Sunday, March 26, 2023

It's Quarter to Three or Along About Midnight

Barela Lane #1

Barela Lane #2

Quiet Steps

Twice in the past month we’ve eaten dinner with friends at the Taos Inn, once in Doc Martin’s and the other in the Adobe Bar. Neither meal was memory making but the company made the evening sparkle despite the gruel listed on the menu as a New Mexican Combination Platter.

Christmas Eve in Brentwood

Each was a snowy evening with flakes glistening like crystals beneath the streetlights and the night sounds hushed by the fluff. The thick air and soft blanket of wet snow created a wondrous and silent night. And since Peggy and I were the only people strolling to the adjacent parking lot it felt, well, like “it’s quarter to three, there’s no one in the place except you and me.”

Nightlights #1

Nightlights #2

Nightlights #3

In a handful of recent Instagram posts I took great license with the time of night. For example, I called one post “Along About Midnight” after Guitar Slim’s 1958 tune. It was really 7:30. Hey, what’s five hours among friends?

The scene struck a chord with us and so I found myself revisiting old nocturnes and contemplating making new ones. Maybe it’s a series to develop. We will see what I will see.

I even have a working title, Nightlights. Or maybe Nightlight singular.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Adobe and Snow Again

We woke up to 10 inches of wet snow on Friday. Peggy called me from the historic Martinez Hacienda where she had stopped to photograph on the way to the studio, basically telling me to get my lazy ass out of the house and capture the wonder of the grand hacienda in its cloak of dense snow. I told her, “I’ll get over there immediately.” I'm nothing if not obedient..

I fell into my routine of photographing the wooden wagon, the adobe walls and especially the canales with stalactites of ice slowly developing below. Canal, as you know, means channel in English, and canales are the plural of same. I always try to find a new angle and threw in some abstracts of the wagon and a handful that might belong in my Sketches of Winter series.

Severino Martín moved his family from Abiquiu just after Taos was founded in 1796. Los Martínes, later Los Martinez, settled on land two miles south of Taos and in 1804 built the northern-most Grand Hacienda in New Mexico. Soon Los Martinez owned five square miles abutting the Rio Pueblo and Severino became a powerhouse politico in Northern New Mexico. 

Los Immels live half a mile north of the Hacienda. Lucky us.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Forgotten Anniveraries and Other Parties

Happy Something or Other

Peggy Immel at ArtsThrive.


Fear not. The red dots appeared Saturday night.

When we woke up Sunday morning a week ago Peggy nudged me, “You’ll never guess what yesterday was.” I responded with a start, “Holy Crap! We forgot again. It was our anniversary. Our 56th. That’s really hard to do when we’re only 60.”

Then last week we had dinner with friends who are our age and have been married for 59 years. That’s even worse, er, more impressive.

The finished product.

Quick Draw artists at ArtsThrive.

56 years is so epic that the Albuquerque Museum hosted a three-day party to celebrate our accomplishment. It began with a collectors party Thursday night. That’s where the big spenders queue up to buy the art. That night Peggy was one of four artists demonstrating their wizardry. Each delivered a painting in a two-hour race called a “Quick Draw.” It’s a common though nerve wracking practice in plein air competitions throughout the land.

Saturday morning was an artist’s session where participants could meet each other. It was lightly attended but a good time to enjoy the wonderful art without the hordes. And finally, on Saturday night there was our anniversary party with 300 attendees. That was the most festive and when most of the sales happened.

ArtsThrive is a juried event so there are no guarantees that you’ll be invited. And sales are muy importante. If your work sells, you’ll be invited back. I have a hunch we sold enough for an encore.

Up top are basic here I am with my art shots mostly from the artist get-together Saturday morning plus one kissy face appropriate to the occasion. The rest are steps on Peggy’s path to an amazing painting in under two hours.

Sunday, March 05, 2023

Neck Snakes or Ties That Bind

Forty years of neckties.

Peggy and I have just participated in three events that are part of ArtsThrive, the annual art exhibition and sale that benefits the Albuquerque Museum. We returned to Taos this late afternoon and I have hundreds of photographs from the show to sort and process. So, I’m going to kick the ball down the field so I can show ArtsThrive in all its glory. It’s a handsome exhibition with stellar artwork and a team of caring managers and volunteers who run the event like a Swiss watch. Much more about the special event and more effusive praise will follow next week.

