Sep 27, 2018
by Robert Feuer
As winter approaches after a smoky, darkish summer, West Sonoma County residents found inspiration on a foggy day at land’s end. A large turnout of hippies, survivors, refugees, gypsies, and just plains folks, with kids fluttering around like butterflies, congregated on Aug. 25, outside the Jenner Community Center to celebrate and benefit Sylvia Murphy, longtime keyboardist for the Thugz and west county teacher for years. This joyous crowd, included many former students.
Right after her horrific 2016 auto accident seemed to end her musical career, Sylvia said“The Thugz community is very tribal. It’s a family. Everybody’s there for each other.” Mike Campbell, Thugz’ founder and bandleader, has described their music as “a journey…. a meditation.”
Sylvia is a frail woman in her 70s, whose future seemed demolished after her accident. She suffered a broken neck, her legs and ribs were crushed, both lungs collapsed. She thought she would never play publicly again.
On this day, to rolling applause, Sylvia did, after many operations and years of pain.
Few in the hopeful audience knew what to expect. Would she even be able to climb the stage? Would she just peck at the piano a little? With many holding their breath, Sylvia launched into a long set, much of it rollicking piano, her hands flying over the keyboard, her voice true to past form.
Best of all was her smile, sometimes floating above the keyboards like the Cheshire Cat. When Sylvia smiles, she smiles.
On that day, she was the little engine that could.
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