Rhythm and News VOMB Celebrates 2 years

Robert Seals and “Cello” John Mescall | Janjaap Dekker


VIDEO | Alexis J. Casas, Baktun Twelve Productions

The crew at Voices of Monterey Bay celebrated two big years as the Central Coast’s premier nonprofit news operation with several dozen friends on Sunday in Moss Landing.

Billed this year as “Rhythm and News,” VOMB’s annual autumn pop-up program can now be called a tradition. Since it launched in November 2017, VOMB has been celebrating its anniversary at the Haute Enchilada Social Club. We think it’s the coolest place on the Central Coast and proprietor Kim Solano is the The Bomb. A VOMB Bomb. And this year Solano offered up a great tamale bar.

Better yet, the VOMBers delivered another great lineup of entertainers, musicians and storytellers, starting with great background provided by Robert Seals and “Cello” John Mescall (twice featured in VOMB, here and here).

Our host this year was the always-wonderful Claudia Meléndez Salinas, the emcee extraordinaire and a co-founder of Voices of Monterey Bay. The program opened with a new group of musicians you’ll certainly hear more about in the future. Writers on the Storm — featuring VOMB’s own Kathy McKenzie on vocals and Julie Reynolds on ukulele — sang a rousing version of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They are A-Changing.” McKenzie and Reynolds were joined by Cameron McKenzie on guitar and Vicki Ward on the accordion.

The VOMBinos then introduced the crowd to Amber Solorio, a Soledad High School student and a graduate of VOMB’s summer Young Voices program. Young Voices is a two-week journalism boot camp for high school students. Solorio read from one of her stories on Sunday.

Next up was a son jarocho performance by Taller Solcuatli, a group from the Alisal Center for the Fine Arts in Salinas. The group was featured in a Voices story last year. The Rodriguez children, under the direction of ACFA director Javier Tamayo, practically stole the show.

Also from The Alisal,  Luis “Xago” Juarez stirred the crowd with a performance piece called “The People Should Be President.” Juarez is a founding member of Baktun12, a collection of performance artists formed in 1997.

Rhythm and Blues closed with a couple of Bach pieces performed by Cello John.

In addition to celebrating its two years in existence, the annual party at Haute Enchilada launches the annual NewsMatch program, a major fundraiser for VOMB in which every dollar donated to the nonprofit news operation is matched by national foundations. This year’s program raised about $2,000, which will be doubled by NewsMatch.

Guests included several great VOMB contributors, including Royal Calkins, Janjaap Dekker, Víctor Almazán and Kate Novoa Woods, also known as Big Sur Kate. By the way, Novoa was in town last weekend to receive a Monterey County Veteran of the Year Award during a ceremony in Seaside. She was the veteran named for the honor this year by Monterey County Supervisor Mary Adams.

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About VOMB

Voices of Monterey Bay is a nonprofit online news source serving California's Central Coast.