Monday, December 10, 2018

Sidepony Express Music Festival 2018

Side Pony Express Music Festival - Bisbee, Arizona

I spent a weekend in early November in Bisbee, Arizona attending the Side Pony Express Music Festival.  It’s a free festival with about 100 mostly Phoenix area bands of various musical genres rotating between 14 different venues, playing several short sets each day.  There is an event schedule showing who is playing at each venue and at what time.  As several of the venues are in close proximity, my plan is to pick   a first choice, go there, if I like what I hear, I stay;  if not, I head for to the next closest venue.  I try to catch as many bands as possible which involves considerable walking up and down the Bisbee streets and steps.

Most think Bisbee is just weird, but ...

what's weird about No place for Hate ?

Or free your mind ?

Respect ?

Expressionism ?

or even Elvis ?

As usual many photos are taken that have nothing to do with the festival.

The iconic Bisbee downtown view

I always love the rear door at Cafe Roka

The Bisbee peace wall mural

Interesting store interior

Everything starts about noon time and intensifies as the day goes on into the night.  Party central is the area on Brewery Street in the vicinity of the St Elmo Bar which is a true “dive bar” and damn proud of it.  There always seems to be a crowd in the vicinity of the St Elmo Bar and the adjacent Quarry Bar and it tends to look a little seedy, but I’ve never seen any trouble.

The festival poster

The St Elmo
Bisbee is built on a hill side and as such about everywhere you go involves going up and down.  The streets and sidewalks are rough, nothing is handicapped accessible, but I only saw one person trip and fall.  He was about my age walking with his wife when he tripped, lost his balance and fell catching himself nicely.  His wife said are you OK, he ashamedly got up and just said, I’m Ok, just pissed off.  I thought, yeah thats what starts to happen when you get older and it sucks, I understand.  

In Bisbee you always run into a few characters even if you are mostly non social like me.  First it was this photographer man who was having a great time shooting random shots of people without them knowing and then occasionally getting people to pose.  He was all over town, like me, and as I was also carrying a camera, we crossed paths several times and had a discussion.  Then there was a very jovial, somewhat drunk sounding man at a crowded event who came up to me and said, I’ve been following you all day, they call me “Box Car”, what’s your name ?   He bent my ear for quite a while and then drifted away, pushing his way into the crowd and within a minute was chuckling with another group of people.  I saw him a hour latter again and he said, he left them when they started talking politics.  

The performers are all young, but there is one exception who I remembered from the previous year.  He is Joe Quinn from Scotland who is probably around 60 and is very good at old Scottish ballads and such, but who I suspect has seen and done it all in past days.  As I went into the Copper Queen bar there was a really young band, Painting Fences, barely drinking age, doing real throwback heavy metal stuff.  I thought the lead guy might actually give himself a concussion with the severity of his head shaking.  Joe was sitting with another older man and they were having the greatest fun watching these kids.  They were so young and so full of energy and passion, I have to say I did too.

Joe Quinn

I have to admit, few bands really motivated me, I’m getting a little jaded by the quality musicians I routinely see in Tucson.  The ambiance needs to be right for me these days and this particular evening at the Stock Exchange it was.  I had a seat right in front of the stage and two bands in succession were magic.  The first was a band, the Carrie Lynn Band, who had impressed me in an earlier acoustic set earlier in the day  This was their electric show and they were great, strong guitars, drums and the female vocalist, Lynn, is just a natural talent.

Carrie Lynn Band

They were followed by “Ghost Cat Attack”  fronted by a very attractive female who started off slow and sensual and then shifted gears into a full rock mode.

Ghost Cat Attack Band

A young woman, sort of new age hippie looking, (or whatever they like to call themselves these days) sat in an open seat next to me.  She then saw a guy at the bar who she needed to talk to, asked me if I would watch her stuff at the seat and left.  I had finished my beer, didn’t want another, just wanted to hang out until the band was done.  I thought she would be back in a couple of minutes which turned out to be about 15 minutes.  I guess she noticed I didn’t have a beer so she offered to buy me one, maybe she thought I had no money or felt sorry for a lonely old man, but it was sweet.  

I also saw Ghost Cat Attack at the St Elmo Bar the following day where I learned that the band name derives from the cat ghost who haunts the nearby Bisbee Hotel.

I saw another favorite band who I remembered from last year called Japhy’s Descent.  They were playing as a duo and I am still impressed with this lead guys raw talent.  It was an early morning show and they had obviously had a fun night, seeming to be a little hung over.  The vocalist voice was a little creaky and he kept coughing and the other guitarist at on point asked him if he could explain how he got the grass stains on his jeans.  The answer; Because it’s Bisbee.

