Tour Notes, Day 1

Playing music off-grid in rural New Mexico has long been a dream of mine and lucky for me, that’s how the tour got started yesterday.  The talented and incredibly genuine folks of Mesa Recordings have been throwing a festival for the past decade, called Mesa For Vida, which is set up in the lush high desert landscape of Glorieta. The event is dusk-to-dusk, meaning it starts at sundown and ends at sundown the next day.  Luckily, I was invited to come play and share my music in the morning before heading up to my show in Silver Plume, Colorado in the evening.

 Flag of freedom

Flag of freedom

Mesa has a mix of DJ's and live performers and all through the night, I heard and danced to some of the strangest, coolest songs I'd ever heard.  As the starry night gave way to dawn, dawn to sunrise, sunrise to morning, the music took on a more mystical quality. I picked up the baton and played a mostly ambient set at around 8:30am - a sonic bath of pedal steel, field recordings, and electronics.  I was delighted that although many in the crowd were bordering on delirium from not having slept, some had a real heart connection to the music. I was reminded that it is not the performer who gives the energy to the audience alone; it is a symbiotic relationship and members in the audience can really affect the way the music comes out.  Through my own tired eyes, it was an awakening and something to strive for; give people something they can move to and listen to that movement.  That is why performance can be such a profound teacher. 

P1090496.JPG

Sadly, I had to leave the mesa right after my set was over, as I realized I had just enough time to make it up to my show in the old mining town of Silver Plume. 

 Cow skulls, black bears, and pedal steel

Cow skulls, black bears, and pedal steel

While loading into the Bread Bar, set up in the mountains at 9,000 feet, I saw a black bear rummaging through a neighbor's recycling bin down the street. That should tell you how remote and badass this place is.  Silver Plume was formerly a mining town and is now home to some good people who just like a bit of peace and quiet (because it's so high in elevation, you don't even hear crickets).  I had a wonderful time playing pedal steel there for a some locals and tried to emphasize a little more of the twang elements of my set.  It was a good counterpoint to the emphasis I put on the ambient side of things when I played in the morning.

Today, I play in Cheyenne and then tomorrow, it's off to Yellowstone for some explorations where the buffalo roam...

Alex Simon