Thursday, October 28, 2010

More Than Welcome

About a week before I left for Lerdo, a guitarist from Chicago by the name of Michael Kent Smith gave me a call. He said he was new in town and that he was looking for some cats to play with. I told him that there were not many jazz cats in this town but if he would like to come jam with the TUBA JAM guys that he would be more than welcome.

Michael showed up at Zilch to play with us last week. He fit right in and we all had a blast. Since then I have had the pleasure of playing several times with Michael and Dan. Michael is a master of many styles and he has tons of cool tricks in his bag. M.K.S. is a great addition to our sound. For the moment TUBA JAM's sound is heading in a somewhat different direction.
r to l M.K.S.,Dan and myself proudly displaying my hometown colors.
More good new for an Arlington Texas boy: my Texas Rangers are in the World Series. I don't really care how they do, I'm just very excited that they have finally made it to the big show. 

Mexican Murals

I love the Mexican murals.

Here is a foto of a mural that was painted inside the offices of the Lerdo arts festival. It was painted on the 4th of October and I took this foto on the 11th.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

To Begin A Crusade

In the middle of the journey of our lives,
I found myself upon a dark path. -DANTE

The day after returning from the music festival in Lerdo I was overcome by strange feelings, or rather the lack of feelings towards anything. I know now that this lack of feeling is my covert depression fighting to become overt depression. I know that this is a response to wounds (even if I can't seem to remember their cause) that I have carried inside me since my childhood. In his wonderful book I Don't Want To Talk About It, Terrence Real has given me many clues as to how to cure this disease. From my readings I have learned that most people (especially men, sorry guys) have little interest in listening to or talking to someone about this delicate subject that effects so many peoples lives. So, I will not bore you with much more on this topic. I finished Terry's book yesterday morning. I have never earmarked so many pages of a book in my life. I now feel properly equipped to begin a crusade very similar to the journey that Dante embarked on so many years ago. I will travel to the darkest scariest places I know of in this world. I will find my hurt, lost, lonely child and befriend him and help him to heel his wounds, my wounds. I will give him the love that he has longed for for all these years.

In the meantime I will show you guys the wonderful things that are happening, even as I struggle, life goes on.

Last week as I searched inside for some sort of feeling, I left Casa Verde and started walking. I walked over the Buffas past our land and kept going until I had reached the small town of Puentecias. I had finally worked up an appetite so I started to look for somewhere to eat. I found a small place and went inside. I asked for my usual, "Arroz y Frijoles?" The sweet lady said that she had beans, but no rice. Ok, how much? She thinks for a second still a little shocked at this big white guy who has showed up out of nowhere. "5 pesos" she says. "Wow!" I think to myself, less than .50 cents US. I should be able to swing that. A minute or so later she comes back from the kitchen and says that she has eggs if I would like. This sweet older lady was not trying to increase her earnings for the day, she is like most ladies in Mexico, she is a mother and she could see that I was hungry and like a good mother she knew that beans alone would not be enough. She was right and I agreed, some eggs would be fine. Throughout my meal 3 or 4 different waitress came to give me more corn tortillas. I imagine the ladies back in the kitchen as they describe the big gringo sitting and eating in the other room "I'll take him some more tortillas" just get a closer look.
The addition of the eggs brought the price up to $15 pesos.
About $1.40 US.
And then you have to find a place for desert. Or maybe it finds you.
A snow cone after lunch from the 3 wheeled bike dude.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

An Undisclosed Location

Laloc Vallejo, Dan Norman, Ken Basman and myself played last Sunday at Plaza Posuelos. While we have recorded together we have never performed live together so the Posuelos gig was a nice opportunity to play together the day before our performance at the festival in Lerdo. It is always a treat to play with Ken. He has seemingly endless ideas and he always adds something fresh and groovy to whatever tune we play. He also brings the level of the whole group up a notch or 2.

After we finished rockin' out the mall. Ken and I piled into Dan's car and headed to Leon.
The angry looking bald guy is our driver.

The only problem we encountered during our travels happened at the very beginning of our trip as we tried to board the bus for Torreon. Even though the festival had purchased a ticket for the tuba, the driver of the bus for some reason or another could not grasp the idea that the tuba would be an ideal passenger. Eventually the driver opened up a special storage area under the bus and the tuba was segregated but appeared to be safe enough to satisfy Dan and off we went.

