State of Mind: American Southwest I.

Just back from a southwest US desert tour~ my annual favorite~
3 weeks driving from California to Colorado-with stops in
Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, & Nevada~

NV-Valley 4137[1]

Just back from a southwest US desert tour~ my annual favorite~

3 weeks driving from California  to Colorado-with stops in

Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, & Nevada~

playing a few shows, writing new music,

seeing friends and family along the way.

It was exhilarating, this one, more downtime

off the beaten path- in the deserts, valleys, mountains and magic places, more small towns.

More weather too, as we dodged storms to make

mountain passes in time.

Now, home- beat. A bit sick, my bags still packed, thinking

I’d do it all again

next month.


C0-Wolf pass-4046

deerNM4024More tomorrow…

A Lil’ Texas Tour- 1000 Miles of Road

Touring Texas: 1000 miles is just a lil’ Texas tour. Here are a few of the inspiring (and less than inspiring) things about being on the road.

Yes, in a state that is 268,820 sq miles (696,241 km²), driving 1000 miles is considered a ‘stone’s throw’ of a distance.  This is my 3rd time playing/touring with jazz band the Charles Hearn Quintet, and its awesome every time. Of course, like with any tour, it’s not all roses.

Great Things about Going on Tour to Play your Music out of Town:

The Regional Cuisine: TX-tiniTacos and a “Texas Margarita” with limes and olives.

txShrimpI fell in love with this place in San Antonio: Dry Dock. Oysters, shrimp, fried catfish, hushpuppies.

hou-bbqClassic Texas BBQ!

More inspiration: The Environment-

texas skies1929Aaah…those big Texas skies

Tough things about Touring Texas:

texasStateTexas is big.

6 cities of shows means we spend lots of time driving.  From the Rio Grande Valley- Harlingen, McAllen, Weslaco, Brownsville, up to the central part of the state- San Antonio, Austin…  This is why it’s only a “lil’ Texas tour”  Ha! You may cover 1000 miles, but you miss most of the state!  And so maybe next year we’ll take on new TX cities. Expand our horizons a bit.

Another tough thing about Texas- It’s just a lil’ on the hot side. 105-107f most days. Not much AC at soundcheck and load-in before each show.  It took awhile to adjust to the outdoor stages. You either melt or fry…

breakfast misunderstanding

Cool things about this Texas tour:

Tx tour-2013

The venues. The audiences! (We were happy to see full houses each night!) The musicians. It’s always hard work to roll into town, cram in a bunch o’ rehearsals and hit the road for lots of shows in a short span of time, but this group keeps it fun. I learn lots from this jazz band, the Charles Hearn Quintet, and love ’em all 😉 !!

A major awesome thing for me- visiting the DJ’s and radio stations who have been spinning Torch and Sass! (pics coming soon…)

Things that Inspire me After Tour:

My ukulele!


The baritone is a perfect instrument on the road, like a tenor guitar. As awesome as a band is, solo is sweet too. I find myself swinging 180d to the simplest renditions of my songs when coming off the road. Now learning new 1930’s tunes with it!  And the last big inspiration of this tour…

Saxman Charles Hearn in situ:

An awesome band leader, producer, songwriter, musician, and all around great friend: this is Charles chillin’ in his über productive musical habitat. He & this space have made me happy hungry to get back to recording in my own space again.  Which is exactly what I’ve been up to since coming home.

That, and playing tortilla western shows locally since back in Cali. Traveling and performing like this always awakens new Muses, from jazz stages to the deserts of the southwest, again. A creative wind is coming on…

Last inspiration since coming home:


My garden! It grew! Someone must have watered it!  I now have salad stuff, squash, tomatoes…   Good thing: I’ve gone vegetarian since all that TX BBQ 😉

Michael C. McMillen’s Art & “Swamp Shrine”- a Poem

Kudos to the Oakland Museum of California- Michael C. McMillen’s exhibit was brilliant and beautifully presented; the best yet! McMillen’s work was visceral, raw and real or completely surreal. It was new at the same time reminiscent of small town USA on a past roadtrip, or something from your grandparent’s life.

 Michael C. McMillen‘s exhibit (just left Oakland’s Museum of California) spans 30 years of drawings, paintings, sculpture, giant moving mechanical games, collaged film shorts, and exhilarating room-sized installations.  Many of his detailed scenes were miniatures made for film backdrops. I loved how the museum placed his exhibits variously throughout the entire wing- creating the feeling of discovery every time we happened upon his pieces or film corners.  Both the artistry and presentation were genius.  (Kudos curator- this is the best exhibit ever!)

It was extra fun & inviting with the giant room installations; luxurious enough to enter, walk porch planks, part drapes, peek through doors, wend and touch your way through.

