The RPM Challenge came and went this past February. For those who don’t know what that is, you can look in my category of of the same name. Anyway, this year I wanted to do something different. On this album I have collaborations and a featured vocalist, my own vocals, a few things I have never done. It turned out something like Beat Jazz

I personally don’t write a lot of poetry, other than Haiku. I asked some friends of mine if I could use theirs. They agreed and with my friend Wes producing, and Hank doing sound, I went to work!  Two poems came from my friend in the Netherlands, Elisa Laura. One came from a co-worker, Kevin Zanetti.  Another came from my niece, Olivia Williams.  One poem features my friend from Vancouver, Maria Shylov performing her own poem. I wrote one of them and took a narration from my blog. The other three are instrumental. Click the link to buy and check out “Sunsets & Things”

   “Sunsets & Things



When I was in Las Cruces, I had the pleasure of seeing some beautiful sunsets. I thought I would share a few photos and a description of how I saw my first one. My friend Ben challenged me to write five different versions of this from different points of view. I only wrote four- I will get to a 5th one eventually. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my next few posts. I wasn’t going to post these, but as i told people about it, it was suggested that I do. This one is how I saw it as it happened.

One day in Las Cruces, I came back from White Sands Desert and caught the tail end of a sunset. I felt it necessary to find a spot the next day and watch it. I bought a couple of tamales and found a decent place to watch the spectacle I missed the night before.
I pulled over and said “Where is my Moon” within a few moments she started to come out over the Organ Mountains-as if she peeked out to see if I was there before making her appearance.

As the sun was going down, she was coming out in full regalia! The colors were beautiful. I have seen many sunsets, 99% of which were on the east coast. The blue in the sky was a different blue. It was a lighter blue than I have seen, kinda of a silvery blue- the kind of blue one might see on a building in Miami or South Florida- reminiscent of the Art Deco Period. As the Moon went higher, the sky darkened to the deep rich midnight blue.

The mountains, during all of this time had their own thing going on. As the sun was going down, the jagged skyline of the mountains were fiery red. It almost appeared as if they were ablaze. It was only momentarily though. Standing there, in awe of this magnificent show, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Within a few minutes (maybe 15) the mountains put on their own show. The red calmed to a almost pink. The pink turned into a shade of purple. The kind of purple like a Lilac. At one moment, I swear I could even smell the lilacs wafting. From there it went to a really warm gold. As the Moon went higher, it was if she was acknowledging the Sun and thanking him for such a show. At the last moment of sunlight, it was if the tips of the mountains looked liked candles individually lit. The Moon smiled in approval, she nodded at me as if to say “thank you for coming” and then blew them out.

My photos are not in order, but I hope you get the gist. Thank you for reading!

As 2013 comes to a close, this will be my last post of the year! I have been on the road for about 11 weeks now. It has been quite an adventure up to this point. I have been to a lot of different places and met a lot of really nice people. If you are new to this blog you can check out the “Cities I have Been To” category on my home page. I have learned a few things about myself and constantly amazed with the kindness of strangers. I mentioned that I have met a lot of cool people, it is absolutely true. Sometimes I have been in a city and I just don’t want to leave because of the new friendships I have made. I have also been able to meet up with some old friends and meet Facebook friends face to face.

I think back to a conversation I had with my friend Chris or Kee (maybe both) about waiting until the Spring to begin. I didn’t dismiss it entirely, it was a good idea. I could have saved a lot more money and not have had that as a stressor. I couldn’t wait that long to get out of Savannah. I liked my job at The 5 Spot, and I liked all who I worked with. I just had to get out of Savannah. I really wanted to be out on the road with Gilda and making music and seeing all this country has to offer. I have been able to that so far. I have seen lots of beautiful places and a lot of historical places which I have read about and now have been able to experience. I think the desert is absolutely beautiful. The flip side to all of this- I left with what I thought was a decent cushion. My brother in law, Ed and I had a plan for this trip, and made it different than the last few short trips I was on. It has not worked out at all like I had hoped. In all of the places I have been there have only been a handful, that I actually made some money in. No, the trip isn’t about making money in the sense that I am going to become “rich and famous” that would be silly. It would be nice to make enough to make a living though. I mean isn’t that why we work, to make money to make a living? I am not greedy, I don’t require much. I have had some help from a few friends and family members along the way and for that help I am so grateful. If it wasn’t for that help, I would be stuck somewhere cold right now.

