with Allison Miller

Party Like It’s 1967: KVMR’s Summer of Love Fest Kicks Off a Music-Filled July

Broadcaster Johnny Gallagher, host of the Tuesday Music Magazine on KVMR 89.5 FM, grew up in San Francisco, just five blocks from Haight Street. When the Summer of Love blossomed in 1967 in a swirl of tie-dye, music, patchouli and other distinctive scents, he says it was “a party every night.”

He met young people from all over the country as they converged on the city, exuberantly flouting conventional values. It was a magical time and place for a music-loving teenager. Gallagher trusted that the same phenomenon was breaking out all over.

Ah, but he was so much younger then. It was only later that Gallagher realized he had been lucky to witness something singular. On Saturday, when KVMR presents its 50th anniversary celebration of the Summer of Love at Pioneer Park in Nevada City, Gallagher will emcee from the stage and share some of his San Francisco memories.

Four local bands will span musical genres of the era: rock from Sgt. Funky and Jupiter’s Child, rhythm and blues from Love Train, and folk-rock from No Hands Bridge.

The family-friendly festival, which runs from 5 to 10 p.m., will include a kids’ play area, dancing, a shady “crash pad,” and food and products from local vendors. Admission is $10 at the gate and half price for Vietnam-era veterans; flower children 15 and under get in free.

The event benefits KVMR’s Bridge Street building project. It’s also a chance to mingle with beloved community radio personalities. Along with Gallagher, KVMR favorites Hap Hazard, Connie Coale, Jenny Michael, Elisa Parker and Jerianne Van Dyke will keep the entertainment moving between musical acts.

Get on Board the Love Train

A majority of the musical mojo at the event will come courtesy of Jonathan Lyerly and Karel Hendee. The talented duo is not only the heart of Love Train, but also the vocal and rhythmic backbone of Sgt. Funky. Between them, Lyerly and Hendee play in 10 bands of various genres. Last year, Hendee notes, she played 23 gigs in five weeks.

The Summer of Love concert marks the debut of band No. 10.  Love Train will be joined by Beau Askew on drums and a horn section helmed by Phil Kember.

As Sgt. Funky closes out the evening, Lyerly will switch from guitar to drums, with Hendee holding down the bottom on electric bass. Sadly, playing bass hampers Hendee from another of her many talents: go-go dancing. But Hendee and Lyerly assure audiences that Sgt. Funky band mate Susan Perko will take up the slack.  

Summer Nights Return

The Summer of Love Festival is just the first of a string of KVMR-sponsored al fresco concerts that will heat up the month of July. Summer Nights are back in downtown Nevada City for three Wednesdays in a row starting July 12.

For the third year, KVMR and the Miners Foundry will join forces to present free concerts on the Bridge Street Connection stage in the foundry parking lot at KVMR’s doorstep.  KVMR development director Cynthia Tweed calls Bridge and Spring streets  “the cornerstone of arts and entertainment in downtown Nevada City.”

On July 12, Brandy Robinson will bring to the Bridge Street stage her guitar and her irresistible energy, joined by Midnight Sol. On July 19, the family-friendly, dance-friendly venue hosts soulful singer-songwriter Hannah Jane Kile, who lists as her influences Stephen Sondheim and Bonnie Raitt.

Roots, Rock, Reggae

Locally grown reggae/rock group Northern Roots--comprised of Aaron Penn, Paul Johnson, Jake Cena and KVMR broadcaster Martin Webb--will wrap up the series on July 26 with its positive vibe and uplifting lyrics.

The music flows from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Tweed says, “It’s a chance to enjoy live music under the warm July sky as the sun sets over the majestic beauty of downtown Nevada City."

Sponsors for the Bridge Street Connection stage are Vermicrop, Hometown Hydroponics, Mountain Pastimes, Grateful Ink Tattoo, Foxhound Espresso Coffee, Matteo’s Public, Spring Street Market and Nevada City Winery.

Peter Yarrow Interview

On the Monday Morning Show July 10 (7 to 10 a.m.) KVMR Program Director Steve Baker will reprise a 2009 interview with Peter Yarrow. Yarrow will perform at California Worldfest on July 13 joined by his daughter, Bethany Yarrow, and cellist Rufus Cappadocia. Baker interviewed Yarrow in the wake of the death of his longtime band mate, Mary Travers.