Return of Muse 887

Of course I left you
deep          in New Mexico
that endless drive         a sea
of  mesas

the San Juans just in       view
you stopped for      dinner in Gallup       fried tacos Sopapillas in honey those visions
the ones that follow into       dreams        portal
from a picture

I knew I would leave
well before      sunrise          before
you made that        unnatural
turn          due north, RR 371
at Thoreau.

Don’t be mad      there was no     sign
besides        only one can fit     down
the sipapu*            at once

     Tara Linda. 2016

*Hopi word for the small opening in a Kiva; opening between worlds.





Touring Highlights: Berlin

Band Fistful of Stars as a trio, had two nights and a day in Berlin before the start of our Germany tour. Scarcely enough for such an amazing city.

Finally downloading photos from tour…   They are a mix of my phone-taken pics, later mixed with awesome quality shots by world-class photographer Michael Rateike. 😉

BerlinBand Fistful of Stars as a trio (Rafa- guitar, JT- percussion, me- bass & accordions), had two nights and a day in Berlin before the start of our Germany tour. Two nights and a day- how tempting it was to spend it all busking on the streets (with my new teeny-tiny mini-amp!) But the idea of wandering as tourists, like kids on the streets, won out. Besides, we were soon to be on for 10 shows within 2 weeks; chillin’ time sounded good.


We spent a lot of time in the city center, and though we aimed for places on the map, we never seemed to arrive. 😉 So we wandered.  I thought about taking every photo of Berlin through a window’s reflection, like I did  for our last tour in Europe (Amsterdam by Reflection)

Berlin3but, opted for just a couple instead.


Love this artist, whose gallery windows we are looking through. His art reminds me of Maurice Sendak’s ‘Where the wild things are’, but more raw.


Berlin’s center is undergoing a major facelift along the river. Everywhere you look- there are temporary hot pink water pipes transporting water to an unbroken waterfront of construction sites. At first it was like walking into someones remodel. Chaos at points; inaccessible river walks, cranes on the horizon, detours. But then, it became a game, exciting to think about what they were up to: how crazy different is Berlin going to look the next time we are here?



We just missed an accordion festival.


Highlights for me, Der Maurer: The Wall, and the Museum downtown that shows a day in the life, in so many lives~ East Germany during the Cold War. A must see- all of it.  Next year, we will spend more time here to see this truly amazing city.


Fistful of Stars Tour: Lower Saxony, Copenhagen.

We are BACK from June tour playing cities in and around Lower Saxony (northern Germany) with new band, Fistful of Stars.


We are BACK from June tour playing cities in and around Lower Saxony (northern Germany) with new band, Fistful of Stars.

GrevenGrassFest-TaraLindaI didn’t have much service while traveling. While we passed through large cities (Berlin, Stockholm) the areas we stayed overnight were mostly rustic, so, no service or blogging. But I did post daily photo highlights, here, for 17 days of the tour- Photos are taken by amazing pro photographer Michael Rateike.

(You can LIKE this Music Page to see more music themed meanderings).

We stayed mostly in one city- driving to our 10 shows from Hasbergen, w/ friend-manager Bernie. More about him and his Pottery next. We were surrounded by wheatfields with “corn poppies” (gorgeous bright red poppies!!)  Though they look more orange in this pic, like CA poppies.


I’m in that place now between post-trip adrenaline high & sleep deprived exhaustion. Oddly, I passed out on the plane home. Not the first time ;). Ha! Turns out, I was super anemic, of all things. Not enough bratwurst i guess ;). Despite the near perfection of pressurized cabins in flight, I’m convinced that it’s not all perfect: if you have something going on with your body’s chemistry- high altitudes, above 40,000 ft, will magnify it.

Anyway- resting up & crazy happy with the World Cup now!!!!

As usual, tours inspire- so I’ll post on new projects next: writing new material to record for 3 bands!! And I’m most madly missing making things with my hands…kind of a shocker- so more jewelry this week. Can’t believe how much I missed making things with my hands…

And I miss my friends ;). Would love to hear from you here. What did I miss this month in your world? I’ll be trying to catch up with websites/blogs this week. Comment to this post to let me know where to check up on you- if not your blog. Yes- shamelessly self-promote yourself, projects, and passions! Lots of folks will see it ;).

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 😉

Redwood Reprieve

October is my favorite time to escape the city and travel north. California’s coastal weather is clear and sunny in the fall (less foggy than summer believe it or not), and the magic of a redwood forest melts my city armor faster than any other place. If you’ve never been to a redwood forest- Go. If you haven’t experienced a redwood forest- go. They are the tallest and most majestic life forms on land. And nothing like a redwood giant to make you feel very young and very small. I recommend Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park with hikes from 1 to 12 miles. They have a healthy herd of local Roosevelt elk. My favorite hike; Fern Canyon- from the campground to the ocean.

October is my favorite time to escape the city and travel north.  California’s coastal weather is clear and sunny in the fall (less foggy than summer believe it or not), and the magic of a redwood forest melts my city armor faster than any other place.

It takes about 4.5 hours to drive north from Oakland to Redway/Garberville.  In this area- Humboldt Redwoods State Park with wonderful Avenue of the Giants, Founders Grove, and the largest old growth stands of Redwoods in the world.

