18th, 2004 - Cowbop
hangs out in Gallup, NM...
Had to make a mad canter out of Santa Fe, otherwise we'd not have
ever left. It was a beautiful high desert day, silky air, billowy
clouds, a dry heat that was ever so friendly. We jogged through
Albuquerque and turned west out across the Navajo nation. There
were a number of rock outcroppings, the earth varying in tones from
deep terra cottas, to blond or ochre. We'd juiced up on java so
the group was unusually chatty even though we were still whipped
from our marathon day Monday.
The landscape is dotted with pueblos and casinos, I guess years
from now they will be unearthed as distinct and starkly contrasting
archeological periods. It is understandable that these tribes have
found and exploited a newfound commercial enterprise and the resources
that it has provided are evident everywhere: new schools, housing,
senior and medical services, etc. Nonetheless, it seemed to be a
paradox to my admittedly stereotyped and romantic notion of unspoiled
pueblos dating back centuries, and a natural and unspoiled expanse
that is deeply spiritual. The strongest contrast was at the Acoma
Pueblo Sky City. This mesa is the oldest development of housing
in America, so it was a shock to arrive at a modern construction
site, tour busses and signs that one must buy a permit to take pictures.
I have no problem with it in theory, it just rubs me much the same
way the tourist culture from the interstate is infringing on route
66. Oh well, can't stop progress, and I could still feel the spirituality
that is deeply rooted in the area, much like I can still feel the
soul of our country on route 66. One man's progress is not necessarily
another's, is it?
We trotted up to the Continental Divide, another marker that
we are approaching our journey's end. It was bittersweet, we are
having a great time, the perspective gained will change us all,
and yet we are anxious for our family, friends, beds, pets, and
gigs that we don't have to cold call for. What a concept, it is
almost hard to remember what it was like to be 'called' for a
We were excited to get to Gallup, having heard of the El Rancho
hotel for years, and having seen it as a quintessential road stop
on the route in every book about the Mother Road. The hotel was
built in the thirties, made to house many of the movie stars who
acted in the numerous westerns that are filmed in this picturesque
area. It's like living in a John Ford film around here. There
are pix of all the stars and a number of the rooms are named for
those who stayed there. The hotel has gone through many swings
of fortune and is now reclaiming its glory in some ways, which
I assume is difficult as most people pass by on the interstate.
Well, driving into town, we figured we might as well start at
the top. We'd been loafing most of the day, and I was aware that
our stash had limited shelf life, considering that Cozy Dog's
idea of a fast is five squares a day with ample beer. We drove
up to the front door and I went to the staff and asked to speak
to the managers. I told them about our trip, gave them a CD, showed
them the website, and told them that we wanted to play in the
bar, and that we'd work for tips and some drinks. What made the
sale was Clementine, they figured if Ford thought we were OK,
then they couldn't see a problem with it. (It is surreal, pimping
out our own car that way, but hey, we need the gig),. They did
warn me that biz might be slow on a Tuesday, but that was not
a problem for us, so we moved on out to see the town, knowing
we could return to a 'gig' at El Rancho
wow! I finally figured
it out, it's not the begging that gets them, it's the crying.
Gallup is a desert town, with a diverse population the heart
of the Indian Arts Trading Industry, and the wind whips through
town as the railroad cars seem constantly moving through. It is
surrounded by tribal life and reservations, the university has
a campus, and it seems to still have a lot of the feel that I
would associate with a town of the revered status that Bobby Troup's
seminal tune bestows. We're out here to get our kicks (with spurs),
and sometimes we even get kicked ourselves. (One such kick was
a virus scare on the computer tonight, don't worry it was just
a bad connection and I'm sure it's not contagious)
The El Rancho hit was fun, (Mikey double stacked a pair of boxes,
I think he likes these axes better than a conventional set, as
he says, "I get a new kit every night"). There wasn't
a whole lot of folks, but those there were surprised and grateful
for the music, they loved us, toked us well, we shared a lot of
road and route 66 stories. What great people and a great bar.
I'll be back, maybe to stay in the Gene Autry or Tom Mix suite.
I wonder how much they charge for the Cow Bop closet?
Things are looking up, Steve Reynolds whose brother Stu is a
friend of ours in Monterey, (plays in Along Came Betty, among
other bands) set us up with a late afternoon hit in Flagstaff.
Thanks Steve, we got more than enough gas to get that far.
With any luck, we'll pull in across the finish line in Santa
Monica in a few more days. I guess now would be a good time to
remind you that we are making this challenge rife with fun and
sacrifice to raise awareness and support for JazzMasters Workshop,
a mentoring program that utilizes the pro music community to inspire
and nurture young kids. I urge you to tell others to come to this
site and enjoy it and to support out cause by pledging, either
online (on this site) or by sending a donation, the address and
all other pertinent info can be found at: www.jazzmastersworkshop.org
Time to loosen my cinch here, roll out my bedroll and get horizontal.
The sounds of trains (and distant traffic) are a lullaby sending
me into Cow Bop reverie. We'll saddle up in the morning and lope
across the state line into Arizona before the coffee wears off.
to check out pictures from May 18th