ISSN 1551-8086
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   poets list
   Francisco Dominguez & Aire Celeste Norell
   Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales
   Sheikha A.
   Steve Abee
   L. Ward Abel
   Carl Abt
   Han Adcock
   Elizabeth Addis
   Aderemi Adegbite
   Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya
   Neil Aitken
   M.I Akande
   Shahd Al-Shemmari
   Lynn Albanese
   Nicole Alexander
   Alaina Renee Alexander
   Gwyndyn Alexander
   Scott Alexander
   Inalegwu Omapada Alifa
   Maureen Alsop
   Rafael Alvarado
   Steven Alvarez
   Keiko Amano
   Veronica An
   Amy Anderson
   Kristine Anderson
   G.D. Anderson
   Zack Anderson
   Lori Anderson-Moseman
   Grace Andreacchi
   Renae Andruse
   Arlene Ang
   Roger Angle
   Stephen Anstay
   Azure Antoinette
   Theresa Antonia
   Aurora Antonovic
   Maria A Arana
   Carlye Archibeque
   Joseph Armstead
   Feral Artist
   Baron James Ashanti
   Charlene M. Ashendorf
    Askew
   Gregory Austin
   Shawn Aveningo
   maeghanne ayers
   Goodness Lanre Ayoola
   John-Patrick Ayson
   Jim Babwe
   Sophie Bachard
   Vasile Baghiu
   Bridget Bagne
   song-hue bahk
   Michael Baker
   Prerna Bakshi
   Anna Balint
   David Banuelos
   Jared Barbick
   J. Mae Barizo
   Peter Barlow
   Matthew A. Barraza
   James Barros
   Jeni Bate
   Jonathan Beale
   Richard Beban
   Gary Beck
   Gary Beck
   Lytton Bell
   Hakim Bellamy
   Michele Beller
   Laura Bellotti
   Stefanie Bennett
   Hayley Berariu
   Kevin Berger
   Lawrence Berger
   Mike Berger, Ph.D.
   Tom Berman
   luis cuauhtemoc berriozabal
   Catherine Berry
   Nick Bertelson
    Besskepp
   Mary Rose Betten
   Cheryl Beychok
   Gwendolyn Beyer
   François Biajoux
   Heitham Black
   Jarvis Black
   Beau Blue
   Rose Mary Boehm
   Bonnie Bolling
   Julie Bolt
   Lek Borja
   Cristogianni Borsella
   Gerald Bosacker
   Amanda Boschetto
   Wendy Bourke
   Jack G. Bowman
   Jennifer Bradpiece
   Bob Bradshaw
   Marcielle Brandler
   Peter Branson
   Sumiko Braun
   Adam Bresson
   Quiana Briggs
   Jack Bristow
   paulo brito
   Alan Britt
   Michelle Brodeur
   Lynne Bronstein
   Charles Brooks
   Adam Levon Brown
   Leah Brown
   Deborah Edler Brown
   Jason Sanford Brown
   zoey brown
   Bob Browning
   Sir Mark Bruback
   MC Bruce
   Jeffrey Bryant
   Kate Buckley
   Robin M. Buehler
   Ron Burch
   Graham Burchell
   Maria Rose Burgio
   Betsy Burke
   Matt Burns
   Richard Burrill
   Tony Bush
   Zachary C. Bush
   Elissa Calvin
   Joseph Camhi
   Dana Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Velene Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Neil Campbell
   Luis Campos
   Janine Canan
   Lyn Cannaday
   Pasquale Capacosa
   Joey Capone
   Hélène Cardona
   Britton Laine Carducci
   D.J. Carlile
   Julia Carlson
   Alicia Carpenter
   Jonathan Carr
   Patricia Carragon
   Oscar Carrasco
   Jared Carter
   Michael Aaron Casares
   John Casey
   Lisa Castro
   Rachael Kelechi Caulker
   Nika Cavat
   Michael Caylo-Baradi
   Steve Ceniceros
   Michael Ceraolo
    Cerise
   Robert Cesaretti
   Cheryl Chambers
   Lita-Luise Chappell
   Shibani Chattopadhyay
   Lisa Cheby
   Beth Cheng
   Ralph-Michael Chiaia
   Juhi Chowdhury
   David Christensen
   Terry Clark
   Darice Clark
   Phil Clark
   Terry Clark
