Posts Tagged ‘Cafe Aroma’

Neighbors Help Combat Idyllwild Crime

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Having a large dog helps keep crime at bay

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Due diligence is what will help Idyllwild in its latest crime spree. In a Town Hall meeting held at the Idyllwild School on Saturday, March 24, about 100 townspeople were there to express their fears and find some answers. Some of my neighbors were there.

It’s not important that I didn’t go to the meeting. What is important is that I know my neighbors. And that I talk to them about what’s going on in the neighborhood when they’re out walking their dogs. Or we’re helping each other shovel our driveways.

That kind of neighborhood diligence will help combat crime. Two years ago, we all banded together to shut down a drug house at the end of our street.

Some enterprising renter decided to open up a drug house and supply the neighborhood with pot and other drugs. New cars started lining the streets, but most would only stay for a few minutes. Odd people would walk by in the middle of the day, not waving or looking you in the eye.

Then the drama started. Cuss words coming out of the mouths of grown women. And fights over money. The cops were there a lot, and finally they made her move out. Guess they got to the landlord (who was out of state). The last time I saw her, she was carrying a puppy in her hand along Hwy. 243, showing it to drivers trying to sell it.

The moral of this story is not how to combat a drug house in your neighborhood, but how you and your neighbors can band together to stop crime. During that time, we would all talk to each other about what we saw, and heard. Some reported her to the police for disturbing the noise ordinance, while others called Code Enforcement for all of the junk in the yard.

I should have been on high alert when I read in the Town Crier that my neighbor had reported break-ins in part-time homes around her. I’m only 10 houses away.

“I don’t have anything to steal,” I’d laugh and say. Except I’d cry if anyone took my MacBook.

Unoccupied homes are open invitations for robbers

Then my neighbor from Los Angeles told me that some thieves broke into a neighbor’s house while she was at home! The woman was disabled, so they just kept robbing her! That neighbor is a credible source, so I believe him. He’s in his 70s and worked in insurance investigations.

The in-home invasion, he said, was near McMahon (where Marion View Drive turns into Double View). My guess is that the thugs are targeting homes close to the highway. Just one turn and they’d be on Hwy. 243 and out of town.

My brother was a loss prevention officer for JC Penneys in Omaha. Too many times, he said, he would get pepper sprayed in the face by robbers. They would pack things into suitcases or bags and put them by the doors. Then they’d rush out to a waiting car and speed away. In pursuit, my brother would get sprayed–all for minimum wage.

But that lesson taught me that robbers want a clean getaway. They want the fastest way out of town. So if you live along Hwy. 243 in Idyllwild, it’s time to be diligent. Lock your doors, and report strange activity to the police.

Mountain Top Liquor was robbed at gunpoint a few weeks back. Richard, the clerk on duty at the time, said the guy knew what he was doing.

“He held the gun straight in my face and didn’t waver,” Richard said. “Either he’d done this before, or he had military training.”

Then the robber took off on foot behind the Fort, likely to a waiting car. Richard said the guy must’ve known someone locally because he knew where to park and get away quickly.

“Lock your doors,” Richard warned me. “There are people out there without ethics, and you have to protect yourself.”

I’ve been careless about locking my front and back doors at the same time. I also forget to lock my car, but secretly I hope that one would get stolen.

Streets like Marion View and McMahon are close to Hwy 243

However, I wasn’t expecting a knock in the night.

It was around 10:30 p.m., and I figured my boyfriend forgot his key. The bedroom is upstairs, so it took me a few minutes to open the door. By then, no one was there, but a station wagon was parked just beyond the driveway. I could see its frame in the moonlight.

I flicked the porch light and waved. But the car sped off. It wasn’t my boyfriend’s friends dropping him off. Was it someone just lost, looking for another house? Or were would-be thieves checking me out?

I noticed that the window was open a crack (for fresh air), but it could’ve easily been pried open. My car, covered in snow, was parked across the street because I have a slanted driveway and its easier to get out in the snow. The porch lights were on, but maybe they were wondering if anyone was at home?

Keep in mind when they knocked, no dog barked, because I don’t have one. But my boyfriend has a viscious cat that I wouldn’t think twice about letting out if anyone forces their way in. And they’re lucky I don’t have a gun.

Many women I've met at the Legion in Idyllwild pack guns

The home invaders are lucky that that invalid woman didn’t have a gun. Many people up here have guns, and I’m not just talking about Tracy Filippi, the bug guy.

Women have guns in their homes and in their cars. I’ve talked to a lot of them at the American Legion. These women are senior citizens, but many of them have also served in the military and know how to use a gun. They wouldn’t think twice about shooting anyone who forces their way into their homes.

My guess is the crime spree for homes and businesses along Hwy. 243 in Idyllwild will continue until someone gets shot. And then it won’t be like taking candy from a baby anymore.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

MMA Champ to Focus on Idyllwild Youth

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Willy is a 4-time MMA Champ. Courtesy photo.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The Idyllwild Fitness Center reopened three weeks ago. The new owner, Willy Latzo, is a four-time mixed martial arts world champion, who bought the gym for two reasons: To help him train for his next fight, and to help the young people of Idyllwild.

If you Google Willy Latzo, a million hits turn up. A self described, “Champion of the Hearts,” Willy also has many fight videos on You Tube. He is the European Champion in Muay Thai Boxing and a German champion in boxing. in 2000, he retired undefeated with 268 fights.

