It is a beautiful day in early fall as I sit here in The Kharma Caf in Denton, TX, with my good friend Dr. Blas Harris. We are both commenting on the weather as Blas is from Hawaii and he finds it almost surreal to be in Texas in the month of December and it is 90+ degrees outside.
The smell of Coffee and cigarettes only adds to the ambience and warmth of the room and for a second I feel like William S. Burroughs engaged in playful conversation with Jim Morrison. I am humbled to live in such a great town surrounded with so many incredibly creative people.
The Kharma Caf was started in 1992 by my friend Jimmy Blundred. On any given day in this place you are likely to run into any number of musicians, artist, poets, punks, professors and of course beautiful women. In the short time I am here my friend Rina who has an incredible eye for fashion and my friend Tim who owns a live music club and Pizza business stop by our table to say hi.
As I talk to my friend about our love of the arts and being fully alive. Yet I am equally intrigued by all the surrounding conversation at our neighboring tables. I must admit I hear deep, passionate conversation that makes avoiding eavesdropping extremely challenging. As we sit here having this incredibly charged conversation I can’t help but think this is the same guy whose book I purchased in 1994 while in college due to a failed relationship. At the time he was a complete stranger to me. I was dating a girl named Shelley who had massively captured my heart. We would quarrel frequently and in desperate attempts to have my insecurities validated I would break up with her as a feeble attempt to garner her attention. Shelley of course was light years ahead of me in the subject of maturity and her response to my breakup was a clear message of break up with me again and I will break up with you for real You see early in my childhood I somehow embraced the fantasy that I could validate my insecurities by blind thinly veiled threats So as faith would have it I broke up with her again and she being the strong Irish girl she was handed me my walking papers. Needless to say I was devastated yet inspired.
In a passionate rage of desperation I walked into Hastings Book Store looking for some piece of information that could calm my broken heart, fears and looming depression. Almost like a holy grail there on the shelf stood a turquoise blue book entitled How to Win Your Lover Back by Dr. Blas Harris. In a flash I bought the book and drove home as fast as possible to read it. Not only did this book connect me with a kindred spirit it woke me up and challenged me to realize I had a lot of work to do.
My mother was the first great teacher in my life. I remember faking sick as to thwart my arrival at school and this simply never working. As I lay there trying to weasel out of school I could never ever come up with a complaint convincing enough for her. As I grew up I learned that sickness did not work. And to this day I can count on one hand the times I have really been sick. Whenever someone has an illness whether it is a cold or a life threatening disease the first question we have to ask is: How does this benefit the person? Because my mom never accepted sickness as an excuse I never learned it had any benefits. For whatever reason women have been the greatest teachers in my life and I am constantly reminded of the detriment of a Patriarchal society such as ours consumed by war, judgment, machoism and ego.
Here we are in the year 2004, take a look around you are we living in a land of Zombies or what? Can you believe the bullshit we are seeing, reading, reading and consuming? If there was ever a time we must stand guard at the door of our mind and listen to our heart it is now. We are all suffering from the devastating effects of Data Smog. A smog induced by a consumer culture that finds itself focused and believing what we are fed on Television, Radio, Internet, Newspapers and Advertising. So we watch advertising set to background video (TV Shows), listen to advertising set to background music (Radio) and read advertising set to background articles, interviews and photos (Newspapers) and we even eat advertising! (Fast food) We are so busy consuming and working to pay for it we never take the time to stop and look around. Then we wonder why we have ADD, Who could concentrate in this environment? To top it all off our so-called leaders and their spin-doctors consistently muddy the water with the lies we have all heard before. Have you ever noticed when someone is trying to bullshit you they just keep on ranting and raving and talking incessantly? I think this why the talking heads on the news are so obsessed with breaking news it is because they have to try and keep our attention and distract us from having a self encounter If we just sat down and closed our eyes and put down the pacifier, whether it be the TV, cigarettes, food, pharmaceutical drugs, what would we do? What would we talk about? I think they know it is a lot easier to catch fish when the water is so muddy that we are all blind.
Have you noticed now on these news channels they run text on the bottom of the TV screen with all kinds of other news stories simultaneously? Like it wasn’t enough to report negative story after story along with depressing visuals, let’s add some more distraction at the bottom of the screen by running Martha Stewart trial updates and making sure we are aware of the fact that Ben and J-Lo separated Try it sometime; next time you are in a public place, take a look around. Do the people seem alive? When I look around I see people stressed and speeding all over the place with cell phones glued to their ears. The good news is that there is a revolution and it is already happening!In the underground their lies a greater love with those wise as serpents and gentle as doves. I think this is why we love music and all the creative arts; it is here in these communities that true change is brewing. Go to a concert and look around at the peoples faces, I imagine you might see a different picture. Some of my most cherished moments are sitting around the fire at the beach with friends having a crab boil, singing songs and drinking wine as we gaze at the stars and laugh late into the night. We are sick and tired of being told what to believe. We are on the eve of a new dawn and the old school us against them mentality is over. This is the season of change and I invite you to join us on this trip!
See you next Month,All the best,
Here are some albums that are great listening for anyone wanting to learn to improvise on their instrument. Sometimes I think as guitar players we can massively benefit by listening to something other than only guitar players. Essentially change comes from the outside of the traditional scope of things. I feel strongly that this is one of the best ways we can learn to grow and bring something new to the guitar. For example Yngwie Malmsteen developed his style by listening to violin players and trying to mimic them on guitar. Allan Holdsworth was listening to saxophone players and so forth. Look what the Edge from U2 came up with. His sound is incredible. I read in an article he could never figure out how to play lead so he just invented his won style. I wonder what he was listening to.
1. Pat Martino Consciousness
Audio CD (August 10, 2001)
Label: Pony Canyon
2. Sonny Rollins Saxophone Colossus
Audio CD (July 1, 1991)
Label: Orig. Jazz Classics
3. Chick Corea 3 Quartets
Audio CD (February 18, 1997)
Label: Stretch Records
4. John Coltrane Kulu Se Mama
Audio CD (June 6, 2000)
Label: Polygram Records
5. Kenny Burrell Tin Tin Deo
Audio CD (June 20, 1994)
Original Release Date: March 23, 1977
Number of Discs: 1
Label: Concord Records
6. Herbie Hancock Headhunters
Audio CD (March 25, 1997)
7. Allan Holdsworth Metal Fatigue
Audio CD (July 1, 1993)
Original Release Date: 1985
Number of Discs: 1
Label: Restless Records
8. Ravi Shankar the Sounds of India
Audio CD (July 20, 1989)
Original Release Date: 1968
Number of Discs: 1