One day, lots of love
For almost a decade, Mikail Graham has been vocal, actually an advocate, for bringing back live music to Nevada City.
Music has always been a big part of Graham’s life.
In the ’60s, by the age of 11, he was already playing in rock bands.
During the 1970s, the Nevada City native considered his hometown the perfect place to be.
He recalled 11 venues that featured acts five to six nights a week; and Friar Tuck’s, with live music every night.
In the ’80s, Graham said, some of those venues closed, but at least there was still nightly music at Friar Tuck’s.
Then the ’90s hit and the live music scene in Nevada City pretty much dwindled, Graham lamented. He and former Cooper’s owner Tim Smith came up with Cooper’s Live in 1999, which they hoped would bring live music to another Nevada City venue every Thursday for six months out of the year.
A few months ago, Graham lined up music acts for every Wednesday and Thursday beginning in May at Cooper’s. He wanted to increase the number of weekdays downtown venues offered a variety of live music.
Graham never imagined a fire would destroy Friar Tuck’s, a restaurant-nightclub he hung out in for years and credits with keeping music alive daily in downtown Nevada City.
By 8 a.m. on March 20, Graham was on Commercial Street, watching the fire engulf the old Elks Lodge building, which included Friar Tuck’s.
“I was speechless. It was overwhelming,” said Graham, who for the last two weeks spent up to 12 hours a day working on the “Taking Care Of Our Own” fund-raiser to benefit employees of the businesses closed by the fire.
Those businesses are Friar Tuck’s, Herb Shop, Herb Shop Records, Herb Shop Deli and Off Broadstreet Theater.
“Effects of the fire are going to be major,” Graham said. “We’re going into the main tourist season, and one of our main hubs is gone.
“This could seriously impact our downtown business. We are all worried about the employees displaced by the fire, but what about the 3,000 or so people who visited the displaced establishments a week?” he said.
He visited the Herb Shop weekly.
“I used to go into Herb Shop to have a sandwich and talk to (owner) Lovie Bucknell at Herb Shop Records about local and regional performers,” Graham said. “My heart goes out to all these folks hurt by the fire.”
If you want a “Who’s Who” of Nevada County entertainers, check out the “Taking Care of Our Own” benefit-celebration Sunday at Miners Foundry Cultural Center.
The musicians, poets, theater groups and dance groups represent some of the busiest area entertainers in a multitude of genres.
There’s something for all tastes, from alternative music (Adam Kline and Golden Shoulders) to piano four-hands (Ken Hardin and Paul Perry) to snippets from Off Broadstreet Theatre’s “Angry Housewives” and Foothill Theatre Company’s “Little Shop of Horrors.”
Diva’s Diversion will even reunite, just for the occasion.
In all, 44 acts will play in a nine-hour period in the Foundry’s Stone and Great Halls. The music will be acoustic.
“I’ve never seen an event with so many performers in one day anywhere in Nevada County,” Graham said.
“It feels good that so many people in the community are coming together,” he added. “There’s been over 100 volunteers working on this day of celebration.”
Everything about the day has been donated, from the performers’ time, the venue, food from area restaurants to the auction items.
Among the auction items are 100 bricks salvaged from the ruined building, bottles of wine saved from Friar Tuck’s wine cellar and wind chimes pulled from the Herb Shop.
Admission to the benefit is by cash or check donations of any amount. All money goes to the Nevada City Fire Relief Fund to be distributed equally among 61 employees, musicians, artists and actors affected by the fire.
The fire relief fund is administered by the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce and the Nevada County Cultural Preservation Trust.
Know and Go
WHAT: “Taking Care of Our Own” benefit
WHEN: Sunday from noon to 9 p.m.
WHERE: Miners Foundry Cultural Center, 325 Spring St., Nevada City
ADMISSION: By donation, price determined by ticket-holders. Tickets double as a chance for a prize and are available at the door, Nevada City Chamber of Commerce and Miners Foundry office.
INFORMATION: Nevada City Chamber of Commerce at 265-2692, Nevada County Arts Council at 271-5955 or Miners Foundry Cultural Center at 265-5040.