I can no longer ask for help from my friends or family, it is time to stop for a while and make some money. I have stopped in the southwest and I will be here for the next few months, working and saving some money to continue. The Pearl needs to have a little work on her done and Gilda will need maintenance soon. I can also Busk here during my time off from work. I have an interview lined up for Thursday and I have a couple other applications out. I would have gone to California, but I read about the Busking laws out there in Southern Cali, and it is a nightmare there. I am not willing to take the chance with a lottery system and the high cost of living there at this point in time. Perhaps in the future. It is entirely possible I am going to change my route in the Spring. I will have to see what is going on then. For now, I will remain here in the Land of Enchantment. I have been welcomed by the people here and it is nice to be part of something.

I will also use this time to work on my craft and become a better Saxophonist. I have hit a plateau at this point. I was coming up with some really pretty melodies and then I lost them. I don’t know what happened, but they are gone. There is a Jazz and Blues Society that meets here once a month, I am looking forward to getting involved with that. I met a man who told me about that my first day here. Also, being surrounded by so much beauty here it is hard not to feel inspired!

I feel 2013 was a year of building things- a year of transition- I feel all the groundwork laid in 2013 will make 2014 take off. Not just for me, but for all of us. I know a lot of people out there have had a tough year with various things and we all made through. Look out, and be ready when it happens, because 2014 is going to be amazing!!!

Happy New Year to all of you- my friends, my family and to all of you I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting, I hope to soon!

Love to all of you! And Thank you for your continued support!

By the time the Monday (the 23rd) came around, I was really missing Las Cruces. There was something about the Busking in Tucson that just didn’t feel good to me.  Though there is no permit necessary and the police leave you alone, there was just something about it.  The street I was on, 4th Ave., reminded me of Savannah’s River St.- and not in a good way. Of, course, both streets have their good points, they also have the not so good.  Anyway, there is a seemingly large population of homeless there (for obvious reasons) and the panhandling, it is tough to make any money.  In the 6-7 times I went out, I actually had one decent shift, the rest were well below average. Obviously I didn’t go out on Christmas Day, but after my movie and dinner I did check out the scene and it was just as I expected.  It was the same on Christmas Eve.  I thought I would stay through the weekend and play at the Farmer’s Market, but I had trouble finding it/them through my GPS.  It kept taking me to produce stands even though I punched in Farmer’s Market, I tried 3 times and went to 3 different locations.  Just aside note, the roads there are terrible too.

There were a couple of good things that happened though, one, I got to meet another Facebook friend in person.  We met up at The Blue Willow restaurant and had breakfast.  They do a great job at that restaurant, the food was really good.  I always have oj at breakfast without seeing how much it costs, imagine my surprise when the bill came and it was $4.50! It was good oj, to be sure, but really?  I had a wonderful conversation and meeting with my friend, it was an awesome way to start the day. When we left, we stopped in the gift shop and she bought some cards for friends and surprised me at the car with a Peace Frog ornament.  It is beautiful, and it is hanging up in the van.  Thank you, Sarah! It was great to meet you and hang out for a a couple of hours.  

The second was at the Pilot Travel Center. I stayed there Christmas Eve and Christmas night. I was able to see “A Christmas Story” That made me really happy, I can’t have Christmas without that or “It’s a Wonderful Life” I prefer both, but one or the other will suffice. On Christmas Day, I got productive and did laundry and the people at Pilot didn’t charge me for a shower. In return, I gave the man, Travis, a cd. Later on, courtesy of my friend, JT back in NH, I went to see a movie and had dinner in restaurant after.  Not even close to being with family and/or friends whether they be old or new, and believe me I missed them. It was tougher than I would be on Christmas Day, especially seeing the photos everyone was posting. JT thank you so much for your gift that day! I also want to thank those that gave me call or a text to wish me a Merry Christmas! When I got back to the Pilot I was talking to a person who works there (I didn’t get her name) about how  each of our Holiday was. 

The weather was great in Tucson and it didn’t get to cold at night.  I met  couple of really cool people and I played well. However, the general vibe of the town as a Busker, is not a good one- at least for me.

I went to Phoenix on Friday night, I was excited about that because I was going to see a friend of mine there and that would have been awesome. In less than 24 hours, I managed to get marked by 2 different people on a 3 block stretch. Though I did decent on the Friday night I was there, I didn’t feel like it was good idea to stick around on Saturday. I didn’t get to see my friend, but I will- another time.  We just had a chat and we will meet up in a couple of months.