   Charles Claymore
   Jeanette Clough
   Kim Cochran
   Ed Coet
   Tobi Cogswell
   Megan Coker
   Bruce Colbert
   Karen E. Cole
   Merrill Cole
   Christopher Coleman
   Larry Colker
   Beverly M. Collins
   Christiane Conésa-Bostock
   David Concepcion
   Christiane Conesa-Bostock
   Brendan Connell
   Alice Constantine
   Jack Cooper
   Flavia Cosma
   Rachel Coventry
   R. Paul Craig
   David Cravens
   William Crawford
   Natalie Crick
   Rosemarie Crisafi
   Carla Criscuolo
   Chris Crittenden
   Benjamin Crowley
   Susan Culver
   Joe Cyr
   Jim D Babwe
   Morgaine d'Abney
   Karen Corcoran Dabkowski
   Daniel Daian
    Dalton
   Catherine Daly
   Iris Dan
   Marie Lecrivain & Daniel Gallik
   Dan Danila
   Michelle Daugherty
   Piper Davenport
   Kathrine David
   Gareth Davies
   Holly Day
   Frank De Canio
   Gregory De Feo
   Steve De France
   J de Salvo
   J. de Salvo
   kumari de Silva
   Pijush Kanti Deb
   Shalla DeGuzman
   JD DeHart
   Diane Dehler
   Aurelius Demarco
   Darren C Demaree
   Gloria Derge
   Chris Derrico
   Lea Deschenes
   Maurice Devitt
   Theo Diamantis
   Mike Dias
   Martin Dickinson
   Edward J DiMaio
   Mark Dixon
   Peggy Dobreer
   Rosemarie Dombrowski
   Francisco J. Dominguez
   Linsly Donnelly
   Lisa Helene Donovan
   Kevin Doran
   John Dorsey
   Marvin Dorsey
   Marvin Louis Dorsey
   Laura A. Lionello & Douglas Richardson
   Doug Draime
   Donelle Dreese
   Dale Duke
   Jawanza Dumisani
   Henri Dumolet
   Max Dunbar
   t. joseph dunn
   Robin Wyatt Dunn
   Tyler Dupuis
    Durenda
   Walter Durk
   Douglas Dvorkin
   Ron Dvorkin
   Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi
   Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
   Patricia J. Edwards
   Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
   Sabrina Edwards
   Miguel Eichelberger
   John Elison
   Julian Ellis
   Neil Ellman
   K. Eltinaé
   R.M. Engelhardt
   Margarita Engle
   Jon Epstein
   Sufi Erter
   Eli Eshaghian
   Michael Estabrook
   Alexis Rhone Fancher
   Richard Fein
   John Feins
   Emily Fernandez
   Melissa Fischer
   W.S. Fisher
   Jamie Asae FitzGerald
   Amelia Fleetwood
   Jake Fleshner
   John Jay Flicker
   David Flynn
   Arthur Charles Ford
   Liz Fortini
   Sesshu Foster
   Heather Fowler
   Clint Frakes
   Sarah Francois
   Amélie Frank
   Amelie Frank
   Alex M. Frankel
   Allie Frazier
   E.L. Freifeld
   M. Frias Frias-May
   Suzanne Frost
   Delia J. Fry
   Elliott Gabay
   Steven Gabriel
   Timothy Gager
   Daniel Gallik
   J Gamble
   Ishmael Garay
   Jerry Garcia
   Daniel Garcia-Black
   Vince Garofalo
   Gabriella Garofalo
   Yvonne Garrett
   Nelson Gary
   Donna Gebron
   Ulrike Gerbig
   Janice Gero
   Ursula T. Gibson
   Rebecca Gimblett
   Tony Gloeggler
   Steve Goldman
   Vesna Goldsworthy
   Melanie Gonzalez
   Jeffrey Graessley
   Allison Grayhurst
   Jeff Green
   Timothy Green
   Jeanie Greensfelder
   Rhoda Greenstone
   Amos Greig
   John Greiner
   John Grey
   Summer Griffiths
   Danielle Grilli
   Brian Grillo
   John Grochalski
   Wendy Grosskopf
   Andrew Grossman
   Ro Gunetilleke
   Kenneth Gurney
   John R. Guthrie
   Debashish Haar
   Erik Haber
   Hedy Habra
   Tresha Faye Haefner
   Matthias Hagedorn
   James Hall
   Tom Hamilton
   David Harrington
   William Harris