As a placeholder I’m offering some of the detritus left in the wake of my ongoing purge of my closet. I reckon I’ll be donating (I hope), consigning or trashing some 30 suits and sportscoats that are so large and so out of style that there is no reason beyond nostalgia to keep them. I am, sadly, a pale shadow of my former self and the once grand suitings drape me like a caftan.

Among the useless items are forty some odd ties that along with the big shoulders and wide lapels of the suits and coats must be put out of my misery.

If you're a 41 long or close to it new threads are yours for the taking.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

More Morada

Long View

White cross and Steeple

At the end of November I offered a lengthy post about La Morada de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe which I described as the mother ship of Northern New Mexico’s 19 Catholic lay chapels or meeting houses. I was in error as there were as many as 35 of these places of worship. In any event that post became the skeleton of what will be my March-April contribution to Shadow and Light magazine. I’ve learned more about the Catholic Church's resolution to award sole control of the sacred place to the Penitente Brotherhood. I am not swayed. It was overreach by the parish priest. My article will be an expanded version of what you read on November 27.

A glimmer of turquoise

Inside Corner

13th Station of the Cross

In a more recent post, I spoke to the mind-numbing effort to consolidate the contents of many external hard drives into two devices. Achieving that was rewarding unto itself. But the icing on the proverbial cake was uncovering a cache of morada photographs that I knew I had but couldn’t find. Here are a few.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Sun ,Song and a Splash of Color

Red Window, Silver City, New Mexico

La Morada de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, Taos, New Mexico

Window on the Plaza, Taos, New Mexico

Last week I opened with the admission that I had little to say and that the images would have to suffice. Then I prattled on for some 600 words about my encounter with the Limeliters during those halcyon days of sun, surf and song. At least sun and song. Today, I’ll be true to my word when I tell you that here are a few more photographs that vie for a place in my Spot Color portfolio, on my website and for inclusion in Peggy’s and my late August show at Wilder Nightingale.

Monhegan Patterns, Monhegan Island, Maine

Art Deco in Silver City

If this isn’t the least wordy post ever, it’s close.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Folk Lore and Other Fables

The Pine Café, Independence, California.

I have few words today as I’m in the throes of organizing something like 20 terabytes of photographs dating back to 2014. That scintillating task entails consolidating three billion images, I tend to inflate, from three big hard drives into one muy bigger one. That does not include five back-up drives that splay across my workspace. The result, nonetheless, will be less clutter, fewer cables, and less plugs in sockets. There may even be enough desk top left to replace the scanner that bit the dust last year.

Peek-a-boo, Lama, New Mexico.

Subtle Sky, Santa Paula, California.

That said, here is the second round of new Spot Color images which may or not be shown in the fifth biannual Immel + Immel show at Wilder Nightingale Fine Art in Taos at the end of August.

Red Stool in Rain, Telluride, Colorado.

Reflected Sky #1, Bartlett, New Hampshire.

And speaking of folk music, which we weren’t, there was at least one more close encounter with a folk super group of the era. The era being the early Sixties. My partner John and I were more or less the resident folk act at Arizona State University and were invitees to many a party after performances by visiting acts. One such act was The Limeliters, the Bay Area group founded by Lou Gottlieb, a musicologist at UC Berkeley, Glenn Yarbrough, a soaring tenor and star in his own right, and Alex Hassilev, a Paris born actor and musician who spoke six languages. Hassilev, I recall had a small part in the hilarious film The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. He is still with us at 90. Yarbrough died in 2016 at 83, Gottlieb at 73 in 1996.

Anyway, we attended a party after the Limeliters performed. We did a short set which was met with hearty applause. Hassilev was complimentary in a self-impressed way but was less sanguine about my beloved Martin 000-18, the iconic steel string guitar of the time. It was the gold standard of acoustic guitars. He shamed my choice of instruments saying something like, “Real musicians play classical guitars.” Being a gob smacked twenty-year old I promptly sold my 000-18 so I could buy a nylon string Goya G40 which later was stolen out of Lynn Quayle’s Triumph Spitfire in broad daylight. There may have been a bar involved. The Goya wasn’t my smartest move as a pre-1967 Martin 000-18 would be worth as much as $10,000 today. The G40 might bring a piddling grand. I had bought the used Martin at Chicago Music in Tucson in the fall of 1959 for $100. New ones brought $150 plus the case. How I came up with $100 when I was living on $150 a month is a mystery to this day.