 All I am going to say about Busking in Tempe on Mill Ave. is this, there is plenty of traffic. There is enough to go around for everyone- there was no need for a couple of people to be arrogant and/or nasty- especially when one of them was a fu***** panhandler! No permit necessary to Busk there either, but watch out for the territorial ass**** that are there, not very professional and not to understanding of “the code”.  I generally don’t like to talk this, however, I feel it is warranted. I make no apologies if I offend anyone.


I left Las Cruces after the Farmer’s/Artist’s Market on Saturday, because I  wanted to be in Tucson by 6 or so, so I had to get going.  I made my rounds and said “Bye” and “Merry Christmas” to all of the people I met and made me feel so welcome.  I have more pictures to upload, but until I can figure out how to get them on my computer, it could be a little while.  I just got a free upgrade and I am having a little trouble. I have some pictures of the people I met as well as some more shots around La  Mesilla.  I will put captions under all of them when I do!  

I got into Tucson a little later than I wanted to and of course, immediately got lost.  By the time I found a place to park it was almost 7pm.  I got right out and walked all down 4th Ave. Everything I have read said 4th Ave and the Farmer’s Markets were the places to be. So I walked all up and down 4th Ave and there was so much going on on that Saturday night.  There was music coming out of speakers on almost every corner and honestly, I didn’t even see any other buskers out there.  There must have been a reason. As I was walking, I saw Father Winter(i think) and a bunch of other people in costume.  They were on their way to a Solstice Celebration complete with a fire show.  I found that out later.  With all of this going on, I knew I couldn’t compete with it so I decided to put my gear away and watch the fire show.  I enjoyed the show, it was about 30 minutes long and there were all kinds of things they did. They were dancing with fire rings, blowing fire, poi, fire hula hoops and staffs and even a little acrobatics. It really was a fun show to watch!  By the time the show was over, it was getting late and as I looked around it was the kind of crowd I just didn’t want to deal with.  (I was actually missing La Mesilla Plaza at this point) 

Sunday, I went down and I wanted to get right to work.  About 30 minutes into my shift, a homeless man stopped and said he liked what I was playing, he really enjoys the saxophone;  He stood across from me for the next 30 minutes.  As much as I enjoy talking to people, including homeless people, I didn’t want him hanging around because it is bad for business.  Maybe that sounds like a mean thing to say, but it is true.  I love it when they walk by and nod in appreciation, I even like to have a short conversation, hell, sometimes they throw a coin or two in my tip box. Even though he was a nice man, I don’t need him or other homeless hanging around during a busy time. Sometimes that is the risk when one is busking in any given city or town.  I can either stay out there and waste my time or just leave, I left.  I decided to use that time to write some and get back to reading a book I started up again in Cruces. I also got in touch with a friend of mine in Tucson and a friend in Phoenix. 

While I was writing, a woman at the coffee shop asked my opinion on which mug looked better.  I gave my opinion and she thanked me. She grabbed a couple more and went to pay for them.  About 7 minutes later, she came back and said “I just wanted to say thank you for your help, Merry Christmas!” and handed me a gift bag with one of those coffee mugs in it!  That really surprised me, so I got up and gave her a hug and said “Thank you, Merry Christmas!” Then she left. I was just so surprised. I mean all I said was “That one” and pointed. It was very sweet.

I was talking to my friend in Phoenix later that night.  I am thinking I am going to stay in Tucson or Phoenix for a couple of months and regroup. I need to wait to a little while until the weather warms up before I head further.I also need to get a job and save some more money before I go further also. My friend in Phoenix, was giving me some kind of idea as to what rentals are there and I am looking in the Tuscon area.  I am not making any decision until after the Holidays are over. I have much to do in the way of research.

