in the audience.

His Beatle haircut and close microphone made it hard for Mary to take his picture. But the crowd was pleased with his version of the famous Jerome Kern tune. He wasn’t afraid to use the microphone.

Some of the other jazz musicians appeared shy and a little unsure about being onstage, however. After the next two tunes, “Monk’s Mood,” and “Moment’s Notice,” Marshall orchestrated the Daniel Jackson song, “Wisdom,” bringing all 14 jazz students onstage.

Three of them recited some words about what wisdom meant, including Walker, who was from Marshall’s Combo. Most of the words of wisdom sounded pretty deep, like poetry.

“Marshall’s going to lead everyone in the group by just pointing to them,” Paul announced to the audience.

Katie, Emily, Paul and the Korean guy were scat singing, which wasn’t an easy feat over all those instruments, including a keyboard, piano, violin, French horn, saxophone, guitar, electric guitars, bass and drums. “Wisdom” wasn’t chaos, but a nicely-orchestrated song. Marshall brought everyone into the tune at the right time.

A few players, such as Lake, Randy, Inigo and Max, got to perform standout solos during “Wisdom.” Afterwards, everyone in the audience showed their appreciation. Everyone around me was certain that Max would get a girlfriend after his standout drum solo. He was just oozing jazz confidence.

“That was a lot of fun,” remarked everyone as they left Stephens Recital Hall Tuesday night. It was dark, damp and cold in Idyllwild, but no one seemed to notice. They had been warmed on the inside from a night of good jazz.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Dec 14, 2011 @ 17:41

 

 

Scat! to the Student Jazz Concert Tuesday

Monday, December 12th, 2011

(from L) Lake, Ashi and Alejandro, from another event. Lake is among the jazz musicians who will play on Tuesday night.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Scat!

That might be something you’d shout at an annoying cat. But we’re talking about cool cats here. Like Louis Armstrong, Marshall Hawkins and Casey Abrams, to name a few.

Jazz musician Louis Armstrong was credited with the invention of “scat.” That’s when a singer uses nonsensical syllables to sing improvised lines of a jazz tune.

Idyllwild Arts grad Casey Abrams brought scat to America’s living rooms during Season 10 of “American Idol” last year. Most were amused when Casey would play his bass and scat, as if he was speaking a new language.

But Casey learned how to scat from the scat master, Marshall Hawkins, who heads up the Jazz Department at Idyllwild Arts.

Scat is not just something to say to an annoying cat.

“Marshall is the best scatter around,” all the jazz students would say.

Marshall didn’t stop with Casey. He’s also teaching the singers of the new Jazz Chorus how to scat too.

This Tuesday night, Dec. 13, you will hear them scat and play their hearts out. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. at Stephens Recital Hall on the Idyllwild Arts campus.

Elijah, a pianist from Hamburg, Germany, is among the nine members of the new Jazz Chorus. But he admits that he can’t scat.

“I’m not really a good scatter, but I can sing good enough to blend into the background,” Elijah said last weekend. “Some of the others are really good at scatting. You should hear them!”

Elijah mentioned the names of the five or six songs the new Jazz Chorus will be singing on Tuesday night, but he didn’t want to spoil the surprise.

He said the songs have jazz and blues roots with a “Manhattan Transfer” sound. As a teenager, Elijah is too young to remember the 70s band, Manhattan Transfer, which was known for their four-part harmonies and hit single, “Operator.” But he must’ve heard their memorable harmonies to borrow from them.

Elijah said that Tuesday’s jazz concert is not just about the Jazz Chorus, but also include features the two jazz combos, and the entire Idyllwild Arts Jazz Orchestra.

Casey Abrams (center) helped bring scat into American living rooms during the last season of "American Idol."

“We’ve been practicing since Parents Weekend, at the beginning of the school year,” Elijah said. “We’re ready!”

The Idyllwild Arts student jazz concert starts at 7:30 p.m. at Stephens Recital Hall at the end of Tollgate Road in Idyllwild. The concert is free and open to the public, but come early to get a good seat!

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Dec 12, 2011 @ 19:48

 

 

 

NY Phil Oboist Makes Idyllwild Arts Proud

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Liang Wang, principal oboist for the NY Philharmonic, is an Idyllwild Arts alum. Courtesy photo.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

One of Idyllwild Arts’ own came back last week not only to perform, but to spread good cheer. Liang Wang, principal oboist for the New York Philharmonic, is living proof that an Idyllwild Arts high school education is key to acceptance in top schools that can eventually lead to a promising career.

