Abrupt Change

IMG_3573In the space of one delay-ridden travel day, we went from the sunny, arid, and warm climate of Phoenix to cold, wet, and snowy conditions in Columbus.

IMG_3665From shorts to overcoats.  From sunglasses and the coconut-infused odor of suntan lotion to wool hats and a sharp breeze.

The weather change mirrors the change in factual context, too.  The mini-holiday is over, and it’s time to get back to work.  And because it’s the first snow of the season, you can be certain that the commute today is going to be brutal. And if the snow and the crappy commute alone aren’t enough to provide the cold slap of reality, the weather app is reporting that the temperature is supposed to drop steadily throughout the day until it reaches a frosty 10 degrees.

Bundle up!

 

Phoenix Sunset

IMG_3654.JPG
The top of a mountain in Phoenix is a wonderful setting for a wedding, especially when a fire and a sunset are part of the mix. And a family wedding is something to be relished, whatever the setting. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to reconnect with far-flung nieces and nephews, in-laws, and family members to be at such a happy occasion.

The Rocket 88s

IMG_3631.JPG
Last night it was back to Phoenix’s Rhythm Room to try catch some of its more traditional blues offerings — and we struck gold, because the Rocket 88s were playing.

Of course, any true R&B fan know that Rocket 88, recorded in 1951 by Jackie Brenton and his Delta Cats, is considered by many experts to be the first rock and roll record. Last night the Rocket 88s were true to their illustrious name, playing a kick-ass mixture of early rock and roll and R&B that got many people (myself included) out on the dance floor and boogeying. We knew they were going to be great from the first notes, but they really blew the doors off.

Why would a Columbus, Ohio guy write about a Phoenix band that he’ll (unfortunately) probably never get to see again? Because local music is important and should be supported, whether the locality is Columbus or Phoenix or New Orleans. And if a hard-working band gives you a great evening they deserve a shout-out even if no one reads it. The Rocket 88s were really good and earned the kudos. I bought one of their CDs, too.

IMG_3637.JPG

On The Trail Of The Lonesome Cactus

IMG_3615.JPG
This Midwestern boy can’t help but goggle at the desert plants and scenery — and of course the cactus plants are the most alien to the Midwest, and therefore the most interesting.

For most of my hike up North Mountain the sky was overcast. I appreciated that more and more as I huffed and puffed up the trail, and wondered what it would be like to do so with the sun beating down relentlessly. As I descended with the aid of gravity and passed this solitary cactus sentinel, however, a patch of blue sky appeared on the western horizon.

On Top Of North Mountain

IMG_3587.JPG
One of the trails near our hotel leads you to the top of North Mountain — which must be tall,, because at the very peak you will find a cellular tower.

All around is the vastness of Phoenix, which stretches out into infinity until its contours are lost in a kind of smudgy haze. North Mountain is a welcome respite from the urban and suburban sprawl.

At The Rhythm Room

IMG_3546.JPG
Last night we hung out at the Rhythm Room, a legendary Phoenix blues rock club. It is found in a somewhat marginal part of the sprawling Phoenix metroplex, just down the street from a funeral home and a Native American joint where you can get enormous fried bread tacos that position you nicely for the beers of the evening.

Rather than its normal offering of blues, last night the RR was featuring an eclectic mix of acts that ran the gamut from folk to abstract emo to these guys, who did a very credible job covering some power rock classics from Creedence, Hendrix, and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

It’s fun to experience a live music venue in a new city, even if not every act is to your liking.