Tristan: A note from Arcata, 2/15/13

I’m constantly struck by the diversity of experience we find, amidst our musical travels.  One day you’re in a modern hotel in the midst of Glasgow, on a truly nocturnal schedule of concerts, rehearsals, and late night sessions, the next day hiking a windswept trail past frozen lakes and rocky highland formations on the Isle of Skye.  Now we’re in Arcata, for two nights of shows at the Arcata Playhouse.  It’s great to catch up with old friends; some of whom Tashina and I have known all our lives.  It’s also fun meeting folks for the first time, who have known us all our lives.  One lady remembers us as the kids who always busk in front of Payless…  We’re staying at the wonderfully unique and quirky home of Rob Diggins, who was our baroque violin teacher from the time I was 3 days old.

Rob and I woke ourselves at 6 AM, had fresh chai tea in the silent solitude of the pre-dawn morning, then began a 2 hr practice of Indian violin techniques.  He led and I followed, and it was really nice to reconnect with him in the role of teacher, which is a role he fills so well.  We played the slowest I’ve played in years, then moved on to patterns of 6 variations on 4-notes, moving up three octave scales, as the sun rose..  For all it’s technicality, it was beautiful musically, sitting cross legged on the floor, tuning ourselves to a drone and a tabla beat.  Afterwards we walked on the beach, in the sparkly foggy morning light.  What a time the early morning is, for appreciating the quiet of the world!

Tashina: Aug 2012

We swam in the Eel today.  It’s the end of a beautiful day, just barely into Humboldt Co, warm and dry.  SF was foggy, and reminiscent of the Twain quote “The coldest winter I ever spent was Summer in San Francisco”.  But in the north country, it’s warm and dry, and we’re all tired, wet and pretty hungry, piling back into the tour van.  Jimmy Martin is blaring on the stereo, not because he is loud, just on principal that Jimmy Martin can’t do anything but blare, in the best way.  I’m thinking of a skit for a wrong instrument bluegrass band at VOM………. We’re all in post tour celebratory mode, and the epic log carrying up the rapids-group team competition log paddling upstream, which being the only team, we naturally won every time, nails that point home.  Now the search for a campground continues, or a free bit of river bank, that preferably costs less that the $35 state park site we turned down.  “Information sign 600 feet”  “Auto tour pamphlet pickup”  “Wait, there’s also a sign up ahead – gas, bed, food, pickup, should I backup so we can see better?”  Emily is a good driver, and at 19, hasn’t acquired the level of irresponsibility of the rest of our crew.  Simon goes for a closer look at the sign, leaves the side door open and exhaust comes in from the engine, and I hear pee on bushes.  “So on the whole Avenue of the Giants, I see 6 campgrounds listed.  No details listed about any of them, but the first one is around Myers flat exit, so we could go down the Avenue of the Giants, but it would be faster to take the freeway to the exit and get off and check it out there”  Tristan has logged away the details as always.  He says “I don’t think I can play banjo well enough by next week”.  I counter “It’s supposed to be a joke, not a serious concert”.  “Well, I could play guitar or bass by next week……”  Emily points out practically “well, anyone who plays banjo is going to be starting from scratch, so it might as well be you”.  He seems remotely convinced – I hear perfectly rhythmic chromatic banjo rolls coming from the caseless guitar between the front seats.  “Six strings is just so many…..I guess I could do something on the banjo next week, I just don’t know if it’ll sound very bluegrassy”  “Well I think we were gonna work out solos, plan it out more” says Emily.  Tristan keeps practicing rolls and rattling off campground information.

The audience last night was cultured and enthusiastic – a house concert for of 30 friends and acquaintances of Sue the Balkan dancer, and Allen who builds and plays guitars, as well as a Kora made by Jeff Bodony himself.  Afterwards we had Irish tunes with Dave Cory’s friend Richard, on one of Allen’s guitars.  We stayed up late and Emily and I shared a single bed, our feet and heads at opposite ends to make room, and I woke up early to sounds of the ocean a couple blocks away, through our open window.

I hate typing, but I’m more comfortable thinking on a keyboard; when I used to write by pen, I only made lists, so it’s a foreign feeling to write creatively that way.  I think I’ll transition into that old way soon though, it really seems like a more pleasant experience.

Ahh, life on the road…………..