The mad musical love that keeps on giving: Cello on a torched Bonny Doon hill latest ode to CZU fire victims

Aria Disalvio, joined by Sumaia Jackson and William Coulter
Aria Disalvio, joined by Sumaia Jackson and William Coulter, performs Hanneke Cassel’s “The Captain,” as a message of support for Santa Cruz County for “Love You Madly.”

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THE HERE & NOW: Love You Madly still raising funds and awareness on behalf of fire victims; Clam Chowder Cook-Off pushing through; UCSC’s African American Theater Troupe marks 30 years

As we approach the half-anniversary (six months) of the catastrophic CZU fires in the Santa Cruz Mountains, it’s timely to remember that, for those who in Bonny Doon and the San Lorenzo Valley, the grief, healing, and rebuilding — and the emotional and financial struggles that are part of that — is still an everyday process.

That’s always been the message behind Love You Madly, the ongoing fundraising effort to help those displaced by the fires. Several months after it was established, LYM is still posting music videos every week to raise money for fire victims and keep them in the minds of the rest of us as they attempt to pick up their lives in the wake of the devastation.

Aria DiSalvio plays the cello on a piece of her family's property that was consumed in the fires.
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This week, among the new videos posted to LYM, is one titled “The Captain,” performed by cellist and long-time Bonny Dooner Aria DiSalvio and it carries distinct echoes of the trauma of CZU.

The video was shot on location, in a beautiful mountain meadow on a piece of property owned by DiSalvio’s family that was consumed in the fires. For the shoot, she brought with her long-time collaborator guitarist William Coulter (another Dooner who lost his home in the fire) and violinist Sumaia Jackson.

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DiSalvio’s family home nearby was spared — thanks largely to the efforts of her husband Aaron Lingemann and her neighbors who famously formed a crew to protect homes in the area.

Still, the morning of the video shoot (about two months after the fires) was the first time DiSalvio has visited the property ravaged by the fire. She said she intentionally wanted her reactions and her emotions to be raw and immediate while they were doing the video.

The latest addition to Love You Madly.
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“Even just driving up there, into that upper part of Bonny Doon, it was really unrecognizable,” she said. “I felt like I was in a different land completely and I’ve been driving up there for 20 years. It was a dramatic transformation.”

She set up her cello on a vista overlooking what had been a familiar view, flanked by her two collaborators. And they proceeded to play a lovely instrumental tune written by well-known Scottish fiddler Hanneke Cassel.

“It’s always a tune I felt really connected to,” said DiSalvio of “The Captain.” “I wanted to find something that captured this feeling, this juxaposition of loss and longing and sorrow, but at the same time hope and beauty.”

“The Captain” by Aria DiSalvio is now part of the Love You Madly that has raised more than $110,000 for the Community Foundation’s Fire Response Fund. Give if you got it. The struggle is not over for our neighbors.

The Chowder must go on

Wouldn’t you know it? The big 4-0 at the Beach Boardwalk’s Clam Chowder Cook-Off just happens to coincide with a worldwide pandemic.

Baine's #BOLO Box

Be On the Lookout for:

• The Dream Inn’s “vertical concerts” will continue with the Black Irish on March 17, Pablo Cruise on April 29, and a return engagement from Los Lobos May 27.

• One of the late Jory Post’s most prominent legacies is phren-z, the online literary magazine he founded a decade ago and edited until his death in January. At a celebration of Post’s life, Catamaran Literary Reader editor Catherine Segurson announced that phren-z will continue under the Catamaran umbrella. Good news.

• Each year, Merrill College at UC Santa Cruz presents a memorial lecture in memory of the magnificent scholar and freethinker Noel Q. King. This year, the lecture features Tanya Marie Luhrmann who will discuss the experience of the supernatural and psychosis. It happens Feb. 18 online.

• The Watsonville Film Festival is gearing up for its big week March 5-13. The WFF is more than a film festival. It’s the center of a burgeoning culture of the arts in The Ville. The festival is smack in the middle of its fundraising season. Great opportunity to support a creative community.

Despite the suspended state of business as usual, the chowder will flow this year, only in pandemic-friendly form.

The 40th Clam Chowder Cook-Off takes place Saturday, Feb. 20 as a drive-through event only. Here’s how it works: purchase a ticket on-line ($12 for samples of six different chowders), drive to the Boardwalk’s River parking lot on Feb. 20 at your designated time, chow-down with your delicious samples, and then vote online for your faves.

Sure, it’s not the same as hanging out at the Boardwalk on a beautiful winter’s day, strolling past countless bubbling pots of chowder from chefs with as much showmanship chops as culinary talent. But, like all great kitchen artists, we have to make do with what we have on hand.

I’m betting the chowder will be just as good.

The camera as witness

African American theater Arts Troupes 2018 production of Raisin in the Sun at UCSC
African American theater Arts Troupes 2018 production of Raisin in the Sun at UCSC
(Courtesy UCSC)

Anyone interested in documentary photography and its role in revealing history is going to want to see the latest online exhibition sponsored by the Cabrillo Gallery.

“Bearing Witness: Manifesting Black History from Photographic Archives” features dozens of photographs and images spanning more than a century of the Black experience in America.

The exhibit is curated by Kathryn Mayo, a specialist in antique photographic processes who also teaches the history of photography at Consumnes River College in Sacramento. Mayo will be on hand Feb. 21 for a Zoom curator’s discussion of uncovering historical events and lost narratives through photography. The event begins at 5 p.m.

“Bearing Witness” will be available on-line at the Cabrillo Gallery website through March 12.

Thirty years of Black theater

A huge milestone for director Don Williams and the African American Theater Arts Troupe at UC Santa Cruz. The AATAT will celebrate its 30th anniversary on Feb. 20, with a online event called “Honoring Our Roots, Lifting Black Voices.”

The event is a gathering together of many figures in Black theater across the country, including directors, playwrights, and alumni of AATAT, the only theater troupe of its kind in the UC system. The following afternoon, Feb. 21, there will be an online workshop titled “Does Black Theatre Matter?”