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Around the Fire Pit  Vol. 1.2


Welcome to our place for storytelling: Stories about past events, people, opinions and news worthy happenings in the community. Let us know if you'd like to contribute. 

Fire Pit


By Ken Gill

We enjoyed the 3rd Music Festival at the Surprise Farm Retreat Center on May 4th of this year, and it was again a beautiful day for an outdoor festival. This year the creek under the bridge was in flow and everything was green and bursting with life. The musical lineup was excellent, with great variety and stellar performances.

Early arrivers relaxed under the oaks and wandered the grounds, taking in the verdant gardens and orchard, exploring among the granite boulders and lush foliage, and enjoying the great food, much of it straight from the organic farm on site.

The festival started at 1:30, kicking off with a solo performance by the wonderful Leah Keane, who entertained all with her beautiful voice and flawless guitar and ukulele playing. Leah’s set featured her own thought provoking songs that deal with growth, heartbreak, humility, responsibility and the pressures of growing up with social media. Leah also provided her own unique versions of a few popular songs. Leah always delivers a great performance, and her songs fit the spirit of the Surprise Farm perfectly. Look her up on the web and check out her latest music release.

Next up was ‘Blazing Jane,” a five-piece, all original combo based in San Diego. Their music could be described as ‘alt soul rock, with touches of tango and other influences.’ Lead singer Lissa Dee delivers cliché-free, memorable melodies and lyrics in a smoky, intimate and powerful voice. The music, crafted with strong grooves and pro musicianship-- by Bassist Paul Harris, Drummer John Sheppard, Keyboardist and back up vocalist Sam Boukas, and Guitarist and back up vocalist Ken Gill-- meld seamlessly with Lissa’s vocals. The lovely backdrop of greenery and the stage under the oaks was a perfect setting for their catchy, toe tapping set. Blazing Jane can be seen at many venues around San Diego county, and we hope to hear more from this great band at the next festival.

During a brief break, Ute Jamrozy and Don Eulert, founders of the Surprise Farm Retreat Center, welcomed the crowd, recognized SFRC collaborators, and gave a little history of the land, the facilities, the workshops, and organic farm.

Next up was Real J Wallace, who provided spoken word and rap, backed up by his own grooves. Real J’s work is thought-provoking and heartfelt, and was a big hit with the crowd. His messages of tolerance, introspection, and positive change were very much in line with the mission of the Retreat Center.  Real J Wallace can be found on the web and sound cloud. We hope to have him back again at the next Festival.

Next up was the headliner, The Journeyman Band, a 5-piece combo playing their own original music and select cover tunes from the 40’s through today. Their sound has great variety, but the general term ‘Americana’ gets close. Their set included blues, jazz, rock, western, Latin and some that defy categorization. From thoughtful ballads, to native American themed tunes, to toe tapping groove music and rousing rockers, they delivered an exciting set, starting mellow and working up to some moving tunes that had people dancing under the oaks.

During The Journeyman Band’s break, we had a special treat from The Fiddlin’ Kids-- a pair of young violinists who showed talent and great promise as well as being really cute doing it. They are neighbors of the Surprise Farm and it was a pleasure to have them add their talents to the show. We look forward to hearing more from them in the future.

Following The Fiddlin’ Kids, we enjoyed the premier of ‘The Sons of Leisure’, who before the break were The Journeyman Band. They unveiled their new name and continued on with a smoking set to finish a perfect day at the Farm.

After sunset, the folks who stayed gathered around the fire pit for a great night around the fire, finishing with folks hitting the sack in some of the ultra-comfortable glamping yurts.

Many thanks to Ain and John Colby, Peter and Kari and all the SFRC  for making the event possible and smooth running.

We are planning a third Music Fest for late October of this year. We hope to see all the folks who were at this last festival and lots of new friends as well. 

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By Dana Carson Lopez

SFRC had its first workshop this spring: Time Out! A Day of Creativity and Mindfulness in Nature.  Participants gathered under the canopy of the age-old oak trees on the land for a mindful meditation, taking time to connect with the abundant nature and wildlife. Birds called overhead and the wind gracefully swept through the foliage, filling the air with a lightness that each participant seemed to appreciate. Everyone immersed themselves in a quiet walkabout, taking in more of the beauty before exploring artistic expression. Participants explored the use of dried flowers, gourds, feathers, paint, beads, and many other items to create their own masterpieces and later a group art piece. The creativity was immense and the beauty of place helped to inspire everyone. The experience was sealed by a final mindful meditation under the oaks. We will be making the Time Out retreat a regular event, likely to be offered again as autumn approaches. 

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Around the Fire Pit Newsletter

Editors: Ken and Don

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