To my surprise, Chicago Music is still purveying fine guitars after 100 years in Downtown Tucson. To think I bought that fine instrument 63 years ago makes me feel ver old, indeed.

Sunday, February 05, 2023

Immel + Immel in Five parts

Red Umbrella, Los Angeles

Street lamp at dusk, San Miguel de Allende

I’m serving two masters. I’m adding to my Spot Color portfolio and assembling a selection of images for the fifth biannual Immel + Immel show that opens at the end of August at Wilder Nightingale Fine Art here in Taos. It’s hard to believe that Peggy and I have been collaborating on these two-person shows for ten years. Thanks to her for initiating our artistic partnership at Wilder Nightingale in 2013. It’s been a grand journey.

Blue sky at the Upper Oro Mine, Leadville, Colorado

Pink shawl, San Miguel de Allende

Turn Signal. El Prado, New Mexico

For this weekly post, number 811 I’ll have you know, I had two possible subjects, new or at least unshown spot color images or a handful more folk era tales. It turns out I had a few more brushes with musical luminaries in the early sixties than I remembered last week. I’ll polish those additions to last week’s post soon.

In the meantime here are some dandy candidates for the upcoming Immel + Immel fete and for the Spot Color series. Peggy and I are working on a theme and a perky title for our show; one that’s clever, descriptive and keeps our field of play wide enough that we have room to roam.

There are enough possible spot color additions that I post these images in more than one tranche. Two at least.

Monday, January 30, 2023


5:05 AM. And the brilliant Joan Baez is very much with us along with the aforementioned Buffy St. Marie and Duane Eddy, of course. My apologies to all. Steve

Sunday, January 29, 2023


I received a beautifully crafted email Friday from my dear friend the photographer and writer Daryl Black. Her compelling essay was prompted by the death of David Crosby at 81. What followed was her heartfelt commentary on the importance of music in her life and that of her husband Fred a master weaver and true renaissance man. Music enhances their lives. It fills her office and accompanies the rhythm of Fred’s work at the loom. It’s odd that as a former singer and musician of nominal skill music does not surround me. I prefer quiet. I work without music. I drive without the radio or CDs playing. I can’t explain it since I love music. I even pick up the guitar once a year. At number 45 on my weekly 50 todos list is Learn Blues Guitar. That’s just below learn video editing. Both require more tenacity than I can muster.

Daryl recounts that Fred's musical claim to fame is when he was walking through the San Diego airport in his Navy blues and on his way to Southeast Asia. "He walked past a gentleman seated in the lounge, and realized it was David Crosby. He nodded and Fred nodded back. A passing, knowing glance" Oh, and Fred was carrying a banjo. Yet another Fred Black talent emerges. That encounter is the seed from which the following post grew.

I wrote Daryl a response to her thought-provoking examination of music enriching life. She made me wistful.

“Apparently, David Crosby’s passing struck a chord with you and Fred. Me too. Your touching essay may have prompted my blog subject today. When I look back to my folk singing years, nominally 1958 through 1964, I observe that my zigzag path brought me close to a bevy of folk luminaries. As a lesser light in the folk music world I hovered on the periphery, just close enough to glimpse some of the stars of the time. Those encounters were more numerous than I would have remembered unprompted. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane.

This email may become the skeleton of my post. Hell, it may be the post. I wish I had photographs to memorialize the period.”

It went something like this. In 1960 I dropped out of college to reach for the gold ring in LA. My brief brush with the big time began in earnest. That spring my singing partner John and I recorded our single Once Upon a Time at Audio Recorders in Phoenix. It was the studio where Duane Eddy and his twangy guitar recorded hits like Rebel Rouser and the theme for Peter Gun. Eddy sold 12 million records by 1963 and is still making music at 84.

When John and I pitched Capitol Records in the summer of 1960 we spent the night at their iconic studio in Hollywood thinking we’d be auditioning. Thanks to college friend Pat Kanan whose father was a bigtime player we were signed by Jess Rand a personal manager whose stable included Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, the Lettermen and Bobby Gentry. It all came to naught since John and I had signed a recording contract with Audio Recorders and Capitol bailed when Audio Recorders asked for $5,000. That night in Hollywood we shared hellos with the Smothers Brothers in the hall between Studio B and Studio C. I recall that we sang in the chorus during a Ray Anthony session. But we didn’t get to sing for Nick Venet who would have been our A&R man. He told us, “I don’t care if you can sing. I can teach you how to sing.” Nick was the man behind the Beach Boys. He was 26.

