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Mike Roberts

Nugget Market in EDH puts people 1st

Local “foodies” celebrated the arrival of Nugget Market in El Dorado Hills Town Center in 2008. It became the eighth Nugget Market and the farthest afield from the chain’s Woodland headquarters. At the time Nugget CEO Eric Stille worried, “We’ll either be brilliant or we’ll be fools.” El Dorado Hills embraced the store immediately and […]

Lenzmen are a hit in Hangtown

“Hallelujah Hangtown” Editor’s note: this is Part 4 of a four-part series on the life and music of Val Pease. Placerville had a lively local music scene in the 1960s and 1970s. Val Pease estimates he played in 18 different bands in the decade, but one in particular stands out. The Lenzmen were arguably the […]

Saw mill boy finds a little Texas in Vietnam

“Hallelujah Hangtown” Val Pease hails from a long line of infantrymen. When his draft notice arrived in late 1967, he never seriously considered avoiding service. When he entered the service in early 1968, the Tet offensive was raging. Two important skills kept him off the front line, and make his military experience far less unpleasant […]

San Francisco is no place for a saw mill boy

“Hallelujah Hangtown” Editor’s note: This is Part 3 of a four-part series on the life and music of Val Pease. Val Pease credits his longtime friend Pat Swansborough with teaching him guitar in 1962 and kick starting a half-century local music legacy. The two old friends recently attended their class reunion, where Pease enjoyed hearty […]

Hangtown Halloween Ball hits its stride

The Hangtown Halloween Ball returns to the El Dorado County Fairgrounds, 100 Placerville Drive in Placerville, for three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 24, 25 and 26 with a muscular lineup chock-full of spleen-splattering funk, gut-bucket soul, hoedown Americana and pure jam. This year’s edition features an expanded schedule, an unpredictable emcee, increased local […]

My turn: Hangtown Ball = economic development

Placerville Mayor Carl Hagen knows more about the economics of festival tourism than he does about the jam music scene. No matter — he’ll be on stage at the fairgrounds this weekend as a guest of the Hangtown Halloween Ball, welcoming the music festival crowd and introducing one of the headliners. “Leftover Salmon,” in this […]

Railroad Earth genesis

Railroad Earth came together as a bluegrass band in 2001, anchored by Todd Sheaffer’s songwriting and the band’s stellar musicianship on core bluegrass instrumentation — banjo, fiddle and mandolin. They quickly realized that the strength of Sheaffer’s arrangements and the band’s musical prowess allowed them to layer elements of world music, folk, Celtic, jazz, and […]

Tahoe ‘Barton baby’ keeps the dream alive

The guy calling the shots at the Hangtown Halloween Ball on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 24, 25 and 26 is former professional snowboarder Ryan Kronenberg, a South Lake Tahoe native and self-described “Barton baby” who conceived the festival four-plus years ago and brought the dream to life with some high-powered help. Kronenberg saw the […]

Craven keeps Hangtown Ball bouncing

Joe Craven has been named master of ceremonies for the fourth annual Hangtown Halloween Ball on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 24, 25 and 26. Equal parts ambassador and court jester, the irrepressible Craven has become a familiar face to local acoustic music fans, who might recall his now-famous folk rap or his extended percussion […]

Hangtown Ball details

The fourth annual Hangtown Halloween Ball is happening Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 24, 23 and 25 at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds, 100 Placerville Drive in Placerville. Early ticket sales have been strong. Some categories of tickets have already sold out. Plan accordingly. Discounted single day tickets are available at the door to residents of […]

Saw mill kid’s humble beginnings

“Hallelujah Hangtown” Editor’s note: This is the Part 2 of a four-part series on the life and music of Val Pease. Val Pease’s new CD, “Hallelujah Hangtown,” is about a life spent, mostly, in Placerville. But his life didn’t begin here. Pease traces the roots of his gritty sound to the saw mill towns he […]

New CD celebrates a life in Placerville

“Hallelujah Hangtown” Editor’s note: This is Part 1 of a four-part series on the life and music of Val Pease. Val Pease first strummed guitar on a Placerville stage in 1962 and went on to become a central figure in what was once a lively local music scene. With a little help from some long-time […]

2014’s Plucky line up

For eight years running, the American River Music Festival has celebrated the diversity of Americana music and never failed to broaden the communal musical palette. This year is no exception. Saturday’s, Sept. 13, mainstage headliner is a self-described “high-octane Rocky Mountain dance band” — Whitewater Ramble rambles onstage at 5 p.m.   Whitewater Ramble These […]

American River Music Festival has it all

What: American River Music Festival Who: American River Music Festival organization Where: Henningsen Lotus Park, 950 Lotus Road in Lotus When: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 12, 13 and 14, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Cost: Ticket packages vary and can be purchased on the Website at or by calling 530-622-6044 Information: [email protected] or 530-622-6044   The American […]

Festival is 3 days of feel-good

American River Music Festival 2014: Feel good clusterpluck For eight years running, the American River Music Festival has celebrated the diversity of Americana music and never failed to broaden the communal musical palette. This year is no exception. The American River Music Festival is Sept. 12, 13 and 14 at Henningsen Lotus Park, 950 Lotus […]

EDH community unites to patch up historic barn

El Dorado County is a place defined by its history. Members of it embrace the past and nearly anything that reflects it.