He said that fighting allowed him to travel the world, and see the better part of life. He has a trainer, and agent, and lots of people who work for him. He’s owned many gyms before, including in Berlin, where he’s from, and in Los Angeles.

Yet, Willy ended up in Idyllwild. Why?

“It was time to buy a gym, and we looked at Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and New Jersey,” and, surprisingly, Idyllwild came up, and we thought, ‘That’s brilliant!'” Willy said, from his office with only one muscle poster on the wall.

At 6 foot, 2 inches, and 255 pounds, Willy is a formidable force. Although he was wearing a sweatshirt and pants, it was hard to see his muscles. Granted, it’s wintertime in Idyllwild, but it was surprising how bundled up he was, and how little he wanted to talk about himself, his championships, his lifestyle, and physique.

“This gym is not about making money,” Willy began. “It’s about potential.”

He knows Hulk Hogan and other famous celebrities personally and wants to bring them to Idyllwild. He wants to help generate some excitement about fitness for the teenagers of Idyllwild.

“It’s too early yet,” Willy said. “We just opened up this month, but in the Spring, I’d like to start working on some events that focus on youth and fitness.”

He said that he’s met a lot of teenagers who are hanging in the streets with nothing to do.

“Some have come in here smelling of vodka,” Willy said. “I’m not here to judge, but who is taking care of the youth?”

“We need to help and show courage,” Willy added. “We should not look away.”

As a father of two teenagers, he knows how challenging it can be. He has a son who is 15 years old and a daughter who is 13 years old.

But he believes that fitness and fighting helped him develop character growing up in Berlin.

His parents are originally from Turkey, and moved to Germany for a better life. Both were nurses who worked hard, sometimes 16 to 20 hours a day.  However, his father died at age 49 of cancer.

“I think he was heartbroken because he couldn’t go home,” Willy said. “He never returned to Turkey.”

Willy started fighting at age six, and learned quickly. He was teaching his first karate class at age 9. His lessons lead him to fights all over the world.

Willy and wife Ramona at their Idyllwild Opening. Photo Jeffrey Taylor.

“I think I was born to fight,” he said.

During the discussion, he pointed out that fighters aren’t angry. They don’t hate their opponents. Mixed martial arts is a sport like any other. It’s about training, strategy, and outwitting your opponent.

“The kids ask me, ‘Isn’t it violent?” Willy said. “It’s not violent. You need to honor your enemy.”

Yet, over the years, Willy has seen the underside of the sport. The drug abuse, and the pressure of sponsors. You find out that your opponents are fighting for the love of money, and not the sport.

“And then one day, you wake up in a hotel room, and you don’t know your own name,” he said.

At age 40, Willy is not delusional about his career as a fighter. He has broken every bone in his body and his nose 16 times. He can’t feel any sensation in his legs anymore. It’s not because he’s been kicked too much, but he wanted to deaden the nerves there. In an ancient method, he used a rolling pin to force his nerves away from the bones.

“It’s great for fighting, but bad in your personal life,” Willy said.

In Idyllwild, he feels closer to the universe. He and his wife, Ramona, love it here. The other night, he walked home in the light of the full moon and was rejuvenated.

He spoke about Lin Long, a woman from China, who lived in the woods for 10 years after she was banished from her town. She developed her own fierce fighting style from the animals.

He said when he went to Japan, he was the chosen student.

“I am the grand master,” Willy stated.

He is looking for another student to learn his martial arts secrets from him. But it wasn’t clear if it would be a boy or girl.

(from L) Jeffrey Taylor with Sara Karloff. Background art by Marcia Gawecki.

“He or she will come to me,” Willy said.

He also spoke of his belief in Zen Buddhism, and how a worm could be his grandmother, so he must be careful where he steps in the woods.

All in all, Willy is a champion. His experience as a personal trainer has already shaped one local into a true believer.

“In just three weeks, I can see definition in my chest,” said Jeffrey Taylor, of Green Cafe Internet.

Like many people who work behind a desk, Jeffrey was putting on weight because he couldn’t ride his bicycle in the snow. Willy started focusing on his stomach.

“For most men, that’s the weakest part,” Willy said.

After an hour workout, Jeffrey would complain that it hurt to laugh. But he kept with it, and soon he started to see an improvement.

“I looked in the mirror, and I’m starting to see a six pack,” Jeffrey said with a grin.

He’s not talking about beer, but abdominal muscles that stick out when you’re in great shape.

Yet, Jeffrey is quick to point out that Idyllwild Fitness is not geared for bodybuilders.

In Idyllwild, Willy feels closer to the universe

“I’m not trying to build muscle,” he said. “I just want to get back into shape.”

Besides toning, Willy talks to Jeffrey about his diet.

“He said no more chips, wine and pasta,” Jeffrey said.

For variety, Jeffrey couples his workouts with salsa aerobics, which is also offered at the gym on Tuesday nights.

As for the young people of Idyllwild, many think it’s cool that we have a MMA Champ living among us.

David, who has lived in Idyllwild his entire life, said that he met Willy when he first arrived.

“He knows karate, and is tough, but very spiritual too,” David said. “He’s looking for his next student.”

At least six teenagers are really glad that Idyllwild Fitness reopened its doors. They work for Willy and get to see him on a regular basis.

Idyllwild Fitness offers fitness machines, free weights, a sauna, along with aerobics classes to suit your lifestyle. Monthly individual rates are $40, but funfight, Willy’s high energy workouts with the punching bag, are more.

