Jul 29, 2014

Has Mill Valley Regained its Musical Mojo?

Five years removed from the demise of both Village Music and the original Sweetwater, a documentary about the former and the success of the new iteration of the latter has gone a long way toward repairing cultural wounds.

Has Mill Valley Regained its Musical Mojo? Has Mill Valley Regained its Musical Mojo?

“I don’t think music is very important to Mill Valley these days – but it used to be. It used to be the life blood of this community.”

“I don’t know what this town’s going to be like. The heart and soul of this town will have left.”

No better authorities on Mill Valley’s sonic roots than longtime locals Bob Weir and Bonnie Raitt, respectively, spoke those words in 2007.

The occasion was the filming of Village Music: Last of the Great Record Stores, Gillian and Monroe Grisman’s five-years-in-the-making documentary about John Goddard’s legendary Village Music, which closed on Sept. 30, 2007.

The sentiments were representative of an overall gloom that hovered over Mill Valley five years ago last month, as Village’s closure coincided, painfully, with the end of the original Sweetwater, the iconic local music venue with which Village long enjoyed a symbiotic relationship.

As the Grismans make clear in their film, the Sweetwater played host to many of the Village Music anniversary parties for which Goddard curated show-stopping collaborations between the likes John Lee Hooker and Carlos Santana or Jerry Garcia and Elvis Costello.

A lot has changed over those past five years. The Sweetwater Music Hall is nearing the one-year anniversary of its opening, and the Grismans’ film just made a spectacular world premiere at the 35th Mill Valley Film Festival followed by a star-studded Village Music All-Stars tribute concert. And 142 Throckmorton Theatre has further established itself as an arts and entertainment hub for which Mill Valley residents have reason to be proud.

So we want to know: Has Mill Valley regained its musical mojo? Is the 94941 closer to its proud musical heritage than it was during those gloomy days of late 2007?

Tell us what you think – and why – in the Comments below.

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