he produced. That’s right, I’ve never been to Reggae on the River–the Humboldt jewel in the crown music festival for which Doug is most famous as founding member and Master of Ceremonies. He’s been a fixture on the music and entertainment scene in Humboldt County for more than 30 years, a real mover and shaker and genuine supporter of local SoHum community and talent. But I didn’t know any of that not until I went to the LoveFest in his honor this past Saturday. Doug Green is now very ill and wheelchair-bound. That’s why the whole of southern Hulmboldt, under the direction of Darryl Cherney, came together at the Mateel Community Center in Redway, California, to celebrate Doug’s life and community contributions. Joanne Rand, Alice Dimicele, Peter Rowan, Tina Malia, even Darryl himself all took the stage for him.
So many people packed the Mateel that night to support him and listen to the performers whom Doug so loved and worked with. By night’s end more than 600 people had graced the community center, listening, singing, dancing, even participating in a singing bowl prayer offering. A genuinely heart-felt good time. We were all blessed by spirit that Saturday night.
…After Peter Rowan’s set (Free Mexican Air Force was clear as a bell, by the way), I had a hankering for dessert. Ah, something sweet to keep me moving on the dance floor! But I didn’t have any cash. Jan
, with whom I’d ride-shared, had a $20 dollar bill to spot my sugar craving.
Mmmmm, pound cake with raspberries and vanilla ice cream–lactose intolerance be damned! I selected the biggest slice, asked for extra ice cream & deposited the $20 into the donation can. Only enough to make $10 in change, though. Dang. What to do? Select another slice of cake, of course, which I initially intended to take to Jan, but…
…I made my way to a back corner of the Mateel, placed one slice on an empty table and began devouring the other in my
hand. So good. The melting ice cream seeped and saturated the cake in sweet creamy bliss. The raspberries added the perfect amount of tart. I was within two bites of finishing the big slice and thinking about eating the second when Peter Rowan strode over with a small paper plate of the same cake in hand also within micro bites of finishing.
“Hi, would you like to share a second piece of cake with me? I was either going to take it to my friend or eat it myself, which is why I’m in this corner contemplating having two pieces of cake. Like maybe hide and eat them both? But actually it’s nicer to share,” I said.
Peter Rowan smiled.
“It is good cake, isn’t it?” He replied.
“Yes, it is,and I am happy to share.”
So there we stood eating cake, me attempting to remain nonchalant, non-goofy.
“Do you live here?” He asked.
“I live in NorHum, in Eureka, no wait, I mean McKinleyville now, but I’ve moved a couple times recently and have had a string of house sitting gigs. I’m not so sure where I live these days.” (Goodness, was I flubbing this?)
But we continued!
Chatting. He asked how I got here, and I told him I came to Humboldt for grad school to pursue something lucrative like a Master’s in English. He laughed. We talked about community and how some folks in these parts may not have a lot of material wealth, but that in Humboldt we all have an abundance of spirit and heart, great relationships to make up for the money we may not have.
“And weed. There’s good weed,” he chuckled, dark eyes twinkling.
“Right? What is that saying?” I mused, trying really, really hard not to trip over my tongue, “in tough times it’s better to have weed and no money than money and no weed,” I quipped.
Another smile. Pause. Me, deep breath.
“I took some photos of you. Can I show you?”
“I saw you out there. Let’s see.”
We crowded around my camera, and he beamed a solid confident smile.
“I don’t know if you can see it in these pics, but you glowed on stage, especially on the high notes. You’re in line with that thing that’s bigger than us,” I said.
No response. Another pause.
“Are you staying down here tonight?” He asked.
“No, I have to leave. I have a gig tomorrow morning and have to be there as close to 9 as possible,” I said.
Another pause. Both of us.
“I’m a musician, too. I get to play music tomorrow. Early.”
Another pause. Standing. looking between me, the cake, my camera.
“Are you getting support up here?” he asked.
And I wasn’t sure what he meant.
“You’re getting some positive support up here for your music, aren’t you?”
“Yes, yes, I am. In so many ways. This community seems to enjoy what I do, very thankful for that.”
He put the last bites of the cake back on the table. Another pause.
“You’re really good. Keep at it, keep doing it,” he said.
He looked me in the eyes, smiled, then gracefully, slowly strode away.
Speechless. No sounds. Words gone. The implications… Did he know before I told him I was a singer-songwriter? Had he seen a tweet, blog post, a video–goodness knows a lot of my stuff’s all over the internet. (Google Josephine Johnson. It comes up first!)
Or was it something else?
I was glowing that night, too, feeling positively buoyant. Confident. Could he see my connection to that thing so much bigger than myself? The
golden cord we all have but that resonates and shimmers especially bright when we are comfortable and surrounded by our own? That thing that right now urges me to finish recording my CD (so close to being DONE) then GET my music out to a broader audience.
Could he see I have BIG thoughts? That Los Angeles, scary as it is, is on my mind?
Or was he just being polite?
Saying what any singer-songwriter would want to hear from a Grammy-winning blue grass legend?
I don’t know.
But I was so happy and goose-bumpy, I went outside to gather my thoughts and watch the rising moon.
Goodness and Doug’s great force of spirit.
And will be.