For more information, call (951) 659-5000 or visit www.idyllwildfitnesscenter.com. Idyllwild Fitness Center is located in Strawberry Creek Shopping Center, just below Mountain Harvest Market. Enter on the lower level.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

Spring Dance Features Interesting Mix

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Cats consult with Cinderella about going to the ball

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The Idyllwild Arts Spring Dance Concert, held for three days this week, featured a nice mix of ballet, modern and jazz.

Standout pieces included Cinderella, and contemporary ballet and hip-hop pieces from two guest choreographers.

However, the final piece, featuring video and poetry from the seniors, was an emotional good-bye.

The show opened with a grand production of ‘Cinderella,’ with their own twists. After being told that she cannot go to the ball, Cinderella (Madison) consults with cats (instead of mice). But its the seasonal fairies who convince her to go. Big show stealers were male dancers Cemiyon and Gilbert, as the wicked stepsisters, with stepmother Gerard, all dressed in drag.

(from L) Cinderella (Madison) celebrates with Lani (fair godmother) and the fairies

The fairy godmother (Lani) and spring/summer/winter/fall fairies (Gina, Giovanna, Cheyenne and Adrianna) were all played beautifully by senior dancers.

The fairies’ ballet costumes were not the traditional starched variety, but colorful and flowing, making one yearn for spring. (Ten inches of snow arrived the day after the show’s end).

Will Dingledein, a 2011 dance grad, was in attendance for all three shows. He laughed his head off when Gerard, as stepmother, scolded Prince Charming (Mauricio).

“He stole the show!” Will said during the first intermission.

“Le Papillon,” a modern ballet by guest choreographer, Josie Walsh, was funded by a grant from the AEL Foundation. Given the title, one expected to see butterflies, but the opening showed dancers rolling other dancers wrapped in cocoon-like materials.

From 'Pas de Quoi'

The piece, which also featured the original music by Josie’s husband, Paul Rivera, Jr., featured sound effects like echoes, which piqued your interest.

'Lotus' was a hip-hop piece by guest choreographer Brandon Aiken

The costumes, sheer peach long dresses, were elegant, yet functional. In the end, dancers wrapped themselves in the same material as capes that were stepped on by other dancers.

It was artfully choreographed, and a treat to watch its transformation.

‘Lotus,’ by guest choreographer Brandon Aiken, told a different story. Borrowing from “West Side Story,” the hip-hop piece featured a dance-off contest between two rival dance gangs. Torn between the two were star-crossed lovers, played by Allison and Gilbert.

Paris, who was adamantly opposed to the pair, was perfectly theatrical. Hip-hop music by Chris Brown, Lil Jon, young Jeezy and Wale kept the crowd enthralled.

Senior dancers Giovanna and Mauricio

‘A Leaving,’ the last piece, featured an emotional good-bye from seniors, Adrianna, Cheyenne, Natalia, Lani, Mauricio, Gina, Giovanna, Delaney, Allison, Madison, Sorrelle and Gerard. Each took their turns at the microphone, citing poetry and memories over the past four years.

“I am a bird, high up in these trees,” Cheyenne said. “I am home.”

“We stuck our heads in the earth,” Delaney said in a voice over during her dance solo.

“Lizard dust fills my mouth,” Madison added. “Making it hard to say good-bye.”

Towards the end, a full-screened black-and-white video depicted the dance seniors walking away in the snow. Voice-overs talked about first loves, heartache, gratitude and self-actualization.

It was also peppered with humor.

Spring dance featured a nice mix of dance styles

“Even after four years, people still don’t know if I’m Gina or Giovanna,” Gina quipped.

At the final bow, the audience was on its feet, clapping, cheering and shedding some tears.

Wednesday night’s concert was featured on U Stream on the academy’s web site, www.idyllwildarts.org.

Angela, the school’s receptionist, was glad to be able to watch the dance concert from the comfort of her own home.

 

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Andy leaps in the air over his fellow dancers

 

 

Cemiyon in 'Pas de Quoi'

 

Spring Dance Concert Opens Tonight

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Spring Dance Concert will feature a guest ballet choreographer. 2011 photo courtesy Idyllwild Arts.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Idyllwild Arts’ Spring Dance Concert will showcase the choreographic talents of two guest artists, including hip hop and ballet.

The two-hour show opens tonight (Wednesday) and runs through Friday. Expect the dance students to be enthusiastic, not just because they love their craft, but because it’s only days before Spring Break.

Brandon was a recent guest artist in the Dance Department and choreographed the hip-hop piece.

“I”m not sure who Brandon was a backup dancer for,” said Gina, a senior. “Maybe Madonna, but he’s definitely a great dancer and choreographer.”

Becca, who knows about hip hop (but isn’t in Brandon’s piece), said, “It’s like Brandon recreated a club ‘dance off.”

Skye, a dancer from Santa Barbara, will be in four pieces, including the hip-hop, modern, jazz and ballet.

Cheyenne strikes a pose for the show poster

“Most of the dancers are in three or four pieces,” Skye said. “It’s going to be a long show, but it moves really fast.”

Gilbert, one of six male dancers at Idyllwild Arts, bought pantyhose in town for the Cinderella ballet piece. They were nude, Queen-sized with reinforced toes.

“I don’t want to spoil anything, but some of the male dancers will be dressed as women for the Cinderella piece,” Gilbert said. “It’s really funny. We’re going to be wearing wigs and full makeup.”

