Posts Tagged With: skill


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A concert featuring cowboys, Gary Allegretto and Ian Espinosa both songwriters and musicians who love the blues and western music put on an outstanding show at the Arts Center in Angels Camp yesterday.  But the standout performer, Allegretto, is not a guitarist, but a harmonica virtuoso.  Never in my life could I have imagined the sounds and range of “vocals” that come out of a simple  carry-in-your-pocket, harmonica.  After the show, the duo sold and autographed CDs.

DSC08021 (Copy)A “people” person, Gary posed with a local admirer, Chris Doty. Some of the music he has written qualifies him as a comedian. His range of music from the foot stomping, “This Ain’t My Last Rodeo,” (number one on the charts for three years running) and a sing-a-long number, “But You Can’t Stay Here”, reflect his days as a bouncer in a Santa Fe bar. He reminds us that Santa Fe, when he worked there,  wasn’t all “pinky boutique” but a pretty rough shod place full of hard drinkin’, fists ready cowhands. His music is difficult to describe, a blusey-western mix; throw in an African American spiritual, and something akin to dance with Ian’s singing and playing on a guitar older than anyone in the audience, and you have a rave collaboration.

DSC08022 (Copy)Allegretto is internationally known for his humanitarian work with children. He brings to kids- be it Indonesia, Africa or Wales-the universal language of music. He can talk through that harmonica and leaves each boy and girl with a harmonica of their own with which they can play four songs. Now that is peace making on a very basic level.

DSC08026 (Copy)Calaveras Arts Council Director, Mary Jane Genochio brought them to Angels Camp and then on stage, gave a tearful farewell. Her house was destroyed in the Butte Fire and she said, “I am building a house and I must turn this job over to another.”  We will definitely miss her.

DSC08017 (Copy)Equally loved, former Director, Penny West, who held the reins for at least 20 years brought us Mary Jane. We in Calaveras County owe so much to the wonderful leadership provided by these two amazing women. Our Arts are strong, and we are so lucky and grateful.

DSC08028 (Copy)Another arts venue is involved in the simple act of story telling, poetry, writing and critiquing new writers. A powerful group also in Angels Camp under the Arts Council umbrella. Here Joy Roberts recruits wanna be writer, Lizz Emerson. The Arts Council begins its free music in the parks concerts in early June, just a mention here while I’m at it. But, back to Allegretto. You can listen to a sample of his music on this website: But more than that, this is one of the finest accolades I’ve ever seen:

“I cannot express enough gratitude for what you have done for the harmonica and for Hohner. 
Without you, we would be less of a brand.”

~ Clay Edwards, CEO, Hohner Harmonicas Inc.

You gotta see this guy!

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I have an old fruit ladder, useless, and I almost dumped it about four months back.  Son Doug encouraged me to do something artistic with it, instead. My mailbox post was rotted and wobbly, so I decided to turn the ladder into a mailbox holder. I always wanted to have a fun mailbox holder with a box reading “AIRMAIL” with a set of wings on it. One of those plans that kind of simmers in the back of the brain without exactly figuring out how to do it.

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When I went to the super bowl gig on Friday, I asked Doug to bring his tools and he measured and drilled a hole through the box. daughter-in-law Laurie had previously painted it. This has become a multi-person effort as you will see.

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Enter neighbor Gary Gonzalez, and our neighborhood critic, Kristi Darby. Kristi giving me a ration about my funky ladder mailbox holder and Gary, a pilot, gave me his wings. How cool is that?  He also helped me paint the ladder with anti-freeze as a preservative. This was several weeks ago, as the project takes shape and these pictures were taken yesterday as we gathered around the mailbox to install the unwieldy contraption to my fruit ladder. The ladder was erected by neighbor Cameron Stewart. This is a terrible picture, but I was so excited about the installation, I didn’t do a good job. Kristi is holding the leash for her dog, Keely who also witnessed the installation but failed to anoint the ladder. Tsk, tsk! I forgot to bring champagne, too.

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This is what it looks like, sitting on a support, awaiting installation which took the genius and skill of neighbor Mike Cameron. He is a builder and I asked if he’d like to try something challenging.

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He rolled up with his truck and tools. Measured and drilled a template.

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He drilled the hole, and fashioned a support system for it. The quick favor I asked of him took about two hours.

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And up it went. It is top-heavy and the needed bracing was a challenge in a tight space. He showed me how to strengthen the bracing on the the rest of the ladder. And, we ended up changing the position of the mailbox to have the painted side face the street. Again, I was so excited I forgot to take a final shot. But, the project isn’t complete yet. I’ve never had a neighborhood mailbox party, but when it is complete, why not?

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And, of course, Kristi, being Kristi, told me I’d better get my regular mailbox painted and she told Gary what trees he should trim. I love creative suggestions. Hmm.  Maybe it would look better bright orange?

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But then, something else happened. The Email box that sits half way down the ladder had, I thought, caught some stray Christmas ribbon blowing in the wind. I thought I had closed the box after my rude paint job, but having it opened, and the ribbon blowing in the wind made me think it would make a good birdhouse. Mike said to me, “there’s a letter in that box.” HUH?

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It had been through wind, and damp and a month of nights. I traced over the letters as I struggled to read them. I loved the “stamp”.

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And here is a letter from Santa Claus with this charming poem. I checked with the usual suspect, the neighborhood prankster, Jan Stewart. She claims it wasn’t her. I guess I’ll have to ask Cindy Gonzalez, who has been a regular at the gatherings. I didn’t get her picture either. Cindy?  Are you the culprit?

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