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SoloRio plays for rain

Jared Huffman is the U.S. Congressman who represents coastal California, from Marin to the Oregon border, including much of Sonoma County. Huffman has always been a champion of environmental causes, specifically water issues. He recently posted a music video on his Facebook page that is related to the current drought and is well worth a look.

The band responsible for the video is called SoloRio, and is based in Santa Rosa. The song the video is based upon is called “Rain, Rain.” It underscores the current dire situation we all find ourselves in, with stark images of an almost dry Nicasio Reservoir as a backdrop as the band lip-syncs their way through the song.

The song was written by band member C. Cameron Anderson, who sings and plays banjo, dobro and guitar. He spoke by telephone recently while on a kayak trip in the fresh coastal waters of Oregon with his son.

A long-time musician, “I grew up under my dad’s piano,” Anderson said. He and his bandmates have been playing in the area for years and fell into a music-based friendship with Huffman when he was a State Assemblyman from Marin.

Like Huffman, with his interest in the environment, SoloRio’s members are also Earth minded. “We are all guys whose livelihoods are based on the health of the land. We have a winemaker/farmer, a geologist who specializes in water, and a non-profit land access and stewardship guy, which is me. And we have a landscape painter. So, everybody is kind of land focused.”

Anderson said of his bandmates, “Land and water are things we sing about, things we write about.” Anderson explained his writing the song, “Rain, Rain.” “The song has just one chord. It’s really just a tone poem. It came out of being kid who always just wanted to be outdoors.”

Anderson grew up in naturally arid Southern California. He said, “I came of age right during a major drought, the 1976-77 drought, which was profound. Nothing like today, unfortunately. I was seeing this threat to terra firma, and it really affected me.”

He continued, “‘Rain, Rain’ is actually the second song I ever wrote. It is just a plea for all of us to consider our actions. The rain being what the Earth so badly needs. The idea of washing us, washing the Earth.”

As the area entered this current drought, Anderson recalled the song. He said, “I brought the song to the band. I said, it’s just a tone poem, it’s simple, but they said, ‘Let’s play it.’”

The chorus of the song is:

“Rain, rain on a troubled land

Cloudy skies are a welcome friend

Set the seeds in this parched earth free

And let the rain fall down on me.”

SoloRio’s friendship with Huffman is both as a constituents and musical. Anderson explained, “Jared’s not just our Congressman. Jared is a member of the band.”

Huffman called from his office in the U.S. Capital Building, and said, “Those guys (in SoloRio) are so nice to me. They played at my recent Hootenanny at Lagunitas.” When asked about his musical hobby, Huffman said, “I came to it late in life… I was the guy playing the guitar in his dorm room. It has been such a treat to play with those guys.”

Of the drought and the upcoming dry summer, Huffman said, “It is going to be a rough one.” Having spent 12 years on the Marin County Water Board, he knows about the topic of water shortages. He said, “This is the realization of everything we have been worried about. About climate change, about scarcity, the increasing frequency and severity of drought. It is really here and now. We are going to have to come to terms with that.”

Huffman added, “If it doesn’t rain in the fall, places like Marin County and a number of other places are going to be looking at the most desperate scenarios.” When asked about water rationing and the cessation of watering public areas, he said, “We will get there in a couple more months when the reservoirs are threatening to go dry.” He continued, “We really should have been doing it a month ago, ‘cause it’s not going to get any better.”

As far as the video he posted on Facebook, Huffman commented, “The song (‘Rain, Rain’) is a beautiful song, and the artistic touch of filming it in the dry lake bed that’s Nicasio Reservoir…is ghostly and otherworldly. I thought it was a fitting location for the song.”

SoloRio plays as a trio tomorrow at 2 p.m. at Murphy’s Irish Pub. Other dates include a gig at Brewster’s in Petaluma on July 3. Huffman will not be playing in the band at either gig. He has even bigger fish to fry.

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