11-24-17 Happy Thanks for Everything Day(s) and Happy Trails to Paul Buckmaster
Gratitude... I remember back in the 80's when I was doing formal spiritual training with my Mahikari friends in Atlanta... I spent an entire year just focusing on gratitude. Powerful and challenging stuff. I'm grateful for the decades I spent writing, performing and producing music, making a record every 12 to 18 months and doing up to 160 shows a year. I look back and wonder how I was able to maintain that life for all those years without a label, booking agency, publicity or management teams. I do miss the people and places, but I don't miss the business of making music. It ain't what it used to be, but I had a helluva run and at the end of it I got to make the record I always hoped to make, Anastasia. Large thanks to Howlin' Dog Records and to everyone who made the crowd funding enterprise a success. It was a huge experience.
One of the largest aspects was getting to work with the iconic Grammy winning cellist, arranger and conductor Paul Buckmaster. Paul and I became good friends during that year of making Anastasia and the album's title was inspired by one of the many conversations we had. We spoke once a week for about an hour at a time. The topics ranged from the greening of the deserts to space colonization. We spoke very little about music or his amazing past. He was not only a true Maestro, but was also a man of huge intellect. He was especially knowledgable about science and science fiction. There are many photos of him in his NASA tee shirt. Must've been his favorite. Paul passed away November 7th of 2017. He collaborated with and was a close friend of Elton John and David Bowie and also worked with the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones, Harry Nilsson, Miles Davis, Carly Simon, Shawn Phillips, Katy Perry, Train, Taylor Swift, Ben Folds and tons more, including lucky me. Have a safe journey Paul and thanks for making a dream come true. That was a real bucket lister. You've been an inspiration since I first heard Elton John's 'Madman Across the Water', which was one of the first LPs I bought back in high school. I was star struck by you and your work.
My new life continues in the high desert mountains of Taos. I'm still a member of the mountain ops team at Taos Ski Valley under the stout leadership of my friend and mentor John Weinmeister and the rest of the ops crew. I call them the Special Forces. At the moment we're all making snow in a furious attempt to get the resort opened on Thanksgiving Day with as much ski-able terrain as possible. I'm on the vampire crew working the 'mixing board' (pumps and compressors) from 7pm until 7am. I love the job and the people I work with. I've found an oasis, a refuge where I can hide out these final years of my working life... injuries allowing. If I'm not going to make music for a living then I can't think of anything else I'd rather be doing than this... with a lot of skiing and mountain biking tossed in, of course. We became a B Corp this year, which is something to brag about in these times of corporate greed, corruption and environmental short sightedness. There's no lack of high adventure when you're working heavy equipment, wildland fire, search and rescue and snow making/removal. It's pretty surreal to be sailing through wilderness at 9000 to 11,000 feet in elevation on a snow mobile at 4am in the dark with snow flying everywhere. The skiing and lodging experience in Taos is about as good as it gets. Come check it out... and have a beautiful life. Love and Gratitude to All from Taos, NM. DonCon