Music lovers got their money's worth Saturday when three bands played in Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens for four hours straight.

Music lovers got their money's worth Saturday, July 23 when three bands played in Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens for four hours straight.

The 2011 Mossbrae Music Festival, the Chamber of Commerce's annual fundraiser, drew a crowd of over 200 out of their air-conditioned homes for live entertainment in the sun, which turned out be both hot and very cool.

Opening act Sound Advice, with Dunsmuir's own Victor Martin at the fore, set a high musical bar. The band played tight and clean, and when Martin sang, “Get up!” several in the audience did just that and began dancing in the heat. By the end of the set, those he enticed to dance were soaked with sweat.

Sound Advice players included Andrew Derossett on guitar, Kenny Blockman on bass, Stefan Schittko on keyboard, Jimmy Pryor on drums, and Martin on vocals and sax.

Martin was credited with bringing the other two bands up to Dunsmuir, both all the way from San Francisco. The festival headliner was 1970s rhythm and blues band Lydia Pense & Cold Blood. They were preceded by Earl Thomas and the Blues Ambassadors.

Thomas said he met Victor Martin while performing. “We did a show together in Redding,” he said before the show, “At the Cascade.” Asked why he would come all the way out to this little town he never before visited, he replied, “I have this belief that you have to take the music to the people.” He did just that in Dunsmuir, performing with an energy that belied the salt-and pepper-stubble on top his head.

Thomas’s instrument was his voice; he played it to wow with its range, and to electrify with its power. Backed by a band of four who seemed ready to follow him anywhere he would go, Thomas sang low and high, fast and slow, warm and cool.

Perhaps the most striking moment of his performance was when Thomas walked off the stage. In the middle of a song, with the band still playing, he stepped into the crowd, away from the microphone, and continued the song without missing a beat. He raised his voice and, with it, filled the Gardens.

There was an audible gasp from the audience.

Thomas took his time, strolling and singing, as he moved further and further out among the audience. Then he turned toward the shade at the north end of the meadow while still singing, still audible over the amplified musicians still playing onstage.

Thomas delivered another surprise, too. Said Martin afterward, “He told me, 'I'm going to come to you. Be ready.'”

They met under a tree. Martin faced Thomas on the edge of the meadow and blew cool saxophone accents for the singer's formidable voice. The song and sax and band built to a climax, then the singer walked back to the stage.

Helping Earl Thomas take the music to the people were Blues Ambassadors Robert Sidwell on guitar, Kedar Roy on bass, Takeshi Komori on keys and Larry Carr on drums.

After this set, the audience was so worked up it applauded a passing freight train.

Hungry blues fans could visit a booth set up by former Brown Trout personnel for a tri-tip or veggie sandwich. Sweets could be found at Cindy Martel's dessert tent. And beer and wine brought by Dunsmuir Brewery Works could be found across the meadow.

Chamber president David Clarno drew raffle ticket after ticket, presenting prizes donated mostly by local merchants. Gift certificates for food, fun and services were handed out between musical acts.

A fundraiser within a fundraiser, Citizens for a Better Dunsmuir held a raffle for a grand prize of a 7' bamboo fly rod, hand-crafted by Vice Mayor Chris Raine, and valued at $750. Mayor Nick Mitchell awarded the prize to City Manager Jim Lindley. Michell said that the funds raised would go towards flags – American flags for replenishing the Lion Club's aging banners, and flags for each season of the year to be hung downtown lampposts.

Daylight was rapidly fading when Lydia Pense & Cold Blood took the stage. The band's announcer, Rich Armstrong, revealed that the band in its current incarnation featured members from San Francisco groups Tower of Power and Sons of Chaplin.

Not one musician an original Cold Blood member, the ensemble featured Steve Dunne on guitar, Evan Palmerston on bass, Mike Emerson on keyboard, T. Moran on drums, Rob Zuckerman on saxophone, and Armstrong on trumpet and congas.
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Gravel-voiced Pense, compared to Janis Joplin in her heyday, moaned hits going back to 1969. The band was polished, professional and soon fell into a rhythm and blues groove that brought about a quarter of the audience to its feet. As darkness set in, at least 50 dancers hopped and writhed with the music.

Mossbrae Music Festival organizer Denise Bailey said that with over 200 tickets sold, the Chamber did indeed raise funds, but she would not know how much until the following week.