Today, I got out in full force on 4th Ave.  I did my first shift in the early afternoon. It was about average. I found I was in a pretty decent place. However, for my second shift, I had to be in a different place, because they would be open.  I found myself in front of a Dia de los Muertos type of store.  They were closed for the day, so I set up there. It wasn’t as good as my first shift, but it was okay.  During this shift, my friend in Tucson gave me a call.  We will be meeting up tomorrow and that will be very cool!  I went out for my third shift, just after sundown. I stayed out there for about 30 minutes, it was super slow out there this evening, weird. I talk with a man named Brody on the way back to the Pearl and asked him about it. He said “It was slow for a Monday, probably on account of the Holiday.” “If anyone gives you any trouble, come get me”  I said “All right!”  It is nice to know that is there- just in case. I got to the Pearl and went to get some food. I am no stranger to Holiday busking, in Savannah, it was a crap shoot year to year. I am sure it is the same everywhere. I will be out there tomorrow, after I meet up with my friend and I will play my heart out! For Christmas, I will probably go to the movies and enjoy the rest of the day reading and writing. I will also be reflecting on how fortunate I am. I will be doing a post here at some point on things we take for granted. There are things I used to do pretty frequently, that now are like a real treat. For example, eating a meal in a restaurant.  Man, it really is the little things!

For now, to you- my readers, my friends- old and new- and of course and especially, my family, 

Merry Christmas to all of you, please know how grateful I am to all of you and how much I love all of you! 

I spent a little over a week here, the longest I have stayed anywhere as of yet. There is so much to that area that I like. For one thing, the scenery and history of the area is amazing! I could not get enough of the Moon rise over those mountains, though I only saw it three times. The sunsets were some of the most beautiful I had ever seen. It is easy to find your way around. The couple of times I got food at a restaurant, it was excellent. I know I say it a lot, but the people at the Market that I met and got to know were just awesome! There is a market 2 days a week on Las Cruces Main St. and a market 2 days a week in the Plaza in La Mesilla. Fortunately, I was able to play at both of a couple of times. Each time I went and I got to see the people I had met- Miles and Jainey, Gabe, Dodds, Lincoln, Eliot and her husband(sorry, I forgot his name,ugh) and of course, Duane- it was like meeting up with old friends. That is the way they made me feel anyway. All of them and the ones I only met once all made me like part of the “Market Family”. Irene, the woman in charge of special events, in La Mesilla was also very cool. I really had no problem, getting adjusted to anything there.

Playing in the La Mesilla Plaza when there is no market however, can be a little lonesome. I would go out there during the early afternoon and then again in the evening. During the day all week it was absolutely beautiful weather, it cooled off considerably at night. During these shifts there were a few people that would walk through the Plaza, and most of them that walked by me, would drop a little something. The sound of the solo saxophone in that Plaza was pretty cool. I wish it brought more people out, but the few it did bring out were sweet and very friendly.

Two of those nights stick out more than many on this entire trip. One one, Linda, who owns the Chocolate Lady, walked over with a tip and THE best large cup hot chocolate I think I may have ever had! Later, Santa Claus came walking through the Plaza, it was awesome! He was just walking along enjoying the evening, he stopped, as I was talking with a couple of people. They took some pictures, unfortunately, my phone was on the charger! After they left, I was talking with Santa for a few minutes and then the Bishop walked by! I had never met a Bishop before. Yeah yeah- I know there is a joke in there somewhere, “A Jazz Man, Santa and a Bishop walk into a bar….” that is as far as I want that to go! The three of us had a nice conversation for a few minutes and Santa and the Bishop left. I got back to playing and a few minutes later, Santa drove by and yelled out his window “Hey Boston! I have something for you!” He handed me a strand of battery operated lights, I thought that was pretty cool. I thank him and he went off. I wrapped the lights around Gilda and she looked beautiful all lit up!!

On the Friday afternoon market,I didn’t get to play too long, as it rained. After, I put all my gear away, I saw Father Richard and I asked him if I could see the Basilica. He took me in and guided me through. I sat down for a few minutes and then I left. After talking to Dodds, I decided I would go to Emilia’s for a late lunch. The food there is excellent, at least what I had was. I was talking to Ricky and Lynn, the owners, and they told me there would be a band that night. Thinking it was going to rain, I figured I would go see the band. Later I went, and it was a trio, and they were really good, very mellow laid back jazz trio. I listened for a while and saw that it wasn’t raining. I decided to go play for a while myself. This is the other night that sticks out. I wasn’t even going to play, and it turned out to be one of the best shifts I have had on this entire trip. I was so grateful at the end of the night, not just for how well I did, but as always- and I mean always for the people I get to meet and talk to. That entire night was just the perfect end to my last night in that area.

