But while each of those anniversaries has brought back fond memories and reunions with her (now-middle-aged) former students, Abrams admits that the song’s stunning success – it spent three weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and became a radio staple – had remained a bit of a blur.
“It all just happened so fast back then,” she says with a laugh.
To add clarity to that blur, and as a new way to celebrate the song, Abrams and Terry McGovern, the KSFO disc jockey who played the song on the radio for the first time in June 1970, have built an entire show around the song itself.
“We’ve had lots of great fun over the years celebrating the song’s anniversaries,” Abrams says. “But this is the first time that we’ve done an actual show built around it. It’s very gratifying and a lot of fun.”
They’ve created an audio-visual component about the song and its history – photos and interviews with the likes of Sammy Hagar, former Rolling Stone editor Ben Fong-Torres and many of the Strawberry Point students who sang on the song. It also includes short films, particularly the original “Mill Valley” video, shot by a young filmmaker named Francis Ford Coppola before he became Hollywood royalty, as well as “Mill Valley Redux,” the 2014 recreation of the song by local filmmaker Tiffany Shlain.
The multimedia piece will be a major part of the 45th Anniversary Celebration at the Throckmorton Theatre on August 23. Catch a sneak preview of that show at the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce’s August 19th (5:30pm) Mixer at the Depot Bookstore & Café.
“It’s like opening up my amazing scrapbook to my whole community and friends,” Abrams says of the multimedia component. “The things I’m finding are remarkable.”
The Throckmorton show will feature also feature plenty of remembrances, including McGovern and Bay Area TV personality and Marin resident Celeste Perry reading some of the more dramatic and touching fan mails Abrams has received over the years.
“I still get them!” she says.
Abrams says she’ll also open up the remembrances to the audience itself, asking attendees to share their own “Mill Valley” song-related stories.
“I want people in the audience to feel free to tell those stories,” she says. “It will be a very full night,” with a party in the Throckmorton lobby to follow.
Abrams wistfully mentions that she moved to San Anselmo nearly a year ago. “I still feel very rooted in Mill Valley though. And it gives me an excuse to come back now!”
Two weeks after her Throckmorton show, Abrams will be back at the downtown venue on September 6 with New Wrinkles, the “hilarious and heartfelt” musical she co-wrote with Gerald Nachman and Morris Bobrow that “serves up the pains, perils, and poignancy of aging in heartfelt and comedic sketches and songs.”
The 411: The "Mill Valley" Song 45th Anniversary Celebration at the Throckmorton Theatre (142 Throckmorton Avenue) is August 23 at 7pm. Tickets and more info. Abrams will preview the show at the Mill Valley Chamber's Mixer at the Depot Bookstore & Cafe on August 19 at 5:30pm.