Thursday, September 29, 2011


It looks a bit time worn and ramshackle
but the building above is a part of Cambria History.
It's been several things, but most famously the Bucket of Blood Saloon, going back to when cowboys, miners and fishermen were patrons in this Central California coastal enclave. Local lore has it, the last stabbing in town was here.
But its more recent history has made it a cultural center.
For over a decade this has been the Painted Sky recording
studio. The famous and near famous have come here to
lay down track in the acoustic splendor of the old building
near a side street. For as good as it is as a recording studio,
what has enshrined it in the hearts of modern Cambria are
concert nights-an evening at the Painted Sky.
Owner Steve Crimmel and producers
have booked talent, some of whom are working on a disc,

into the intimate, "house concert" like setting of the
enchanted room. Blues, jazz, swing, blue grass, Celtic,
classical, country, cowboy, rock and vocal artists, including
big names and stars, have played here.  

In his low key, no hustle way, Steve
thanks people for supporting live music and
introduces the act. The studio is configured to seat
between 50 and 70 people with everyone having a
perfect seat.
The courtyard is transformed for intermission
cheer and community.
 On this night Ray Bonneville, a master of 
swampy blues and guitar opened.
Ray has played with BB King, Muddy Waters, Robert Cray
among others.
Extraordinary jazz and blues vocalist
Jude Johnstone and her superb band
headlined. Jude's songs have been recorded 
by Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash, Trish Yearwood and others.

I've seen live music in a multitude of venues-
from arenas to jazz caverns.  The Painted Sky
is among the all time tops.  The sound of the room is 
exceptional, the intimacy between artist and audience is
legendary, and it is an "only in Cambria" kind of mood
and presence.
From my first visit, before being a resident, when
I read the old Thurber quote in courtyard, and watched and 
listened as people in this village shared an evening with a 
legendary old blues man, I was sure this was indeed a 
cultural center of a unique west coast village
half way between LA and San Francisco.
Unique and beloved indeed.
Thanks to Steve for all the many great evenings.
It appears the building's landlords want to shut the studio
so they can use the building a storage space for 
antiques-left over inventory from a west Hollywood
business they are closing.  
What a shame for such a cultural center and 
historic building.
What a shame for the loss of those special
evenings a the Painted Sky.
Great memories indeed!
See you down the trail.

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