The next day at Las Cruces Market, it was very cold and windy. Only about a third of the vendors showed up. About 10 minutes after I started playing, a youngster named Evan, who was carrying a saxophone approached me. He wanted to play with me and split the tips we got while he was there. At first, I didn’t want to. But then I thought, “why not?” We took turns playing songs. He has only been playing the sax for 4 months, he had been playing oboe, but he was playing things he learned by ear from a band he likes. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the band. We tried a shot at doing some improv together, it didn’t go too well, but at least we tried! He was with me for about 15-20 minutes and we didn’t have to split anything, it didn’t matter- I think we had a good time! Thank you for that, Evan!

I was able to last about 2 hours out there on Saturday morning. I met a couple who was busking their way east. I thought that was cool, I am headed west, they are headed east! We shared some information on the locations we had already been to. I wish them the best! Duane had organized a Tuba Christmas for later. I went to watch that, as I used to play tuba in high school. That was a great show. After the show, I walked around for a few minutes and decided it was time to head to Tucson. I looked for all of my new friends so I could say goodbye. Everyone was so sweet, with hugs and “Next time you are in town…” and Elliot gave me an ornament that she had made from her table. I put that right up next to the one Jainey gave me. All of that made it a little more difficult to go.

La Mesilla is a small town just outside of Las Cruces.  When I got here on Friday morning, there was a Farmer’s/Artist’s Market going on and I was happy to see that.  My fellow New Englanders, Jainey and Miles, pointed out the person I needed to talk to.I went over and asked her what the rules were and yes, a permit is necessary.  It is very easy to obtain, one just needs to go to Town Hall and fill out a paper and have a demo of their music- or a link to it.  Since it was an unusual day, I was not going to be able to that until Monday. I thought it over and talked with my brother-in-law and decided to stay.  I was able to work at the Market in Las Cruces the next morning and that would just give me Sunday off. On Sunday, I went to get a couple of tamales and watch the Moon rise and the sunset against the mountains. On my way to the restaurant, I ran into Jainey and Miles again at the Sunday Market and Jainey gave me an ornament she made out of a buffalo gourd. It is beautiful, and so thoughtful.  I put it up in the Pearl right when I got back!

Monday morning, I went back to Town Hall and talk with the permits lady and she told me then, the Mayor has to give final approval.  The Mayor wasn’t in on Monday. I still gave her all of my info and sign the paperwork hoping, the Mayor would respond anyway.  I figured I would walk around the Plaza area some and go down a couple alleys I hadn’t been down yet.  That doesn’t take very long, it is a small area, but it is a wonderful area to walk and look at the houses.  I love the adobe style houses! There are a few for sale right next to the Plaza! There are also a couple that are boarded up and  of course that just puts my imagination to work, wondering what it was like years ago.  I ended up going back to the Pearl and accidentally took a nap- WTH – I didn’t want to take a nap! I didn’t get the phone call I was hoping for, so I had another day off. 

I went to go watch the Moon rise again. I wasn’t in the same spot, but it doesn’t seem to matter, it is sheer magic when she comes out from behind those mountains! Afterwards, I grabbed something to eat and went into the bookstore to write in my journal. Later, I got to talk with a friend for a little while. So all in all, even though I didn’t want the day off, it turned out to be a most wonderful day! 

This morning I got the okay to go ahead and get to work.  I went down to the Plaza and it is quite a different story when there is no Market going on.  I went out and played my first shift and though it was slow, got to meet a couple who are also buskers.  They hung around for a few minutes after some Christmas shopping.  There were a few people hanging around the Plaza either walking their dog, or taking photos.  I got to meet a few of them. The sound in the Plaza is pretty cool too.  I found I have to play softer than normal.  The sound just carries all the way down the entire Plaza, and I didn’t want any complaints.  It was a beautiful day this afternoon and I was just happy to be out there! 

I went back out tonight.  I wanted to see the Moon rise for the third night in a row, but she came out a little later than I thought tonight. I didn’t see her until about 30 minutes after I went to work. Of course, I had to pause and take some pictures when she got high enough above the buildings.  It cools down fast after the sun goes down. The Plaza looks wonderful all lit up at night! I still did a full shift though. During this shift, a photog named Emmitt, was out and was going to shoot the Moon.  He shot me instead.  I talked to him for bit and he said “I heard this lone saxophone, the only thing that would make it better is if it was midnight.”  I gave him my card so he could send me a couple of them.  He was a very nice man and I liked playing for him while he took some photos.  It has been a while since that has happened.  It doesn’t matter if it is slow, you never know what is going to happen or who you might meet.  

%d bloggers like this: