Mon 23 Jul 2012
Almost 2,000 people filled Love Field in Point Reyes Station Saturday for the seventh annual Far West Fest. The $35-per-ticket event was a fundraiser for KWMR community radio, youth centers in Point Reyes Station (The Lounge) and the San Geronimo Valley (The Loft), as well as the Bolinas Community Center and Home Base (the parent organization of Love Field).
Jack Kramer, president of Home Base which sponsored the festival, said the 2,000 figure includes children, volunteers, musicians, and vendors along with ticket holders. Although total revenue from the event is still being calculated, Kramer said the fest “was the most successful ever.”
Les Nubians from France wowed the crowd with up-tempo rhythms that prompted dozens of listeners to get up and dance on the grass. The Grammy-nominated group was led by an “Afropean” sister duo who grew up in Chad and France.
Other headliners included Orgone, a Los Angeles funk and soul band, and Vinyl, a Marin band with a large following. Numerous other bands also performed throughout the afternoon.
Festival goers took advantage of the warm, sunny weather to get a tan while picnicking on the grass and listening to the music. Dotting Love Field were canopies sheltering vendors who sold ethnic and tie-dyed clothing, jewelry, crafts, beer, wine, hot dogs and hamburgers, oysters, various exotic fare, and much more. StuArt of Bolinas used a Mayan calendar to tell fortunes. Small children squealed in fun on playground equipment of a very small variety.
Plucking banjos (from left) were Lowell Levinger better known as Banana, Steve Wharton, Konrad Alt, Ernie Noyes, Ingrid Noyes, and Jim Chayka. Backing them up on drums and keyboard were Jacquie Phelan and Brian Lamoreaux.
A group of banjo players, who called themselves the Warren Hellman Tribute Band, gave a brief performance. The band was created to honor Warren Hellman, a philanthropist who died last December at the age of 77. An investment banker who had been a partner in Lehman Brothers, he was also a founder of the Hellman & Friedman private-equity firm.
Although he was a billionaire, Hellman did not believe in accumulating cash for its own sake. He was a contributor to many causes, including education, healthcare, programs for the poor, and journalism. Dismayed at watching economics force staff reductions at San Francisco newspapers, he donated $6 million to the Bay Citizen, a nonprofit, professional newsroom founded in 2010.
A banjo player as well as a financier, Hellman toured with a group called the Wronglers. He may have been best known in the San Francisco Bay Area for having founded the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in 2001. The free, three-day music festival in Golden Gate Park has now grown to where more than 750,000 people attended it last year. Hellman has left money to subsidize the festival another 15 years.
Performing on a second stage, the band Spark and Whisper drew an enthusiastic audience, including the dancers at right.
His last Far West Fest for at least awhile. Jerry Lunsford (right) hangs out at his traditional spot near the sound system for one of the festival’s stages. Since 1999, Lunsford has been a volunteer at KWMR, where he has hosted the Hippie from Olema music show. Lunsford, however, is about to leave West Marin for Crested Butte, Colorado, where he will become station manager for another community radio station, KBUT.
Shortly after 4 p.m., sirens suddenly broke through the music as firetruck after firetruck wailed past Love Field, some on the adjoining levee road, some on Bear Valley Road to the south.
As it happened, a 1.3-acre wildfire had broken out at the edge of Limantour Beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore. County firefighters and Park Service firefighters raced to the scene along with crews from Inverness and Stinson Beach. A tanker plane from Cal Fire made two water drops.
Because the firetrucks could not cross the pedestrian bridge to the beach, long hose-lines had to be laid to the blaze. The fire appeared to have started in a brushy area near the base of a willow tree, which is a few yards off the path to the beach, Park Service Fire Capt. John Haag later said. Most of what burned, along with brush, were reeds and Andean grass.
What started the fire was still unknown, he said Sunday, although it was almost certainly caused by humans. It took firefighters only an hour to douse the blaze, meaning that containing the fire ended well before the Far West Fest ended at 7 p.m. However, a fire crew hung around Limantour Beach until late at night in case there were flare-ups. Firefighters were back at the scene Sunday, and Capt. Haag said firefighters would check the area daily for the next five days.
Compared to other wildfires that have been flaring up around the state and country, the Limantour blaze was fairly small. All the same, whether you spent Saturday afternoon at the Far West Fest or at Limantour Beach, you probably came home with a lot to talk about.