Published in the August 2 – August 15, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Mark Fenichel

A view of some of the vineyard at Hecker Pass Winery taken from the stage.
Photo by Mark Fenichel/fenifoto

Mark FenichelI found myself driving down a beautiful country road on the way to play at a winery I had never been to before. Thinking to myself, what a great thing to be out in the middle of God’s country driving on a breathtaking, hilly, winding road with no traffic and no traffic lights as my car slithered through thick rows of trees along rolling mountains on my way to play a solo music gig for a few hours. Just me, my guitar, harmonicas and a place to play.

As I continued the drive I started thinking… here I am with all my music gear in the trunk, my guitar in the back seat and my harmonicas tucked neatly in the back pack on the passenger seat. It made me realize just how lucky I am to be able to play music on a regular basis for appreciative audiences in different places and on this day in the middle of this beautiful countryside.

So I arrived at the winery where I was greeted by the owner and the manager, who happened to be his son-in-law. We stood in the parking area for a while chatting about the winery and how the family bought the property many generations ago and how they gradually developed the property into a small but successful wine growing operation. They led me through a narrow hallway and through to the other side of the out buildings which opened into a spacious, mostly covered patio with round tables and chairs, a small covered stage and a priceless view of neatly lined row upon row of young grapevines.

I felt as though I was walking into a real-life postcard of the South Valley and how it may have looked hundreds of years ago remaining virtually unchanged. To my surprise the stage was already set up with a quality sound system, microphones and everything I needed to entertain.

This turned out to be not just another gig but a wonderful perfect evening with the best weather and a very appreciative audience. Rather than be a background musician, I was the centerpiece of the event with loud applause after each song and children from time-to-time coming up to the stage to drop cash in the tip jar. I played and played continuously for hours with no break until dark, realizing I filled the entire three hours and it was time to end.

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Many of those who were enjoying the evening stayed to talk about music and other things on their mind. When I finally packed and drove out the parking lot, I couldn’t help but soak up the good feeling of a rewarding evening of live music and how it changed the lives of those that experienced it.

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On another note, a new music venue is coming together in Gilroy. Station 55 on Fifth Street is now serving Mexican fare for lunch and dinner and plans to put in DJs to begin with, then add live music a few nights a week. It is good that they have the foresight to realize good food and live music is a winning combination.

Got a music tip? Send them to Mark at harmonicaman1@yahoo.com