At 13 years old, Gilbert is the youngest student at Idyllwild Arts.

“You hae to come see the hip hop piece and the ballet piece,” said Gina. “It was really wonderful working with professionals.”

Both guest artists taught Master Classes and worked closely with the dance students with their choreographed pieces.

The Spring Dance Concerts starts tonight, Wednesday, March 14, at 7:30 p.m. in the IAF Theatre at Bowman. Like all events at Idyllwild Arts, it’s free and open to the public. But you might want to get there early to get a good seat. The show continues Thursday and Friday nights at 7:30 p.m.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

Casey Abram’s Expanding Fan Base

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Casey banner by Idyllwild artist Marcia E. Gawecki

“Is your most famous celebrity still living in Idyllwild?”

It was Saturday night, Jan. 14, and we were chatting at the Bill Anson Gallery in the Backstreet Art District of Palm Springs.

Sorry, Casey, but I instantly thought of “The Bronze Buckaroo,” Herb Jeffries, and not you. Although she was pretty, this woman was middle-aged.

“We just loved watching Casey each week on ‘American Idol’ (Season 10),” exclaimed Brenda Friend, of Palm Springs. “My friends and I even went to Los Angeles where they taped the show to meet him and get an autograph, but it never happened.”

She was almost giddy.

“Then we were thinking of going up to Idyllwild to meet him, if he still lived there.”

Going from relative obscurity to instant celebrity must be a surreal thing for Casey. To find middle-aged fans like Brenda who are willing to travel great distances to meet him. But the young ones are rabid too!

Remember when the ‘American Idol Live’ Tour ended Sept. 20-21 in The Philippines? Bianca King, a young actress, was hell-bent on meeting Casey, so she turned to her Twitter fan base to help get a backstage pass.

They hit it off and had a good laugh when Bianca told him that if he dyed his hair black and got a spray tan, he’d make it as an actor in The Philippines. She then posted pictures of the two of them on her blog site.

Casey playing with other Idyllwild Arts students at the LA Club. Photo by Marcia Gawecki

Back at the Art Walk in Palm Springs, I told Brenda Friend that Casey’s parents still lived in Idyllwild, and Ira Abrams worked with me at Idyllwild Arts.

Then I found myself promising I would try to get Casey’s autograph.

I secretly hoped it was possible.

Brenda wrote down her Palm Springs address, and then rushed over to tell her husband and friends.

The funny thing was that Brenda hadn’t even heard about Casey’s latest You Tube video announcing his record deal with Concord Records. It’s the same label as Carole King and Kenny G.

Casey’s mom, Pam Pierce, sent an email saying there was an Idyllwild Arts connection to the video. The song was written, recorded and produced by Casey (all instruments and voices). The video was shot and edited at Idyllwild Arts by Nick Cain and Sean Stromsoe of Persistent Vision (former Idyllwild Arts film students).

“Oh, he’s so natural and fun-loving in front of the camera,” Brenda exclaimed. “His parents raised him right.”

To view Casey’s announcement video, click here: Casey_Abrams_Signed-1

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me (text and images, but not video). All rights reserved.

‘Welcome Home Casey’ Block Party

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Cafe Aroma will be hosting a "Welcome Home, Casey" block party this Sunday

By Marcia E. Gawecki

What’s next for Casey Abrams, the “American Idol” heartthrob from Idyllwild? Will he be making a jazz record? Performing again with Jack Black? Going on tour with his jazz band? Hosting “Saturday Night Live?”

Never mind all that! First, we’re gonna party! Café Aroma is hosting a “Welcome Home, Casey” block party in Idyllwild this Sunday, Sept. 25, from 3 p.m. t o 7 p.m. in front of the restaurant. They’re serving up Casey-named pasta and drink specials. The stage is set for a Casey jazz jam session and there will be booths promoting his charities.

Casey will be there, of course. Probably all jet lagged from his last “American Idol Live” gig in The Philippines. His ears will still be ringing from performing practically every night for the entire summer. He might be a little giddy about coming home.

Yep, our own “Nature Boy” is finally coming home.

Like most folks in this tiny town, I watched him move through the ranks on Season 10 of “American Idol” every Wednesday and Thursday nights. we’d gather before the TV, with chips, pizza and wine glasses in hand, and talk about his chances, how he did last week, and what we think he should do to win.

But you could hear a pin drop when he’d be performing. Sometimes we’d forgot to breathe. Then we’d all talk at once:

“Didn’t he sound great?”

“I think they trimmed his beard.”

Jazz musician Barnaby Finch in front of a Casey banner by local artist Marcia E. Gawecki

“He’s so much better than the other contestants. He’s a true musician with talent.”

“No one in America knew he could play the bass, but we all knew years ago.”

“What will they make him sing next week?

Then we’d vote 50 or 100 times until our fingers would turn blue, and go home happy. Our local boy was making us proud. We weren’t expecting him to just make the “Top 10,” we wanted him to win the darn thing. Making it to No. 6 was quite the feat, though. It was probably a lot harder than we’ll ever know.

One time while still performing on “American Idol,” Casey paid a visit to the Idyllwild Arts Academy, where he graduated from the jazz department a couple of years ago.

“Casey told us that he could have gone farther in the ‘American Idol’ competition if he would have performed more pop songs,” said several students from Idyllwild Arts after his visit. “But he wanted to stay true to his jazz roots.”

“I heard him sing ‘Nature Boy’ during his senior jazz recital,” said Cheyenne, a dance major at Idyllwild Arts. “The place was packed. He was really a popular guy. It was standing room only.”