Japhy's Descent Band

The most popular band of the event was a group of hispanic women who played in several different band formats.  Their large group was called, Los Chollas Peligrosas and they performed to a jam packed crowd on Saturday evening and on Sunday afternoon.  They were dressed in beautiful black dresses with lots of makeup and play a variety of instruments. They have several vocalists with incredible voices, it’s mostly in Spanish, but even if you don’t understand the language, it’s beautiful to hear.

The Las Chollas Peligrosas Band

The smaller version called the La Luz de La Luna

A few others performers worthy of note:

Blue Delta from Australia

The Wilt Family, really sad songs, my favorite type

Auld Lang Syne Band, one of the best who travel with three
children.  They usually bring the kids out for a group family song

They were vibrant performers

As usual, on one morning I detoured into the nearby town of Lowell on the other side of the Lavender Pit Mine.  The town is like a museum and mostly original, like time stood still.  Everything seems to belong in part to the Broken Spoke Saloon biker bar empire, a major attraction at the Sturgis, Daytona and Laconia biker weeks.  I used to believe that was cool stuff, but times have changed, no more.

39 Chevy army car

Lots of vintage advertising signs

Always admire the vintage gas pumps

Cute couple in a store front

I usually always have a breakfast at the Bisbee Breakfast Club which I always loved, a bowl type dish with eggs, potatoes, gravy and a huge biscuit.  This time it had way too much gravy, was sort of disgusting and filling.  I guess times have changed on that too ?  I didn’t eat again until late afternoon when I had a BBQ beef sandwich on a small toasted hamburger bun with a side of cole slaw from a street vendor, one of the best BBQ sandwiches I have ever eaten ! 

It was an exhausting weekend, but hopefully I’ll do it again next year.


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Autumn comes to Arizona

November 18, 2018:

We are transitioning now into the Fall season, yes Arizona has a Fall season!  The Monsoon season ended, like a switch was turned off and we had an unusual rainy early October.  The humidity then decreased and the temperatures began to drop, especially at night into the 60’s and now the 50’s.  The AC is not needed at all and we have had the heat on a few times in the past week.

Water actually flowing in the Santa Cruz River

Water and hail flowing on our patio

An exciting sunrise view from our bedroom window

I did a hike up to the top of the knob, (not sure what to call it), behind our house, there is no actual trail or easy path, it requires some bushwacking and rock scrambling, but it’s not really hard.  I expected to find something interesting on top, a shrine to some dearly departed soul or something, at least a geologic marker, but only found a rusty metal rod.  However the unobstructed 360 degree panaramic view is great, you can see the the many various animal and human paths going off in all directions.  As I sat there trying to decipher all these trails and where they go, a beautiful coyote approached the peak, saw me and quickly retreated back down. That was pretty special, I wonder if the coyote also comes up for the view ?

A view part way up the hill

Nearing the top

A very healthy looking coyote saw me and ran

Looks like a boob shot at the top ?  (I didn't realize this until looking at the photo later)  Note the trail below and the houses on the distant hills

The opposite direction looking back at our development

There are several hiking or mountain biking trails behind our house and some of the terrain is truly special with a hillside that has one of the most healthy stands of young Saguaro Cactus that I have seen anywhere around here.  There are red flags, like surveyor markers in the area that are distressing me.  I don’t believe this land is protected from development, it would be difficult terrain to develop, but it could be prime real estate to build a few multi million dollar houses on.  If I read Edward Abbeys book, the “Monkey Wrench Gang”, one more again, something may happen to these flags.  These trails lead to the trailhead at the end of 36th street which connects to a trail that lead you into the protected Tucson Mountain Park and ultimately to Saguaro National Park.

Its a beautiful area

Another point of view

I always go hang out at the stone house, it was once a beautiful
house to live in with a great view

Hiking half way around the mountain knob behind our house I came upon what appears to be an old copper mine due to all the rock tailings on the ground.  There are a few building remains and lots of rusty tin cans and broken glass bottles.  There is a cement pit about 8 feet deep with an old ladder where it looks as if someone, possibly a homeless person, may have used as a camp site.  There are a few places where it appears that small mining activity took place in the area.  Its a mystery as to what this actually was, but it’s entertaining to search around the trash piles hoping to find some form of treasure.

In October the desert was incredibly green

The Fairy Dusters were blooming

Don't know what these small beauties are called ?

Where ever humans have been there is trash !

A decaying remnant of past mining activity

I was taken with the shapes of the cholla and
barrel cactus, had to take a photo

These grasses are especially beautiful when backlit by the sun

The house interior painting is mostly done now, but we need to get some pictures or something on the walls.  This should not be a problem for someone who has thousands of photos suitable for framing but somehow it is.  Twinkle's rule that everything must be framed and matted and match the room color really complicates this process for me, too many rules !.  We are sometimes not so compatible in regard to what is appropriate, but freedom reins in my room and the garage.

