We've been doing quite a bit of songwriting on this semi-unplugged jaunt to the Joshua Tree. Still, with plenty of time to both play and create - Wow! Vacation! - we took the area up on it offers and spent much of Sunday soaking up the sounds of others.
The desert of course, has long attracted artist and seekers of all manner: homesteaders after free lands, outdoors-folk in search of a tricky rock problem, naturalists and scientists assembling clues, Mystics and madmen and one combination of many of the above, George Van Tassel (1920-1978), creator of the Integratron. Located in Landers, on an energetic vortex, the Integratron is a "one-of-a-kind 38-foot high, 55-foot diameter, all wood dome designed to be an electrostatic generator for the purpose of rejuvenation and time travel."
It's composition is also "based on the design of Moses’ Tabernacle, the writings of Nikola Tesla and telepathic directions from extraterrestrials."
Uh, sign us up!
The Integratron is open to the public a couple "no reservations weekends" a month, and fortunately for us, our timing worked. We drove up the road 20 minutes to the site, lucking into a just-added, earlier-than-scheduled sound bath at 10:30am, when the gates opened Sunday morning. Within minutes, we were laying on the floor with 40 other people in the top story of the domed building. After everyone got settled with their blankets and mats, a gentleman played large crystal bowls for 25 minutes, sending variously oscillating sound waves, in frequencies perceptible and beyond perception, pulsing through our bodies. I didn't see any aliens, but I can't say it wasn't great. After the last bowls sounds, Hearts of Space type music was played for the remainder of the hour in what became a sort of sound-induced savasana. I felt better after than when I'd arrived, still cramped from the travel and sleeping in a new place, and emerged from the dome feeling as bemused as healed, an altogether good thing.
The grounds of the site were an equally relaxing playground of general good vibes, complete with a hammock garden, cantina, a place to cast your dreams and water stations. Reminded me of Fairfax and Goa and Sedona rolled into one.
Still. we were up for more sound vibrations later in the day, albeit of a more traditional kind, and drove another 30 minutes to Pioneertown where Pappy & Harriets was hosting its Sunday evening Music Service. A weekly, well-curated jam led by a band composed of the venue's favorite musicians and guest artists, the service was a unabashed celebration of LA Country Rock. More than ably covering songs by the likes of Gram Parsons, Fleetwood Mac, Linda Rondstandt and Tom Petty, the musicians were hot and the crowd hungry. Noneother than Bay Area native Bart Davenport, in fine form, happened to be the week's musical guest, and more than rose to the challenge, rocking his telecaster and otherwise destroying every song he led. Good stuff. People dancing, people eating, another dose of high quality good vibrations.
Then we saw aliens. Well, not really. As drove drove down the hill from Pioneertown, more of those impossible bright stars overhead, we did a double take, then pulled over to the side of a road to watch as an (illicit?) group of folks were lighting large paper (?) lanterns and letting them go into the sky. As they ascended, the lanterns - luminarias? - appeared much like those moon jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, languorously floating brightly through space, only in reverse and in the sky rather than water. It looked dangerous, but it was more beautiful, the lights rising, tumbling over one another before melting into the starry sky. Nice.