An all-nighter with BRIGHTBLACK MORNING LIGHT in Joshua Tree (Arthur, 2006)

Country Life
For the beatific country-soul musicians of Brightblack Morning Light, there’s no place like Nature
By Daniel Chamberlin
Photography by Eden Bakti

Originally published in Arthur No. 23 (2006)

When they weren’t slumming it with us youngsters at the all-ages hardcore shows, the older dudes at my Indiana high school would spend their weekend nights going “country cruisin’, reminiscin.” They’d all pitch in on a six-pack, score a dime-bag and then pile into somebody’s old car—preferably a late ’70s model sedan with stained plush upholstery and bench seating in front—and drive slowly down the deserted gravel roads and empty dirt tracks that criss-crossed the corn and soybean fields that spread for miles in every direction from the small town we called home. Though I never went on these sentimental rides—I was too young, pot-phobic and already knew that drunk driving was trouble—I was in love with their soundtrack: long-form blues from the Allman Brothers and heartbroken redneck ballads from Lynyrd Skynyrd.

These days, I score my drives back from walks in the San Gabriel Mountains north of my home in Los Angeles with the same music, maybe a bit more Neil Young and Fairport Convention in the mix. It sets the tone for the silent trekking to come and eases the re-entry into the urban landscape on the way back down. The Grateful Dead’s American Beauty and Will Oldham’s Ease Down The Road are ideal albums to soundtrack trips to the deserts and mountains. I’ve added Brightblack Morning Light’s new album of organic wilderness soul to the list of music perfect for such peaceful expeditions.

The two core members of Brightblack are Rachel “Rabob” Hughes, 29, and Nathan “Nabob” Shineywater, 30. Their self-titled debut for Matador Records has the dense harmonic blur of My Bloody Valentine but the music is made with the kind of instruments you’d expect to find the world famous session musicians—the Swampers—of Muscle Shoals putting to good use behind Aretha Franklin or Mavis Staples. (The album actually features two of the Staples Singers along with a trombone player from Nashville, Andy McLeod of White Magic on bongos and Paz Lenchantin—the Argentinean-American multi-instrumentalist known for her work with A Perfect Circle, Silver Jews and Entrance—on guitar.) It’s perfect for coming down from the mountains, and custom made for coming down on Sunday morning. It has an almost gospel feel—since soul music is just gospel without as much god—that invites comparisons to the lonely space-age-blues of Spaceman 3 or Spiritualized. But where Jason Pierce put opiates on the altar formerly occupied by the Holy Trinity, Brightblack has placed a respect for nature, an amalgam of environmental convictions and Native American spiritual practices. Which is sort of obvious from song titles like “A River Could Be Loved” and “We Share Our Blanket With The Owl.”

Their live performance is as quiet and intimate—maybe even more so—than their album. The most recent incarnation of their touring band includes Oregonian Elias Reitz on congas and tablas and West Virginian Ben McConnell behind the kit, with their friend Mariee Sioux, who Nabob is careful to identify as a full-blooded Paiute, opening each show. They often bring sticks and other woodland artifacts onto the stage, erecting small lean-tos or tipi-like structures. All of it swirls and refracts in the rich, resinous sound of Rabob’s Fender Rhodes organ. The vocal harmonies are chorus of whispers, while the brushed percussion is more of a sparkle than a clatter. The instruments are so quiet that cash registers at the bar interrupt the spell. Nabob’s slide guitar work hangs in the dim lights of the stage, glowing and vibrating in the air. On his instrument, a wolf cub suckles at a woman’s breast.