Casey had performed “Nature Boy” in Idyllwild first, where Nature reigns supreme. Yep, Casey was singing for America about Idyllwild!

“I came to the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program because I heard it was good,” said one 14-year-old voice major with braces from San Francisco. “But I was also hoping that I could meet Casey.”

Casey Abrams jamming with Caleb at an Idylwild Arts event

Casey left a talented Idyllwild Arts graduate, and is returning on Sunday a famous person. Try Googling his name these days and a million articles turn up! On “American Idol,” he sang a duet with Jack Black and kissed JayLo! He’s met all kinds of famous producers, directors, musicians and artists along the way.

“I saw Casey at Forever 21 (clothing store) in New York this summer,” said Tierra, a musical theater major. “He was buying the zipped-up natural clothes that he always wears.”

But Tierra didn’t say hi because Casey was with a friend and seemed preoccupied. He probably would have welcomed seeing a familiar face though.

“Casey emailed me and asked me to come to his show in New York,” Cheyenne added. “He said that he could even get me free tickets, but I couldn’t go.”

On Sunday, Marshall Hawkins, his Idyllwild Arts jazz teacher and mentor, will get Casey onstage to perform with Seahawk Mojo, his band that’s bringing jazz to area grade schools.

“That’s his bass, I can tell by the markings,” Marshall said while looking at a picture of Casey performing “Nature Boy” on “American Idol.” Of course, Marshall won’t be treating Casey any different now that he’s famous.

“Before I met you, I didn’t even know how to talk to another musician,” Casey wrote in a text message to Marshall during the Town Jazz event in Idyllwild this summer. Now we heard that Casey would often help out the musicians in the “American Idol” band.

On Sunday afternoon, Casey will pose for pictures, answer 1 million questions about his “American Idol” experience, and talk about his future plans. But probably the only thing he’ll want to do is play on the familiar Café Aroma stage with his bass. Just a (now world famous) hometown boy playing the jazz that he loves.

Glad you’re home, Casey. All I’m hoping for is a snapshot of you standing next to my huge, hand-painted Casey banner that’s hanging on Café Aroma’s deck! (Your mom promised to buy it!)  Look for more Casey-inspired art inside Cafe Aroma by local artists.

The “Welcome Home Casey” block party will be held this Sunday, Sept. 25, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. outside Café Aroma, located at 54750 North Circle Drive in Idyllwild. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.cafearoma.org.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Sep 22, 2011 @ 11:03

 

 

 

 

 

 

Idyllwild’s Town Jazz Concert Undampened

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

(from L) Volunteer Pam Piece and Jeffrey Taylor support Town Jazz. Pam said that Casey Abrams sent Marshall his regards

Despite the steady rain at showtime, the second evening of the outdoor Town Jazz concert went on without a hitch Sunday night, Aug. 28.

Concertgoers were treated to an evening of jazz under the stars, along with a guest singer, tap dancer and African percussionist.

“We had no battle with the weather,” said bassist Marshall Hawkins, who is spearheading the event. “Right at 5 o’clock, our drummers were playing, but our amps were turned off so we didn’t get shocked. But when the rain stopped, we just took off!”

Many concertgoers had come straight from the Jazz in the Pines concert at the other end of town. The rain wasn’t going to keep them from a steady diet of jazz. They were used to the sudden rainfall because it happened the day before.

Sunday evening’s Town Jazz concert didn’t disappoint the 150 or so who attended. On the bill were the same fine musicians who played the night before, including Daniel Jackson, Gilbert Castellanos, Bob Boss, Brett Sanders, Mikan Zlatkovich. Najite replaced Latin percussionist Roy Gonzales, yet special guests Yve Evans and Roland Esquire Jones remained.

Najite, an African percussionist, dressed in native attire, mellowed the crowd with his bongo rhythms. Singer Yve Evans, who is popular in Palm Springs and Palm Desert, brought the crowd to their knees with her rendition of “Stormy Weather.”

Scott, from Mountain Harvest Market, was among the few who grabbed one of her limited CDs. He had it in hand and was grinning from ear to ear. Yve’s voice had that affect on everyone.

Volunteer Tressa shows off how she jazzed up Marshall's T-shirt

“I have just a few that I brought with me,” Yve announced, and there was a rush from the audience.

Another unexpected highlight in the show was Claudia Gomez, a tap dancer, who did a nice number on a small piece of wood laid onstage.

Marshall said that he had just met Claudia a week earlier, and was glad that she wanted to perform with the band.

Jeffrey Taylor, from Green Cafe Internet, chatted with Claudia afterwards.

“I asked her if she knew about the Nicholas Brothers , and she said yes,” Jeffrey said. “I think she was surprised that I knew about them too.”

The Nicholas Brothers were a tap-dancing team popular in the 1930s. Among their fans was Gregory Hines. Jeffrey had shown a documentary on the Nicholas Brothers two days earlier.

Pam Pierce, a volunteer and the mother of “American Idol” heartthrob, Casey Abrams, said that Casey had sent Marshall a congratulatory text. Casey was currently on the Idol Summer Tour and couldn’t be there to perform. Marshall is Casey’s former teacher from Idyllwild Arts Academy, and the two remain close.

Town Jazz sponsors talk while shielding their eyes from the sun

“I got the photo,” Marshall said. “It was taken of the two of us a long time ago. Casey was here with us tonight.”

