KVMR 89.5 FM's live broadcast of summer music festivals gets "The Strawberry Way" kickoff this holiday weekend when the Nevada City radio station carries 50, yes, 50 hours from the Nevada County Fairgrounds.
Station broadcasters will team with the Strawberry Music Festival's legendary Hog Ranch Radio crew for the third consecutive airing of Strawberry's spring festival, running Thursday afternoon through Sunday night.
In addition to its over-the-air broadcast, KVMR is expecting a strong on-line listening audience streaming Strawberry at kvmr.org, especially for headliners including Richard Thompson, Lucinda Williams, Marcia Ball and Jerry Douglas.
To KVMR Strawberry Broadcast Producer Eric Rice, the long-running festival (which started in 1982) is steeped in traditions and tall tales from both its spring and fall incarnations.
"Strawberry has so much history going for it," he says. "Marcia Ball's returning to headline Thursday night, (the late) Sarah Elizabeth Campbell was such an important part of Strawberry lore, and they were the best of friends."
"It's a music community that's so large, but it's also so small..."
Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen are one of the acts closing things out Sunday night.
GREW UP ONSTAGE
"Frank grew up on the stage at the Father's Day Bluegrass festival," Rice recalls. "His father was the head of the 'Kids On Bluegrass' program there, and now Frank's playing the Strawberry Main Stage."
Rice says Strawberry Music Festival co-founder and co-owner Charlie Cran became a regular visitor to Canada's Nova Scotia area where he'd help judge "singer-songwriter circles" of maybe four to six people.
That's part of the impetus for the Friday and Saturday 11 p.m. late night performances now at Strawberry, dubbed Amy's Orchid Lounge and a Hog Ranch Radio presentation.
Hog Ranch Radio has been the on-site radio service practically since the beginning, and it was started by the late underground radio legend Thom O'hair, also a onetime program director and morning host at KSAN in San Francisco. O'hair is remembered on Hog Ranch Radio teeshirts for "FFFR", his universal slogan Fight For Free Radio, according to Rice.
An electrical contractor, Rice met him when somebody plugged in too many appliances into the Hog Ranch power supply.
"Thom pulled me out of the audience to help them restore power," remembers Rice. "They had overloaded circuits."
Rice found himself part of Hog Ranch and later was contracted by Chan to be the festival's electrician sometime in the '90s.
"There's a lot of radio history in that crew," notes Rice. "There are 'the Davids' (Nielsen, Jacobson and current KVMR engineer Barnett) and Tim Pozar, who handled satellite uplinks for Grateful Dead New Year's Eve shows."
"These guys are probably the heaviest group of radio engineers there are," Rice adds with a smile, "You get them together and they are talking in a language over your head in 30 seconds."
And the official festival definition of The Strawberry Way, according to strawberrymusic.com?
"You’ll hear the term ‘The Strawberry Way’ a lot at the festivals. This phrase created by festival goers, describes a vibe and way of living in community that we hope you will embrace throughout your Strawberry weekend. The spirit of The Strawberry Way is consideration, cooperation, kindness, and generosity. There’s not much more we can say, except when you see it, you’ll know what it is!"
FESTIVALS ON KVMR
KVMR 89.5 FM (kvmr.org streaming) will also broadcast these summer festivals:
--Father's Day Bluegrass Festival, June 15-18
--High Sierra Music Festival, Quincy, June 29-July 2
--California Worldfest, July 13-16
GAYLE BOTIC, R.I.P.
A celebration of life for tireless KVMR volunteer and, no surprise, Strawberry Festival regular Gayle Botic was held at her house outside Nevada City last weekend.
Gayle passed away from cancer earlier this month and she was remembered by some 60 friends, according to Rice, including a bevy of performing musicians, KVMR volunteers and broadcasters, Strawberry camping acquaintances and others.
Botic -- an avid recycler -- was in charge of that at the radio station for a number of years. More recently, she was on festival remote broadcasting crews.
"One of the biggest smiles and brightest lights has left us," said one friend. Added another, "Now she'll brighten another place."
KNOW & HEAR
WHAT: Strawberry Spring Music Festival Broadcast on KVMR 89.5 FM, streaming worldwide at kvmr.org
WHEN: Thursday (May 25), 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday (May 26) 10 a.m. to 1a.m. Sat; Saturday (May 27) 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sun;Sunday (May 28), 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
WHERE: Nevada County Fairgrounds, Grass Valley.
ON-SITE RADIO: Hog Ranch Radio, 88.3 FM
TICKETS: Available at Gate & at strawberrymusic.com