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Dalton Piercey

Dalton Piercey, a local musician and director of the Napa Musicians Performance Guild.

Raeset Restaurant was a very popular establishment in which to dine, enjoy good and interesting food, with choice beers and wines. And meet interesting people.

Maury and Willa Feaver, who moved here capturing the spirit and style of Napa Valley Living, were the owners. With their sons, they still reside in Napa and are a part of our community.

In business, the Feavers had offered something that was unique and different. Raeset was a family place where moms, dads and children could be found having a good time. Maury, the host, was always an interesting personality to visit with and dine with at the House of Happiness and Joy.

I came to Raeset through a mutual friend, Clark Harding, who introduced me to Feaver. Maury had been asking Clark for direction in producing music at the venue and Clark, having knowledge of my music business experience and skill, recommended me to the owner. So began the Raeset Music Experience.

Maury and I had a few discussions on the direction of the music and the financial effort to produce the music shows. I actually performed with a Hawaiian band at Raeset on a New Year’s Eve. I caught the value of the experience of Raeset on that night. I was privileged to see and take in the elements of food, wine and music combined into an environment that reflected art. This orchestrated by the experienced hand of Maury Feaver, the sommelier.

To this old gig dog, I saw that Raeset was different. I began my visioning to bring about a artistic reality for which to perform music in. There are some venues in town that work on the “Here are your drinks, your food and the band” vibe. It has a cafeteria experience to it. Having played many different venues as a performing artist, I concluded that Raeset required a dinner set of music.

Sticking with the idea that music is art, so music performance is art too, a palette was needed, a stage. Maury and I resourced a small stage that I had and the effort brought the Matchbox Stage concept to the music performance.

Maury ceremoniously named the stage, the Cecil Feaver Memorial Stage. We were on our way. Food at Raeset was art, beverage at Raeset was art and so the music had to be art as well.

When I produce and manage music events, I set a few guidelines for all involved. We had staff meetings to offer some ideas, such as staff does not critique music with patrons and musicians do not critique food and beverage with patrons. That is a good guideline for it stops the establishment from getting the rap of serving bad food with lousy music.

Makes sense to me.

In this experience, the positive message is always first and primary to support good music, food and beverage. Keep it positive and the musicians are excited in keeping the patrons interested as they continue to buy good food and beverage.

The music was diverse, demanding the ability to keep a dining audience in their seats. Maury brought the element of having a chalked drawn artistic display of the monthly music and events for Raeset on the stage wall. This became a promotion value, considering Raeset was a destination venue. Every patron counted. Consistently we found Friday and Saturdays standing-room-only. I performed Southern-style Delta Blues in an Asian American restaurant. Imagine that.

In the music biz, we call it a “Shoestring gig” for it did not pay all that well but it paid enough to be in a warm and artistic venue with good food. We had our ups and downs too. We had a young musician perform who for some reason could not bring a following. We had young musicians such as Zak Fenne perform who captured the attention of the patrons. Brian Coutch, Noema, Michael Belair and the Latin Jazz artist Rolando Morales stood on the matchbox.

I was amazed by the talent that came to play.

A good fellow, Andrew Sammons, came to perform jazz guitar on the Monday Night Jazz at Raeset. Drew, as we called him, was an accomplished jazz guitarist. I was impressed. Sadly, I must mention Andrew left this world but yet his talent is in our hearts. He leaves behind a partner, Sara, and a son, Emmett Hamilton. There is a funding page, gofundme.com/ drew039s-legacy.

Raeset and its amazing experience of pouring art closed, as many restaurants will in the first five years of operation. As Maury had reminded all at the close: For a restaurant to remain in business, the community must support it.

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Dalton J. Piercey is a professional musician from Napa.

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