Terlingua Word-Off 2015

There was some discussion about how many years in a row there’s been a “word-off” in Terlingua. The general consensus was “about 26.”

Last night, I attended my first word-off.

What’s a word-off?  It’s a combination of poetry reading, drama, stand-up comedy, air guitar, and philosophical discourse.

Once again, it made me proud to be a Terlinguist.  There are some deep, intelligent, insightful, and funny people living here and last night they performed at the Starlight Theatre.

One of the cool things about this place is how we make room for everybody.  For example, I’m a liberal. One of my best buddies has an “Impeach Obama” bumpersticker on the left side of his pickup truck.  And on the right side. We play pool. We don’t talk politics. We get along.

On the porch, you can hear the latest conspiracy theory from Alex Jones’ creative lab discussed as if it was gospel. You can also get into conversations about fractal interaction, drug-running in the 80’s, local literature… pretty much anything goes, and we make room for it.

Except for this one guy…

The performances last night were on a variety of topics:  breast feeding, sex, compassion in a laundromat, war, politics, family dynamics, religion, the cub scouts… an alarming number of them with delicious British accents. We’re a cosmopolitan little village.

I wish I had video-taped the show. I will next year.

For the most part, natives and tourists were entertained and respectful. Kids played in the aisles. A couple of out-of-towners tried to develop a romantic adventure with a waitress.

Everybody had a fine time, except for this one guy…

After the show was over, several of the organizers relaxed, relived some of the high points, and talked about how to make next year’s word-off bigger and better.

I’ll be there.

Here’s how it looked to me:

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J. Michael Combs at the Boathouse

Living in the desert, 80 miles from the nearest town, has its ups and downs.

The up part:  Saturday night I didn’t get to see Bruce Salmon and Michelle Alany at the Starlight or Ted Arbogast and Chase Peeler playing jazz at the Boathouse because my band, the Fabulous Vortexans was playing an outdoor concert in Lajitas.

There is amazing live music everywhere, all the time here.

The downside: cell phone service and internet access is fairly primitive.

Another upside: all though it takes a long time to download files from the internet, there are several entertaining places to hang out while you’re doing it.

I set up my repaired iMac in the studio at the Terlingua Store, opened my recording software, and was greeted by a notice that said, “No internet connection. Logic must download massive files before you can use it.”

No problem. I boxed up the huge 27″ computer and headed down to La Posada Milagro, where there is internet access, great coffee, and a majestic view of the ghost town.

my office at La Posada Milagro

my office at La Posada Milagro

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Glen Felts Memorial Open Mic – 1 Year Later

It was a year ago that the Terlingua Community awoke to a bad dream: Glen Felts was gone.

To some, it feels like only yesterday. Others say it seems like a long time ago. Traumatic experiences are like that- personal, subjective, and inexact.

Glen was inextricably connected to La Kiva and for the local musicians, Wednesday night meant gathering at La Kiva and playing at the open mic.

To celebrate the 1-year anniversary of his death, the Boathouse created a tribute open mic:  Laird Considine, who hosted most of the La Kiva open mics, was the host.  The kitchen served brisket. Gumby and Sierra were behind the bar. “Mind Erasers” were served and enjoyed. Songs were sung for and about Glen, and eYeball, who we also lost last year.

The Boathouse was packed. Don looked on, Jeffro ran sound, people danced, and much hugging ensued. The loss of a loved one focuses your thoughts on how precious your remaining loved ones are and how each hug might be the last.

It was a bittersweet night, but tipped toward celebration.

Here’s how it looked to me:

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Open Mic at the Boathouse

For 16(?) years, every Wednesday there was an open mic at La Kiva.  It was the longest-running open mic in the galaxy, and they didn’t skip a Wednesday in all those years.

For several weeks after La Kiva closed, we gathered at La Kiva’s parking lot or the “Passing Wind” compound near the ghost town, and continued the tradition.

Time passed…

Two weeks ago, I was honored to host the first Wednesday night open mic at the Boathouse. Jeffro Greasewood is the host, but he was under the weather that night.  Last Wednesday night, Jeffro was back at full strength and the Boathouse was packed with players, listeners, dancers, and an Archie action figure.

This is an ongoing, weekly open mic- and you never know who will show up. C’ya there.

Jeffro Greasewood hosts the open mic at the Boathouse in Terlingua

Jeffro Greasewood hosts the open mic at the Boathouse in Terlingua- Bucky plays along on ukelele.

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Townes Van Zandt Tribute at the Starlight Theatre, 2015

New Year’s Day, 2015, the 3rd annual Townes Van Zandt tribute was hosted at the Starlight Theatre by Butch Hancock, with assistance from Rory Hancock, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Colin Gilmore.

