Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ruby Goes Solar

Ruby gets a solar panel
It was one of the things I wrote off getting done before I left on tour this week. But then my neighbor Rusty popped by (out here, anyone within 20 miles or so is a neighbor). Rusty salvaged my pipe dream about hooking up a solar panel to the roof of my Volvo in time for my tour through some very sunny areas.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

McMercy Family's Annual Pilgrimage to Far West Texas

The McMercy Family Band returns to Far West Texas for their annual pilgrimage. 

The themes this week have been trains and music, a great combination I think. Of course, there was the well publicized and well attended Ralroad Revival Concert that passed through Marfa this weekend. But there was also my lesser known train trip back from a short Passover trip to Houston to play a weekend warm up show at Padres in Marfa with my friend, Jack Wilson.

AND, The McMercy Family Band's annual pilgrimage out to Far West Texas for Easter Weekend. This group of unique personalities perform eccentric versions of traditional and not so traditional gospel tunes. It was the usual... nonstop jams, soaking in the hot springs, energized perfomances, large feasts for 20+ musicians, no sleep, a large suspicious convoy driving late at night down the heavily patrolled West Texas Highways (we didn't get stopped this time), and a couple of car breakdowns. 

Here are some pictures from the weekend:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Build Some and They Will Come

Ike and Wendy perform a desert ballad on mouth harps

Well I haven't even finished building and they are coming. Since early February, most days I have had friends or strangers camping on my land, from anywhere from one night to two weeks. This seems to be a popular getaway for Canadians. I have had 3 sets of guests from Quebec. Two from New York. Many from Austin. And from a few other places with cold winters.  It has been enjoyable. I seem to do more hiking and see more sights when I am showing visitors around. I also learn a lot from watching the way that others live off-grid, what they cook, etc. Hopefully, they learn something too. 

Ike and Wendy, who I know from the Kerrville Folk festival camped out here last week. Ike is more of a dome enthusiast than anyone I know, other than Don Bryant. He ogled over Don's work and I could see his head spinning with ideas. Same thing happened to me when I first saw Don's buildings. 

Derek masters the Cram-Alot
My current guest is Derek Hansen, a cyclist who is prepping for a short little bicycle ride to Montana. We are linked by mutual friends in Austin. We put him to work this week in our volunteer recycling crew in Terlingua. And of course, I coerced him to mix a few batches of stucco after I showed him how, while I stuccoed the last piece of the exterior perimeter. Now all that is left of the outer cover coat is the very top. 

On Tuesday night we had a dinner in the shade of the dome. Eight friends and neighbors came by for a big pot of pesto pasta and some jalapeno and onion mashed potatoes.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Blackened Fields of Far West Texas

photo by John Schwerdtfeger

As I headed home from weekend gigs in the Big Bend and Marathon, along the same highway I have driven many times, it was unfamiliar. Unrecognizable.The vast West Texas fields that alternate between green and yellow have turned black in an instant.
After more than 6 months without any rain, the aggressive and unrelenting winds are taking this opportunity to escort the blaze through unconvincing obstacles, such as hilltops, meadows, and houses of convention. While there have been no human casualties, many other mammals have perished after being trapped inside barbed wire boundaries. As hydrants run dry, firefighters are combating the flames with a resource we'll never have a shortage of here in the desert...dirt.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Big Bend Getaway

Lost Mine Trail overlooking Mexico
The last few days I've taken a much needed break from routine and spent some time in our National Park. No gigs, no booking, no building, no dishes or laundry, just convening with one of the greatest national parks in the country. There is a rumor that Big Bend National Park could shut down this weekend indefinitely along with all the other national parks in the country because Congress members are using public programs and workers as pawns in their game of chess.