   Matt Harris
   Dawnell Harrison
   J. Alana Hauenschild
   Kari J. Hayes
   KJ Hays
   Ann L. Healey
   Eloise Klein Healy
   Jessica Healy
   Jim Heavily
   Dan Hedges
   Paul Hellweg
   Samantha Henderson
   Jack Henry
   David Herrle
   JD Heskin
   Kenneth Hickey
   Jerry Hicks
   Marvin R Hiemstra
   Ed Higgins
   Carlos Hiraldo
   Sherri Hoffman
   Guy Hogan
   Ali Hosseiny
   Dave Houston
   Eric Howard
   Nate Howard
   David Howard
   Bryon D. Howell
   A J Huffman
   Hunter Lee Hughes
   Roger Humes
   Trista Hurley-Waxali
   Elizabeth Iannaci
   Thea Iberall
   Armine Iknadossian
   Gedda Ilves
   Alegria Imperial
   Victor D. Infante
   Victor Infante
   Augustus Invictus
   Susan Irvine
   Alexandra Isacson
   Natalie Itzhaki
   Amber Jacob
   Scott Jacobson
   Larry Jaffe
   Sonika Jaggi
   Emmanuel Jakpa
   Matthew James
   Andrea Janov
   T.A. Jennings
   Ivan Jenson
   Dani Jimenez
   Alex Johnson
   Michael Lee Johnson
   Tao Jones
   Lois P. Jones
   Strider Marcus Jones
   Georgia Jones-Davis
   Jasmin Jordan
   Quentin Josephy
   Liu Jue
   Ruth Juris
   Gene Justice
   Gary Justice
   Pete Justus
   Mikel K
   Scott C. Kaestner
   Sheema Kalbasi
   Peycho Kanev
   Rachel Kann
   Jay Kantor
   Paula Sfier Kattan
   Russ Kazmierczak
   James Keane
   Gretchen Keer
   Aaron Keller
   Collin Kelley
   Kamuran Kelly
   Bernard Kennedy
   Raud Kennedy
   Kathleen Kenny
   Stephen Kerr
   Hari Bhajan Khalsa
   Just Kibbe
   Jerome Kiel
   lalo kikiriki
   Robert S King
   Franklin Lafayette King
   Ashley King
   Sofia Kioroglou
   Rusty Kjarvik
   Kenny Klein
   LeAnne Kline
   Julia Knobloch
   Deborah P Kolodji
   Tracy Koretsky
   Edith Kornfeld
   George Korolog
   Dimitris P. Kraniotis
   Thomas KrÀmer
   Mark Krewatch
   Chris Krueger
   Amanda Krut
   Gerard Kuc
   Christopher Kuhn
   Donna Kuhn
   Len Kuntz
   Craig Kurtz
   Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
   Daniel Lambert
   Anthony Langford
   Donald Langosy
   Ray Lanthier
   Phillip Larrea
   Phillip Larrea
   Wolf Larsen
   Kasandra Larsen
   Ethan Latham
   Lisa LaTourette
   Marie Lecrivain & Laura A. Lionello
   Marianne LaValle-Vincent
   Kevin Lavey
   Judith A. Lawrence
   Eric Lawson
   Richard Leach
   Marie Lecrivain
   Anne Lecrivain
   Noah Lederman
   Pete Lee
   Kevin Patrick Lee
   Emma Lee
   N.M. Leepsa
   Alexandra Leggat
   Laura LeHew
   Gary Lehmann
   Sharmagne Leland-St. John
   Kevin LeMaster
   Michal Lemberger
   Kim Leng
   Roland Lesterin
   Tiffany Lettieri
   P.A. Levy
   Martin Lewis
   Cheyenne Lewis
   Anthony Liccione
   Cynthia Linville
   Laura Lionello
   Zachary Locklin
   Jessica Lopez
   Harold Lorin
   Tess. Lotta
   B.D. Love
   Adam Lowis
   Ron Lucas
   Andrew Lundwall
   Rick Lupert
   Suzan Lustig
   Radomir Luza
   Stosh Machek
   John MacKenna
   Sarah Maclay
   Stefanie Maclin
    Magdalena
   Gary Maggio
   Holly Magill
   Anthony Magistrale
   Marieta Maglas
   Suvi Mahonen
   Donal Mahoney
   Robert Maiolo
   Kelly Ann Malone
   Michael Malota
   Shahé Mankerian
   Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
   Chris Mansell
   H.E. Mantel
   April-May March
   Rick Marlatt
   John Marshall
   Agnes Marton
   Francis Masat
   Hyatt Mason
   Anthony Mason
   Lee Mason
   Johnny Masuda
   Mira N. Mataric