* * *

Up until now, Brightblack’s music has been somewhat hard to come by, a word-of-mouth phenomena fueled by rumors about the band’s nomadic lifestyle and enthusiastic reviews from the handful of crate-digging folk nuts who heard their debut LP, Ala.Cali.Tucky, or Pebbles and Ripples, a split EP with Will Oldham, that has the two avatars of rustic slow jams one-upping each other with covers of the Dead, Phil Ochs and show-stopping medleys of Bob Marley and Harry Nilsson. Then there were reports from the ecstatic few that caught the band in their Rainywater guise on various tours—centered around the band’s interest in visiting hot springs—around the Southern half of the United States. And attendees of their hand-picked festivals in idyllic locations—the most recent being last January’s Quiet Quiet Ocean Spell, an event where a hundred people gathered to see Brightblack, Espers, Feathers and Entrance play among the towering Sequoia sempervirens of Big Sur, CA. Another Big Sur event, Quiet Quiet Forest Spectrum, is scheduled for early August at the Henry Miller Library.

And, of course, the band’s mythology wasn’t hurt by the fact that Nabob and Rabob are said to live somewhere in the wilds of Marin County, just north of San Francisco. In a renovated chicken coop, no less.

As it happened, the happy Brightblack couple was en route from said coop to new digs in northern New Mexico when it came time to coordinate an interview. My first conversation with Nabob happens when he calls me at 10:30pm on a weeknight from a Northern Cali beach where he’s setting up a tent. His voice is quiet but jolly with a heavy Southern twang. He wants to know if we can get together for the interview at a hot springs near the California-Arizona border. It’s a clothing-optional place. “It’s cool, they’ve got crystals and things all set up around the springs.” He confers in muffled tones with Rabob, and then comes back. “Actually, why don’t we meet up for a camp out in Joshua Tree?” Even better.

* * *

The drive out to the Mojave Desert from Los Angeles is one of the more dramatic urban exoduses one can make. The 10 Freeway is an auto-choked transportation corridor that winds through the Inland Empire’s sprawling blocs of Soviet-meets-SoCal suburban housing developments. It’s about as far from country cruisin’ as you can get.

But the suburban blight ends abruptly at the San Gorgonio Pass. After that, there’s nothing but highway signs with cryptic references to “other Desert Cities,” shimmering plains of dirt and sand and hundreds of white windmills spinning silently in the hot breeze that whips through this gap between the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains. Another hour of driving through wildflowers and sagebrush and we arrive at the Crossroads Cafe just north of the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. Rabob and Nabob are parked out back.

A Los Angeles Times review of Brightblack’s performance at ArthurBall described the couple as resembling “the hippies in a pot-themed episode of ‘Dragnet.'” And while that’s a snide way of putting it, it’s also true that the two Alabamans are not afraid of appearing in dress appropriate to their rural bohemian lifestyle. Nabob is a tall, mustachioed man in a purple tie-dyed T-shirt and a leather headband. His hair is long and brown, some of if tangling up into dreadlocks in the back. A prominent belt buckle shaped like an upside-down American flag holds up his pants. Rabob emerges from their tour van, dressed in a subdued tank top tie-dyed a dark, brownish orange to match her dark brown skirt and the orange-tinted lenses of prescription aviator glasses. We exchange greetings and I stoop down to pet their dog, Lali. Nabob says she’s named after a Hindu deity of some sort, and I nod as if I know what he’s talking about.

* * *

Joshua Tree National Park is named after the ubiquitous yucca brevifolia, an evergreen tree unique to the Mojave Desert that is covered in spiny leaves and can grow to heights of nearly 30 feet. The indigenous Cahuilla tribes used the tree for baskets and sandals and chowed down on its spring flowers. Mormon settlers christened the trees in honor of the Biblical prophet Joshua, and then proceeded to cut them down to fuel their mining machinery. It’s where Gram Parsons and Keith Richards used to hang out, allegedly scanning the heavens for UFOs and coming up with weepy country-rock ballads. Parsons overdosed in the town of Joshua Tree in 1973, and his friends cremated him here in the park.