It was visceral, raw and real or completely surreal. It was new at the same time reminiscent of small town USA on a past roadtrip, or something from your grandparent’s life.

It was sometimes foreboding

with death hovering, but often humorously.







I could write poems for each piece.

One giant installation, “The Pavilion of Rain” could be felt with all senses, and a couple of emotions- from the humidity on your skin, to the feeling of aloneness in a one room house shed, all while suspended over a swamp.  It was easy to judge the exterior.

But then I went back to sit inside on the bench with eyes closed, to hear the frogs & crickets, and feel everything McMillen gave us to feel.

Swamp Shrine

Who knew that rain

falling on corrugated tin

could soothe like this?

My roof-made tympani

whispers stories from afar

sweet rhythms hold me close

in a long embrace.

Even the frogs are silent now

as water dances shadows down

these torn lace drapes.

How can I repay this kindness?

I will stay awake, be

here to welcome inside

the moon, or a drop

of water

-whoever enters first.


© Tara Linda

“If There was Something I Forgot to Say…” Poem

Artist Michael C. McMillen,  installation- Oakland Art Museum

If there was something I forgot to say, I’m sure this place will say it for me.

And maybe you’ll hear it when I pull away
onto the frontage, parallel Interstate 5
your silver Jetstream shrinking small in my rearview mirror,
windows aglow in soft blue light, maybe then.
Or channel surfing, your mind wide opened like the wires
of the ham antennae I split and hung for you
from the top of that skeleton of a rusty derrick.  Or soon,
when you lie back, close your eyes to cricket song
amplified from empty steel barrels near Grandpa’s Chevy, louder
than nature intended, but comforting still. Or just before you fall asleep
in that whir of a highway lullaby, between backfired fills
and down-shifting gears as drivers time their exit
to Mirabel’s Truckstop.

Or last hope- maybe you’ll hear from the dream frontier-
that spitting image of our junkyard home
(sans mortgage) bathed in scarlet sky, with a perfect soundtrack
of shortwave radio arias scoring the filmed crescendo, just before
the starlet you-so-love, stuffed into her beaded dress, sashays out and stops.
Turns (just right for affect), and having all
your attentions (no interference now)
in a soft voice
whispered slow
low and gentle

       all those


       I couldn’t find.

Thank you Friends!! & Pieces Sold for Andrew

I made and sold a good amount of jewelry along this tour, and I just wanted to THANK all those family, friends, & fans over the last 2 months who have bought my baubles- helping to support me making music.

I made and sold a good amount of jewelry along this tour, and I just wanted to THANK all those family, friends, & fans over the last 2 months who have bought my baubles, helping to support me making music.  It means so much…I just can’t tell you!  Every little bit matters.   Making jewelry started as a hobby (I worked at HeartBead in Arcata in college!).  But it has now become a serious outlet, even addiction;)   My favorite on-the-road jewelry making moment was being in a little motel in Cortez, Colorado, mid-Nov. when the first snow storm hit- and just cranking up the heat and gettin’ busy!

The most satisfying moment; making 3 jewelry pieces for Andrew Thornton, proceeds from which would go to help him with his new medical bills- and they sold!  I didn’t have time to post them as an auction from my website, so I took them with me & vowed to send him whatever sold. They all sold!  (& I matched the price of one given as a gift…).

What was different with these pieces from my usual, was the inspiration;  Lorelei’s Michael’s challenges inspired me to shop at Michael’s for the first time.  These are the result 😉  I used the brown photo beads, glass blooms, coral, and howlite. AND I started using copper instead of silver.   Andrew you have a $150 check coming to you.  Pls. write me w/ your address.












Prose Poem-Cavernous

You name several things, from a list that says—“Over”. Quietly, slowly, each one pulled from the clingy green moss culled from a black mirrored lagoon. We talk on the phone, you-boarding a plane, me- driving 72mph southeast across the desert.  Two time-zones between us.   Functionally connected, we map a soundweb of present tenses.  Strangers mingle all around-  you apologize.  To whom, no one knows. Fiber optics, now buried beneath sand and shale, split your words down a ravine. All the way to Yuma.  Overture in Aorta minor.  “But there is more”, you say, forgetting the package you just detonated. You want to explain more- later.  Yes, I acquiesce.  Driving numb through a blond cholla forest, ocotillo waving on the outer rim. A blue border of mountains protecting me from anything bad ahead, friends bantering  in the backseat.  Space permeates.  But here in the desert, I get more.  And So I take it.  All of it. Down.  Deep as my last breath.  Down to the bottom of the cavern.  And back.  Space surrounds.  Mine is succulent, yours stratospheric.



From: Experiments in Prose.

Poem by Tara Linda.  Copyright 2010.