   Ellyn Maybe
   Michelle Mazzetti
   Mary L. Mazzocco
   Ted Mc Carthy
   Austin McCarron
   Terry McCarty
   Paul McConnell
   Brendan McCormack
   Deborah McCreath-Akbar
   Catfish McDaris
   Bray McDonald
   Karen J McDonnell
   Matt McGee
   Allen McGill
   Afric McGlinchey
   Terance James McGunigle
   David McIntire
   Cat Angelique McIntire
   david mclean
   Isobel McQueen
   Fernando Meisenhaulter
    Mephistopheles
   Corey Mesler
   Melissa Michaels
    Mike the Poet
   Scott Miller
   Richard Lee Miller
   Robert John Miller
   Hany Haggag Abdl Mobdy
   Richard Modiano
   William Mohr
   Sonnet Mondal
   Jason Monios
   Leslie Monsour
   Amanda Montei
   Patrick Mooney
   Carl Moore
   Greggory Moore
    Albert Lee Moran
   A.J. Morelli
   Christopher Mulrooney
   Frank Mundo
   Barbara-Marie Mundt
   Augusto Munoz
   Mark Murphy
   Craig Murray
   Kristine Ong Muslim
   JL Nathan
   Nimah Nawwab
   Leslie Maryann Neal
   Jason Neese
   Raghab Nepal
   Robbi Nester
   Mindy Nettifee
   Martina Reisz Newberry
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   Scott Nichols
   keith niles
   Dave Nordling
   Aire Celeste Norell
   Steve Norwood
   Laura Nye
   Toti O'Brien
   Charlotte O'Brien
   Suzanne O'Connell
   Katie O'Loughlin
   Peter O'Niell
   Tom O'Reilly
   Akor Emmanuel Oche
   A.J. Odasso
   Rita Odeh
   Kirsten Ogden
   Daniel Olivas
   Maurice Oliver
   Marc Olmstead
   Philip ONeil
   Nzingah Oniwosan
   Chika Onyenezi
   Nina Orlovskaya
   Sergio Ortiz
   David Ishaya Osu
   Scott Thomas Outlar
   Holly Painter
   Lizbeth Palma
   Heather Palmer
   Greg Patrick
   Miss Natalie Patterson
   David E. Patton
   Tim Peeler
   Steve Pelcman
   Angel Perales
   Alice Pero
   Angela J. Perry
   Helen Peterson
   Brenda Petrakos
   Adam Phillips
   James G Piatt
   Rebecca Pierce
   Gareth Pike
   James Pinkerton
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   Shannon Prince
   Stephany Prodromides
   Hattie Quinn
   Octavio Quintanilla
   Beverly J. Raffaele
    Raindog
   Catherine Rajca
   Steve Ramirez
   Mauricio Alejandro Ramos
   Vishnu Rao
   Ingrid Rattay
   James Rauff
   Kasey Ray
   Bili Redd
   Brian Redfern
   Marie Rennard
   Luivette Resto
   E.W. Richardson
   John Richmond
   Francisca Ricinski-Marienfeld
   Kevin Ridgeway
   Lillian Ridgeway
   Dee Rimbaud
   Elijiah Rios
   Cat Risinger
   Ariel Robello
   Ebi Robert
   John D Robinson
   Paula Rodriguez
   Nydia Rojas
   Daniel Romo
   Emily Rose
   Rina Rose
   Diana Rosen
   Poet-broker Rosenthal
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   Gina MarySol Ruiz
   Cody Rukasin
   Cody Rukasin
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   David W. Rushing
   Maryann Russo
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   Howard Sage
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   April Salzano
   Bryan Sanders
   Lisa Marie Sandoval
   Cecile Sarruf
    Sasparella
   Ethan Sassouni
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   Lorraine Sautner
   Rati Saxena
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   Peter Schwartz
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   Ken Scott
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   Justin Scupine
   LB Sedlacek
   Lisa Segal
   Anthony Seidman