Blaze hits couple particularly hard
Longtime Nevada County residents Tony and Lauren Lauria were hit hard, not once, but twice by the March 20 fire.
For 12 years, he has appeared in Off Broadstreet theater performances; she has served as the OBS house manager. In addition, Tony Lauria was a regular performer at Friar Tuck’s last year.
“We were supposed to bring ‘Legends to Go’ back this year at Off Broadstreet,” Tony Lauria said. “Now everything’s up in the air, while we’re uncertain where we’ll go. We’re in limbo.”
Income from these two venues helped pay bills.
“All of those gigs are now gone,” Tony Lauria said. “It’s sorely missed. Every time I played at Friar Tuck’s was special. It’s probably the best place, or was, to perform.”
He still talks about the establishments in the present tense.
“Friar Tuck’s is where everyone goes, everyone’s first choice. Music is the mainstay of the evening. It’s not ‘come out and meet the opposite sex,'” Tony Lauria said. “There’s always great music. instead of being a bar, it’s like a concert.”
Both Laurias say their bills will somehow be met.
“I’ve done construction. Musicians dabble in a number of areas, because you can’t depend financially on music,” Tony Lauria said. “Maybe now it means I’ll do a little more traveling, some concerts in the Bay Area. I am an optimist. Music and performing is what I do best.”
While Lauren Lauria doesn’t know exactly what work she will do to make ends meet in the near future, she says she will remain with OBS.
Until the theater finds a new home, though, she has work hours to fill.
Lauren Lauria will continue working very part time as the KVMR box office manager.
“I’m a potter. I sell things occasionally. I waitressed. I can always get work. We’re a little concerned, because our youngest son will start college in a year,” she said.
That’s why she appreciates the constant support shown by the community these past few weeks.
“It’s just amazing,” Lauren Lauria said. “Every time something like this happens in the community, I get so proud. The community is good at taking care of our own.”
Coincidentally, “Taking Care of Our Own” is the name of Sunday’s community benefit. She will volunteer at the event and her husband will perform.
“We’ll be there along with a million people,” Tony Lauria said. “Mikail (Graham) called and asked me to do it. Of course there was no question about wanting to do it. It’s for all of us. The community has pulled together.”
‘Taking Care of Our Own’ Schedule
Noon Half Dead
1:05 Bob Mora and Mitch Faber
1:35 Stephen Yerkey
1:50 Adam Kline and Golden Shoulders
2:20 Pocket For Corduroy
2:45 Haute Trash
3 p.m. Paul Kamm and Eleanore MacDonald
3:30 Buck Love and the Humperheads
4:30 Earth Rhythm Dancers
4:45 Foothill Theatre Company
5:15 The DeadBeats
6:00 Bob Gubber Quintet
6:30 Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra (CATS)
6:45 John Deaderick
6:55 Off Broadstreet production excerpts
7:30 Terry Riley and Gyan Riley
8 p.m. Nevada Union Chamber Choir
8:25 Raffle giveaway
8:30 Paul Perry and Ken Hardin
9 p.m. The Chillbillys
Noon Kindred Spirit
12:30 Jamie Bellizzi and Brenda Collins
12:50 The Bears
1:20 Spirit Drum Circle
1:40 Jeff Jones and Friends
2 p.m. Kimberly Bass
2:20 Big Fish Small Pond
2:40 Troupe Al Ama
3 p.m. Chris Olander and Jacquie Castileja
3:10 Stephen Holland
3:30 John Girton
3:50 George Souza
4:15 Lorraine Gervais and Diva’s Diversion
4:40 Gregory Leupp and Jonathan Meredith
5 p.m. Tom MacDonald
5:20 Ludi Hinrichs
5:40 Peter Wilson and Billy Bensing
6 p.m. Tony Lauria and Rick Kirkpatrick
6:20 Saul Rayo Trio with
Lorraine Gervais and Eleanore MacDonald
6:40 Dakota Sid Clifford
7 p.m. Azulita
7:25 Roo Cantada
7:35 Ivan Najera Trio
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