On the drive back to the airport in Kauai, headed home after one juicy week on the Garden Isle, our new friend and driver Andrea pointed out two giant waterfalls in the distance.”That’s where we were,” she said, “inside there.” She and my guitarist Al Torre had hiked way the heck up into the green mystic mountains for wild places and high-vibe spring water. Spring water and ocean swimming, I have delightfully experienced, are Al’s main motivations on any journey. And so it was here on Kauai, with seven days to play music, swim in the ocean and rivers, and drink sweet water gushing from the heart of the Hawaiian island chain’s oldest publicly accessible island.
Meanwhile, I fully fell in love with the community of people and places, beaches, air, rainbows! and starlight. Some days were rainy, some were windy, some moments were perfect for the beach, and some sent me indoors to practice music and book tours to unfold in the near future. Outside of my panicky moment in choppy water, when merman Al literally saved my life, all went super smooth and abundant and joyful. Even my brush with death, as it seemed when I lost all my strength and breath and couldn’t make my own way out of the mighty sea, just gave me renewed appreciation for life and for Al and for the opportunity to again be reborn. Boy, I rolled my eyes and molecules when a master wind instrument elder woman named Renee told me that her name, my middle name, Renee means ‘rebirth.’ Of course! Rebirth is the theme of my life in this chapter, beginning with my Rebirth Day, April 21st 2008. I got the Eye of Horus tattooed on my left hand and celebrated a new start after ending an 11-year relationship at the beginning of that year. Now I am on my second tour on the Hawaiian islands just in this year and appreciating every moment of the experience. I booked myself with Al Torre in Maui and Kauai, and myself alone on Big Island, in late March and all of April 2012. Joy!
I guess my favorite moments of this Kauai bliss tour were in our last evening. The friends who gathered for fish and salad dinner at Kellie’s beach house near Hanalei purely melted my heart open. Our circle before the food felt like heaven on earth, holding hands and singing together, sending me to deep peace. Our sister Snow led the singing in that circle and got us all going, with a bunch of music lovers and singers, all blending voices so very sweetly, respectfully, to the food, the moment, the circle, the Beltane fire that burned by the sandy sea shore, awaiting our return with plates full of nourishment. I had already played a bunch of songs on the guitar when we went to get food. I’d jumped into drop D and played Shawn Colvin’s Diamond in the Rough. The flames of the fire we watched inspired me to play my supah-rockin Occupy song, which starts out, “Thanks to the fire, thanks to the fire, for keeping the flame alive.” And truly, there is a fire, in our hearts — a vision, in our mind’s eye, that sparks our forward motion, our human evolution, our desire for human rights, environmental justice and healthy living. We came back to the fire to sit and eat, and Michael played beautiful songs on my guitar while we enjoyed our juicy, vitalizing grilled fish and salads. Al and Andrea brought ahi and Al grilled it for only a moment, so the raw, creamy inside just oozed juicy goodness.
Kauai is soft. The energy can be lulling. But the people work hard there to create their abundance. My friends Jackson and Melissa, along with our concert producer and promoter Scott Manning, and a bunch more friends and community of theirs, are embarking on a community land project. The project will center around a solar- and wind-powered stage and sound system for a big rootsy performance outdoor amphitheater. Weekly events will provide a community hub and a springboard for local music and art. (Check their Kickstarter fundraiser!http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1965024266/1820711686?token=e2a8b0e5) On our first big day in Kauai, Scotty took us to the land to see their ground-level project. We hiked up the sweet stream on the land to a sparkling waterfall. Scotty and Al filled water jugs and drank from the falls, and I got purified in the pool below, washing off the dust of travel and details, and bringing myself to the ground in the waters flowing from Kauai. Then we went to the site of living and working on the project’s acreage. Earthworks are happening, home sites are being chosen, and Melissa sat in front of the sweet interim trailer home, bottle-nursing a piglet. “It’s our practice baby,” she giggled, though seriously, as she and Jackson are pregnant with their first child! I met those two last year on a week-long trip to Kauai, specifically for my friend, permaculturist Benjamin Fahrer, to consult for the landowner where Jackson and Melissa were expecting to create their community. Much has changed since then, in all four of our lives, and indeed in the world where we live. But the beauty and giddiness of seeing friends in a far-away place far overshadowed any worries from the outside world.
Friday and Saturday night were our big performances on Kauai. Jackson and Scott and Melissa’s all-improv band, The IZNESS, opened up at Church of the Pacific, in a beautiful event produced by Scott Manning and attended by respectful music lovers, silent and listening. The IZNESS surprised us with musical sweetness. We sipped chai tea outside or sat quietly in the church as the new band navigated their way through rhythms and simple progressions exuding love and friendship and creativity . . . my favorites!! Al and I played almost two hours, and were joined on seven or eight songs by our friend Kit Thomas from Maui/Los Angeles. I was super delighted to play certain ukulele songs of mine accompanied by both Al and Kit, knowing that before this tour, I played them solo only. My song Aloha is now sounding like a sweet island polyrhythm, thanks to Kit’s warm bass notes, which invited Al’s melodic guitar leads. Thank you! Folks danced, and some even sang along, especially with my song, Costa Rica, “roots!!!!!!!!!”,j which Jackson and Melissa still remember from last year’s meeting and still apply to their lives, being da rootz, as they are, in Kauai.
Lately I’m challenging myself to remember cover songs and originals that I haven’t been playing and see what’s still there in my muscle memory. The one Al and I have enjoyed playing on this tour, also in Maui, is Do Right Woman, Do Right Man, a really feisty crowd pleaser. (Check YouTube for a minute of us in this one at Church of the Pacific!) Also at the Church we played Pele Protect Watada, the rocking song I wrote in 2007 when organizing in Maui for Lieutenant Ehren Watada’s rights as a military officer to speak out against “an illegal war,” as he called the US Iraq occupation. I had fully forgotten the song, then found a recording of it just in time to relearn it and teach it to Kit and Al for Earth Day Festival on Maui and these sweety shows in Kauai.
After the church performance I got some strong reflections from men and women who were deeply moved by the messages in my songs and the music coming from our two guitars and the strength coming from my voice. It’s these impressions that keep me on this little medicine woman path, birthing songs that embody visions of our new being, our new manifestation of human and earth relations. I was reminded that it is good that I continue taking my songs to fresh ears.
Al’s dear old friend Cristalle is a big part of why my trip in Kauai was so sweet and magical. When she landed on Kauai from Big Island, she brought a bundle of pure unconditional love and acceptance. And the friends she brought in to our circle, Yvonne, and Kellie Berns, also treated me with such sisterly sweetness. Cristalle and Kellie loved up my music and took me to magical places and lasting friendship. We had a full-on medicine day with a long I Ching reading, where I got to share the Taoist wisdom that’s been daily floating my general attitude to its highest potential for a solid nine months now. (A Guide to the I Ching, Carol Anthony)
Now after three weeks since my return from the islands, I feel completely back here on Turtle Island, North America, Home. Even after one week I said to myself, was I really on Kauai one week ago? I am grateful to have had my fill of the beauty and magic and friendship and adventure. Meanwhile, I look forward to returning and feel juiced up for the recording studio in Coastal Mendocino this week!
Thanks for reading.