Its been almost eleven days since I've written. A jam-packed eleven days. Don't know if I'll be able to catch up, but I'll try. We are less than a week away from The Boulder Heritage Festival, so things are starting to roll towards that. Last weekend was the fourth of July here in Boulder, and I'm always asked to do a few tasks for that. This year for the program, I was asked to read The Declaration of Independence. Some of it can be a little boring, so I decided to read it as though it just happened. I think I scared some folks. As I went into all the wrongs that England and King George had done, I felt the silence that you hear as a performer on stage sometimes, and thought, "Maybe I'm going over the top?". Still, I kept with the concept, and like the year I read a Whitman poem, no one really talked to me much after the reading. I guess the thought is, What do you say? Do you get out the muskets and charge some hill? Make sure there is enough food for a siege? Anyway, The Declaration of Independence is really quite a document. I only went over it a couple of times, so there were words contained within it that I had never seen before. I did that 'thing' I do when there are French words, I just sort of slur through them like I know what they are. It was a challenge, however, and at least I felt the satisfaction of some theatre in the mix. Then of course, there was the parade, the dinner, and the dance. The dance was a DJ this year, and I don't think the Boulder Town Council considered the ramifications of not having a live band on the fourth. There is an unspoken tradition that you have live music, and there has never been a dance without it. Note to the mayor (who reads my blog), I'll book a really good band next year if you want me to. Be happy to help. Still, it satisfied the young people, but left the older folks going home early. No matter how clear and diverse you can hear and select the music with a DJ, if you are a dancer, you will never get the same satisfaction of having live music. It's a richer, deeper experience. If you don't dance, you probably don't know the difference. It's also a great experience for the little kids. If you get a good band, you will satisfy everyone from Oakley Haws to LeFair Hall. Its always worth the money to book a good band for a dance, especially in Boulder where for the preceeding one hundred years, everyone couldn't wait for the dance, it’s a long standing tradition.
On Sunday, the fourth of July, the ninth annual Talent Show was held at The Lodge. Although the attendance was down, (it was Sunday) it was still a great show with plenty of talent to go around. This year, there seemed to be lots of kids participating, and an absence of adult performers. Brother Dan and I went down to the grounds early in the afternoon and set up the sound equipment and the lights. Usually, the show doesn't end until after dark, so we have always needed the lights. This year, however, we didn't get to use the lights except for work lights while breaking down. I got to play a medley of songs with my back-up singers, 'The Petroglyphs', who I recruited the night before at a party. Now I'm a believer in back-up singers! It was fun. We sang a gospel medley leading off with The Carter Family hit, 'Should the Circle Be Unbroken'. Gospel music is great to sing because there is plenty of room for harmonies and back-up, and because it puts everyone in a good mood except the atheists.
That night, there was another fourth of July party up near the Nelson's ranch, at The Porcupine, and I went and played a 'campfire gig' with Nate, a mandolin player. It was a young crowd, and there was also a penny flute player who got everyone doing Irish jigs around the fire. You haven't been to a party until you have been to The Porcupine watching a group of twenty-something's jig around the fire. It was an amazing sight and feeling, I tell ya'. The next day, Monday, I spent the next couple of days with a stomach flu. I mean a wretched one, the kind that makes your stomach muscles hurt for days after. That was not fun.
Because there is no alcohol in my system this year, it was a great reminder to watch the ones who were, 'tuned', even though I felt like I had a bad hangover on Monday morning. Still, I think everyone got through without a major crisis, however, I wasn't there until the deep drinking hours of the morning. I remember, (or I guess don't remember) one fourth of July waking up wrapped with a blanket around my mid-section next to a fire in the dirt. I had one boot on and one boot off, having no recollection of actually getting to the fire. When we were teenagers, we put the fear of God in our mothers, because we put contemporary drinkers to shame. It was a different time in history, however, and we were as wild as bobcats, having just ridden bulls earlier that day in the rodeos that we used to have. Then, of course, we showed up at the dance with fire water in our bellies, ready to dance the cement right off the tennis courts. Someone always had a car trunk opened with all the fixings of a whiskey and water, and in those days, the smell of pot drifted across the school grounds where the dance was held. As thirteen and fourteen year old kids, we stole beer or wine for weeks before the fourth and buried it, so on that day we could get our courage up to get on a wild bull or cow.
