Dunga Brook Diary

The rural life through the lens of an iPhone and notes from the field…

Archive for ommegang

Art In The Palm Of Your Hand and a lesson from John Burroughs

Art In The Palm Of Your Hand and a lesson from John Burroughs

“The lesson which life constantly enforces is ‘Look underfoot.’ You are always nearer to the true sources of your power than you think. The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Every place is the center of the world.”~ John Burroughs

Today, I am packing my car with 7 boxes filled with 33 of my iphoneographic images printed on metal and heading to the Cherry Branch Gallery in Cherry Valley.

First, I’ll be driving to Brewery Ommegang to pick up the beer for my opening reception.

How cool it that?

If I want Ommegang beer (and I do) I just hop in the car and drive through their fortress of a brewery and pick it up. Right down the road. Just like that.

When I moved to central New York, having bought my old farmhouse off of Facebook, sight unseen, I had no idea Ommegang was here.

Or Cherry Valley with its bohemian artist culture.

I had no idea Cooperstown was here with its strong baseball ethos.

I had no idea I was a mere 4 hours away from NYC (of course, I had hoped I would be a little closer), I had no idea how beautiful it is (I had hoped for that, too), I had no idea how many cool people lived up here, I had no idea one of my best friends would move up here, too…

I just knew there was a little white house in the middle of nowhere next to a man’s house who’d be my only friend for awhile- a man whom I barely knew from a poetry class in LA.

Who does that?

Heeeeyyyyy!

I also had no idea I was going to pick up my iphone and photograph my way into this place and back out into the world.

I started with the ground under my feet. Literally.

When I first arrived, I lived at the KOA campground. Because it was summer and because baseball is king out here all of the house and apt rentals had long been booked by the families of boys and girls in baseball uniforms.

Camping was the only option left. I hadn’t camped since I was a kid. Now this wasn’t roughing it but it was living in a camper trailer in a camp ground surrounded by cornfields and cow pastures.

There was a walking trail through those fields and the first thing was take my two boys (dogs) for a walk.

And the funniest thing happened.

In the back of those fields was another field, a long, low field of clover, just like the fields of clover that surrounded my childhood home.

And there I was.

In the middle of a vast sea of green under a purple and orange sky on a warm summer’s night.

The sky was a bowl above me, the clouds were glowing with the light.

I fell to my knees in wonder.

‘Look underfoot.’ You are always nearer to the true sources of your power than you think.’

I lay on my back in clover. The dogs ran free.

My eyes stung.

Was I really going to cry?

I whipped out my iphone and took a picture of the clouds and the clover and the dogs romping.

I fell swoonily in love with central New York.

(Sorry, LA. Heyyyyy. But you just didn’t do it for me. I tried. I gave you 25 years. I really did try.)

Ah, New York!

And, I wanted you to see what I see. I wanted you to fall in love with it too.

This Saturday, almost two years to the day that I found my farm on Facebook, I have an exhibit of iphone photos.

Come see!

There will be Ommegang and a wall full of what I saw at ‘the center of the world’.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Cherry Valley, NY- Cherry Branch Gallery will be hosting an opening reception for central New York artist, Vicki Whicker.

Cherry Branch Gallery, 25 Main Street, Cherry Valley, NY 13320 / 607-264-9530

APRIL 6th, Saturday, 5-7pm: OPENING RECEPTION Live Jazz with Jeff Palmer, (pre-sales 12-4pm)

 

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4972379699741.1073741826.1006731279&type=1&l=9d1922dc22

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Abandoned train…a pinch of Ryan Bingham…Americana in LA

Iphoto of an abandoned train...and pinch of Ryan Bingham

‎”…when I die lord won’t you put me up on that train…won’t you send it southbound give it a cool bluesman name…”
~Ryan Bingham, Southside of Heaven, Mescalito

Dunga Brook Diary, 2/24

It’s a silent day in central NY, snowing again.

This abandoned train on the outskirts of Oneonta reminds me of Ryan Bingham. Ryan Bingham reminds me of LA. LA reminds me of The Cinema bar.