The forests of yuccas are beautiful and strange, but the real fun comes from the mountainous piles of monzogranite boulders that are spread across the landscape. Such rock formations have made Joshua Tree renown among professional rock climbers and amateur scrambling enthusiasts. We pull in next to one of the many impressive clusters of rocks in the park—the aptly named Jumbo Rocks campground—and pile out for the photo shoot.

As the sun settles into a bed of deep orange in the west, a full moon climbs through bands of lavender twilight in the east. The band’s name comes from the same color of sky that happens just before dawn. We head out from our campsite into a valley between two gigantic piles of boulders that are glowing soft gold. Desert Cottontails are numerous from the recent rain. Lali looks like she’s attained a state of canine nirvana, flushing the speedy young rabbits—along with the occasional quail—from beneath creosote bushes and ocotillo cacti. Rabob and Nabob talk about how the landscape reminds them of Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire and the Louis L’Amour cowboy novels they’ve been reading. They stand on adjacent boulders and toss their Frisbee back and forth; they then strike poses using two sticks to frame a crystal that they’ve balanced on the stems of a tall cholla cactus. As the sun finally disappears, bats dart spastically above our heads and an owl cruises low through a sky just starting to twinkle with stars.

Once the sun has gone and the photos are finished, we all get into the Brightblack van and head back to town for dinner with friends who have invited us to hang out at their home studio. Nabob plays a mix CD: Aaron Neville, Beach Boys, and contemporary reggae dudes covering the Beatles. We’re all a little high; Rabob leans forward and whispers, “Nabob honey, you’ve got your briz-ights on.” He laughs and switches to the van’s low beams.

* * *

Fred Drake and Dave Catching founded the Rancho de la Luna studio in 1993. Drake passed on in 2002, but Catching—a frequent cameo on Queens of the Stone Age albums, currently playing guitar with Eagles of Death Metal—lives there now, doing occasional recording work for friends with his neighbor Hutch, the QOTSA sound man. Hutch and his girlfriend Carol Anne host the dinner, which attracts a half-dozen high desert bohos. All the men wear long hair and bandanas and the women are covered in elaborate multi-colored tattoos. Some are full-time filmmakers and musicians, others put-up dry wall by day and spend their evenings working on the sort of outdoor sculptures that are only possible when you have a big yard. Hutch cooks up a carrot-ginger soup and grills pork loin on the back porch. “There aren’t that many restaurants out here,” he tells me, “so before long everybody learns to cook.”

Rabob and Nabob look tired, but happy. Both long-time vegetarians, they dig into the soup, homemade bread and beer.

Before Rabob moved out West from Alabama, Nabob lived in the Northern California town of Arcata, the home of Earth First!, Humboldt State University, and the sort of place where hippies and hobos must make a pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. He spent his time playing accordion on the town square and taking long hikes in the old-growth forests nearby. I’ve also spent some time in Humboldt County, and we both enthuse about KMUD, the public radio station with a penchant for bluegrass and keeping the local marijuana farming community abreast of current DEA helicopter flight patterns. “The show I always look forward to hearing is New Dimensions,” says Nabob. It’s a talk show that has been broadcast from Northern California since 1973. Their interviews with deep thinkers from a variety of disciplines—from beat poets to Nobel Laureate physicists—have made it somewhat legendary in public radio circles. “It connects me with all the righteous old back-to-the-landers,” he says, “the real thinkers effected by the 1960s consciousness explosion, who mostly all left the city. KMUD saved me through their radio because it gave the stereo the truest community feeling I ever had.”

After dinner we walk around the grounds of Hutch’s house; a wood-fired hot tub sits out back, just around the corner from an automobile shed where he works on his vintage cars and trucks. There’s also a sculpture of what looks like a blooming agave, the radiant flowers on its stem formed from dozens of empty Patron tequila bottles. It’s all lit up in the cold blue light of the full moon.