   Anthony Seidman
   Oleg Semonov
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   Dahn Shaulis
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   June Shiitake
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   Apryl Skies
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   Danielle Smith
    smzang
   Kate Soto
   Ghetto Speare
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   Matina Stamatakis
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   Julia Stein
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   Alex Stolis
   Karr Stratynberg
   Kevin Stricke-9
   Keith Stump
   Daniel Suffian
   Annette Sugden
   J. C. Sullivan
   Mani Suri
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   John Duncan Talbird
   Sister Taxi Hopscotch
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   Allen Taylor
   Barbara A. Taylor
   Jonathan Taylor
   Paul Kareem Tayyar
   Alene Terzian
    The Unarmed Man
   A. Thiagarajan
   G. Murray Thomas
   Lynne Thompson
   David Thornbrugh
   Kari Thune
   Sarah Thursday
   Ilona Timoszuk
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    TJungle
   Chrys Tobey
    tolbert
   Imani Tolliver
   A. TOMIC
   Anthony Torchia
   Mary Torregrossa
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   Tri Tran
   Ryan Tranquilla
   Alain Marcel Treadaway
   Pedro Trevino-Ramirez
   Ben Trigg
   Paul Tristram
   Maja Trochimczyk
    Troy
   The TruthHearse
   Tatiana Tulskaya
   Yelena and Roman Tunkel
   John Turi
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   Amy Upham
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   Gene van Troyer
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   Brenda Varda
   Luis Rubio Vargas
   Carmen Vega
   Ms. Veronica
   Papa Vic
   Clee Villasor
   Ajise Vincent
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   toren wallace
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   Denise R. Weuve
   Rev. Dave Wheeler
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G. Murray Thomas
November 2014
   

 

Music and Traveling

    Anyone who travels knows the importance of music for a good road trip. We'll spend hours creating mix tapes/CDs/playlists for our next journey. Sometimes we pick just the right music, and a particular song or songs will become permanently linked in our mind with a certain stretch of road.
    In my recent travels I can think of some (at times surprisingly) perfect match-ups between tunes and landscape: opera for the mountain forests of New Mexico; Miles Davis' On the Corner for an L.A. traffic jam (almost home!); the long feedback section of Diamond Sea by Sonic Youth as I coasted down the far side of the Grapevine. Even going back to my childhood, I remember a trip to Florida where my brother and I had a cassette tape with Aftermath on one side, and The Doors' first on the other; either album can still evoke memories of that trip.
    But here I am more interested in when a journey finds its own music. When a certain song pops up repeatedly. In 1984 I traveled to Peru. I went to see the Amazon jungle; music wasn't even on my mind. But, inevitably, there was music. There is music everywhere. The music I heard was pretty random (it being 1984, there was a lot of Michael Jackson), but a couple of songs stood out.
