Monthly Archives: September 2011

Musical elders: Yusuf’s Cafe Session

Over the past few years, a bunch of our old musical faves have released DVDs that capture their “mature” artistry in the (recent) prime time when they’re infused with the wisdom of the years, yet with their musical chops still fully at their disposal as well. Click on over on the “Rock Elders late-career DVDs” category on the right to see others as they’re added.

The first one I wanted to share has flown totally under the radar, and will be a delightful – and heartful – discovery for anyone who was into Cat Stevens.  And in the early 70’s, who wasn’t?  Tea for the Tillerman was the first LP I ever bought (while on a band exchange trip), and for a few years there, he was one of the purest voices of the gentle, spiritual search of the generation.  After spending 25 years out of the music business and in the heart of England’s Islamic community, he returned to performing in 2006.  His new studio albums have been mixed affairs (though Footsteps in the Light, originally only released in the UK, with some old tunes and some devotional tunes, is a real treasure). But in 2007, he performed an intimate concert at London’s gorgeous Porchester Hall. Here’s the opening sequence:

The concert is a treat from start to finish. Twelve musicians create a gentle, rich tapestry on which Yusuf’s songs find new wings, a flying carpet of heart and soul. First among them is Alun Davies, seen above, who must surely be one of the most selfless musicians we love and don’t know: the half-hour BBC documentary that accompanies the concert on this disc reveals that Alun has been there at Cat’s side through all the years, his guitar weaving together with Yusuf’s to create that “Cat Stevens sound.”  Who knew??

Among the many highlights of the show is a Zulu-infused Wild World, a couple of riveting Islamic vocal passages, and a surprising bluesy interlude. And just try to keep a dry eye during “Father and Son” if you, like me, have crossed over from one side of that story to the other….

The documentary is great, with a glimpse of his wild London 60’s years, which led to him falling deeply ill, living at his dad’s house, out which emerged the gentle Cat we knew and loved. Seeking refuge from fame in foreign lands, he soon left the music world, and the film offers an illuminating perspective on the role he played as one of the leaders of the London Islamic community (he did far more good work than we knew, having heard little more than the widely publicized and misinterpreted comments on Salmon Rushdie).

So start your Musical Elders DVD collection today by seeking out this gem at your local music store (I wish!), or here at Amazon.

A new trail with nice views

That’s what Barb said she had found, and on Saturday morning we headed out, her at the wheel, to check it out.  But rather than head out of town, we found our way to the Santa Fe Airport, where Matt was waiting….to take us flying over our beloved landscape!!

A total surprise, and a major treat.  Our 90 minutes aloft took us around the Jemez, our local supervolcano remnant, over Abiquiu, down the Rios Chama and Grande, and across the mountains above Santa Fe to check out this summer’s “smaller” local conflagration, dubbed the Pacheco Fire. Here’s a few of the many shots Barb took while we were being continually bedazzled:

Valle San Antonio, the northern portion of the great volcanic caldera of the Jemez

(click through for a bunch more shots)

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Wildness in the neighborhood

On Monday Phil and I took a leisurely morning loop through the lower canyon here, up to the knolls for an overview of  the Lamy and Canoncito valleys, continuing down past the old grandfather oak tree (who may have seen the Civil War troops hustling by one night to join the 2nd day of the battle a few miles away on Glorieta Pass), then heading up the slot canyon that lies directly below the knolls.  Partway through there were some large, shallow pools of standing water with wide muddy borders.

Almost right away, big prints: bear!!  That’s a first, in over 20 years here.  Fingery racoons, too.  And look, cat-like prints: bobcat or cougar? (how big are cougar feet?)  More coons, plus dogs or coyotes.  Then: woah….HUGE cat prints, cougar for sure!

The next day I called Ann, a friend way into tracking and primitive skills, and we spent a couple hours peering at the crazy accumulation of prints alongside three of these pools, confirming my original hunches with the careful questions and comparisons of true tracking.  There was a wild tangle of prints stretching along fifty feet of canyon floor, including an enlongated smoosh-print where the bear came down from the steep rocky slopes above. As we prepared to leave, Ann paused and turned our attention to imagining the print-makers wandering along the water…..

I heard a cougar scream five or six years ago in the arroyo just behind the house, and Barb saw one walk by her studio in the first week she was here, four years ago.  But never before have I seen such pristine tracks, and to have bear and cougar and bobcat all in one magnificent experience, well, that was a major blessing and treat!

It seems that wildlife is more present in recent months: a bobcat loping through the yard three different times, a fox in the hills not far behind the house, deer along the road, coyotes way close many times in the night, a bear ransacking my birdfeeders several times.  We share this home with so many others.

Click through for some more footprints-out-of-time

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