Healdsburg Plaza summer concerts

Charlie Musselwhite in Healdsburg

The Healdsburg Plaza was packed to the gills on Tuesday evening to see and hear Charlie Musselwhite and his band. The loudspeakers were turned up loud enough to make your ears bleed. Fortunately we’d brought ear plugs, which barely muted the sound. I did my crowd sketching and dinner eating during the first hour.


That’s Uncle Sam there, collecting for the July 4th fireworks, and Paul Mahder the art gallerist over there on the right and others stacked up overlapping which is how it goes down on the paper when you just keep the pen moving. One of these Tuesdays I’ll try to sketch Davy Crocket, the guy who always shows up in skins with fringe, coon tail cap and wooden rifle and seems to know everyone.


It’s a bit of a conundrum where to sit and sketch the band. I certainly couldn’t sit in front like last week with the speakers cranked up all the way but the side view is not bad. Of course there were competitors for that real estate, as there always are – people grooving to the music and bumping up against me. I had 30 minutes there and held my ground! The paint came in when I got home. Oh and did I say? Charlie’s still amazing and that blues vibe goes right through to the bone marrow.

Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings

My favorite time of the year, bar none, is summer when free concerts are happening almost every day of the week in one of the many towns in Sonoma County. The Healdsburg Plaza was packed with families this Tuesday celebrating the beginning of this season and raising wine glasses to the amazing Roy Rogers on his slide guitar and the Delta Rhythm Kings of blues. Charlie Musselwhite was even on hand to join in with his harmonica at times.


I actually had to start dancing right away. You know, to kind of get it out of my system so that the pen wouldn’t go bananas when it hit the paper. But then I noticed an artist on stage sketching away and wondered if I might try that as well. In the break I asked Roy Rogers if he would mind my sitting behind them in the back of the gazebo/stage.  So I got a new vantage point, and even met some of the folks traveling with the band. Doesn’t exactly make me a groupie, but I can pretend.


Charlie Musselwhite is there in the red plaid shirt.


This guy Jase Casabella sketches performance style (he’s also a musician) with charcoal in one hand and a video palm recorder in the other. By the end of the performance he had pages and pages of sketches of the band to sell to enthusiastic viewers and a youtube video for Facebook.

Got me thinking. . .maybe I should try a bit of recording with my free hand? There is something so intoxicating about the mix of music and sketching, and my sketches can only show part of the scene.



Summer in Sonoma County


Fountain pen and watercolor in 8″ X 8″ hand.book w/c sketchbook (double spread)

There’s no better scene for people watching than a summer concert in the part and the Healdsburg Plaza never disappoints. I wanted to tell the story on the spot. At first we were seated, eating our pizza, in the area away from the stage, so I started sketching the guy in the blue pants eating a Souvlaki and the lady with a baby. Then I moved up closer to get the lead singer, a dancer and the other musicians. There’s nothing to do, but just add them in and hope the story gets told. The color was added when I got home.


This lovely red haired mermaid was waiting for a face at the Gravenstein Apple Festival in Sebastopol this weekend. The artist is Michael Coy, a great guy and talented artist and I couldn’t resist joining the children behind the mural to pose.


The Apple Festival has something for everyone. I sat down at a demonstration of how to make Farm to Bottle Fermented Hot Sauce (even though I doubt I’ll ever get around to that) and imagined the symphony of flavors I could enjoy.


There was plenty of shade under the oak trees at the Apple Stage to enjoy some excellent cowboy music and humor with Sourdough Slim and Robert.


And after seeing the arts and crafts exhibits, buying a new sunhat and eating a Honey Lavender Bacon and Gravenstein Apple melted sandwich, I headed back for more music. As I finished a young girl came up to compliment me on the sketch and I got to return a compliment. She had the first prize ribbon for the apple pie contest!

Summer Concerts (cont.)


pencil, fountain pen, w/c  in Stillman and Birn sketchbook, 6 X 8″

The best part of these free summer concerts (this one in Healdsburg plaza) is not the music, although that’s fun, nor the food, although there’s plenty of tasty items.  It’s the people watching, like this gentleman, who was such a good spectator that I got the whole sketch done on the spot (unknown to him I might add)


Soul Fuse was a great R n B dance band, so after the sketch and a Gyro sandwich and glass of wine, we got up and boogied with the crowd of all ages and apparent life styles.


The band’s photographer with her duo-toned hair was a marvelous subject as she waited for the the right shot.

I must say, I have no idea how this triptych happened- something in the wordpress software which I need to learn how to do – but it tells the story better than individual pics.


fountain pen with water soluble ink and watercolor

Another night I attended this Sufi Qawwali concert, which was in fact so ecstatic that I was unable to simply sit.  So I stood against the wall most of the evening, moving to the beat and managing to do a couple sketches in the dark.


The hands. . .they seemed to hold such intense rapture in them that they would fly into the air as the singers released torrents of devotional song. Tablas conversing back and forth with voices and harmoniums in some universal music language that made the spine tingle. Whew!  I came home and painted the background red, like the beating heart of this music.