Don’t believe it? Take a drive. The back roads are altars to the past. Communities revere old stone buildings. Rusty farm implements are proudly displayed for passersby. Sepia-toned hay barns topped with corrugated steel roofs glow in the afternoon light.

Visitors pull over and take pictures. The past also fuels a lively tourism economy.

Hangtown’s Musical Roots

Larry and Cary Park make their mark This is the ninth part in a series about music in the foothills. The prior episode of Hangtown’s Musical Roots described Larry Park’s upbringing in Placerville’s vibrant 1970s music scene. Larry and his brother Cary clawed their way up the Southern California country music ladder in the 1980s […]

Hangtown’s Musical Roots

Larry Park comes home This is the eighth part in a series about music in the Foothills. Larry Park is back in town. He was just 4 years old when his father, west-coast bluegrass pioneer Ray Park, put a guitar in his hands. The boy was strumming chord changes to popular country songs the following […]

Hangtown’s Musical Roots: Vern and Ray get their due

This is the eighth part in a series about music in the foothills. Northern California bluegrass pioneers Ray Park and Vern Williams had teamed up with Herb Pedersen and were hitting on all cylinders when they relocated to Nashville in 1967, hoping to land a record deal and finally realize their potential. Once again, Vern […]

Hangtown’s Musical Roots: Vern and Ray carry bluegrass torch

This is the seventh part in a series about music in the foothills. Bluegrass music is alive and well in Northern California, with dozens of festivals each summer, thanks in part to the pioneering efforts of Ray Park and his partner Vern Williams. Vern and Ray were Northern California’s first bluegrass band. Hundreds have followed, […]

Hangtown’s Musical Roots

Elvis changes the musical landscape This article  parallels the story about Hangtown’s Musical Roots.   Three busy years — 1954, 1955 and 1956 — saw the birth of a sound that would dominate popular music for the last half of the 20th century and beyond. The ground-breaking talent of Elvis Presley is often credited with […]

Hangtown’s Musical Roots

Ray Park in California This is the sixth part in a series about music in the foothills. Bluegrass pioneer Ray Park’s hardscrabble youth in the Arkansas hill country during the Great Depression and the family’s journey west to California in 1941 were the subject of last week’s episode of Hangtown’s Musical Roots. The family picked […]

Hangtown’s Musical Roots

Ray Park: big talent, big heart, bad timing This is the fifth part in a series about music in the foothills. Bluegrass pioneer Ray Park’s gritty authenticity and unrelenting work ethic was born, like the man himself, on a hardscrabble farm in the hills of Arkansas. He eventually settled in Placerville, where he and his […]

Hangtown’s Musical Roots

Babe Laam This is the fourth part in a series about music in the foothills. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Babe Laam was Placerville’s first TV personality and its first rock star. The unassuming former wastewater treatment plant manager is now 73, and doesn’t see himself as a music pioneer, perhaps because he was surrounded by […]

Oregon’s first convicted murderess

“I didn’t mean to kill the critter.” — Oregon’s first convicted murderess Charity Lamb was at the end of her rope. She’d endured the hardships of the Oregon Trail for six gruelling months and the threats and abuses of her husband Nathaniel for another year and a half. They settled on a remote stretch of the […]

Hangtown’s Musical Roots

The Happy Hayseeds — Keepin’ it real for a half century This is the third part in a series about music in the foothills. The 1920s may have been the jazz age, but in small towns like Placerville, you were more likely to see cloggers than flappers at the IOOF hall on Saturday night. The […]

Grisman and Little play it straight in DGBX

The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience headlines the American River Music Festival Saturday, Sept. 14 at 4:30 p.m. in Henningsen-Lotus Park, 950 Lotus Road. The band includes Georgetown’s own Keith Little on 5-string banjo, guitar and vocals, his longtime friend and collaborator Jim Nunally on guitar and vocals, Chad Manning on fiddle, Samson Grisman on bass […]

Little bit of heaven in Lotus

Grisman, Thorne, headline American River Music Festival What: American River Music Festival Who: American River Music Festival organization Where: Henningsen-Lotus Park, 950 Lotus Road in Lotus When: Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 14 and 15, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Cost: Ticket packages vary and can be purchased in advance on the Website or by calling 530-622-6044 […]

