New Blood Swells the Music Scene
Folk Yeah turns Fernwood into a major venue.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
RECENTLY, THERE HAVE BEEN MANY POSITIVE DEVELOPMENTS in Monterey County’s music scene, including CSUMB acts infiltrating the Peninsula’s clubs and the Golden State Theatre ensnaring a fair share of music legends. But one local promoter has stirred up the scene by booking a wide array of acts – from Japanese metal to wispy British folkies in the rural community of Big Sur.
It all started out on a whim.
Back in January of 2005, Monterey Peninsula resident and avid music fan Britt Govea decided to e-mail longtime indie rock icon Will Oldham (Palace, Bonnie “Prince” Billy) to see if he would do a show in Big Sur. To Govea’s surprise, Oldham e-mailed right back, and the two set up a pair of performances in Fernwood, a rustic bar that until that point hosted mostly local and regional acts on weekends.
“My friends said I was crazy,” Govea says. “They thought that no one was going to travel to Big Sur for a show.”
But the weekend shows were a big success: both sold out and a flood of Bay Area hipsters and music fans took over Fernwood.
Govea and his wife April then formed a production company, Folk Yeah Presents, which has brought a steady stream of national up-and-coming talent to Fernwood and the nearby Henry Miller Library. These acts, including Devendra Banhart, Brightblack Morning Light and Lavender Diamond, have since graced the pages of national music magazines like Rolling Stone.
This past spring and summer, Folk Yeah raised the bar. In May, Chris Robinson of the multi-platinum The Black Crowes did a packed evening show at Fernwood followed by an afternoon at the Henry Miller Library. A month later, Pegi Young, rock icon Neil’s wife, held her first public concert ever at a Henry Miller Folk Yeah event.
Now, with the crowded Big Sur tourist season coming to a close, Folk Yeah is lining up a fresh slate of happenings for this fall. On Oct. 13, they are staging an 11-hour event called the 3D Picnic. Featuring two stages of music including a performance by experimental rock and folk outfit Akron/Family, the all-day event is also a visual arts festival with a three-dimensional projection show.
The following weekend, Oct. 19 and 20, Folk Yeah holds its annual Fall Festival at Fernwood. Inside the tiny venue, which can hold 150 people when all the furniture is moved out, Dr. Dog – an eclectic indie rock band currently playing baseball stadiums and large auditoriums with Wilco – will headline Friday evening. The next night, Folk Yeah will host The Fiery Furnaces. Written up in national publications like the New York Times and the Boston Globe, the brother-sister act has released a couple of dizzying concept albums.
Now, with musicians asking him to book shows and publications like the San Francisco Chronicle writing about his events, Govea is looking to build a stage in a field behind Fernwood to accommodate bigger performances. Govea sees one primary reason why so many acts seem to want to play the Folk Yeah shows. “It feels like there is some cosmic pull to Big Sur,” he says.
To see a list of upcoming Folk Yeah shows, visitmyspace.com/folkyeahpresents.