Moses and Brandi started it off on the “little stage.”

Then Butch, who actually knew Townes for decades, did a few Townes songs and told some funny stories.

Then, the open mic started. Jalapeno Schwartz did a few obscure Townes songs, Laird Considine (with Butch and Rory) did Pancho and Lefty, Jim Keaveny did “No Deal,” which should be the official song for the Terlingua Drinking Team.

Several others played Townes songs, or songs that sounded like Townes songs, or songs Townes might have done at some point…

Then, Butch, Jimmie Dale, Rory and Colin took over- and I felt like I was witnessing Texas Music history. Timeless performance of timeless music:  Butch and his son Rory, who is turning into a fine guitar player and Jimmie Dale and his son, Colin, who is building a solid career the old fashioned way.

Colin and his wife also played a couple of tunes.

The Starlight was packed.  The dance floor was converted to concert seating, and packed.

Only in Terlingua, y’all.

 

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Celebrating Mark “Eyeball” Kneeskern

Friday and Saturday, 12/19/14, 12/20/14, family and friends of Mark Kneerskern gathered at the Starlight Theatre in Terlingua to celebrate Mark’s life with art, poetry and music.

w1 w2 w3 w4 w5
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Free Tea Party Bus in Terlingua

From the porch in Terlingua I noticed a converted bus in front of the art gallery… not too unusual. Terlingua attracts all sorts of alternative living people and out here a bus is not an unusual structure for a home.  The only unusual part was that apparently this bus actually runs.

Later, at the community garden, the same bus was there. This time I noticed the sign:  “free tea.”

Ok. I’ll bite.

I wandered over and met Guisepi, Mr. Tea, the free tea guy. Very quickly, I realized that he was a very special guy with an amazing mission.

Guisepi, the free tea guy

Guisepi, the free tea guy

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Terlingua off-season

During the Thanksgiving holidays the Terlingua Ghost Town was packed. Tourists from all over the world came to enjoy Big Bend National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park, and Terlingua. There was a two hour wait to get into the Starlight Theatre. A line at the bathrooms. Traffic on the roads and lots of new faces on the porch.

Then, the holidays ended and the tourists returned to their points of origin, leaving just Terlinguists in Terlingua.

We appreciate the visitors, and the economy wouldn’t work without them- but, it’s also nice when it’s just locals. Last night, Laird Considine played the Starlight Theatre with Chase Peeler on Sax and Taylor Luttrell on fiddle.  Dancing ensued.

At the Boathouse, James and Don were serving up delicious burgers as the locals gathered outside to watch the sunset. In the back, there was a cut-throat competitive scrabble game going on.

I didn’t make it down to the High Sierra and La Kiva is still under construction, but as I drove the 30 miles home- passing two cars on the way – I reflected on the fact that we’ve built a pretty nice little world down here.

band 1

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Recording Studio in the Big Bend?

There is a surprising, unlikely, music recording studio in Terlingua.

 

You should probably make your next CD in Terlingua.

Studio Butte, the only professional recording studio in the Big Bend (Terlingua, Alpine, Study Butte, Lajitas) area, is an unexpected delight.

Hours from the nearest highway or airport, you drive right past the driveway to the studio when you’re heading to Big Bend National Park.

Created by local musician/band director Ted Arbogast in 1990, the studio has an alarmingly good selection of mics, pre-amps, and outboard effects. There’s enough room- and rooms- to record a full-size band with drums and horns. The Rolling Stones would’a loved this place.

Ted at the controls


Ted at the controls

If this studio was in New York or L.A., it would be packed 24/7 with sessions- especially at Ted’s rates. Continue reading

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Bottom Dollar String Band, Bruce Salmon – Music in Terlingua

Another great night of music in Terlingua-

 

Trevor Reichman played the dinner set at the Starlight Theatre, accompanied by the newly returned Chase Peeler. Chase slipped out early to play with Hank Woji at the Boathouse.

Then, the Bottom Dollar String Band played. They look like a high-school field trip gone bad, but they play like seasoned veterans. Dancing was.

I left after the first set, but stopped by the High Sierra to say howdy to Bruce Salmon, who was playing a passionate set to some very intent listeners.

Tonight is going to be just as strong, musically.  The Bottom Dollar String Band will be at the High Sierra, Frank Myer is at the Boathouse, and I’ll be with the Fabulous Vortexans at the Starlight Theatre.

Trevor Reichman with Chase Peeler at the Starlight Theatre


Trevor Reichman with Chase Peeler at the Starlight Theatre

Bottom Dollar String Band at the Starlight Theatre


Bottom Dollar String Band at the Starlight Theatre

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