I go to California a lot – in the last year alone I have spent over 90 days on the west coast. I mainly go out to LA for 7-10 days at a time and my days are beyond packed. I wake up, do my morning creative routine (meditation, songwriting, lyric/journaling), catch up with my team back in NYC and then go to the studio to work from about 12pm to 4am. As you can imagine, my west coast jaunts are really crazy, inspiring and adrenaline filled creative trips.
Last month was a little different. I was invited to play at the wedding of some of my closest friends in Placerville, CA. I honestly have not had that many friends get married, so between that and the fact that they asked for one of my songs to be both the theme of the wedding and a performance during the party, this was a pretty unique weekend for me. So, 3 days before an insane back-to-back 10-day writing/recording trip to LA, I flew to Sacramento to go to a wedding.
© Selbe Lynn
Placerville, CA is an old Gold Rush town. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see too much of that during my trip. What I did see, however, were the many signs around town pointing out the places where people were hung for stealing other people’s gold. It was really interesting seeing a place like this, where you can almost imagine what it was like when people were literally rushing from all over the country to become rich. I found myself relating to this concept because in some ways, it feels very similar to the rush of artists, writers and producers to Los Angeles right now. In the last 5 years, I would say that 75% of the musicians I have worked with in NYC have moved to LA. If I were to guess, I don’t think it is too crazy to say that there are likely 1,000 producers in LA for every 1 producer in NYC. It is really interesting to watch how quickly buzz can build around a place when the potential for success and wealth becomes tangible and real. Living in NYC is different. Everyone rushes around making the pace of life unlike anything I have ever seen, but there is no quick jump to success. It is not expected for someone to come here and hit it big right away. I know there are a lot of movies that paint a different picture, but to me, “making it” in NYC has to be about the process, not the gold rush.
READ MORE: Travel Profile: STOLAR
I get off the plane and a mutual friend who I have never met picks me up in a blue beat up pickup truck from 1992. It is simultaneously the most badass and most dangerous vehicle I have ever been in. I barely fit my guitar in the back before we start out on the hour trek to Placerville. We arrive at the “hotel” where I am staying called the “The Seasons Bed and Breakfast”. The Seasons is 158 years old, legitimately from the gold rush era, and is now owned by this incredible woman and former actress named Robyn. Robyn shows me to my room, which is covered with pictures of famous older actors, either with Robyn in the photos with or signed photos to Robyn. I take out my lyric books and place them on the piano in the exact same position I had them in on my piano that morning in Brooklyn and wrote music for an hour or so. Hotel rooms + Pianos = everything.
Placerville also gave me one of the best sandwich experiences in existence at a place called Timmy’s Brown Bag. The owner, Timmy, moved back to Placerville after being a fancy chef for many years and decided to open a small spot where they make one of a kind sandwiches daily using fresh ingredients and different flavor profiles. The whole place felt like the album that I want my favorite artist to record – diverse but cohesive and completely signature, unlike anything else you’ve ever heard but somehow familiar. I had the “Bahn Mi” (Cantonese “lap cheong” SAUSAGE + Very Very YELLOW pickled DAIKON + Jalapeño sweet chili “Sauce for Chicken” Slaw + FRESH Jalapeño + FRESH Mint + FRESH Cilantro + FRESH Thai Basil + FRESH Winter Greens + WASABI PEAS + RUSSIAN KOREAN CARROTS + CHINESE BBQ PORK FLOSS Aioli on a BIG brioche bun).
The rest of the trip was a mix of being drunk with friends, writing new songs and the wedding itself. It was a really special event, the kind of wedding with no b.s. or arrogance to it. The night before the wedding we all pitched in to decorate the room, put up the speakers and set up the bar. The rest of the night, we all hung out until the bride was standing on a table giving a 30 minute speech, specifically talking about every person and what she loved about them. It was a beautiful weekend and I was honored to be able to play a song I wrote called “Old Love” while watching my friends Mikie and Marisa have their first dance.
The next morning I woke up hungover, recapped the drunken highlights of the night over breakfast and then drove to LA playing “Ready Player One” while I talked about my emotions and my friend described his badass weed “jolly rancher” business.
© Stuart Rankin
It is interesting to me to think about the experiences we have in places with so much culture and not having the time to see it all. Placerville represents a huge iconic moment in American History and while I had this really special time there, the “Gold Rush” history of Placerville was simply the background music for that experience. I think it would be cool to go back and check out the depths of what really happened in that town – hear the stories, visit the mines, learn about the old stores, banks, shops and taverns. It really makes me think about how much I am missing out on in all the places I go. It is too easy to get caught up in the minutia of life and miss out on everything that’s happening around you. Next time, I vow to do a little more digging to find the gold.
November 2017. Placerville.
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