    The first was El Condor Pasa by Simon and Garfunkel. Well, not their version, but the Peruvian folk song it was based on, a pleasant flute melody. I heard it everywhere. Most memorably on an overnight bus trip through the Andes; it seemed somehow very fitting for a journey through black, snow covered peaks.
    (Speaking of S&G, one of the women at a jungle camp I stayed at claimed you could attract the pink river dolphins by playing them. She brought out a little cassette deck and a tape. Sure enough, within a few minutes there were dolphins swimming just off the dock. But they disappeared as soon as I took out my camera; something she had also told me would happen.)
    But one song was ubiquitous, and for no obvious reason. I heard it everywhere, in the marketplace, on the bus, even on the radio in my hotel room. It seemed vaguely familiar; I had probably heard it before, just never paid attention. Major Tom Coming Home by Peter Schilling. I have no idea why it was such a hit, but I immediately loved it. It still evokes that trip when I hear it today.
    However, there was one curious thing about that song. I did not know the words at all. Also, it was originally recorded in German, later released in English. I may well have heard either, or both versions there. And the sources I heard playing it were not exactly high fidelity. So, as we often do, I made up lyrics. Except I made them up in Spanish. My mind, immersed as it was in Spanish, heard the unintelligible vocals as Spanish. Although, as far as I know, there is no Spanish version.
    One final irony, had I been able to understand the lyrics, I might have appreciated how apropos to my situation the song was. A follow-up to Bowie's Space Oddity, it is about someone trapped in an unfamiliar world. And there were certainly times I felt trapped in Peru. But that's another story for another article.

    Another way particular music becomes ingrained in a travel memory is when a favorite artist turns out to be playing in your destination city. This became especially important during my years in Idaho, where I was cut off from much of the music I loved. Travel became a way to see artists I'd never get to see in Idaho. Although, other than hitching to Seattle for King Crimson (also a story for another article), I rarely got to pick the bands I would see. That was up to fate. Although fate did a pretty decent job of it.
    In the spring of 1982, I went back east, a trip which included Northampton, MA, and Hampshire, New York City and Rochester, NY. During that trip I managed to catch Snakefinger at CBGBs, and Jim Carroll in Rochester.
    Snakefinger was part of the Ralph Records stable; Ralph being the home of the Residents, possibly the weirdest band ever. Snakefinger was, in a way, their in house guitarist. Extremely talented, he mostly put that talent to the service of their weirdness, but he could play great, straightforward rock guitar as well. One does need to be able to play well in order to play weird well. The show certainly exhibited his talents on guitar, as well as his talents at weirdness. The highlight, for me, was his cover of Kraftwerk's The Model, with a spine-chilling slide solo.
    Although, to be honest, what I remember most about that show was buying a bag of weed at St. Mark's Place, and rolling joints on the table in the bar.
    Jim Carroll in Rochester was even more of a surprise. Any punk band in Rochester was always a surprise. At this point, Carroll was trying to prove he could establish a real career as a rock star, beyond the one novelty hit about dead people. For the most part, he succeeded. He started out a bit rusty (and even acknowledged it with a sometimes the best rock 'n' roll is sloppy comment), but once the band hit their groove, they rocked hard. People Who Died was not the highlight of the show, although he certainly had fun with. No, two longer, more introspective pieces shone the brightest: City Drops Into the Night, off his firt album, and a new one (at the time), Lorraine, which started with pure poetry, and built to a rocking climax.
    Also on that trip, I raided several friends record collections to put together a couple of mix tapes of music I simply could not get in Idaho, musicians such as Jonathan Richman, Buzzcocks, John Cale, Linton Kwesi Johnson, and Johnny Thunders. (Tapes which I still possess.)
    Two years later, on my way back from Peru, I spent a couple of months back in Rochester. Another long story of how that happened, but I will say that Rochester was no more exciting than the last extended stay I spent there, during my college years. Still, I managed to catch a solo Elvis Costello concert, with T-Bone Burnett opening.
