On a 90-degree Sunday afternoon at the foot of Mount Diablo, The Clayton Club Saloon played host to a gathering of local musical talent unprecedented in this town of 11,000. The vibe was upbeat, positive, and energetic, and the musical spirit of camaraderie strong and true. Everyone involved seemed determined to make this thing work, and work it did. While I spearheaded the concept, without the help of lots of willing hands, it wouldn’t have happened. Thanks have been and are hereby extended again to all who helped, and talk is already underway to make the second annual MATM even bigger and better than the first one. There are too many names to mention here, among the nearly 20 musicians, The Clayton Club staff and lots of volunteers. But the wonderful help and participation among so many individuals was moving. Accordingly, here’s one man’s take on some of the day’s highlights, musically and otherwise: The Clayton Club isn’t a large venue. It has perhaps 35 chairs, a dance floor, and a low ceiling full of suspended pairs of cowboy boots. (The boots represent their own unique story for another time). A classic western saloon, though not exactly a venue tailor-made for music. Yet, the club has a long, proud music tradition, with live music three nights a week and Karaoke on a fourth. Typically, many who come to hear the music end up standing, and this day was no exception. Fortunately, there’s a large patio area outside, where the club’s staff and volunteers kept cooking and serving a steady stream of food: Polish dogs, Tri-Tip, Ribs, and good salads – made available to all in attendance. Picnic tables outside seat over 100 additional patrons. Under sweltering conditions, we managed to jam musical instruments and their cases into every corner we could find, and Maggie’s Farm took the stage on time for our 2 PM start. They played admirably, opening the festivities with unique cover songs including Chains, Ring Of Fire, and a nice version of Solitary Man, among other well received selections. Though they were a seven-piece ensemble, they managed to contain their volume output, which is wise for an opening act. By the end of their set, they had won over the steadily growing crowd. At 3 PM, The Symptoms and I took our turn. We played an 11-song set featuring five of my original songs and a few covers by artists like The Dillards, The Beatles, and Bob Dylan. Thanks to this fine group of musicians for the crash course undertaken in learning the songs and playing together over a few weeks. It was an honor to be on stage with such a talented bunch. By now, we’d encountered sound and equipment problems. The stage monitors weren’t working properly, and the P.A. system overheated and shut down for awhile. But it didn’t stop us. The P.A. started working again, and at about 4:20 PM, a rocking unit known as Plan-B took over, and these guys meant business. With well chosen cover songs ranging from bands including The Kinks, The Band and Talking Heads, Plan-B had virtually everyone up and dancing and shaking and sweating. They presented a wide and varied set of songs that were just right for the occasion. It should be noted that during Plan-B’s performance, there were lots of eyes on the two big screen TV’s at the other end of the bar, where the San Francisco Giants were rallying in the ninth inning for a come from behind playoff game victory over the Atlanta Braves. For at least a few minutes, the Giants were getting almost as many cheers as the band. But soon enough the music would once again prevail and regain all of our attention. Finally, just before 5:30, The Relyks stepped up for the day’s final set. This band is like a well oiled machine. They play regularly at The Clayton Club and they’ve got their songs down pat. They represent the ultimate in what a Classic Rock band is about, performing a large selection of well-arranged songs from a wide array of artists from Chuck Berry to The Clash and more. They even managed to do it at a tastefully loud volume, entertaining the crowd to the very end. In spite of many of us feeling worn out from dancing, clapping, and the heat in general, The Relyks kept us engaged till after 6:30 PM, providing a fitting conclusion to a day of music. A word about the crowd. An estimated 300 people attended the event throughout the afternoon, a number that greatly exceeded expectations. The free music and free food proved to be a winning combination that attracted a diverse audience from all over the Bay Area. For all of the joy spread around that day, the single most memorable element for me was the camaraderie shared among the musicians. I was struck by how much we love to play music. Musicians so often donate their services under challenging conditions, learning songs and mixing and matching personnel between bands. Some of these musicians played in as many as three of the four bands, and did so willingly without complaint. By all accounts, our event was successful. Even some of Clayton’s local politicians were present, earnestly campaigning for votes in the upcoming city council elections. As John Propersi of The Relyks aptly summarized, The Clayton Club was the place to be that day in Clayton. The feeling among those involved is that there is more than enough interest to seek sponsorship for future year presentations of Music At The Mountain. It won’t be easy, but it seems plausible that the same spirit that drove so many to share their talents and services this year can help take MATM to the next level. Local film and documentary makers take note: Music At The Mountain looks like it’s here to stay. Perhaps future presentations can be captured with video footage and made into a movie. It might even become valuable some day. Meanwhile, we’ve all got the memory of a fun day. See you next year. JH

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Jim Hudak

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