By Meg Upton
For the 150 or so people who pulled out their lawn chairs and picnic blankets the afternoon of May 15 to sit on the grass of Greenville High School’s quad, the day was a welcome respite from now typical Greenville meetings. The event wasn’t about fire. It was about music.
More than a few residents remarked over the course of the three hours most people spent listening to Hank Alrich, Jim Norman, his former now middle-aged students playing familiar tunes that it was fun—to have fun again.
Music on the Green Revival was the first arts programming to come back to downtown Greenville, and is part of a long standing tradition of having musicians come play their music on the expansive lawn in the summer and early fall—though such programming hasn’t been around in almost a decade now.
“We’ve all been through a disaster and a long, difficult winter. Now it’s spring — time to celebrate renewal and the rebuilding sprouting up across Indian Valley. What better way than music,” said Plumas Arts board member Jane Braxton Little. Braxton Little was instrumental—along with Hank Alrich—in getting the Music on the Green Revival going again. The original idea was to bring it back last fall but inclement weather postponed it to spring.
The “House Band” included Jim Norman as musical director on keyboard, GHS alumni Jimmy Leal on drums, Jerome Little—who flew in from Austin, Texas for the event—on bass, Johnny Leal on guitar, Michael Porter on trumpet, and Hank Alrich on guitar who also functioned as emcee.
Guest artists with Greenville or GHS affiliations also ‘sat in’ for a few songs and those included Levi Mullen, the Taylorsville Elementary School Band led by Jane Brown, Maddy Fitch, Mary Shero, Joe Tomaselli, Ken Cawley, Stacie LaMattina and Art Garcia.
It was by all accounts a fun, lazy afternoon of listening and relaxing and sometimes dancing. Pre-school and elementary school kids played ‘duck, duck, goose’ on the lawn and danced to some of the old-timey tunes. Old neighbors visited with one another. People came from Chester, Westwood, Quincy and all across Indian Valley for the event.
“What I loved most of all was the multi-generations frolicking on the lawn, loving being together,” said Braxton Little.
It did not go unnoticed either that Indian Valley folks have a sense of humor. Hank Alrich played guitar and sang “Setting the Woods on Fire.”
Across the lawn from the band, Plumas Arts set up its communal mural where event go-ers could paint a square (think paint by numbers on a grand scale) and have their square become part of the mural of “strength and resilience.”
The community mural project was the brainchild of Plumas Arts Events Coordinator Jennifer Ready, who had completed similar projects at youth leadership conferences. After the Dixie Fire, Plumas Arts wanted a piece that represented the strength, hope, and resilience of our communities here in Plumas County. Jennifer envisioned a project that everyone had a hand in creating.
Plumas Arts commissioned local muralist Trixie Hollyhox (aka Tina Thorman) to design the collaborative mural and help break the piece into about 200 separate pieces. Each person was given a small canvas board to paint with a specific design, which then got added to the mural board to create one large piece. The image begins to emerge as each of the painter’s pieces is assembled together.
The mural was worked on at two separate Plumas Arts events. The first event in October 2021 in Quincy celebrating Plumas Arts’ 40th Anniversary, and the second event, originally scheduled for mid-October 2021, but rescheduled for May 15, 2022 — Music on the Green in Greenville.
“The collaborative- community mural project shows how strong we are, TOGETHER, and brought hope and togetherness through art to communities devastated by the Dixie Fire,” said Ready.
The mural will be displayed at Evergreen Market in Greenville for several months starting in June. From there, the mural will move to several places around the county. Check back in for future locations. “A big thank you to Hollyhox Painting for helping with this collaborative effort,” said Ready.
A few booths were set up for fire survivor information and counseling, but for the most part, the day was far more about the arts touching the soul and doing its own healing in a community setting.
Mary’s German Grill served up carne asada street tacos and Region Burger was out doing their burgers as well. Sierra Institute donated snacks.
The program was sponsored by Plumas Arts, California Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Many residents remarked too, that they hoped this wasn’t a one off event and that Plumas Arts, and Plumas County, and the school district will consider more programming like this in the future.