Roadtrip- Texas Tour

Back from a Texas tour, playing shows with a fun and inspiring jazz quintet.  Nothing quite like a road trip across Texas:

1200 miles would be called a “short” tour by Texas standards.  This one began South- from Harlingen, McAllen, and  Brownsville, to central San Antonio/ Austin, and back.   Whirlwind short; all just enough to warm us up for more…

So, what’s up with those endless Texas skies?!  I always feel like I can breathe beneath them.  über spacious and relaxing, with time enough to enjoy them, because, well,  ‘we only have 5 more hours until the next city.’   😉

I love this band sooo much. They recorded my new CD with me.  They are fun, accomplished (most are teachers and sidemen in the studio), and ALL are seriously humble.   We have WAY too much fun on stage, talkin’ story, and just doing what we love best; making music, all hearts combined.   (my blog won’t post pics of people just skies…! ergh. i’ll post the band tomorrow).  FB has a small album of pics posted/sent by others.

Highlight of the Folk Segovia Show- What is Folk?

Before letting Summer fade off into a Tequila sunset, I have to tell of one big highlight of our Summer tour- in Segovia, Spain.  We had the opportunity to close out the World/Folk Segovia music fest, on the evening of the last day, on this gorgeous San Martin stage in the heart of the old town center.  While this would normally be pure awesomeness all by itself, it was made even more so because (as they kept exuberantly reminding us) we were the first US band to ever play this festival (sponsored by the European Broadcaster’s Union) in its 33 year history.   Wooo!  Who knows why this is the first time the US was represented, but it felt amazing.

So at first I thought, OK- we’ll just play our little hearts out- me and the Tortilla Western Trio- doing what we do best for all occasions- our blend of wildwest, Tex-Americana-rock.  But then, I woke up in the middle of the night before the gig thinking- wait a minute: is that really what we should do?  There were bands here from 16 other countries (Italy, Russia, Germany, Japan, Croatia, Estonia etc.)  all playing sounds that could be considered characteristic or derivative of some folk tradition held deep in their country’s cultural heart.  Should we expand a bit to do the same?  After all, we had this amazing chance to leave them with something truly different, something…American.  I suddenly felt the weight of being a US ambassador; what is the epitome of American folk music?  Thankfully- we are all- ALL over the place. 😉

Photographer Carlos Diez Escribanos

So I got this idea- to play our music in a way that presents American folk music regionally- as if we were all taking a roadtrip across the US together.  Our history is new, I said, but our cultural palate is rich, and our music has been influenced by so many cultures.  So we started out along the border regions, from CA to TX- with folk music of the people from the border, with Tex-Mex (boleros, haupangos, polkitas, rancheras- which of course credit the German accordion and the Spanish guitars in their lineage.;). Then on to the Midwestern US regions picking up country and blues influences, finally ending up in New York speakeasies and dance halls- circa 1920’s-30’s playing stomps and swings of early American jazz.  Drummer Rafa translated into Spanish for me, thankfully.

I think it went well; we got  3 encores and had a blast!  The Spanish were so kind and gracious; I can’t wait to go back.

The San Martin stage:

Photos by Francisco Jose Bernardino Rico

Amsterdam by Reflection

In Amsterdam- we mostly rehearsed new material and got ready for later shows in Germany.

(what are those cool crochet rail covers for…?)

(Love these water gardens in the canal!)

Funny how you don’t realize the mood you’re in until seeing your pics later. 😉 I mostly captured Amsterdam by reflection.

We stayed outside the tourist area, and walked into town central and through the museum, theatre,  antique, and gallery districts.  The overcast light was right to avoid glare.  I love the surreal…

I love this artist~ whose work just appeared on windows one day.

The only regret- not checking out this spore/fungus exhibit.  It held massive cultures, and looked to be about interface, clean/rotten, urban & natural. An allergy warning was posted on the door for those sensitive to spores and molds.

My favorite photo of the day.

Whispering Doors

When a door speaks like a seashell…

Words wait in the grain
Oak, cut by a Roman axe
10 centuries before, a slab hand carved to fit
one Visigothic arch over a passage, leading
to the library built by Moors,
impenetrable, wood half-a-hand’s width
and stained on a ship.

Words, too many to decipher
draft up in the alcove, a welcome (or do
they scour from the valley in warning?)
whispered fast and low, across the ear
when turned just so         listen….

But the hinge holds the power-
forged on the streets of Segovia
in war-time, the metalsmith’s
proud stamp–King or commoner’s-
invites fingers all the same, to trace
rings of power, sinews of conquest
a hand- hammered history, eternal on the anvil,
and cold to the touch

A turned key enables us to see,  swivels the way,
where wrought iron yields.
And when once one’s weight is plied in full
against that slab, the hinge abides, swings, allows
and in those precious seconds, with an ear
pressed tight against wood, one hears
words ingrained, spoken clear
when door is louder than a seashell.

