August 20, 2016, Prescott- The rain continued apace, today, though the lion’s share of it came towards evening. Two events coincided with the storm: A friend’s “End of Summer” gathering, which I attended for about an hour, and Becky Fest, organized by a local musician, Becky Dalke, for the purpose of empowering women in music. The first such gathering was on the tenth anniversary of the attacks on New York, September 11, 2011. That year, and for a few years subsequent, Becky Fest was held at a local bar, Coyote Joe’s.
This year found the gathering at Beastro, a crafts studio that supports animal welfare. Beastro’s owners are local poets, as well, so I have some familiarity with them. Their back yard served as the stage and audience pit. It was jam-packed when I got there, at 5, and the group due to perform, Kaileena and the Originals, was just setting up. Kaileena is a Prescott native, who has been performing as an indie musician, since 2006, being closely associated with the Austin music scene. The group did some kick-ass Blues, including a lengthy rendition of “Cry Me A River”.
Then, came the “headliners”, Stella and the Phins. Stella, attired in a frilly red dress, took the stage like a boss. I felt like I was seeing and hearing what Grace Slick would have done, had she stayed closer to her hard rock roots. Stella Lora Heiniemi has incredible range, from growling like Mama Bear to sizzling high notes. The ever-present harmonica, in the hands and mouth of Haz7maX, was always her back-up “vocal”, from where I sat. Guy and Caleb, the guitarists, had there own magic, with Caleb offering a sweet original song, devoted to his new wife. I was happy to be sitting directly behind a young couple, for this one, and noting their tenderness towards one another, as Caleb sang his story. Donna, the group’s percussionist, stayed in the background, but is second to none, on the drums.
Just before Stella and the gang got started, a group of us set up a canopy. This is how we do things in Prescott- one of the features of life that endears me to this town, as that’s how it always was back in Saugus: People cared for one another and worked as a team, on matters large and small.
The Fest was still going on, as I left to tend to a matter related to the “End of Summer” party. As it happened, two birthdays were celebrated: Judy’s (the E.O.S. hostess), belatedly and Becky’s (which is this weekend).