This year, we played a small concert at a winery/gallery there, leaving a couple of days to loiter and play.  Hiking is always at the top of the list, and camping. But the rains usually start at this time too, and the forest floor can stay cold once it gets wet, so we roll with whatever happens.

But even in the rain, it’s all beautiful. There really is nothing like the redwood forests of Northern California.  (OK- I confess my bias: I read that Oregon also has redwoods, and even China,  but more than half of the old growth forests for coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) are preserved in CA State and National parks of Humboldt County. Other areas of the Pacific Northwest do have groves and small stands left (Muir Woods, East Bay’s Regional Parks…), but the parks in Humboldt are unique because they concentrate and connect large areas of contiguous habitat- up to 17,000 acres in places, of mostly uncut woodlands.  It’s great because you can set out to hike for an entire day and get a sense of what a true forest feels like; the isolated temperatures inside a forest; how long it takes to actually get wet under a thick canopy when it’s raining hard; and so much life!- from banana slugs and ravens, to salmon, bear, and elk, in one day.  The history of the hard work done by preservationists and private land owners to preserve these havens is here.

Check out the shallow root base of a giant redwood.   In 2006, the USGS reported a seismic reading for the fall of one tree that could be felt all the way to San Francisco.

It feels odd to think of having to leave Oakland to see a redwood forest, because early explorers wrote that once entering “Contra Costa shores” (now Oakland) through the estuaries, and passing large Oak groves- the hills everywhere were covered with redwoods.  You see remnants of this now- a few lone redwoods scattered in neighborhood yards and in parks about 10 minutes away. But this is ideal terrain for coastal redwoods; within 50 miles of the coast, cool and foggy air, good rainfall, and less than 2000 feet elevation.  Spanish explorers wrote in the 1700’s, of using the eastern treeline- now Oakland’s high hills- to navigate their ships into the San Francisco Bay.  One tree was reportedly the primary siting citadel for navigators.  Perhaps this is the same tree that loggers also documented- 35 feet in girth, 400 feet tall.

But there was no stopping the boom of building San Francisco, Oakland, and all the Bay cities  to accommodate a gold rush.  Beginning around 1848, with Sutter announcing his gold find in Sacramento, a sudden rush of new labor came by sea into San Francisco from around the world.  And though the forests of the north coast became quiet as men took up shovels and pics and headed to the mines, it was short-lived.  Soon the number of loggers and mills would quadruple: logging and sawmills paid far more than mining- for most workers.  When the railroad was finished- its terminus ending in Oakland- cities had to be built quickly: hotels, housing, and a hub for commerce to handle the sudden, short-term, transient population.

The first steam-powered saw mill came to the Oakland hills in 1850.  With the added export of redwood, and the constant need to rebuild Bay cities after earthquakes and fires- Northern California’s forests were fast emptied.  The last large redwood was reportedly cut from the “middle redwood hills” of Oakland in 1860  (source Oakland by B. Bagwell).  This must mean, that the trees that we now see in our area, jetting up here and there- are relative babies, 160 years or younger.  A “old” forest averages a mix of trees 600- 1200 years old, with the oldest around 2000 years.

If you haven’t experienced a redwood forest,  go.  They are simply majestic. And there is nothing like a redwood giant to make you feel very young and very small.  😉  I recommend Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park  with hikes from 1 to 12 miles. They have a healthy herd of local Roosevelt elk.  My favorite hike: Fern Canyon– from the campground to the ocean (this is a great source for all things Prairie Creek).  And check here national parks site for more historical and ecological info.

Oh- and on your way back, starting in October, be sure to stop to check out the rivers.  Once the rains start, king or Chinook salmon and steelhead soon follow.  You can see them swimming up in schools from any of the major bridges over the six rivers in the area, or in deeper creeks.  We missed them this trip, but folks along the Eel River say they’ve just begun their upstream migration.

Leaves, Lava, Olive and Rust; new Jewelry for Fall

new Fall jewelry!

Twice this summer I brought my finished jewelry on the road to sell at shows; necklaces, earrings, bracelets – all laid- next to CDs on the merch table. In Germany, I think folks bought nearly all I had.  I forgot to bring anything to present everything on (doh!).  But folks must have had great imagination. Or deep empathy.  Maybe it was the ability to wear and model amid close friends before buying.

Pieces that went to new homes…

New Inspirations for Three Muses:   Leaves & Biwa pearls with tourmaline.

Lava Tube Caves of Modoc County inspired me to use Basha’s basaltic black dichronic glass beads. And I’m craving making sterling chains again…

I love how she makes tiny batches of whatever the Muse inspires.  Even if you ask her to recreate something, it will be different than before.  Que bien.

These large gorgeous olive pearls are Fall-ish & fun.   I’ll add some with rust too.  It’s time to stop hoarding. Fall is a great reminder for that.

I’m going to be teaching at the new beadshop beginning tomorrow. Eeek!  Though I’ve worked at a beadstore, teaching basics to a group is a new concept. And these classes are intensives- 3 hours!  2xEEK. Small groups.  Selfishly, I hope to learn things from the other teachers and students.  I’m ready to kick things up a notch.

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.