Sometimes, we may operate with the understanding that Chautauqua is here to parade into a town and give our gift to a community. On Monday, we were humbled and honored to travel to the Round Valley Reservation in Covelo and realize that our morning teaser show (at an elementary school), workshops and performance only paled in comparison to what we received.
The Round Valley Indian Reservation is comprised of various tribes in the Covelo community: the Yuki (original inhabitants of Round Valley), Concow Maidu, Little Lake and other Pomo, Nomlaki, Cahto, Wailaki, and Pit River peoples. We were absolutely honored to be invited onto their sacred land — and allowed to participate in a ceremony that served as a spiritual opening for the space. The ceremony happened between act one and act two of our show, and to get the gravity of what we experienced, you’d have to understand that our group of Chautauquans were the first non-native people ever to be allowed to dance in this ceremony.
We are beyond grateful to the Round Valley Reservation for welcoming us into their community and educating us on their traditions. We not only had the opportunity to hear the singers’ powerful voices and marvel at the dancers (elaborately costumed and rhythmically stamping the earth for almost an hour, even in the intense heat) — but we also learned some of the steps and how to say “OH!” at the end of each dance. We really liked this way of showing appreciation, and as a tribute, we have even incorporated it into our tour, shouting “OH!” for each other at the end of a really great act. Thank you, Round Valley Reservation for what you gave us. No one on this tour will ever forget that day. OH!
Tuesday was our day off, and because we seem to be constantly blessed with the support of amazing people, we were invited to the private home of John Schaeffer, founder of Real Goods and the Solar Living Institute (where we are currently camped). John’s house is hard to describe. It’s round. It’s called Sun Hawk. It’s a model of sustainable architecture. It has a beautiful pond, a floating dock, a lavender labyrinth, a really gracious host who (along with his wife) invites our band play on the deck while the sun goes down. It’s TOTALLY AWESOME! I found a video of John talking about Sun Hawk on youtube, so take a peek if you’re so inclined:
For all the fun, great food and pond-side juggling time we had yesterday, the Chautauquans send the Schaeffers a huge hug, a trombone blast and a heartfelt: OH!
Jam at John’s:
And to wrap up these warm interactions we are having with the local communities, this morning, we traveled to the Ukiah Senior Center and the Plowshares Peace and Justice Center (a soup kitchen). The seniors were singing right along with Scuff’s hits of the 20s and 30s and could not stop laughing at Strangely, who did not let the low-low ceilings stop him from wearing his tall-tall stilts. The homeless folks eating lunch at Plowshares also got a kick out of our band of merry weirdos (especially those who participated in “Bee Bones,” Clay’s audience-participation-heavy band for “everyone in the whole world”). I’ll wrap up with a few audience reactions from the shows this morning:
“I work at Ukiah Senior Center and we were just blessed by your presence. I would love to bring my grand kids to one of your performances. I hope you will come back to our Senior Center soon!” — Debbie
“I loved every minute. It made me forget about all the bad things. We’re all homeless, so after this, we’ll go back to our vehicles or wherever we go. This was something I really needed, and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. Thank you so much for having me in your show.” — Sherry (who was eating lunch at Plowshares and got on stage to play “Love” in Bee Bones)
“I skipped therapy today to see this, but that’s okay because this was my therapy.” — Plowshares audience member
Big Laughs at Plowshares: