Category Archives: Old-Time Music

Community Cider Pressing and Old-Time Music Jam


Ahhh! The might Gravenstein apple! It’s that time of year in Sonoma County. The Gravensteins are rolling down the streets of our neighborhood and we just couldn’t see them go to waste. So, we dusted off the family apple press and put out the word for folks to bring their apples over. Some people wanted apple juice and some people were pressing specifically to make their own hard cider. Either way it was a fun event.


We hosed off the press, put it away and moved to the front porch for an Old-Time music jam with friends from the East Bay, San Francisco and Santa Cruz.


Followed by a potluck supper (always an amazing array of fabulous fresh and local food) including Belma’s perfect chile rellenos, our homemade hard cider and a local turkey served with plum chutney. Then, out back to continue playing music with the ducks and chickens.


Jude and Eric walked downtown to pick up some ice cream and we broke again for dessert! Apple pie and apple cobbler, chocolate zucchini cake and plum ginger sorbet. Then, off to the living room to continue playing and singing into the evening. Thanks to Steve for bringing his amazing song book!

Music: Homegrown and Handmade

In Jenna Woginrich’s book MADE FROM SCRATCH: DISCOVERING THE PLEASURES OF A HANDMADE LIFE there is a chapter entitled “Homemade Mountain Music”. It got me thinking about how music was such an important part of Helen and Scott Nearing’s ‘good life’.

The Nearings are considered the great-grandparents of the back to the land movement in this country. Helen was a trained violinist and she and Scott played music together to relax after a hard day’s work. I’m sure with all of the visitors they had over their long years of homesteading in Vermont and Maine they had many a music jam!

If you have not read their 1954 book “LIVING THE GOOD LIFE” now is the time.

Helen and Scott were devoted to a lifestyle giving importance to work, on the one hand, and contemplation or play, on the other. Ideally, they aimed at a norm that divided most of a day’s waking hours into three blocks of four hours: “bread labor” (work directed toward meeting requirements of food, shelter, clothing, needed tools, and such); civic work (doing something of value for their community); and professional pursuits or recreation (for Scott this was frequently economics research, for Helen it was often music – but they both liked to ski, also). -Wikipedia

Helen did love her classical music records. You can see her phonograph behind her.

We hosted our first-ever potluck and old-time music jam a couple of weeks ago. Everyone ate out on the front porch and then moved inside to play music. It was an unusually warm evening so the front door was open. In between songs we could hear applause from neighbors passing by.

Here’s a picture-

Actually, we had fourteen people crammed into our front room. We had an upright bass, four guitars, four banjos, a mandolin, and four fiddles. It felt like this picture looks!

Even the cat joined in….

Actually, we don’t have a cat!