He said that Town Jazz will definitely return next year, and he’s making plans with more musicians and sponsors. However, the venue will remain the same.

“The owner of  Jo’An’s said that we could come back every month if we wanted,” Marshall said.

Given the fact that he heads up the jazz department at Idyllwild Arts Academy, and performs with his band and other gigs, it may be hard to pull off a monthly jazz show, he said.

“We want to keep the focus on Seahawk MoJo (his charity for jazz in the grade schools), and not just working as musicians,” he said.

Tap dancer Claudia Gomez performs along with the band

Jon Stonitsch, from The Spruce Moose, one of the sponsors, said that he especially liked the jazz on Sunday evening.

“On Saturday night, there were a lot more people eating and drinking at Jo’An’s,” he said. “But on Sunday night, you could tell there were a lot of jazz lovers in the crowd. They were there just for the music.”

Bryan Tallent, also from The Spruce Moose, said that the Idyllwild Business Round Table is already trying to nail down a date for the 2nd Annual Idyllwild Town Jazz concert.

“We have to get a commitment from those musicians before they go somewhere else,” Bryan said.

Most of the musicians were not tied to the Jazz in the Pines event held the same weekend, but came up because of Marshall’s invitation.

“I’m not certain, but I think only one of the guys played at the jazz fest,” Bryan said.

Ticket sales were steady both nights, along with commemorative posters and T-shirts designed by local artist Marcia E. Gawecki. The remaining 35 will be sold for $15 at The Spruce Moose located on the top level of The Fort.

Volunteer Peggy Gawecki shows off the limited edition Town Jazz T-shirt with Marshall's image.

“Those T-shirts will be worth double the price next year because it was the first Town Jazz event ever,” Marshall predicted.

Jeffrey Taylor was one of the first to buy the fuchsia T-shirt at Mountain Harvest Market, and wore it both days.

“The design is nice, but pick another color next year,” he said with a grin.

Many of the male jazz goers didn’t like the hot pink shirt, while others like Tressa, a volunteer, embellished it with tassels, giving it a Mardi Gras look.

“I learned how to do this design in San Tropez,” Tressa explained.

She took the oversized Marshall T-shirt and cut 1-inch tassels into the neck, sleeves and sculpted the bottom edge. Several women asked her how they could do it to theirs.

No final profit/loss count was available, but Doug Yagaloff, from Mountain Harvest Market, said he was pleased with the turnout and ticket sales. The posters and T-shirts added a lot to the event too, he said.

“We didn’t have much time to plan this year’s event, so it turned out pretty well,” he said.

A limited number of Marshall Hawkins fuchsia T-shirts ($15 each), and signed posters ($5 each) are still available at The Spruce Moose, located in the Fort at 54225 North Circle Drive in Idyllwild. For more information, call (951) 659-5556.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Aug 30, 2011 @ 14:11

Evening Jazz Event to Benefit Elementary Students

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Town Jazz will help bring music back to elementary schools

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Marshall Hawkins, a bassist who heads up the Jazz Department at Idyllwild Arts Academy, has long been the face of Jazz in the Pines, an annual two-day jazz event that has grown in popularity each year.

Now, Marshall is lending his image and musical charisma to an evening jazz event next weekend, Aug. 27 and 28.

“Town Jazz with Marshall Hawkins” will likely bring more business to Idyllwild shopkeepers, while helping to bring more music to elementary schools through Marshall’s charity, Seahawk MOJO.

“I’m bringing some of the best jazz musicians from all of Southern California,” Marshall said. “It’s going to be a really great event.”

“Town Jazz with Marshall Hawkins” will be held for two evenings at JoAn’s Restaurant, in the center of Idyllwild, so there is no conflict with the Jazz in the Pines concert held during the day on the Idyllwild Arts campus.

Town Jazz’s lineup on Saturday, Aug. 27, and Sunday, Aug. 28, is impressive. These musicians will honor Graham Dechter on Saturday, Aug. 27, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and honor Daniel Jackson on Sunday, Aug. 28, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.: Daniel Jackson (tenor/sax), Gilbert Castellanos (trumpet), Bob Boss (guitar), Brett Sanders (drums), Mikan Zlatkovich (piano) and Roy Gonzales (Latin percussion on Sat.) and Najite (African percussion on Sun.). Special guests both evenings include Yve Evans and Roland “Esquire” Holmes.

Naturally, Marshall will play both nights, and is excited about this first-ever event, mainly because it’s going to help to bring music to young people in the schools.

“Seahawk MOJO, is an acronym that stands for Seahawk Modern Jazz Orchestra,” Marshall explained.

Because he was out of town and pressed for time, he sent a letter explaining Seahawk MOJO’s mission. It started with a great need to put music education back into the elementary schools.

“Few Americans need to be reminded of the long-term damage caused by the removal of arts education, including music, from the curriculum in our public schools,” Marshall wrote. “Jazz education teaches a ‘universal language’ that can serve as a tool for personal, social and economic empowerment. It’s a language that expresses the ironies of our American democracy, especially for the disenfranchised, with humor, joy, boundless artistry, and imagination.”

Doug Yagaloff believes 'Town Jazz' will help local shopkeepers

During this event, Seahawk MOJO is operating under its parent non-profit organization, the Idyllwild Master Chorale. Marshall has long played bass for the Master Chorale events, including their Messiah program.

