The Festivals of Black Oak Ranch
It all started 24 years ago when Wavy Gravy asked Jerry Garcia if he would do a concert to raise funds to help with the mortgage payments at Black Oak Ranch. Jerry said if you can get Bill Graham to co-produce the show with you I’ll do it. So Wavy asked Bill and “Electric on the Eel” was born. 1987 was the year that Jerry decided to take his acoustic/electric show to Broadway, so Jerry used the Electric on the Eel show as his springboard to the Big Apple. Bringing in David Nelson, Sandy Rothman, & John Kahn for the acoustic set while having his Jerry Garcia Band for the electric set ended up being the same line up that eventually made it’s way to New York in October. Who would have guessed that this groundbreaking show on Broadway would find it’s start at French’s Camp in Southern Humboldt County with Wavy Gravy as MC. Four more years at French’s Camp, with Jerry performing every other year, made up the 5 year run for Electric On The Eel. Hot Tuna, Commander Cody, Ry Cooder & David Lindley rounded out the performances there, bringing an eclectic mix to the home of Reggae on the River.
Black Oak Ranch Festivals, continuing on into the 21st century bringing joy through music to northern Mendocino County. It takes a community to make a festival, thanks for your support!
1992 found the Hog Farm going home to Black Oak Ranch for the first festival there, Electric Off The Eel. Country Joe McDonald, Clan Dyken, Zero, Pele Juju, and Rod Deal & the Ideals were some of the performers that weekend. Next up, 1993 saw the beginning of the Hog Farm’s Rock N Roll Pignic. The Pignic was to continue on at Black Oak Ranch throughout the 90’s and into the new millennium, having it’s last festival in 2001. Over the years we saw many performers including Jackson Browne, Ben Harper, Mickey Hart & Planet Drum, String Cheese Incident, Ratdog, Leftover Salmon, Los Lobos, David Crosby, Warren Zevon, Ani DiFranco, Taj Mahal, JJ Cale, Richie Havens, Spearhead, Ozomatli, Galactic, Zap Mama, Hank Ballard & The Midnights, Baaba Maal, Richard Thompson, Steve Kimock, and many many more.
2001 saw a new festival arriving at Black Oak Ranch. The Kate Wolf Music Festival had started as a one time retrospective event in 1996 to celebrate the life and music of Kate Wolf. After the show all of Kate’s friends and fans had such a good time that it was decided to make it an annual event. 5 years in Santa Rosa found the festival looking for a new home. One of Kate’s dear friends was Wavy Gravy, who suggested they look at Black Oak Ranch as a possible new site. After a few meetings it was decided to move the festival to it’s new home at Black Oak Ranch. 10 years later finds the festival drawing record crowds and bringing in new fans every year for what some call the “gem” of music festivals.
2002 arrived with a new kid in town for Black Oak’s next new thing. Earthdance Global Dance Party for Peace began in 1997, joining participants worldwide in a synchronized Prayer for Peace, and enabling the growth of an international community addressing peace, sustainability and social justice through the universal languages of music, art and dance. Earthdance was conceived in 1996 by event producer/musician Chris Deckker, with a vision to unite the whole world in peace through the universal platform of dance and music. Earthdance is now the largest global synchronized music and peace event in the world. Since the first multi-location event in 1997 with 22 cities in 18 countries, Earthdance has been held in over 500 locations in 80 countries. Originally inspired by the global electronic music scene, the events now encompass a diverse cross-section of musical genres including both international styles and artists, and locally grown talent. 2010 finds the end of the road for Earthdance at Black Oak Ranch, as it has grown beyond the capacity of the ranch facilities.
2011 ushered in the 20th season of festivals at Black Oak Ranch. The Gaia Festival was an expression of music, art, theater, community building, alternative living, and personal responsibility. The festival concept was to create a series of connected villages throughout the grounds, each devoted to an aspect of life, and all contributing to the future health of our planet. You could stroll down to the creek for a mid-day soaking while attending a workshop on stream restoration or riparian health. Try joining discussions in our wisdom village with elders and youth council each afternoon in the shade of ancient oaks, giving way to amazing musical performances, theater and dance in the evenings. A massage, some yoga, or a little late night kirtan in our Medicine Wheel Village may be just what your inner self needs. For a look at what the future could be, join us in the Roundhouse where workshops on themes such as new paradigms, spiritual cosmology, psychedelic wisdom and astrology hold court during the day, giving way to the dance beat in our 60’ dome as darkness settles in each night. Innocence and trust are the pillars with which we build our children’s play zone, while making sure the kids all get a chance to express their festi-selves through art, music, storytelling, group games, and a parade. The central piece of the festival is the Earth & Sky stage. Here we present a variety of world class performing artists bringing music from all genres expressing a positive message for our time. The Gaia Festival ended in 2012.