These days Rancho de la Luna is more of Catching’s house than a recording studio, but as the home of the Desert Sessions recordings—collaborative jams between QOTSA front man Josh Homme and pals like PJ Harvey, Mark Lanegan and Gene Ween—its place in desert rock history is secure. The interior is done up in a kind of Southwestern punk rock style, with rugs all over the floors and pictures of the horse that used to wander around the house on the walls. The bookshelves are packed; an especially queasy thrift-store portrait of a baby hangs over the table.

Rabob is here to check out the Rancho’s extensive collection of keyboards, especially the vintage Fender Rhodes piano with a Dyna-My-Rhodes attachment. I get lost in some of the shoptalk. Eventually Hutch, Nabob and I step outside and leave Rabob to examine the instrument.

Hutch retrieves a joint from an ashtray on the porch and we listen to the Rhodes’ soft tones resonating from inside. The view from the patio takes in the mountains in the park with the modest skyline of Joshua Tree and Highway 62 in the foreground. Hutch shows us the fire pit where campfire sing-a-longs are sometimes recorded and used as final takes. Nabob says he’d like to record in Jamaica sometime, building tracks with reggae session players. We pause and just take in the sights, watching the lights of traffic down in the town. “That skyline is really psychedelic,” he says. Nabob and I discuss our affection for the intensity that marijuana lends to time spent outdoors and wonder if we smoke too much.

Eventually we walk back into the studio—quietly so as not to disrupt Rabob and the piano. “She was born to play that instrument,” Nabob says.

The Rhodes is one of the most widely-recognized organs used in contemporary music: The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm,” Stevie Wonder’s “You Are The Sunshine of My Life,” Miles Davis’ In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew. Its unique sound comes from rubber-tipped hammers striking small tuning forks inside the case. Herbie Hancock fell in love with it when Davis introduced it to him in 1967, and later recorded a promo spot for Fender, saying of their piano, “it had a blending quality that the acoustic piano doesn’t have. The Rhodes piano blends so well with other instruments.”

It’s the same creamy blend that gives Brightblack’s new album such a mellow campfire make-out vibe. Songs like the ten-minute-plus “Star Blanket River Child” are slow and dreamy, hot and humid because of this co-mingling of the sounds. The track starts with backtracked drums slithering through Nabob’s woozy slide-guitar chords. A chorus moans in the background, more percussion jingles in the distance and underneath it all, the lush bed of Rabob’s keys. About seven minutes in the brass pops up and repeats like multiple-orgasms until the whole thing collapses happily, exhausted and laughing. This is heavy music, but made with a slow hand and an easy touch. Rabob pulls the cover back down over the keys and we walk out into the moon to finish off the joint. Shortly after, we get back into the van and head back to the campground.

Once we’re on the deserted roads in the park, Nabob puts on a Sandy Bull CD. Bull was a virtuoso on multiple stringed instruments, creating long winding epics of oud, guitar and banjo. We’re listening to one of Bull’s early ’70s recordings where he’s playing with jazz drummer, Billy Higgins The coupling of the polyrhythmic fingerpicked blues ragas with the rush of Joshua Trees and rock piles is completely hypnotic. We turn the van’s headlights off and ghost-ride at 25 mph to the light of the full moon, everyone silent except to whisper warnings of mice, rabbits and other small mammals dashing across the road in front of us. Desert cruising, reminiscing.

We arrive back at the campsite around midnight. With Lali asleep in the van, Nabob, Rabob and I walk up over a small ridge and back down to the valley where we were cavorting earlier. The moonlight is bright enough to read by, and we stand looking down through seemingly endless piles of ancient rocks. “I wonder how far we could walk,” asks Nabob, “if we just kept going.” We sit down on a granite slab and wrap up in sweaters. Nabob pulls out a small bag of the collector’s choice sativa he purchased from the Marin Cannabis Club before they left. He says that this strain is called Sourdough, and the pungent, yeasty smell of the smoke shows us why.