We arrived in Torreon around 630 Monday morning. We were met by Jose Arturo Lopez,our driver for the festival. Jose is a tall, nice man and he is very proud of his city. It was fun listening to him proudly show us the sites as we drove through Torreon and Gomez Palacio on the way to our hotel in Lerdo. Once we arrived at our hotel (Lerdo is about a 30 minute drive from the bus station in Torreon) we all went to our rooms for a little more rest.

After breakfast we got together for a short ensayo or rehearsal. During the last month or so I have been adding new charts to the TUBA JAM tuba book. Just before the festival I came across 2 different tunes that I thought would be perfect additions to our show for the festival. So just before the concert in the mall I gave Dan the music for jazz classic A Night In Tunisia by Dizzy Gillespie and a beautiful song that shows our sensitive side Gush by Maria Schneider. It is my opinion that the energy level will be a bit better if there are a few new things to keep you on your toes. And for our concert in Lerdo it definitely worked. Dan and Laloc turned it up a notch and Ken was his usual spectacular self.

I talked to some very nice people after our performance. 1 young man came up and asked if we could play for his girlfriends birthday, which was the next day, but we would serenade her that night at midnight. It's not my idea of a great birthday present but this guy seemed to think it was and that's all that matters. Even though  Ken and Dan had to return that night before the midnight birthday serenade, the guy still seemed interested so Lalo told him to give him a call later and we would serenade her, drums and trumpet style.

Laloc and I went out for dinner with a few of the locals and a few other participants in the festival. Julio Sanchez, the payaso or clown from Irapuato (see earlier post My New Little Friend) entertained the crowd as Laloc and I added musical accompaniment. I had forgotten all about the earlier serenade request and I thought that would probably wouldn't hear about the serenade again., but after we had been at the restaurant for a few hours and just before midnight the boyfriend of the sleeping birthday girl called and met us at the restaurant.

He agreed to pay Laloc and I $350 pesos each, around $30 US to play for about 35 minutes mas o menos. Julio came along for the added excitement that a clown brings to any situation. The boyfriend took us to an undisclosed location, we parked, made a quick game plan and headed into the large gates of a house somewhere in Lerdo.

It took the birthday girl longer than I would have thought to make her appearance. As I was playing my mind couldn't help but wonder. Was this a happy couple? What did she really think about this, like, what would she tell her girlfriends? Was there another guy or girl waiting in her bed as we serenaded?

I love that during my first Mexican serenade, the drums and trumpet were assisted by a clown juggling flaming whatever you call em's. Very Fellini.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Out Against The Traffic

1 of the things I really like about the festival in Lerdo was that everything was within a very short walking distance from our hotel. I love stumbling around a different place.

With the exception of the 1 nighttime foto all of these fotos were taken on the same street, on the same day, within a few minutes or hours of 1 another.

This lady was loaded down and cruiusin' with the traffic.
I watched and waited as this guy waited for the right
 moment to head out against the traffic of Lerdo. 
Take your time, there is a lot going on in this foto.
1 dinner option in Torreon.
The 2 guys in the last foto were the best.

If you have seen any of my 3 wheeled bike fotos from before, then you are well aware of my normal drive by shooting style. It is part of the nature of catching these rare beauties in action. Plus, I don't know what or how to ask a complete stranger without sounding like the craziest guy on the planet, "Can I get a picture of you 2 as you load this washer machine onto your bike?"

This time I was waiting at the bus station in Torreon when I spotted these guys across the street. As I walked up they asked if I wanted any tacos. I told them that I wasn't hungry and of my love of the 3 wheeled bike and that I just wanted foto. They too spoke of their love for the functionality of this practical device. As you can see they were all to happy to strike a pose. I love the smile on el Jefe.

Stumbling can be fun. Just don't forget your camera.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My New Little Friend

I just got back this morning from the 6th Festival Internacional de las Artes de Lerdo. Lerdo is located in northern Mexico in the state of Durango, just a few minutes drive from the big city of Torreon. TUBA JAM played Monday night and I stayed an extra day to take in more of the city and the festival.

Making music with Dan, Laloc and special guest Ken Basman, meeting new friends, eating too much delicious food, exploring a new town, midnight birthday serenades, my little brain starts spinning when I begin to think of where to start.

I guess I'll start with my stomach.

