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CHUCKWALLA & BEYOND...
last weekend the 2nd chuckwalla festival, was a total success, musically as well as in raising money for aaron & ronda's high desert living arts center. held in pappy & harriets outdoor amphitheatre, we had around 30 acts over the two days. i started the show as it rained down on me, wind blowing things across the stage. eric watkins joined me on banjo & tal & sue provided some harmonies. i opened with "wild west ballet" (about the kids today 'wearing armor') and "silent bullets" about the red lake indian reservation school shooting. those songs were chosen because they refer to the plight of young people today in this society. WE NEED TO FUND ARTS EDUCATION!! the night went almost without a hitch until one band had some trouble getting set up. i raced to the beatnik to start my radio show and then back to find the festival running behind schedule. still, friday was an enjoyable night with nice sets by our excellent sound man, hippie al tkatch, exile child (michael hernandez), jon bertini (with his lovely laurel in attendance, despite the fact that she's undergoing treatment for leukemia...we love that woman, who i remember always has had a great appreciation for elia arce's work locally), ray duff, mark hughes, glenn patrik (did i get you on at sunset, glenn??!), the rojer arnold band, bob & allison (and a third, as yet unamed collaborator in allison's tummy) garcia, inner state, fetish & the sibleys.
saturday started with back to back 15 year old artists emily adams, intense and direct in her interpretations of classics from buddy holly & dylan to bright eyes, and rathmus, "the princess of pioneertown" kristina quigley, chris neely's open containers, jenn murphy, the frenetic cabaret of really shooo, ritmo loco, vibration army, mommy-to-be monet (with her inner sage helping her to write her most beautiful songs yet, "silkworms" and "fertile tree"), hi hopes, kevin stetz, kundalini rising, callon crumal concept, ruben martinez (with raj manked on cello), the queens of pi-town: mojave moon (featuring THE harriet and about five other beautiful, rockin' women), tal, sue & me again as wooden nickel, joined by bill maresh on pedal steel, bill's honky tonk train with jane allingham and featuring victoria williams for a set, which included '"you are loved," sung with pappy's own robyn... a great weekend of music, lots of fun for a good cause. the first big outdoor event of the summer, all videotaped by a crew from new york, including dp john pirozzi.
during the week, the crew interviewed me, victoria, fred burke, gram rabbit, the sibleys, eric burdon (!) and others about the so-called 'scene' in joshua tree. last night, friday, i did a faux-open mic for the benefit of the cameras at the beatnik, featuring acts the crew had missed at chuckwalla, emily adams, rathmus, monet, really shoo, shawn mafia (who was unceremoniously bumped at the end of friday night due to the earlier time delays) & michael k doing his bass solo symphony , "guantanamo bay glee club." it was fun to see a bunch of new yorkers enjoy the scene as much i have gotten to over the past several years. i need to thank sue bradley and ellen makuda for helping me with scheduling chuckwalla, and judy wishart and leslie layman for getting me through it with some semblance of my 'sanity.' also, robyn & linda for having us at pappy's, mike & linnea for always making the beatnik a home for misfits, ron jensen for getting me to and from the beatnik that night, amara and ronda for putting up with my tantrums along the way to chuckwalla and (leslie, as well) for putting up my friend cherie latson, from washington dc. a lot of documenting going on these days. ruben martinez is working on his new book and has some questions for me later today. joshua tree is officially on the map now, i guess. old home week: elia and debbie for a brief visit, kenny returning from the north. no time for post-performance blues. with the baby on his way, i recorded his heartbeat ("the new sound of joshua tree") at monet's doctor appointment the other day.
elia says: "just be excited" and i am. i really am!!
go to www.m4p.org for more info on musicians aliance for peace...
Joshua Tree's Beatnik Cafe is the location for our weekly webcast "Peacenik at the Beatnik." Last night, I hosted an open mic for peace, in connection with the Musicians for Peace concerts happening around the world. Indeed, from our opening theme, the late Fred Drake's "All Around the World, " with its ominous sounding guitar & hopeful lyrics ("All around the world, they're wating for the same day to arrive...Yeah, we're all the around the world!!") we called out with a mix of joyfullness and mourning. Musicians appearing 'live' on the webcast included a 15 year old guitar player, Michaelmus Adamus, doing his best take on Jimi Hendrix' "Star Spangled Banner." Mark Hughes heartfelt and soulful rendition of Tim Hardin's "Simple Song of Freedom" ("We the People Here Don't Want a War...") was a nice opening for the live performances. Our Wobbly brother & folk hero from the great Northwest, Bingo, did a nice medley of "Sitting Here in Limbo" and "Down By The Riverside", mixing Jamaican and American Gospel traditions, with those always-inspiring choruses, "Aint Gonna Study War No More," and "Well, they're putting up resisatnce but I know that my faith will lead me on..." Sunny Sundowner, publisher of Conch-Us Times (a journal for Grateful Buddhists) did the obligatory crowd rousing "Give Peace A Chance" with all the lyrics in between, peppered by members of the crowd with names of those present, "(Everybody's talkin''bout) Art Kunkin" (founder of radical paper LA Free Press), etc. Tal Hurley did his wonderful, traditional-sounding "Johnny Came Home," about a vet who returns from war to work for peace (President Kerry, anybody?) and then Dylan's always powerful "Masters of War." ("For threatening my baby, unborn and unnamed," had special relevance for me now as...) Monet, currently carrying my child, did a new song she wrote about Odin learning from the same tree of knowledge that Jesus and Buddha learned from, and that it's available for everybody. Rae Indigo did her song where she says "War is not a video game, boys..." I fairly butchered the guitar behind my friend, UCSD media professor Adriene Jenik, on "Imagine." Sorry, John!! (Those John Lennon songs are sacred music and I ask the Ghosts of Beatles Past for forgiveness!!) I think I got it back together, mostly, for a nice sing-along of Bob Dylan's timeless "Blowing In the Wind." Then I did a few originals. One I'd written five years ago about the abortion clinic/Olympics/lesbian bar bomber Eric Rudolph, "A Face in the Crowd," who made a plea yesterday. ("From the USA Army to the Army of God, it's a very small journey, for a face in the crowd...") Did I mention that the Beatnik is a sometime hang-out for some of the cooler of the Marines stationed down the road in 29 Palms, usually prior to being sent to the Middle East?? I did a song I wrote when I was 21 called "Love Along the Way" about learning peace from the feminine side of ourselves, maturing maleness without the wearing of uniforms, etc. I would have done more, I had listed 20 of my songs that fit the theme, but it was late and it had been a very full evening. Between live performers, we listened to Edwin Starr's "War," John Lennon's "Love," Sinead 'Connor's "Make Me An Instrument (St. Francis' Prayer)," an excerpt of Martin luther King Jr.'s Vietnam address, on this week of the anniversaries of both that speech and his assasination one year to the day later (April 4, 1967 and 1968), as well as Baba Ram Dass delivering a quote from his masterwork, "Remember Be Here Now," The O'Jays "Love Train" and Cat Stevens "Peace Train." We also heard from a local artist (via CD) called Amritakripa doing a trancendental 14 minute peace chant, "Lokah," as well as a recording of Ravers Against War with a grooving edit job on some inane GW speech. All in all, a truly eclectic range of sounds and voices for peace from our little town in the Mojave desert. The local reporter, Sara Munro, was shooting pictures all night, for the High Desert Star. Thanks to our friends Moriah & John Whoolilurie (Mojow & Vibration Army) for turning us on to the M4P weekend of events. They're doing theirs tonight down the road in Yucca Valley at Water Canyon Coffee Co.
More music=more peace.