Nabob and Rabob have been living in the country outside Point Reyes Station, a small community of around 1,000 people that sits on the coast an hour north of San Francisco, for the last three years. It’s the entry point to the Point Reyes National Seashore, 70,000 acres of woodlands and beaches that have been under federal protection since 1962. Philip K. Dick lived there from 1958 through 1964. It’s the place where he got heavily into the I Ching and wrote The Man in the High Castle, We Can Build You and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.

“When we were in Point Reyes Station making all the music we were recording,” Nabob says, “Rachel and I were also participating in a combination of marijuana and walking. Much as we are right now. And we did that for three years around the National Seashore. Got to know the land and the animals, got to know the wilderness as, like, a family. This clean, wild energy.”

The couple was studying the work of Jaime DeAngulo, an eccentric turn-of-the-century cowboy turned linguist, known for his anthropological research into the music, folklore and spiritual practices of the Paiute, Pit River and Achumawi Indian tribes of Northern California. “Their religion was based solely on walking alone for days, without a specific destination until they made contact with their Spirit Animals,” says Nabob. “I say ‘mildly studying,’ we listened to and read DeAngulo for pleasure mostly. But these specific tribe’s methods gave credence to our intentions of enhancing our own spirits by taking daily walks into the Point Reyes National Seashore area … usually alone. Rabob would camp alone on the beach many times. I would go follow animal trails for a long time.”

Nabob credits his 13 years of vegetarianism with suppressing his “hunter mind,” setting the animals more at ease with his presence. He says marijuana helped him hand his “male mind over to the ways of Earth Life.” Though the three of us are getting deeper into conversation, we’re not looking at each other. Rather, we’re facing the monzogranite pile across the valley, silently studying the nooks and crannies that have become yawning caves of shadow that ebb and wane with the moon’s position in the sky. “You don’t have to create mystery out here,” says Nabob. “There’s mystery already here and you’re participating in it.”

The chicken coop they were living in had been renovated into more of a cabin, with bunk beds and such. But that it was still smaller than the rock we were currently sitting on. “We put up tents in the summertime,” says Rabob. At the time she was working with various environmental groups on watershed restoration projects, a job that put her in touch with a lot of people in the community. Through her connections they were invited to use a small country church as their practice space.

They had 13 redwood trees growing in their yard, and a creek nearby that still had Coho salmon running through it. “It was a great campfire spot,” says Nabob, “and we could jam whenever we wanted.” They both tell stories about riding bikes up the mountain behind their cabin and swimming in the reservoir up on top. “There were these logs floating around in the water, and I’d ride them everyday. Paddle around on the logs, lay down on ’em…”

“I remember the first time you came home after riding the logs,” says Rabob, laughing. “He was just so bright and happy. I was like, ‘What’s going on dude?'”

“At the time we were getting all of our ganja from the Marin Cannabis Club,” says Nabob. “Which specializes in these things called Chilly Walters, this ganja chocolate thing. It has a stamp on the chocolate of a penguin with dreadlocks and his eyes halfway open. And then it has a sticker on the lid that says …”

“Chilly Walter, Irie Penguin!” Rabob exclaims, laughing.

“Those things were five bucks,” says Nabob. “You could eat a quarter of it and be stoned all day, like phew! Five bucks!”

Nabob left Alabama for California in the mid-’90s. His friends were starting to dabble in heavy drugs and he says he could see people heading for a bad place. Around the same time he came across an article in a ’70s-era issue of National Geographic about Humboldt County in Northern California, a land of old growth redwoods, libertarian ranchers, back-to-the-land hippies and some of the most ruggedly beautiful coastline in North America. Before long he was Humboldt-bound.

“That was like the eighth time you left Alabama,” says Rabob. It took her a bit longer to realize that she wanted to leave the South. Rabob grew up in Montevallo, a small town in central Alabama, and the home of the University of Montevallo, a public liberal arts college. She was working for AmeriCorps, a network of non-profit organizations, and hating it. “I really wanted to be … I don’t know, to live closer to the land,” she says. “I thought a different landscape would wake me up. I just felt this pull to the West Coast and the ocean. I’d already planned to move and then I met Nathan. Very shortly after that there was talk of all of us leaving Alabama.