Monday morning Laloc and I were escorted to 1 of the local restaurants that was affiliated with the festival. The restaurant was in an old house that was about a 5 minute walk from our hotel. We joined several of the other festival participants at a large table. I ordered Juevos Rancheros, eggs smothered in salsa with a side of beans. The food was excellent and I returned the next morning for a breakfast of only beans and rice. Some of the best rice I have ever had and all of the meals were accompanied by mouth watering salsa and fresh tortillas. My stomach and I were very happy.

While I was enjoying my first breakfast, Julio Sahagun Sanches, who I would come to find out later in the day is a young payaso or clown from Irapuato, Guanajuato, was speaking about some of the other delicious foods to be had in Lerdo. Julio was talking about the gorditas that are typical to the Lerdo area. They are much larger than the gorditas that are served here in Guanajuato and they are not made from masa or corn but they are made with flour which makes for a more pita bread like pocket. It sounded like something I should try so I kept an eye out for any signs reading Gorditas.

Yesterday, while walking through the jardin that was directly in front of our hotel I spotted my gordita guy.
Look closely, under the restaurant.
The last 1/3 of my piacadillo y papas gordita.
The gorditas was big and yummy. I could have eaten every bit, but what about my new little friend?
My little friend came out from under the restaurant.
Always nice to have a friend help you clean up.
So if you ever find yourself in the jardin in the center of Lerdo, eating a gordita, don't forget to look under the restaurant and see who might be there.

I'll have more posts over the next few days. More sights from Lerdo, stories of making music with my trumpet as well as my 1st midnight birthday serenade.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I Know Nothing

Today while walking through a market in San Miguel de Allende, I came to a very small opening and this is what I saw. 

I know nothing about electrical wiring of any kind. I don't know why these sorts of sites make me smile, but they do. 
Fall wildflowers alongside the road from Guanajuato to San Miguel de Allende.

More San Miguel related news; I am very excited to announce that guitar master Ken Basman who is originally from Canada, but has lived in San Miguel for the last 19 or so years, will be joining TUBA JAM for our next 2 shows. Ken plays so good. I can't wait. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pole Dancing

I wasn't thinking about foto opportunities as I was driving to pick up the girls from school yesterday. It wasn't until I was under this large electric pole that I noticed the workers standing on the ground looking up. I looked up and saw a man dangling from the top of the very tall structure. I pulled to the side of the road, grabbed my camera, left the car running and hopped out to try and capture the moment.

If you enlarge this foto you can see just how relaxed the top worker is. Nice quiet place for a chat.
Pole dancing, pole vaulting, pole sitting. I'm not sure what type of job they would call this, but I am sure that these guys are more comfortable working on top of a pole than most.

Comfort Zone?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Another Drive By Shooting

Do you ever turn down a street that you don't know just to see where it leads?

Last week after paying the ransom to recover my drivers license I did just that. I don't know the city of Leon that well and to me that is as good of a reason as any to take a few random turns (when the light is green).

For my wanderings, I was rewarded with a plethora of 3 wheeled bike foto opportunities. I tried to make the most of them.

Another drive by shooting.

Sport Utility Vehicle.

A rare 20" 3 wheeled bike.

Loaded up with sheet rock.

If you look closely you can see that this 3 wheeler was registered in Arkansas.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Drivers License Foto

Yesterday I traveled to the big city of Leon, Guanajuato.

When I was in Leon last week I made a left turn through a red light. Apparently that is against the law in Mexico and when there is a police officer waiting at the light as you go through even OJ's  legal team could not get me out of this.

When you get a ticket in Mexico, to insure you will show up and pay your ticket, the officer takes your drivers license.

Normally I never carry anything in my pockets except for chapstick, a key or 2 and a few pesos. My wallet almost always stays at home. I currently have 2 drivers licenses. 1 invalid from Colorado and my new Texas license. I wasn't paying attention and I gave the officer my Colorado license.

I guess I could have left it at that, however back in 2004 (just a few months before I was to move to Mexico) when I was still living in Colorado and it was time to renew my license I came up with a plan.

My hair, when left alone for some time, starts to take on a bit of a life of it's own. So, a few months before it was time to go for the all important divers license foto, I came up with a plan to take a foto that would make anyone who asked to see my ID smile.

I was pleased with the results. It always made me smile whenever I had the opportunity to show my ID.

Even though it is no longer valid, I still traveled to Leon to pay the ransom for my favorite ID. In Leon if you pay your ticket in the 1st 10 days you receive a 35% discount. $177.00 pesos, about 15 US dollars and my ID is back home.