One summer night, circa 2001, I dragged my LA music producer boyfriend there, I was sure he was going to love it- I’d read in the LA Weekly that the Cinema Bar was a great place to hear live music, a place where singer-songwriters like Lucinda Williams might show up and join in with whatever local band was playing.

We finally found The Cinema bar on a dank street populated with no-tell motels and shuttered wholesale carpet outlets on the edge of Culver City. Twice, we’d missed the red and green sign above the door spelling out its name in buzzing neon.

Inside, it was a hole in the wall. A juke joint. A place with no cover, no doorman and only one bartender behind a bar far bigger than the rest of the room facing a thirsty, blue-collar looking crowd.

The decor was easily out of date by the 70’s, with its party-stained wood interior, haphazard stools and rickety tables and rotating-slogan beer signs, instead of hipster LA pin-lighting and banquette seating.

Above the head of the weary, chain-smoking bartender was a tv chained to the wall, endlessly broadcasting sports to the unsportiest of crowds. There was a grandma with a beehive hairdo who looked as if she’d been there since 1965, a toothless trucker falling asleep beside her, a cadaverous fellow chain smoking with his pinky in the air, numerous colorful rockabilly chicks in cowboy boots and a group of flannel over wife beater wearing he/she’s giggling next to a Howdy Doody looking character raising a can of Shiner Bocke to the band.

The band was loud.

Back when I was a teenager living in Illinois, in a nowhere town that sidled the Mississippi River, I thought that I hated bars like this.

Still, that was exactly where you’d find me on Saturday nights with my boyfriend, I’d be wearing a tube top and we’d be playing foosball underneath neon signs, he’d have a Busch in his hand flirting with me between scoring goals and I’d be under-age drinking a blue Hawaiian, we’d both be singing along to Lynard Skynard songs playing on a jukebox amped to deafening decibels. Aside from the drunken welders and rage filled Viet Nam vets who truly owned those riverfront bars, it was exactly where I wanted to be on those muggy midwestern nights.

The Cinema bar’s stage was nothing more than a spot for the band set up in at what used to be a front window (blacked-in now). The band and the fans stood just elbows apart, sweaty face to sweaty face.

Turns out the band that the LA Weekly had mentioned would be there had already played there the week before, this was some other band.

We stood at the packed bar, easily 3-deep, trying to breathe in the cigarette smoke-filled room, an impossibility, so we listened. The band strummed, the drummer set a rhythm, a key board player in horn rims played something I think I heard in high school at Scotty’s Skateland when it was time for “the couples skate”, then something happened, the lead guitar took over, he bent low over that guitar, he worked it, wrenching out the cords, the singer closed his eyes and sang louder, suddenly a swooping feeling inside as the room began to vibrate and shimmer…

The band was AWESOME.

My heart jumped. Stuff like this reminds you of who you really are and where you come from. Until that moment, I had no idea how deep the red in my neck ran. This rock n roll and this tiny dive bar just off the 405 was the closest thing to heaven I’d found in LA.

Wow, I mouthed to my boyfriend. Wow, he mouthed back and hugged me in.

The band was announced as the Randy Weeks Band. Turns out Randy was a stalwart of the Americana scene in LA, a scene that somehow began in the 80’s with punk bands like X, The Blasters and Randy’s previous band The Lonesome Strangers.

In the 80’s, I was a newly minted fashion designer hanging out in Manhattan Beach doing another version of X with the terminally cool south bay crowd and “dancing” to canned Depeche Mode.

The highlight of my 80’s nights, whilst semi-dancing to music I didn’t like and couldn’t understand (beneath black lights in a pseudo-rave bar)? Picking neon lint off of hipsters dressed in black whose veneers were another kind of delight- all that horsey dental work flashing, like fluoridated strobes, all shades of neon blue.

Finding The Cinema bar, a good 16 years after moving to LA, tore me up.