The yard is looking better and better, but it will take a few years to get it right.  We had a huge, beautiful, green Horn Worm which eventually turn into large moths on one of our plants and a Tarantula spider striding across on our patio recently, but no snakes yet.  We have had Javelins in our garbage cans in front of our house, now stored behind the front gate, and a visiting Coopers Hawk on two occasions munching on small birds in our front yard.

This Horn Worm was an eating machine

Our Mexican Sunflower is doing very well

I hate to admit it, but I watched an interview on TV with Hulk Hogan.  Hogan talked about his match with Andre the Giant in Wrestlemania III which in WWF circles is considered a classic.  As a result, I checked out Andre the Giant on wikipedia and found an amazing success story from humble beginnings.  Andre the Giant, real name Andre Roussimoff was a Frenchman who grew up on a farm and suffered from an excessive growth hormone condition.  His advertised height and weight were 7' 4'' and 520 lbs.  I also thought it quite remarkable that Hulk Hogan in WrestleMania III was able to lift him to chest level and body slam him.

I also watched a Johnny Cash documentary the other night called “Tricky Dick and Johnny Cash”.  I always had mixed feeling about Johnny Cash but this documentary illustrated the good side of the “man in black”.  It was during the Nixon years when he became increasingly anti war and was invited to perform at the White House with a crowd of Nixon supporters.  He sang a very poignant song called “ What’s the Truth” which really made his point known without being disrespectful.  It was beautifully done and very also very appropriate in todays political climate.

The Dodge is back together again and I have purchased an accessory piece that I have always wanted, a genuine Minnequa Desert Water Bag manufactured by Pueblo Tent & Awning Company.  I can actually use this bag here during the summer.  Oh No, I just had a failure of my clutch fork which I should have noticed when I was recently adjusting the clutch.  Now, I understand why I couldn’t get the adjustment quite right.

That big hole in the end is the problem, it should look like
the one behind it

We have found that the Rillito Park Farmers Market adjacent to the Rillito Park Racetrack is excellent, widely popular and very entertaining for people watching.  There isn’t any “really” heavy duty agriculture here, but there are many small garden organic farmers around.  

Dancing with a QT cup at the market

Another attraction in Tucson that I knew about, but hadn’t gone is the Loft Cinema.  It is well known for artistic and classic films.  My friends from La Cocina and Old Paint Record Store, Kevin Mayfield and Lana Rebel, recommended a documentary playing there on musician Blaze Foley.  He was someone they knew and admired when living in the Portland, Oregon area.  He was a talented songwriter, a friend of Townes Van Zandt and was similarly self destructive.  It was a very sad love story about a very talented and self destructive musician.

I continue floating around the downtown Tucson music scene primarily between Borderlands Brewing, Hotel Congress, Monterrey Court, Chicago Bar, Public BrewHouse, Tap and Bottle, La Cocina and the St Charles Tavern.

A strange band at Tap and Bottle fronted by musician Oliver Ray, a friend and former guitarist
for the legendary Patty Smith who now runs a coffee shop in Tucson  

Eric Schaffer & The Other Troublemakers Band at Tap & Bottle

The Wayback Machine at Monterey Court

I missed the name of this beautiful duo at Public Brewhouse

The Little Anthony Diner at the Gaslight Theater

The Blues Brothers show at the Gaslight Theater

These guys put on a good show portraying Jake and Elwood Blues

I just returned from a weekend in Bisbee, Arizona attending the Side Pony Music Festival.  It’s a crazy free festival with about 100 mostly Phoenix area bands of various genres rotating between about 12 different venues, playing several short sets each day.  I try to catch as many as possible involving lots of walking up and down the Bisbee streets and steps.  It needs to be a separate bog post, coming soon.

No progress has been made on dealing with our RV which still resides in the storage lot at Desert Trails RV Park.  I just hate dealing with this kind of very distresssing stuff.  Travels with Twinkles sadly is over so the 30 foot RV must be disposed of with minimum pain.  I just want to take it to a dealer, have them make an offer, possible try a couple of dealers and just take the best offer and be done with it.  But not really done with it, I still want a vehicle to travel in, on a part time basis, but not a conventional RV.  I’d prefer an old panel truck or cargo van, but they have become classic collector vehicles and really aren’t that practical.  I’m thinking “keep it simple, stupid” and probably will get a cheap, plain used van in which to boondock or stealthcamp in about anywhere with a few simple modifications.  I’ll splurge on a motel or hotel room every few days to get cleaned up when necessary ?

The International Metro Van is the ultimate road trip vehicle

Our snowbird friends are now migrating back to the campground at this time and several have been over to the house to visit.

House warming gift from Jack and Carole

That's enough for now, stay tuned, more to come.
Twinkles and Slick