Rockin’ for Saul: Bands perform to raise money for colleague |

Rockin’ for Saul: Bands perform to raise money for colleague

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Special to Prospector

Know & Go

WHO: The Miners Foundry presents

WHAT: Rockin’ for Saul - a fundraiser for Saul Rayo

WHEN: Friday

TIMES: 7 p.m. Bob Woods Trio; 7:45 Lorraine Gervais; 8:30 Objects in the Mirror; 9:30 Saul & Co; 10:30 Petty Luv; 11:30 Achilles Wheel. Special guests are also expected through the evening. Doors open at 6 p.m.

WHERE: Miners Foundry Cultural Center, 325 Spring Street, Nevada City

TICKETS: $20 General Admission/Suggested Donation. No one will be turned away. Tickets are available online, by phone, or in person at the Miners Foundry Box Office, and in person at Briar Patch Co-Op. Ticketing fees waived for purchases made by phone or in person via the Miners Foundry Box Office. The Miners Foundry Box Office is open Tuesday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 530-265-5040.


Since moving here from Homer, Alaska, in the early 1990s, when asked to donate his musical talents to support Nevada County fundraisers, artist Saul Rayo has said, “Yes.”

Over the years, Rayo has given his time and talent to support countless benefits, including those for Hospitality House (including years of A Night of Giving), DVSAC (now named Community Beyond Violence), KVMR, South Yuba River Citizens League and most recently to help Camp Fire victims, just to name a few.

This Friday, Rayo finds himself on the receiving end of support, as fellow musicians, friends and community members have joined forces to organize “Rockin’ for Rayo” at Miner’s Foundry in Nevada City. The benefit will help cover medical care and costs needed to treat Rayo’s recent diagnosis of colon cancer.

For a man who usually has a lot to say, Rayo suddenly finds himself at a loss for words over the unexpected generosity of those he has played with and sometimes even fought with for stage time.

“I am so grateful,” Rayo said. “It was a complete surprise and just so sweet. I am really blown away by our community. It’s a little hard for me to take it in. Receiving is a tough thing for me but I am trying to get over that and take it in.”

Rayo first began noticing something was not quite right a couple years ago but ignored early symptoms. He began changing his diet and routine, which helped for a time, but he landed in the hospital during a trip to Australia. After being released and playing at the festivals that took him there, chronic symptoms forced him to seek professional help.

Six weeks ago, test results confirmed the cancer diagnosis.

Longtime friend and drummer Mark McCartney got the ball rolling as soon as he heard the news of Rayo’s health challenge, first speaking with Miner’s Foundry Executive Director Gretchen Bond, who happened to have this Friday available, and then enlisting the likes of Peter Wilson, John Taber and others, to pull together all the elements needed to produce an evening of music, food, drink and silent auction. This all happened in less than 3 weeks.

McCartney (who is a letter carrier by day) said, “I love Saul. We have been friends since I delivered a package to him almost 20 years ago. He’s done a lot for our community, so I just organized a way for our community to give back some love because he needs it right now. Besides the money, we want to give him love. So, putting energy into it, whatever way you can, with whatever you can, is the best thing. I just think he needs all of it right now. It’s going to be a good night.”

The evening lineup includes performances by Bob Woods Trio, Lorraine Gervais, Objects in the Mirror, Petty Luv, Achilles Wheel and some special guests. Saul along with his wife, Elena, will also perform a song or two with friends throughout the night.

The Center For The Arts WorldFest Director, Technical Manager and Staff Photographer, John Taber is handling the production aspects of the evening. He said there will be food, a bar and a silent auction. Taber agrees this is a time for the community to give back to one of its own.

“I know for a fact if this situation arose for anyone in this community, we could count on Saul Rayo to come out and do something for the cause,” Taber said.

Everyone involved is donating their time and talent.

“There is so much going on in such a short window for production that I am trusting largely on everyone coming in and doing what they are supposed to, and so far, it seems to be happening that way,” Taber said.

Taber added the silent auction will offer tickets to California World Fest, KVMR’s Celtic Fest (of which he is also involved) and many other items. That task is delegated to Patti Smith and Pinky Zalkin, who say they have received many items for the auction but can always use more.

Peter Wilson is primarily in charge of promoting the event. He said, “Saul has been a key part of the Nevada City/Grass Valley music community for decades and he has contributed in many, many ways to many other people’s fundraisers so it just seemed logical for the community to come together one more time. Saul and Elena are really great people. It’s a great pleasure to help them out.”

While discussing the cancer diagnosis, Rayo said terms like “fighting” and “beating” did not work for him. He is looking at it a bit differently.

“There is a lot of fear around this but I have made peace with it,” Rayo said. “I have found levity in it and am reclaiming my sense of humor. I am letting go of the negative so it will let go of me.

“It came to me to embrace this thing. Meet my new friend cancer who has tapped me on the shoulder and said I am going to kill you if you don’t get your act together because you are killing yourself. So, I feel like I got the message loud and clear and I said OK, you can let go of me now.”

Rayo is using a holistic approach and he feels like it is working.

“I feel like a different person,” Rayo said. “My body created it and my body can get rid of it. And as for the musicians coming out to help me, to have everyone come out in a great brotherhood, it is just beautiful.”

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at

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