“I think coming out here to live had something to do with the places we went to on our first tour with Will Oldham,” she continues. “I felt a spiritual vibe to the woods, creation, back in Alabama, but the land feels more ancient out here. People care, too. California’s not perfect at all, but there’s more of a collective consciousness about it.” She brings up The Monkey Wrench Gang, Edward Abbey’s 1975 novel that laid the blueprint for aggressive environmental activism and sabotage. She quotes one of the characters on the necessity of the peace and quiet of nature. “He talks about people going insane without it. I feel that way sometimes.”

She describes Montevallo as a totally different world from Nabob’s home in southern Alabama. “I grew up with my grandfather preaching every Sunday in a rural Baptist church, until I was 9,” says Nabob. “We sang together the old hymns with a piano, his congregation were all old peanut farmers with missing teeth, but their hearts were full of love and the singing was full of love. Yet we always drove past another church on our way to this church, an Afro-American church. I couldn’t understand why we all were not gathered together. Later when I found out about the details of segregation I knew that all matters of the spirit could only be gained and applied as an individual. That generally all organized religion is basically more a social path rather than a spiritual path. Keep in mind that I grew up in an all-black community. This separation was profound to me!” This realization was the genesis of his interest in what he calls “indigenous spirituality.”

“I learned that all folks, regardless of their bloodline or color of skin were indigenous to the Earth before the claw of industrialism injected a death ghost into humanity. It is up to us as individuals to decide if the lessons from Earth Spirit are worthy of our time and effort. For me, I had no choice, I knew that the Bible was written by the hand of man, and while it holds some value to me, it is still of human derivation, therefore, not to be trusted for my spirit’s healings … though I think if it were written from a non-Anglo stance, we might have a truer window to the events that went on. As Leonard Cohen said ‘Though we read from pleasant Bibles that are bound in blood and skin, the wilderness is gathering all its children back again.’

“I think I just needed something to work, to actually work,” he says. “I kept looking for things in humankind that would offer something that would be a go-to no matter what.”

Neither Rabob nor Nabob seems eager to talk about their families, only saying that they’re on their own financially, surviving off the money they make from playing live. Nabob tells me his parents have split up. “I guess we’re talking about the blues now,” he says. We sit quietly for a few moments and pass around a jug of water.

The two met back in Alabama through mutual friends, band connections, but Nabob says they didn’t hang out that much before Rabob moved West. “I’ve gotten to know her as a person camping out, going hiking,” he says.

Part of my interest in talking with Brightblack comes from an intermittent desire to leave the city without going off the deep end into rural solitude. While the two of them clearly put a premium on time spent alone in the wilderness, their music is informed by urban sounds, classic soul music like Curtis Mayfield, and their fellow travelers in the psychedelic folk scene, as much as by wilderness nomads like the Sahara desert bluesmen and women of Tinariwen. And as artists who appreciate collaborative projects, they seem to seek a balance between living alone, far from the urban centers where artists often congregate, and maintaining ties with those communities. I wonder what keeps them from completely cutting their ties with what they call “Babylon,” of going off the grid and leading a quiet country life.

“There’s a plethora of good people,” says Nabob. “That alone. It’s interesting to know about the good things going on, the bands making records.”

“It’s a snowball thing,” says Rabob. “It starts from inside. You wanna hear [the music] through your instrument. Then coming through speakers. That takes time to do that. Then you’re not spending time working a day job. It snowballs into this thing where we needed to get supported to make this thing happen. We wanted to have southern gospel singers, a trombone player. We wanted to go to Nashville to work with Mark Nevers. All those things are gonna take somebody supporting it. And now we’ve got Matador’s backing.”