Although the next generation of jazz musicians will benefit from this “Town Jazz” event, another group set to benefit: Idyllwild shopkeepers, innkeepers and restauranteurs. The Idyllwild Business Roundtable and the Idyllwild Chamber of Commerce are managing the business end of the “Town Jazz” event, namely sending out promotion, bringing in volunteers, and managing the two-evening event.

“Town Jazz is going to bring back jazz to the town of Idyllwild,” said Doug Yagaloff, who co-owns Mountain Harvest Market in Strawberry Plaza. “Too often, business owners have been left out of the Jazz in the Pines weekend. We don’t hear the music and business revenue goes down, so this year, we’re going to reverse course.”

Doug spoke frankly about Idyllwild business owners wanting to be part of Jazz in the Pines weekend.

“There are three categories of people that we want to reach that weekend: those who come for the concert and stay overnight and might eat dinner in town. There are those who come for the day to hear a specific jazz musician, but leave immediately afterwards. Then there are the locals, who may like jazz music, but the $65 daily price ticket is out of their reach.”

Town Jazz, at $10 a ticket, can appeal to all of these groups. It offers a nice musical lineup outside JoAn’s restaurant in the center of town. Seating, drinks, food and bathrooms are provided by JoAn’s. The Business Roundtable rented 300 extra chairs, and expect to attract 400 to 500 people for the two-day event.

Ticket sales cover costs for the musicians, while everyone else is volunteering their efforts, Doug said. He estimates it will cost about $4,000 to put on the Town Jazz event. He hopes to recoup those expenses in ticket, T-shirts and poster sales.

Cafe Aroma, which also features jazz musicians during Jazz in the Pines weekend, fully supports the efforts of Town Jazz, Doug said.

“Frank and Hubert think there’s enough jazz for all of Idyllwild that weekend,” he said. “It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

Doug said that Idyllwild Arts Associates, the nonprofit group that hosts Jazz in the Pines, is supporting Marshall’s “Town Jazz”

event.

T-shirts, with Marshall's image, will be sold for $13 and $15

“They came and spoke with us at our Business Roundtable, and we’re also hosting a booth at their event,” Doug said. “Everything’s cool.”

Tickets for “Town Jazz with Marshall Hawkins” are $10 each, and can be purchased at Mountain Harvest Market and the Spruce Moose. T-shirts with Marshall’s image, will be available for sale starting Friday, Aug. 26, for $13 each/$15 for larger sizes.

For more information on the event, visit www.IDY4U.com/jazz.

Published on: Aug 19, 2011 @ 1:49 E

 

 

 

Where’s Leo? He’s Playing for the Queen of Sweden

Monday, August 15th, 2011

'He's the best violinist in Germany right now,' said Christoph Wynecken of Leo, age 15.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

When the 10 German students took a day off from their music lessons at Idyllwild Arts to swim at Laguna Beach on Sunday, someone was missing.

“Where’s Leo?” I asked Christoph Wynecken, who teaches violin and viola during the Summer Program.

Wynecken has been bringing his music students from Stuttgart, and other cities in Germany to Idyllwild to play in the Chamber Orchestra for eight years now.

Part of their California experience is going to the beach on Sundays.

Last year, Leo and the other German students went to Venice Beach to experience its zany characters and arts peddlers on the boardwalk (See ‘German Students See Sand and Surf,’ Idyllwild Me blog entry, dated Aug. 16.)

Leo was a typical 14-year-old, chatting incessantly in German, rough housing with his friends and taking pictures of everything. He even warmed up to the idea of going to the Armand Hammer Art museum after the beach.

“Why do we have to go?” Leo asked, sunburned and tired.

“Because there’s more to California than just beaches,” Christoph said. “There’s a lot of culture here.”

During the many orchestra and chamber concerts performed during the summer, Christoph gave Leo, the youngest violinist, a chance to play first chair.

“We are more casual about first chair, and second chair in Germany,” Christoph said later Sunday night at In-and-Out Burger in Moreno Valley. “But he did a fine job of leading the orchestra.”

So where is Leo, the violin prodigy?

“He’s playing for the Queen of Sweden,” Christoph said with a smile.

He didn’t elaborate on the details, but it sounded like Leo has already performed for the queen several times. Not a bad gig for a pre-teen.

(from L) Christoph gives instructions to German students at Venice Beach last year.

It stands to reason that Queen Silvia, who was born in Heidelberg, and married King Carl XVI  Gustaf of Sweden, after meeting him at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, would want to hear a promising young German violin player.

According to reports, the two “clicked” during the Summer Olympics and were married three months later. It was the first marriage of a reigning Swedish monarch since 1797.

All that royalty news aside, the fact remains that Leo isn’t coming back to the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program, or Christoph’s orchestra, for that matter.

“He’s the best violin player in Germany right now,” Christoph said definitively.

Did Christoph see it coming? Did he know that Leo was gifted in Idyllwild last summer?

“I could smell it,” Christoph said. “A musician like him comes along once every 50 years.”

He brushed aside any notion that he groomed Leo into the promising young violin player that he is today.

“He will likely have a great solo career,” Christoph predicted.

No agent to push him, Leo will likely finish high school, before starting his music career. But Christoph has some consiliation in losing Leo. His brother is also a gifted violin player, and he’s been teaching him the ropes.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Aug 15, 2011 @ 21:39

 

Art Showcase of Faculty & Staff Talent

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

'Nate' by Rachael Welch

By Marcia E. Gawecki

At the final Idyllwild Arts Faculty & Staff Art Show on Aug. 9, there was an eclectic mix of pieces. There were more paintings than pottery compared to the last show, prints from the new headmaster, some “shocking” paintings, and friendship nudity.