This year at the Talent Show, someone came up to me and told me that Merrill Taylor from Wayne County was there. Merrill had a roping arena next to my Grandpa's place in Phoenix, and taught me how to team rope. I'll never forget his big black horse, "Blackie', and roping a saw horse steer for hours. I never became a very good roper from a horse, but I could catch anyone with a rope on foot. Merrill was also famous for finally riding 'Nethella's Bull', the Hereford bull that broke Uncle Pole's jaw and wasn't ridden for years. I spotted he and Marge in a group of folks and walked up and ask the crowd, "I heard that the man who rode Nethella's Bull is somewhere at this talent show." It was funny to see his face light up. I couldn't believe it, Merrill looked like he hadn't aged a bit. We talked some, like a couple of cowboys re-living a memory. I always liked Merrill and Marge, and while in Phoenix they always tried to make it to my plays.
I also booked 'Bohemian Cowboy' in Escalante for July 31st, and Torrey for August 13th. My actor and producer friend from LA is coming up on Monday, so we can start the rehearsals for 'Under the Desert'. I found a spot on The Thompson Ledge to stage the play. There is a rock foundation for a teepee of an old Apache man that lived up on the ledge for awhile. The play is rife with mystery, and the Apache man's leftover spirit will be the perfect climate to give the play an extra dimension of mysticism. It is the perfect spot, surrounded by pinon trees and desert foliage. Standing up there, its impossible to gage the craziness that has been consuming me by this burning vision to do this play up on a ledge out in the desert. I must tell you, it’s a very happy craziness, because every time I think about it my palms start to sweat and my feet feel lighter. 'Desert Theatre', what could be more interesting? Maybe the last act of my career will be doing theatre out in the wild, think it will work? If it doesn't work for an audience it will certainly work for an adventure.
I also was fortunate last week to have breakfast with Hal Cannon and his wife Teresa Jordan. Hal is the founder of The Cowboy's Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, the granddaddy of all poetry gatherings. Hal is also a filmmaker who brought his film, 'Why the Cowboy Sings' to the park for a viewing and talk. It is a magical film. Unpretentious, interesting, and full of stories is a way of describing Hal and his wife. I was able to put together a package for him that included both Kurt and I's screenplay, 'The Last Waltz in Elko', and 'Bohemian Cowboy' for a possible performance in Elko at the poet's gathering. I'm really excited about both of those possibilities.
There is no more news on the film in Austin, so for now, I'm shifting my energy to other projects, and am lucky that I left some reality for disappointment. I did learn a lot, and do feel that I am closer to the reality of that happening, but for now, there is always another play to do and another song to write. I've been learning lots of new songs, including 'Moon River' and 'Crazy' to add to my list, and played last night at the Grill. The air was the perfect mix of dry and cool, and so it was one of those nights when every note came out right. I only made a few bucks, but it will feed Baby and I for the next several days. Baby is right here at my feet. I've been reading a book that Aunt Annie sent me, 'The Soul of a Dog' by John Katz. Wonderful book! Baby has taught me things that I never ever thought of before, and we keep each other wonderful company. Katz says that a dog becomes an extension of a soul, and I believe he is right, Baby brings out the best of mine, she is my little comfort.
GOD'S CORNER: Because I've been so busy, I've only visited God's Corner once in the last eleven days, but the word was there. Fellowship. I walked with my friend Tom Jerome, and as the temperature dropped five or six degrees walking through the corner, this was the word that occurred to me. Tom and I always have great talks walking, and I am grateful for the fellowship of a friend. I also received on that very day a dream from my mother, which was so accurate in assessing my current events it startled me. I won't get into the logistics of the dream, suffice to say that this fellowship of a mother is profound. I think as we get older, and closer to our flight through the universe, we become attuned to the comfort of the impending adventure. Ideas and spiritual understanding are abundantly around us if we choose to shake off any bitterness that we may have collected, and choose a joyful reunion with life. The dots really do connect, it's merely a choice we can make to look at the picture. Fellowship. Let's talk about the joy ride through the universe, it makes the transition so much easier…