Hangtown’s Musical Roots — Soundtrack of a generation

This is the first in a series about music in the foothills. Local entertainment was an important social outlet in rural communities like Placerville during the early and mid-20th century. Younger readers may not recall the dark ages before cell phones, tweets, texts and Facebook. Staying in touch with your main squeeze wasn’t so easy. […]

Hangtown’s musical roots — Placerville’s first families of music

This is the prologue in a series about music in the foothills. Two prominent Placerville families share a musical lineage that goes back to the roaring 20s. But you’re more likely to find fiddles than flappers in the Laam and Park families. These people played country music. Yessir. The real deal. The Laams and Parks […]

Ex-Trojan vying for spot on 49ers’ roster

Austin Collie is fighting for his National Football League life. The former Oak Ridge High wide receiver  is vying for a spot on a San Francisco 49ers. Collie, 27, has gained a reputation for hard work, dependability and intelligence with the Indianapolis Colts, a team that rode Peyton Manning’s arm and instincts all the way to […]

Meyer-Zentgraf pioneer cemetary not forgotten

Brothers Jim and Tom Stewart spent a spring afternoon sprucing up their two family cemeteries. The tiny Meyer-Zentraf cemetery is located off Shingle Springs Drive north of Buckeye School and has just five known interments, the most prominent being Franz Henrich Meyer, who died in 1882. Franz’s daughter Anna married George Frank Zentgraf, joining the […]

‘Slow-growth’ advocates battling EDH projects

Bill Center and Jim Moore became household names in El Dorado County politics during the decade straddling the millennium, shaping public opinion and policy with a growth-inhibiting ballot initiative, lawsuits both real and threatened, all executed with deft and sometimes ruthless political moxie. Recently the former El Dorado County supervisor (Center) and a Democratic pollster […]

Housing projections questioned

The largest implementation measure of the 2004 General Plan will soon enter the hearing process alongside four major western El Dorado County residential development projects. County supervisors hint that they want a “timeout,” but don’t want to deny anyone’s due process. With that backdrop, the number of approved parcels in the 2004 General Plan and […]

Lower growth projections could lower road fees

Measure Y authors Bill Center and Jim Moore argue that large residential developments currently in the approval process fail to create jobs, which is reason-enough to oppose them. In fact, the Marble Valley proposal has 42 freeway-adjacent acres set aside for a possible corporate campus. Center blames the large residential developers for forcing commercial buildings […]

Big sound wows fair audience

It was a gut-punch — loud, uncomplicated rock and roll, the pure stuff the Who and AC/DC cranked out in their prime: soaring guitar solos, follicle-raising power chords, blistering drum solos, bone-shaking bass riffs and spot-on vocals, and it was coming from the skate park from a band born while George W. Bush was president. […]

Smokey and sweet meet at Boucane’s

Where I come from, the best barbecue is found in the worst neighborhoods. I’ve savored soul food on the south side of Chicago and shouted for ribs through bullet-proof Plexiglas in the Fillmore District. So I was unprepared for Boucane’s Smokehouse and Sweetery which opened in March by brother-sister act Nicole Burton and Brandon Ivey. […]

Old carpet planned as water filter

“Post-consumer” carpet — the gnarly, old, dog-stained stuff from our tired dens and bedrooms — is clogging the nation’s landfills. Much of it consists of poly-something synthetics that are nearly impossible to recycle. There are currently 550 tons of it shredded into neat piles at the old Wetsel-Oviatt lumber mill site in El Dorado Hills, part of […]

Kyburz memorial celebrates family’s role in history

On a bright Saturday morning during the sesquicentennial year of the nation’s Civil War, Samuel E. Kyburz, a veteran of that war, received a proper military memorial service in the Clarksville Cemetery located on the rocky hill immediately east of El Dorado Hills Town Center, where records show he was laid to rest in 1917 without military ceremony or protocol.

The Clarksville Region Historical Society remedied that situation on May 11, 2013, 96 years late, with help from …

Estimating transit demand is tricky business

The county Transportation Commission recently unveiled a comprehensive assessment of public transportation alternatives and costs in El Dorado Hills, and took an analytical approach to the murky task of estimating transit demand. The study, conducted by LSC Transportation Consultants in Tahoe City, used data from the American Community Survey, which is part of the U.S. […]

Bus service in El Dorado Hills? Probably not

El Dorado Hills is the largest foothill community along the Highway 50 corridor, and the only one without local fixed-route bus service. Would affluent El Dorado Hills residents use local bus service if it were available? A recent study suggests that a flexible, well-planned route in the north-south core of El Dorado Hills on weekdays […]

127-year-old family Bible comes home

Lost books are commonplace at the El Dorado Hills Library, but the one Peter Ferraro brought in recently was something altogether new, if a 127-year old Bible can be called new. The former San Francisco sanitation worker pulled the old Bible from the trash back in the 1980s and thought it was time to find […]

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