The three prints from Brian D. Cohen, the new headmaster of Idyllwild Arts Academy, were a perfect selection, given the natural surroundings of Idyllwild. Brian’s black-and-white etchings showed a pear-and-apple arrangement, a closeup of tree bark and a mystic silhouette of a pine tree in the distance. All showed his command of the print medium, and a keen sensitivity to nature (But they don’t photograph well!)

I especially liked his relief etching, “Tree Trunk,” although it was likely a tree from Vermont, and not Idyllwild. A teacher once told me that you could see wars in the bark of trees, if you look close enough.

'Fatherless Bride 2' by John Brosio

The two “shocker” paintings came from John Brosio. “Fatherless Bride 2,” was a medium-sized oil painting that featured a young woman in a long gown. “Carrie,” the 1976 horror movie based on Stephen King’s first novel, comes to mind.

In the movie, Sissy Spacek was doussed with pig’s blood, and appeared shocked in all the trailers, to say the least. However, in “Fatherless Bride 2,” there is the same amount of blood splattered on the young woman, with some drooling from her chin, but she has more of a “hunted” demeanor.

When several people looked at it, they marveled at Brosio’s technique, but didn’t understand the premise.

“Some artists just like to shock,” one woman said. “But he can definitely paint.”

The second of Brosio’s two paintings showed a close up of a fish head with a cigarette in its mouth. Everyone knows that fish don’t smoke, so this couldn’t be a preachy commentary about that.

“Just look at the way the head was cut off,” exclaimed Tressa, one of the attendees, pointing to the sharp diagonal.

'Stefania' by Jacqueline Ryan

Everyone was searching for the artist, who had just left.

Next to his paintings however, was a single portrait by Rachael Welch, who has taught painting many summers at Idyllwild Arts. She also works at Cafe Aroma, and showcases many of her paintings in their library/gallery.

Moreover, some of her jazz portraits have graced Cafe Aroma’s house wine labels, namely Marshall Hawkins, Barnaby Finch and lately, Casey Abrams.

Rachael’s single painting in the show had a predominately green and salmon palette. It was a portrait of “Nate.”

It wasn’t your typical portrait pose. This young man held his fingers up to his face in a sort of a “bugaboo” fashion, like he was mugging for the camera. There was also a faraway look in his eyes.

'Jackie' by Stefania Ford

“Why did she use salmon for the background color?” one woman asked her friends.

The others were trying to figure out what Nate was doing. Was he high on something? Was he playing a video game? The colors and the composition made it compelling.

Jacqueline Ryan, a painting assistant, was the one who convinced me to enter the faculty show.

“There’s never enough paintings by staff members,” she said. “Keep trying.”

However, this young woman, who just graduated from college, had a command of the medium. Her painting of a nude woman was connected to another sculpture in the show. Jacqueline told the story:

“This painting is of Stefania, the ceramics teacher,” Jacqueline explained. “She finished this sculpture of me that she started last year, so I decided to do a painting of her.”

(From top) Jazz greats Nat King Cole and Billie Holiday by Marcia E. Gawecki

“Jackie,” Stefania’s ceramic sculpture, featured a Rueben-esque kneeling nude, which captured Jacqueline’s energy. Stefania wasn’t around to comment on her piece.

She also had several organic pottery pieces on a pedestal next to her sculpture.

Next to “Stefania,” was my larger-than-life banner of Barnaby Finch, a local jazz musician who has played with some big-name jazz musicians. (I drive for Idyllwild Arts, so I’m considered a staff member.)

The banner measured about five feet across and nearly seven feet long. Cristie Scott, the gallery assistant, had to hang the banner by herself, which is quite the feat and without the slightest irritation.

Last year, the banner of Barnaby hung outside Cafe Aroma’s deck during the Jazz in the Pines event. It served as a backdrop for many jazz performances.

“It’s definitely the largest piece in the show,” Cristie said.

At first inspection, I noticed that the perspective was off. Barnaby’s head was much larger than his jawline. Most of my painting was done on my kitchen floor, so it was hard to get a perspective. Yet, I should have hung it over the porch railing before hanging it in the gallery.

'Paint the Black Hole Blacker' by David Delgado

“I want to disappear!” I thought to myself. “What was I doing showing a piece with an off perspective?”

I was grateful that Barnaby himself hadn’t showed up!

So when a young woman in a bright orange dress started dancing in front of the Barnaby banner, laughing with her friends and mugging for the camera, I was convinced that she was making fun of it.

“No, she’s just wearing a bright orange dress, and reacting to the colors of your piece,” explained Cristie.

She was right because I followed the woman around the gallery, and she wasn’t dancing in front of other pieces, including”Fatherless Bride 2.”

(From L) 'Double View Evening' and 'Tree Shadows at Sue's House' by Jessica Schiffman

All of the pieces are for sale. Part of the sale proceeds go to the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program.

This faculty show will remain on display at the Parks Exhibition Center until this Saturday, Aug. 20. The gallery will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, contact Cristie at the gallery at (951) 659-2171, ext. 2251

EDITOR’S NOTE: Technically, I should not review an art show that I have pieces in. It would never fly in a standard newspaper–conflict of interest and all that. But, for now, a biased perspective is better than none at all, right?

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Aug 13, 2011 @ 21:41