John moved back to Tempe to be with Becky, his new love. I joined the Army Reserve and took gap year of sorts. When I finished active duty. I moved to LA and made a halfhearted effort to forge a path as a solo artist. Jess Rand referred me to Monk Cohen, a well-known booking agent who got me a few gigs and two tickets to see a young Joan Baez at the Santa Monica Civic Center. My friend Jerry Roman and I sat in the first row. I had gone to the men’s room and was returning to my seat as Baez walked across the stage to the microphone. She looked at me and said, “I’d appreciate it if no one else leaves their seat while I’m performing.”

When I returned to school in the fall, I was on double secret probation. I applied myself for the first time and became an A student. John and I split, and I began performing solo. About that time, I auditioned to become the photo double of Bob Shane, the Kingston Trio’s whiskey voiced lead singer, when they were filming a pilot for a TV series Young Men in a Hurry. I got the gig, Shane gave me career advice that came too late, and the series didn’t get picked up. 

Most of my college years of which there were eight I worked full time and picked up the odd singing gig. I was was a singing waiter at the Lumbermill in Scottsdale. I opened for John Denver before he became a thing. I’d do a short set, grab a tray, and serve cocktails and brews to an audience that often included Waylon Jennings and his entourage. Jennings was a loud-mouthed prick who didn’t tip. Denver, on the other hand was a genuinely nice guy who treated me like a peer. He had star written all over him. Soon he became the lead singer of the Michell Trio whose founder Chad Mitchell had been busted for possession. Denver’s arc is well chronicled. The last I knew Mitchell was manning a piano bar on a Mississippi Riverboat. 

At Something Else, a coffee house in Phoenix John and I did an opening gig with Travis Edmonson, who had become a solo act after breaking up with his partner Bud Dashiell. Bud and Travis were the number two folk act in the country from 1958 to 1962. Their tune On a Cloudy Summer afternoon made number four on the Billboard top 100 in 1960. Edmonson told us our tight harmonies tilted toward jazz. Sadly, Travis became to a local act and left the heights he’d touched with Dashiell behind. Bud opened a guitar store in LA. 

In the spring of 1964, I left school again. My buddy Eric Drake and I hit the road for Cambridge, Massachusetts where his brother Peter was attending Harvard. Our first stop was in Salt Lake City where I wangled a one-nighter at a folk club opening for Hoyt Axton who was riding high on the success of Greenback Dollar which he wrote. I played my fingers bloody and was met by deafening silence and calls of “Hoyt. We want Hoyt.” 

Our next stop was Aspen, Colorado after a treacherous climb over Independence Pass in a blizzard. I thought we’d die. I not sure why we stopped in Aspen except that it was more or less on the way east. Eric and I saw that Buffy St. Marie was headlining at The Abby. That afternoon I knocked on the door of the club and was met by the owner Tom Fleck. I asked if I could play for him and see if he would have interest in booking me. I played. He listened politely and told me, “That’s a nice set but we’re booked for the next nine years.” 

Only Duane Eddy, Buffy St. Marie and the Smothers Brothers remain from this roster of greats.

For the first time since 2006 my blog did not post on Monday morning though one called Errata did. I'm flummoxed. Errata dealt with errors of omission since corrected. In that light I'm reposting a heavily edited version of the post you should have gotten yesterday morning. If it's any solace on my end, this one's better.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Vega, Texas. Population 884

Main Street, Vega, Texas.

The only reason we stopped in Vega, a quiet burg in the Texas Panhandle, is that fourteen months ago I wrote a couple of posts about Landergin, a ghost town founded by the enterprising Landergin brothers in 1908. John Landergin followed that up by establishing the first bank in Vega eight miles east. So, I had to see it. I hoped to find the bank still standing and that Vega would be worth the detour. Uh, barely. But you could eat of the sidewalk. That place is clean. And  it could have been the location for filming The Last Picture Show in 1971. It was Sunday so the joint wasn’t exactly rocking. In these parts time enterprise stops on the sabbath.

Like it’s cousin Landergin, Vega’s skyline boasted an impressive grain operation. Grain elevators are the iconic guardians of the West Texas plains. Vega is the county seat of Oldham County and the home of 884 souls. Like Landergin it was built expressly as a stop on the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railroad. The railroad stopped stopping in Landergin and the town folded. Vega survived.