We continue on the road with wife and husband Avant Folk duo Shanti and Buck Curran, better known as Arborea. Read all the entries for this guest blog here.
Day 4, Last day in Pittsburgh with Mike Tamburo and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
We all had a good sleep and a nice slow rise in the morning. Shanti and Shylah had time for half an hour of yoga, while I drank coffee and marvelled at the sitar Michael had gifted me. After a light breakfast we got some fresh air in his beautiful back yard, bordered by a thicket of woods.
A young, lone deer was eating in a clearing close by and we watched until it moved away deeper into the woods. We packed up the van again and left around noon to pick up Eric at Mike Tamburo’s house. We drove through a beautiful section of Pittsburgh…long curved roads that were built on the sides of steep hills that surround the city. The city was built at the fork of where the Ohio and Allegheny Rivers meet, and there are still many of the old brick buildings from the 19th century, railroad tracks, etc…remnants of the industry of that age. We felt like we were driving back through time.
Pittsburgh has an intense and colorful history and was named in 1758 by the Scotsman General John Forbes…in honor of the British Statesman William Pit, First Earl of Chatham. Prior to the British (and French before them) staking claim to the region, the area was home to many different native tribes who were all vying for control of the bountiful hunting grounds of the Allegheny Plateau. These tribes included the Algonquin speaking Leni Lanpe Nation (a band of several distinct tribes that included the Unamis (Turtle Tribes), the Unalachtgos (Turkeys), and Monseys (Wolf Tribes), the Shawnees (who were restlessly expanding their territories East from their home in Ohio, along the Ohio River), and the tribes of the Five Nations (or Aquanuschioni as they called themselves)… who the French named the Iroquois. The first European to explore the region was French explorer Robert de La Salle who arrived in 1669 after the Mohawks telling him about the great river Ohio.
Eventually the British and Dutch would also arrive to the region and a lucrative Fur Trade became established. The French and Indian War would begin in 1754 with the future city of Pittsburgh as it’s center. After a period of control over the region, moving back and forth between the French and English…the British finally gained control and in 1758 General Forbes began construction of Fort Pitt, followed by the creation of Pitt Township in 1771. Following the American Revolution, the village of Pittsburgh began to grow from the wealth of natural resources in the region.
By 1815 Pittsburgh was producing Iron and other metals. In 1830’s Welsh immigrants from the Merthyr Steelworks settled in the area in the aftermath of the Merthyr Uprising in 1831. Large scale Steel production began in 1875 by Andrew Carnegie who in 1901 merged serval companies to form U.S. Steel. The history of the region is just mind boggling…. thinking of all the changes and lives who have come and gone. Eventually we drove across an old bridge crossing the massive Allegheny River into outer section of the city. Waiting at a stop light at the foot of the bridge and looking right, we could see the city center down river… in the distance it’s skyscrapers rising against the horizon like massive silver monuments.
A visit to the sound healing studio of Mike Tamburo (Brother Ong), a master in sound healing and an amazing musician. https://www.facebook.com/brother.ong
Mike Tamburo (Brother Ong) has a beautiful house in an old neighborhood Northeast of Pittsubrgh. His living room is now home to a myriad of massive Gongs (see image above) that are the focal point of the sound healing studio he’s created. Mike graciously gave Shanti an intense 10 minute Gong Bath while we visited. Eric, me and Shylah were down stairs and could feel the house vibrating….the sound waves of those massive Gong’s vibrating in unison. Mike had Shanti relax on a comfortable table with her eyes closed while he played the Gongs.
Shanti described the sensations and visions she expereienced from the Gongs as she meditated…telling me it felt like the sound waves brought her first into her wrists into the flow of the blood there, and then down into the rivers of blood coursing throughout her body. She then felt as if she was journeying to the deepest parts of the earth and her veins became the flowing rivers of Lava deep within the earth…her blood and the Lava became one in the same. Afterwards she described the vision to Mike and he told her that some of the Gongs he had played were actually Blood Gongs and Earth Gongs. Mike is an amazing artist, musician, healer, and Yoga Instructor. He’s also created a beautiful and extensive catalog of recorded music using acoustic guitar, hammered dulcimer, shahi baaja, autoharp, and swarmandal (https://miketamburo.bandcamp.com).
Tour manager Shylah had stress and an aching back by day four and Brother Mike healed her with sound vibrations!
Our daughter was also having problems with a sore back from traveling, so Mike suggested healing with a series of large and small Tibetan singing bowls placed along her spine and onto the backs of her legs (see above). He played the bowls sending the sound vibrations through her body. Witness to the healing properties of sound waves, Shylah didn’t complain about back problems for the remainder of the tour.
By 2:30pm we were back on the road heading East to Harrisburg with Eric riding along. It was great having a couple of hours to talk and catch up with Eric…it had been a while since we’d seen him last. We arrived in Harrisburg (the Capital of Pennsylvania) in the early evening and drove straight to the venue and began loading in our gear.
Sunset on the way to Harrisburg, PA.
The MakeSpace is a beautiful Art Gallery set up in a very old building, and run by a local co-op of artists. It’s the perfect place for a show and a venue I had found out about last year after hearing that Victor Herrero and Josephine Foster had a nice show there.
Local musician Timurid performed a spiritual and visceral opening set…playing an electric ukulele and a keyboard through a bank of effects and singing about the Cosmos. For me, his music on some level recalls the spacey vibe of Parliment-Funkadelic. For this show Eric went electric…playing his finger-style guitar compositions on a black Fender Stratocaster…the beautiful finger-picked notes cascading with great volume into the space of the Gallery via his large vintage style Fender amp.
Last hot days of Summer, sharing music at ‘The MakeSpace’ Art Gallery in Harrisburg
The show had an attentive crowd of locals who support the musical performances and variety of events that happen at the Gallery. Our Hosts, Doug and Liz (the director of the Gallery) are amazing folks to work with, and it’s easy to see why there is great community there. It was past Midnight by the time we finished performing. We sold some vinyl, hung out briefly, and then quickly loaded up for the two hour drive to Philadelphia.
It was around 2:30 am when we dropped Eric off at his house in Philly and then headed over to Germantown where we planned to stay with our dear friends Frank and Keanne. Germantown is six miles Northwest of the city center and was founded by German Quaker and Mennonite families in 1681, and by 1854, the area had been completely absorbed into Philadelphia. It’s also historically known as an important center for the Underground Railroad and the movement to abolish Slavery in the 1850’s. And for fans of experimental and avant garde jazz it was home to Sun Ra who lived there from 1968 to 1993.
We arrived around 3:00am and Keanne greeted us with a beautiful smile and big hugs. Keanne then brought us two beers and we all relaxed and talked for a while on their huge wooden porch…a place over the past several years, we’ve come to love. After about half an hour, Shanti went up stairs to bed and Keanne and I talked until about 4:30am….just before sunrise. Even though I was exhausted from a full day and late night drive into Philly, I was still feeling very anxious for the show that night…the Robbie Basho tribute at Johnny Brenda’s in Fishtown, that was going to feature Glenn Jones, Daniel Bachman, Arborea, and Ryley Walker. I started trying to organize the tribute at the end of 2012, to help raise additional funds for the Basho film that London based Liam Barker is producing…so the long-awaited day had finally arrived.
Despite feeling anxious, I was also relieved as it felt great to be back in Philly, one of the places we call Home when on ‘On the Road’…a place where we have a beautiful community of friends and deep musical ties.
Dance, Sing, Fight (Remastered)
Photo Credits: Main Image Marticus Magnificus / In post images Shanti Curran