Tara Linda, 2012

Doors of Segovia

Yes, I’ve been terrible about posting from the road on our tour (no laptop, occasional service, ADHD…), but I did post photos along the way to a photo album on my music page on facebook, (“Like” that page to see more).

So, I know it’s not real-time cool, but I hope you don’t mind if I post just a couple of moments from my journals- before the jetlag wears completely off 😉

To begin our European tour in Segovia, Spain couldn’t have been more ideal; the people are warm and welcoming; Segovia is the quintessential small medieval town with a seriously rich, multi-layered history; celebration is everywhere!!  On every street corner, alley, and alcove.

But I was entranced by the doors of Segovia. These were all seen from one street, on a traipse from the town center of San Martin up to the castle.

Day 10: Now Leaving…

napowrimo Day 10 & M. Wards new album!! video

He’s driven this far

to see the same sky

reflecting  carmine                     cumulus.


Each mile marker

moves him in valleys

erasing epochs,

keeps posting the same           sign

Now leaving:  

           Space                   and        


c. 2012 TaraLinda


M. Ward (or “Mathew Freakin’ Ward” as a jealous reviewer called him)  has just today released his newest album, “A Wasteland Companion,”– and it IS an awesome album. But I confess, this artist can never go wrong musically. I hope he evolves in a thousand directions, & I will follow his music with every one. Ward is one of the few musicians that seems to channel music like air.  Beyond having a natural voice and enviable songwriting skills, his lyrics reflect a sensitivity to all around him, compassion; humanity. Even when he writes about death, you feel ethereal release and love (hear Requiem, & watch the video).  How does he do all this?! I listen hard for answers; yet, it’s like trying to distinguish light from air.  I confess, I like his solo work most, and the Americana sounds more than the pop.

With this artist, it makes sense to speak of Muses with a capital “M”.    He channels Muses, or probably Muses channel M. Ward.   His music will always inspire me.  I enjoy most his earliest recordings because they sound raw, recorded in attics with lo-fi production. You feel like you’re there- in the room with he & his band.  And this “aliveness” is what I strive for in my music. Don’t we all.

In his new release, there are the usual M. Ward qualities;  vintage inspired, unpretentious, joy filled, soul-soothing songs- with just a bit more wonder and innocent magic.

His new video animates these same childlike qualities.

Winter Thaw

Colorado is thawing…

Colorado is thawing. 

A week of intense high winds blew incessantly our entire visit.  We stayed at 8500 feet, bundled up for walks, and grew used to the howling sound of wind through trees each night.

Door knocker at my dad’s house.

When I was in grade school, a teacher gave us a primer on world religions. I was enrapt;  so many amazing stories about how the world was created!  When the teacher asked about my dad’s East Indian culture and assumed Hindu roots, I couldn’t answer.  I remember blushing red with embarrassment.

And so I began to ask; “dad, how did you practice religion as a kid? Did you have to go to church every week? What is so sacred about cows?  Are American cows sacred too, etc.”  My dad would say” Honey, you’re in Rome: why ask these questions?  Just don’t worry about it”.

So I did what any 5th grader does; I became obsessed, with my dad’s culture, and all the questions he wouldn’t answer.  I read every book on religion in my school library, then moved on to ravish the ones in the public library- a much wider selection than the nuns at school chose.

I’m sure Dad thought this was the way to handle me best; a condition of his marriage was to trade out his Hinduism for Catholicism.  My first generation friends tell me that none of this is unusual, that all immigrant’s come to the US with the intent to either assimilate 100%, or recreate enclaves of subculture mirroring the ones they left behind~ but better.  Lots of parents choose to not teach the ‘old culture’ to the new.

So imagine my surprise, when over dinner this past week, my 84-year-old dad began to spontaneously tell stories about his Hindu upbringing and his childhood practice and beliefs! In short, answering (in stories!) all those questions I used to have: why Ganesha has an elephant’s head and an infant’s body; old vs new faith; how Kurukule and Durga (represented in the family temple in South India), relate; the Hindu trinity vs. the Christian trinity. It was stunning.  I fast fetched my phone, hid it behind the mashed potatoes, & pressed ‘play’.

By the end of the visit, some understanding of my dad’s beliefs had crystalized.  He never seemed religious through my childhood per say, but something new was definitely underfoot now.

I think Hinduism must be like Judaism;  more than spiritual beliefs alone, it is a cultural point of reference.  Both include beliefs, faith, practices sacred & mundane- like diet and eating habits.  My dad never was a big meat eater, though he faked it pretty well all his life.  Now he’s become quietly, very selective.

And though he is not at that place yet, it was interesting to hear him say:

“I’m not afraid to die. I will be able to leave this body of aches and pains  & move on.  I’m curious about what comes next, and honestly, I look forward to the journey ahead.”