Get Yer Groove On

Earth-centric fun on tap at Green Note Fest


Few would argue the power of song. I still remember many of the lyrics from the Free to Be You and Me record that I played obsessively in my younger years, and, as an adult, counted the days until my own children were over their Rafi phase. (Much to my dismay, the lyrics to “Banana Phone” still come to mind, unbidden, at random and unpredictable times.)

San Geronimo Valley Community Center event programmer Hannah Doress and rock musician Peter Asmus understand this innate connection between children and music. When planning their Aug. 23 Green Note Festival, the two hit upon the brilliance of booking the very fitting children’s music and puppetry act Let’s Go Green. Kicking off the event, Let’s Go Green promises to get the kids dancing and to set the mood for a varied array of musicians who all have one thing in common: a passion for spreading earth activism through song.

I spoke with Doress over the phone about the festival, a celebration of the center’s new solar installation, which is the largest of its kind in West Marin and is located on the Lagunitas School District campus. There are so many great “green” events happening these days, Doress says, but she has never seen one where all of the bands bring their artistic gifts to bear on issues of the earth and environment.

Doress sought to bring together environmental musicians across a variety of genres, and, through much networking and research, managed to pull together an impressive lineup. The well-loved Tom Finch Group headlines, preceded by six other bands, including the high school band Animal Instincts, the retro psychedelic rock and roll outfit Space Debris, the rabid folks of the Rebecca Riots and others. The outdoor courtyard at the Community Center accommodates 600 with a grassy field, a large stage and plenty of room to get your groove on.

The goal of this fundraising event is to raise money to assist in further “greening” of the Community Center, as well as to showcase the solar installation, which will be generating electricity for both the school and the community center with a projected first-year savings of $16,500 for the district.

The installation—made possible by a collaboration between Solar Power Partners, Borrego Solar Systems and the Lagunitas School District—will reduce the school’s CO2 emissions by 100,000 pounds annually, the equivalent of planting 38 acres of trees. An energy panel will cover such topics as how this installation provides a “solar safety net” for the community, explain the “power purchase agreement” approach to financing large solar installations and detail Marin Clean Energy, a program that allows Marin County to claim 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources.

The Community Center’s School Readiness Program will have activities for the under-five set, and the Youth Center will be on hand, providing activities for those too young for learning about power purchase agreements but too old for preschool play. Because the band Animal Instincts, boasting members from three different Marin high schools, is slated, Doress hopes that teenagers will be on hand as well. In short, this is an event intended to attract a wide range of people—young and old, scientifically inclined or disinclined, and those who just want to get some good eats and a chance to boogie.

The Salmon Protection and Watershed Network, SPAWN, will be giving tours of the school’s rain catchment system that supports the school garden; organic and local food and drink will be provided by Marin Green Cuisine; and a recycled art show and sale will be on display, featuring the work of both established and up-and-coming local artists. San Geronimo is only 15 minutes from San Rafael, and Doress encourages attendees to carpool or catch the Stage, the local bus that runs to San Geronimo. For the sturdier set, free valet bike parking will be made available by the Marin County Bicycle Coalition.

With summer winding down, this is the perfect opportunity to get out and play, while getting a peek at an impressive solar installation all at the same time. Consider this as a chance to explore a neighboring town and support it in its efforts to make the world a cleaner, safer and more welcoming place for all of us.

The Green Note Fest is slated for Saturday, Aug. 23, from 2pm to 8pm. Featured acts include the Tom Finch Group, the Rebecca Riots, Singing Bear, Space Debris, Animal Instincts, Let’s Go Green and Paul Berensmeier. San Geronimo Valley Cultural Center, 6350 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. $12–$25, sliding scale. 415.488.8888.

Sonoma County Library