In the middle of the desert, in the middle of a dream…
Friday morning, Susan and I woke up at 5:30, stuffed our things into the car and headed east on Interstate 10 from Venice, California. We wanted to beat the traffic…and we did.
Cruised at 60 mph by downtown LA and on into the hills, serenaded by NPR’s version of the world. That familiar tight rhythm of horror and dry humor. So comforting. A foot rub and a blanket for your brain.
Up and around the mountains and valleys where there’s nothing (except of course, a billion animals, plants, snakes, lizards and songs.) Gradually, we lost the world according to NPR. First on one station and then another. Stopped at the last outpost of the familiar…a Starbucks that somehow had become separated from the herd. Double expresso, breakfast sandwich for me. Tea for Susan. And off again.
We gradually left our world for an intoxicating new one. The desert announced itself, first in sagebrush, then cactus and dramatic skies. By the time we turned off Interstate 40, we were on dirt roads.
Twenty miles of dirt roads. Occasional cattle to let us know we were not alone. Otherwise it was just us, slowly letting go of our 4 days in fancytown, LA. I was giddy and half out of my mind by the time we found the driveway of that evening’s house concert location. Stunningly, this is what it looked like:
A house made of hay bales, mud, plaster, wood and glass. Stunningly beautiful and yet simple. Running totally off the grid, linked to the power of the sun. My hosts, Ben and Yrma Gangloff, built this house themselves and they now split their time between this bit of paradise and a cabin in New Mexico.
I got to know them as we met several times at Folk Alliance gatherings around the Country. What I realized very quickly is that they love music and the art of songwriting. When Ben asked me if I’d be interested in performing on this date, I was thrilled. He told me that his house was ‘way out in the boonies’, but I had no idea how true that was.
This house was beautiful. The vibe was sparkling and now my only question was…would anyone be able to find us and my show out here in never never land. I was pleasantly surprised.
There were almost thirty generous folks in the audience and we had a great time. Singing together on some of my more political tunes like ‘No Fracking Way’ and ‘I’ll Be Gone’ as well as classics where I channelled my grandfather on great tunes like ‘I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter’!
This land, this lifestyle was strange to me, but the humanity was very familiar. The room was full of folks who are ready to take a chance, open up and share an evening with a performing songwriter from a distant planet called New York.
I’d just like to say thanks so much for inviting me into your world.