    It was an interesting show, which demonstrated both his strengths and his weaknesses. As for the latter, he was only a competent, not a great musician. He played guitar and piano, both acoustic and electric (for both), decently, but nothing more. However, he is a great songwriter, and the stripped down format demonstrated that clearly. The songs succeeded or failed on their own merits, and most succeeded wonderfully. Many songs, such as Shipbuilding, Everyday I Write the Book, and Kid About It seemed ideally suited for the solo format, while he rearranged others, notably Motel Matches and Riot Act, to draw new power from them. Also memorable was how Costello held the crowd enthralled throughout the show, with just his solo presence on the stage.
    T-Bone Burnett also put on a great show, again emphasizing song writing talent. Nowadays Burnett is a well-known name, mostly due to his work on movie soundtracks and as a producer. But I already knew who he was, because of this work as the musical director of Bob Dylans Rolling Thunder Revue, ten years earlier.
    One final, random memory, which doesn't fit this chronology at all, but is a case of stumbling upon a great concert while traveling: in 1995 I took a cross country journey to see the National Poetry Slam in Ann Arbor, MI,. Coming back to SoCal, we stopped in Memphis. One of the bars on Beale Street had huge picture windows behind their stage, and broadcast the concerts inside into the street. We saw the majority of a George Thoroughgood show from that street.

    One further trip during my Idaho years stands out because it combined theme music and a concert in the most serendipitous manner. In the summer of 1985 I traveled to SoCal with a couple of friends for a mutual friend's wedding in Santa Barbara. It was just how a good road trip should be: a leisurely couple of weeks, over to Oregon, down the Pacific Coast, through San Francisco and down to L.A. A day at the beach, a day at Disneyland, then up to Santa Barbara for the wedding, and across Nevada back to Idaho.
    We had an unofficial (or maybe even official) theme music for the journey, although it was one we chose, rather than one revealed to us. Sting had just released his first solo album, Dream of the Blue Turtles. We loved it, and played the cassette at least once a day the whole way. We found the jazzy take on the basic Police sound fresh and exciting. (In my opinion, whatever you may think of Sting's later solo work, that album has stood up well over the years.)
    (The other soundtrack of that trip was Bobby McFerrin's new album -- yes this was the age of Don't Worry, Be Happy. My friends actually liked the rest of the album much better; they enjoyed his vocal talents and stylings. But they never won me over. I have never willingly listened to anything by him since.)
    When we got to L.A., we found out Sting was playing the Greek Theater. The next night! We had to get scalped tickets of course, but we felt it was worth it. This involved traveling to some very nondescript part of the city, all low lying buildings with mostly blank storefronts. Since this was only my second time in L.A., I really dont know where we were, but somehow Pico Blvd. sticks in my mind.
    The concert rocked. He had an all-star band of mostly jazz players behind him, including Branford Marsalis (saxes), Omar Hakim (drums), and Kenny Kirkland on keyboards. It was actually more of a jazz concert than a rock one. The arrangements were all jazzed up, and everybody had more than enough opportunity to solo. They played a mix of Blue Turtles and relatively random Police songs -- the hits, but also Driven to Tears, Tea in the Sahara, Demolition Man. In my journal I commented that Sting did everyone a favor by introducing his audience (myself included) to such great jazz players.
    To tell the truth, I remember that concert much better than the wedding we went to.

    One of the great things about travel is how it heightens our awareness of the wonder of life. Things we normally pay no attention to, or dismiss as mundane, become significant. Things like the view through our windshield. We normally ignore the scenery on our daily commute, yet the same scenery might strike us as beautiful if we see it as a tourist.
    So it is with music. Certain songs can be enhanced, both at the time and in our memory, by being connected to the scenery, the events, even just the excitement of travel itself. We often hear them in a new way.
    Seeing Sting in concert would have been a great memory whatever the circumstance, but the fact that he happened to be playing in L.A. the day we were there made it extra special. The melody of El Condor Pasa becomes extra special when it evokes a bus ride through the Andes.
    Major Tom Coming Home is now one of my favorite songs.

copyright 2014 G. Murray Thomas