When I realized that this Americana scene, full of skinny dudes with awesome songs manhandling old guitars, wearing the Levi’s and the cowboy boots of my youth, with the camaraderie and seediness of a good Midwestern dive bar, that all this had existed all along but I’d been too busy designing ugly ass hi-top sneakers and wearing tight polyester bike shorts with belted jackets and Muglier shoulder pads whilst listening to KROQ…well, I sat down and cried.

By the time I found Randy, he had been in residence at the Cinema Bar on Saturday nights for years. Lucky for me, he’d be there for a few more. In those few years we became friends. I’m even on the liner notes of his album Sugarfinger, an album that my boyfriend eventually produced (with my dogged prodding, he was busy by then with REM, Courtney Love, Ryan Adams et al).

And, I met Lucinda Williams at The Cinema bar. Briefly. She was dark. Kohl eyed. Mumbly. Awesome. Her boyfriend at the time was Mike Stinson, the drummer in Randy’s band. By then, Lucinda had recorded Randy’s song, Can’t Let Go, for her album Car Wheels On A Gravel Road.

I met Miss Pamela Des Barres there, too. A bit after Lucinda…Miss P was dating the same drummer after he and Lucinda split. Listen, the guy is an amazing drummer. Pamela was a vision with her twinkling eyes and ruby smile, watching her twirl on the dance floor made everyone wish they were in love, always.

I never caught Ryan Bingham at the Cinema Bar, although I heard he played there. I found Ryan through Shilah Morrow and her promotions group, SinCity, when they threw his Mescalito launch party in Hollywood.

I missed that party but googled Southside of Heaven. One listen and I was hooked. He has a voice that is at once raw and gorgeous, it is like no other. And, one look at him sent me cursing the gods that made age and whatever else come between us. It’s that smile, that cowboy smile.

The first time I saw Ryan play was at a hole in the wall venue in Topanga. It was bittersweet. That night, I so much wanted to share Ryan’s music with my boyfriend but we’d split. Instead, I went with a friend who could have cared less.

When I heard Southside of Heaven, it blew me away, you know that feeling- ecstatic and desperate, hungry and satiated, high and jonesing, you want more more more. Come on, you know what I am talking about! It’s more than that smile, its that voice…

If Randy Weeks was my homecoming, Ryan was my rocket back to the stars. That man is my Bob Dylan. My ___ (fill in your own blank, we all have our own thing going on).

I was in the audience of every LA area show Ryan played until I moved to CNY. Sometimes I’d go alone, most times I went went with my friend Bobbie who fell in love with Ryan just like me.

By coincidence, a year before I left LA, I was in the audience at the Oscar’s when Ryan won his Oscar for the soundtrack of Crazy Heart. Crazy. Heart.

Randy Weeks lives in Austin now and we’ve lost touch. Mike Stinson has his own Americana career via the Houston honkytonk circuit. Miss P became my writing mentor. Bobbie has visited me in CNY twice now and taken up portrait photography. I’ve moved to the east coast to an old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere to write, take photos, dream, and just recently I’ve reconnected with my ex.

Ryan is in Topanga prepping for another newer and larger tour than the last. The last time I saw him live was in a tiny venue and it felt like the last time I needed to. He hit it big. I knew he would.

Out here, we have Ommegang. And that is a very, very good thing. A great brewery that holds a great concert series in the summer- I’ve seen Steve Earle, Bon Iver, Lyle Lovett, Darius Rucker, Wilco, Cake and many others, almost all of them in one summer.

Not bad, but my dream line-up would be be Randy Weeks and Lucinda Williams with Ryan Bingham.

Miss P would be there dancing like a dream, Bobbie would be the official photographer and I’d be in the audience, on the grass, under the stars with you know who by my side.

A girl can only dream on such a winter’ day.

http://www.thecinemabar.com


http://www.randyweeks.com/press
http://www.mikestinson.net
http://www.notlame.com/Browse_by_Artist/R/Randy_Weeks/Page_43/CDWEEKS1.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Americana_(music)
http://sincitysocialclub.com
http://www.ommegang.com/#!events

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