Getting Ready and Getting There
Perched high atop a high desert hill a couple of miles west of Mosier, Oregon, sits a magical barn, of sorts. In fact, it’s not really a barn at all. It’s a music studio and supposed storage space for an assortment of vintage and modern musical instruments and related supporting amplification and recording gear in the care of one particularly interesting musician/writer of recent acquaintance. Recently I was excited and honored to be one of the singer/songwriters invited to take part in the first Northwest Songwriter’s Circle held there at Burnt Barn Recording near Mosier, Oregon, a show put on for Don Campbell’s Burn At The Barn series.
It happened on a beautiful morning, that windy Sunday morning, atop that amazing vantage point of a hill, on a windy day in the Columbia River Gorge. Ann and myself and Squeekie the dog and Solo the cat were up and about our morning routine as per usual around 7 am. We had nothing special planned together for that morning, but, as is my preferred habit before a show, especially when it promises to be one of those special days when a gig is pending that will bring a crowd of appreciative listeners to a concert venue, rather than the common case of a bar or winery or other noisy hub of humanity where folks are there to hang out and do a bit of partying with music as ambience, I like to do my best to prepare with a relaxed series of mind-cleansing, self- centering meditational visualization and semi-pampering in an effort to maximize each one of these relatively rare treats of creative performance that fulfill a couple of my most heart-felt desires… or something like that.
As it went along our morning’s events evolved organically, starting with the usual Ann and dog and cat parade to take the dog out to do her “outside” thing, followed by tea and coffee and reading and cleaning the cat box and watering our mini-garden and porch surrounds and all before a nice breakfast, in my case begun with a bowl of cereal with flaxseed, home-grown strawberries and almond milk, then in both of our cases finished with a chicken maple sausage scramble. Mmmmm… a great way to get the day’s mood off and running in a positive direction.
After breakfast I cleaned up my Bob Dill guitar, my favorite instrument ever, and put a fresh set of Elixir HD strings on her. I knew Bob and Alexa were coming to the show, and I thought I’d try to put a smile on their faces by shining up Bob’s masterful creation. I trimmed the extra length of the new strings away and pulled on the new strings a bit to settle them in, then I tuned her up and put her through a few paces on the songs I planned to play. It felt great, and I was ready to go.
We headed out early enough to get a bite on the way at a favorite lunch spot of ours called River Daze in Hood River. We like to get one of their great sandwiches and eat only half and box the rest for convenient consumption later. The food there is really good, and due to their popularity, they can be a bit slow, which is often the case with places that consistently make good food, but we timed it just right, luckily, and we had our meal and ate it too within a reasonable time frame, so we were actually a touch ahead of schedule. So we stopped by the little bookstore next door and picked up a few dollar books by John Dunning, Isaac Asimov and Veronica Roth. Good finds. Then it was time to head to the Barn.
We had never been to the place and we were excited to explore the promise of the event and the studio,. We headed to Mosier with open minds and hearts. We took the exit and curled around on the road east out of town that started climbing up a gravel road, and drove up, and up, and up some more, revealing more and more of the landscape surrounding, with high desert hills to the south and the Columbia River to the north. As we neared the place the surrounding earth fell away to the south and as we pulled into the lot to park near the house it was a but a scant 10 yards or so to the northern edge that fell away to a spectacular view of the Columbia and Bingen and White Salmon across the river.
I don’t know how often the wind blows that strong up there, but it was cooking when we arrived. We had no sooner parked than our friend Chic, another of the featured singer/songwriters, pulled up to park right next to us, dust blowing heartily as we exchanged warm greetings. As we pulled out our guitars and gear from our cars and headed down to the Barn studio just below the south side of the place we had to hang on tight as the wind buffeted and banged guitars into us and threatened to tear them out of our hands. With heroic strength we managed to hold on to all and make our way to the studio.