“It’s hard,” Rabob says of the challenges of bringing people out to their remote living places. “There’s a lot of driving to get to those rural places. And that driving means gas. But it’s worth it. It’s all worth it. But when you play music with people that live in the city, you’ve gotta make it worth their while to come out.”

“I’ll say this,” says Nabob. “Professional musicians are bad-ass. They don’t fuck around and they’re not going to return if I’m all stoned and inviting them to come out to the house. What they’re spending their time doing has gotta be worth a shit.”

Nabob gets up and walks across the granite slab we’ve been sitting on to piss off the edge. He casts a long black shadow on the rock, which is radiant and white in the moonlight. He comes back and our conversation drifts to sentimental talk of the South. She and Rabob once recorded on some of the equipment that Lynyrd Skynyrd used to record “Sweet Home Alabama.” Nabob wonders if people not from the South would understand what that meant to him. I mention my favorite Skynyrd song, “Gimme Three Steps.” It’s a story about being a longhaired hippie-like dude dancing with a girl named Linda Lou at a place called The Jug, and the confrontation with her armed, jealous lover. The song ends with the hippie turning tail and running screaming from the place—the three steps of the song’s title, of course. “It’s still hard, if you’re a guy, to have long hair in the South,” says Rabob.

“Even though when I talk, the Alabama accent is there,” says Nabob, “I am a Western person because I believe what hasn’t been destroyed of the American West’s wilderness is worthy of defending from resource extraction. I think the only people that should be allowed in the American West are those who respect the Earth; if they want to play another game, let them do it on the East Coast where everything is already polluted. We must resist Babylon System each moment of each day,” he says, energized. “I guess,” he smiles and laughs, “although I admit I’m just a stoner.”

We sit quietly again for a while and listen to a screech owl hunting the valley. Then we gather up our water and I shut my tape recorder off. That night, I lay out on the desert floor without a tent. It’s often hard for me to fall asleep outside—I love the “wild energy” that Nabob was talking about and I can’t shut my eyes to the landscape. The screech owl calls again from somewhere off in the distance, and a meteorite streaks across the sky.

* * *

A few days later, I get an email from Nabob.

“The Sangre De Christo Mountains are in the back yard, a roadless wilderness area,” it reads. “The past three days have been spent on day hikes into the foothills, where we found a pond and a stream for swimming. I did read that in the ’70s the locals made effigies of some of the hippys out here trying to protect the Mexican Spotted Owl. The effigies they placed in their own yards & it showed each hippy hanging to death. The locals were cutting the old trees for firewood to sell.

“We are all separated by four- to ten-acre plots. There are Coyote, Bear, Wolf and Western Blue Jay all around. The adobe is wonderful & the music sounds good since it is mostly empty in here. Everything is orange! The elevation is 7,000 feet and I still haven’t gotten used to it. I pass out hard each nite.

“I am physically nearer to the Hopi & Navajo, etc than I have ever been. Unlike the high-desert tribes I align with, who are now extinct, these Pueblo people still have their own Nations!

“Anyhow, we are excited to be into this practice of walking and also have a publishing contract for music. I am not sure of the motives of many folks who play music, under any circumstance. I am not sure if people hear any of these things, or even want to. I do know that when folks gather to be a student rather than a teacher, then we all learn & grow. Maybe that’s why the high-desert tribes ways are so attractive, because there was no hierarchy when it came to religion.

“I think it’s important to demolish all hierarchy when it comes to creativity & Spirituality. It is up to the common folks to maintain a steady demolition. This way the things that are learned are of a universal value.

“The place we sat with you was such an ancient place. It really will be a good memory, the land and the conversations.”

One thought on “An all-nighter with BRIGHTBLACK MORNING LIGHT in Joshua Tree (Arthur, 2006)

  1. Pingback: Yuba Reprise – Date Palms | Inter-Dimensional Music

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