At age 26, Liang is the youngest principal oboist in the history of the New York Philharmonic. He’s kept that slot since 2006, and you can bet he didn’t get it on his good looks alone. After four years of studying oboe at Idyllwild Arts, Liang was accepted to the coveted Curtis Institute of Music, where he won fellowships, grants and awards. Later on, he played for the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony and worked his way up to the NY Philharmonic post.

“Liang gets to tell the other oboists what to do, and he’s much younger than all of them!” exclaimed Howard, a sophomore violist from Taiwan now studying at Idyllwild Arts.

Liang spoke to the Idyllwild Arts Student Orchestra after a rehearsal last week. He was candid about his time at the academy, including some mistakes he made (such as getting caught after curfew in the girls’ dorm). Most importantly, Liang offered the students some good advice.

“He said that he doesn’t get nervous onstage because he won some competitions, so he’s earned the right to be there,” said Tiffany, a senior who plays cello. “He looks so relaxed.”

Some of Liang’s achievements included a fellowship position at the Aspen Music Festival. He also was a second prize winner at the 2003 Fernard Gillet International Oboe Competition and a prizewinner at the 2002 Tilden Prize Competition.

Tiffany also said that besides thinking positively, Liang advised them to come to all of their performances prepared. And that means hours of practice.

“When you know your work, you’ll be confident in your playing,” Liang told them.

During his Dec. 3 and 4 concerts at Idyllwild Arts Academy, Liang performed Mozart’s “Concerto Oboe in C Major, K 314 (25d).” Advance press in the Idyllwild Town Crier, the Press-Enterprise, and the Idyllwild Herald, brought large crowds during both performances. The Sunday, Dec. 4 afternoon concert was standing room only.

(from L) Camille (with Mariya, an IA alum) was enthusiastic about Liang Wang's master class and the importance he's brought to the oboe.

The oboe concerto was lively, and Liang played most of the time, even to the point of flush in his cheeks. According to the program notes, the Mozart Oboe Concerto in C was composed in the summer of 1977, but the manuscript was lost until 1920. It had a striking resemblance to a flute concerto of Mozart’s. Finally published in 1948, it remains the least-known of Mozart’s entire concerto output.

The notes stated that the Oboe Concerto was rather French in style with cheerful outer movements.

In fact, Liang looked rather French and lively onstage, lifting his oboe like a horn to give the audience its full sound. He was also keen on taking cues from Peter Askim, Idyllwild Arts’ music director. No prima dona he! You could tell that he knew that the fine performance was a group effort.

“I’m in love with him!” exclaimed Camille, an oboist and senior at Idyllwild Arts. “He brought such notoriety to our instrument!”

Camille was among those who got to attend Liang’s master class that weekend. She said that Liang gave her lots of good input about her playing, which comes at the perfect time when she’s applying to colleges.

He even agreed to give Camille a lesson when she visits the Manhattan School of Music over winter break. He is currently on the faculty there.

Ryan Zwahlen, head of the Music Department at Idyllwild Arts who also plays the oboe, was instrumental in securing Liang’s performance at the school.

“He gets great reviews on his sound and control,” Ryan said. “Having him perform with our students will show them what hard work could get them in the future. It’s also a great recruitment thing for the school helping us to raise our profile.”

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Dec 9, 2011 @ 11:57

 

Lost: Family Cat in Idyllwild

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Peanut, my 8-year-old cat, has been missing for one week, since Thanksgiving Day.

She was last seen outside the family home at 53530 Marion View Drive (near McMahon) in Idyllwild.

She is all black with yellow eyes and weighs about 10 pounds. She has tiny paws. There was no collar or ID tags.

There were many visitors around town Thanksgiving weekend, and it’s possible that Peanut may have “hitched” an unlikely ride home. On several occasions, Peanut  would jump into people’s cars. Sometimes they’d drive off not knowing she was there until they heard her cries.

Or, Peanut may have gotten locked into a shed or garage. You know how curious cats can be!

If you live near Marion View Drive, Country Club, or McMahon, and saw Peanut around your home Thanksgiving weekend, please call me. It’s possible that she may still be alive, and just trapped somewhere. It is my only hope! My heart is breaking!

Reward: $100 for Peanut’s safe return

Please call Marcia Gawecki at (951) 265-6755

Thank you!