By Bubbles, photos by Joy

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California, the Bay Area, Oakland and San Francisco, places full of amazing sights and sounds that linger in the mind weeks after you leave; places where you can meet incredible musicians playing on the street, and become a fan for life.

The next leg of the Odyssey of Awesome brought Joy and I to the streets of Oakland, where, by chance, we found ourselves driving by a local farmer’s market, and decided to take time to explore the area. The farmer’s market was located along Grand Boulevard, and was filled with local vendors, farmers, and visitors. Stepping out of our vehicle, we could hear the loud booms of drums nearby, but no music behind, so we decided to investigate.

The sounds and rhythm were emanating from a lone drummer, Aaron aka “Drummer Boy Aaron,” who had set up his kit on the corner of a local park, a spot with optimal traffic passing by. Upon introducing ourselves, Aaron and members of his family set up a separate speaker, powered by a small silent generator, which he would use to play background music for his drum beats. This is when Drummer Boy Aaron showed us his chops on the drums, shining with incredible fills and stick-tricks, all while holding a solid rhythm…the kid can play!

 

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Drummer Boy Aaron

Aaron has been playing drums for over 16 years, he told us, and has been playing on weekends at the same location for two years now. Aside from the park, Drummer Boy Aaron can be seen playing at various other locations, which can be followed via his social media channels, such as Facebook, Instagram, etc.

Our day continued into the market itself, where we bought some local [delicious] strawberries, and checked out the other goods offered by various vendors.

At the same time we first heard Aaron’s drums, we also heard the melody of a guitar and vocals coming from within the market. These were the sounds of one Damond Moodie, another local musician. Damond told us he had been playing music since his early days, and was originally from Ohio, moving to the Bay Area for better opportunity.

 

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Joy with Damond Moodie (left).

During his days of playing music, he would play anywhere from 40 to 50 farmer’s markets per year–Friday/Saturday, or Saturday/Sunday–with other gigs in between. That number has reduced to about 10 farmer’s markets per year, as Damond has become a dedicated family man, and wishes to see his children grow.

Nevertheless, Damond possesses an incredible musical talent and an amazing vocal range to support it, performing covers with his own spin, as well as originals, which can be heard on his recent album, “Not in Vain.” His cover of “All Along the Watchtower,” a song made popular by both Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix, reflected his own unique style and voice; he made the song his own, and for a Dylan/Hendrix cover, this is not an easy feat.

After enjoying Damond’s music and speaking with him for a good moment, we continued on, exploring the surrounding area, checking out the local shops and restaurants along Grand Blvd. The area gives a small-town feel within a big city, bringing peace and quiet to a seemingly loud and busy city; it definitely had its own chill-vibe, which was very contagious.

After grabbing some lunch and exploring a bit more, we decided to return to our car and hit the road, bound for San Francisco, continuing north, along the coast. Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge may be a day-to-day occurrence for locals, however for travelers, such as Joy and myself, it was an incredible sight; to be in such a historic and iconic area, crossing the bay, Alcatraz off in the distance, was an experience in itself. The bridge was gorgeous, another sight that can only be fully taken in from a first-person’s view, not through a monitor or screen.

 

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Taking time to drive through the busy streets of San Francisco was more than worth it. The city has its own unique feel and beauty. One can’t help but smile as they look around. We were on a bit of a timeline, so we decided to continue our journey, hoping to return soon so that we can actually step out and experience what the city has to offer.

Some faulty navigation (by yours truly) led us astray for a few miles outside of San Francisco, as we traversed along narrow windy roads on the country side. This turned out to be a major blessing in disguise, as we found ourselves overlooking the ocean at the Muir Beach lookout point. The view was more than breathtaking, to be able to stare out into the sea, listening to the sounds of the waves crashing, the wind blowing, and the birds chirping…it was surreal.

Sometimes the biggest mistakes can turn out to be the greatest gifts. This was one of those times…

Our journey has only begun, as we continue north through the Redwood Forests of California, up into Oregon. Come join us on this ODYSSEY OF AWESOME!!!