Saturday, September 10, 2022

Home and Back to the Grind

 Now it is the 4th of July weekend. No rest! 

When I started doing research for my second string quartet, I started going to Evergreen Cemetery. The cemetery is what forms the conceptual basis of the second movement of the quartet. I have a lot of family buried there. I went looking for their graves, which I never found. No matter. The quartet was finished quite a while ago, but I still find myself going back to the cemetery. I am not sure why. It is not particularly comforting or peaceful. But I go. Now that I think about it, when I am in cities and towns I don't know well, if I happen upon a cemetery, I'll go in. Except in Japan. I tried that in Tokyo and had it made clear to me that I was in the wrong place, I'd better get out and I'd better not come back. I didn't enter any others.

Meanwhile back in L.A., on the 3rd of July I drove to Evergreen. I had been there for about an hour, which is the minimal amount of time to make the trip worthwhile, so started a roundabout traverse to the car. And I saw a rooster. On a leash. On the other end of the leash was a young woman. An artist type. Turned to be a painter actually. I asked if I could take some shots and we struck up a conversation. The bird was a rooster, but she gave it a woman's name. She felt is was a very feminine rooster. I could hang with that. It was an enjoyable conversation. In fact it was the most enjoyable time I've had in a cemetery other than the time I went spoonin' in one, in Muscatine, Iowa while on tour with a group affectionately known by its members as "The Barge Band."

The 4th always involves tubas, though it doesn't always involve me on the tuba. This year it did. Like last year, I played at the La Crescenta Presbyterian Church. Like many of the churches I play at, the congregation strikes me as quite small. I view that as a hopeful sign. And always mostly old people and children, not a lot of folks of ages in-between. But the day before that I had a trip to Johnny's in the West Adams neighborhood, an area of my youth. Very close to where I first got hit by a car. I was on a bicycle and very young. In first or second grade. 

The next public event of note was at the happening venue 2220 Arts & Archives. The improvising vocal artist Ute Wasserman was doing a solo set and as is his wont, producer Andrew Choate corralled some local improvisors to join her for the second set. He called in Danny Frankel on percussion, Vicki Ray on piano and yours truly on whatever. I did do a little bit of playing on tuba, but I can do that elsewhere. I took the opportunity to play some of the other instruments in my arsenal. It was a very special set because we are all very different improvisors with very different backgrounds. It worked extremely well. 

A drawing by Dean Westerfield

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