I am casting a vote to establish a new time zone: Marfa Standard Time.
A day in the Chihuahuan Desert is a time warp. An easy late-morning rise, a lengthy breakfast with friends, slow-movement out the door and onto a bike to tour the town, sitting, watching, while being surprisingly productive taking in the burgeoning artist scene is a Marfa attribute. There are long pauses and ample time to take it in.
Marfa is a town where one craves to be integrated into the reverie of observing and enjoying one moment at a time. How many times did we say or hear “Oh, I could live here?” Mornings are crisp, days are clear and sunny and evenings are populated with vibrating stars.
One can see why Liz Lambert, the creator of El Cosmico and the Trans-Pecos Festival of Music and Love was compelled to create a place for “dancing under the stars.” The wide-open campground, the simple modern structures which include yurts, teepees and renovated trailers, fresh air, lyrical wind, chilly evenings and conversations that last late into the night could be considered the Permian Basin’s Burning Man.
Travelling from Austin on the tail end of a fully programmed, swarming ACL Festival was a mind bending contrast to watching Patty Griffin and Robert Plant in the desert serenade a crowd which resembled what Liz has termed “a gathering.”
Thursday evening kicked off with Tift Merritt, followed by Patty Griffin taking the stage. Robert Plant was conspicuously tucked behind Michael Ramos, the accordion player, when Griffin announced, “I’d like to introduce you to my dear, dear friend, Robert Plant.” What followed was pure rocking magic and apparent deep admiration between Griffin and Plant. We look forward to hearing more from this magic duo.
Barbara Lynn, the final act, completed the evening with her splendid voice and her determined guitar playing which brought her to the brink of her own exhaustion. She was the reminder that there is a lot of musical history to understand. Lynn, like many others, paved the road for those like Plant and Griffin; she reigned as Priestess. David Garza, as heard throughout the weekend, was “the M.V.P.” of Trans-Pecos, as he played set after set with each musician and modestly supported Lynn as her energy waned.
Friday evening was equally rich. The El Cosmico Family Band was a revolving door of musicians that included David Garza, Josh Block, Jesse Ebaugh, Kat Edmonson, Amy Cook, Alejandro Escovedo, Ben Kweller and others.
Edmonson was pitch perfect in her lively delivery. After her set, Alejandro Escovedo, David Pulkingham and David Garza were manic in their passionate guitar strumming and vocal ebullience.
Amy Cook took the stage while Edmonson returned to join her in a duet. Nearing the close of the evening Cook, Tift Merritt, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson (Friday Night Lights) and Shawn Colvin shared the stage in what was a near-impromptu quartet in which Wheeler-Nicholson and Colvin were good-humoredly referring to the lyrics held in hand.
Tonight is the finale of the Trans-Pecos Festival with Mother Falcon, Alejandro Escovedo and the Black Angels. It will be another night, after a savory meal and a small amount of carousing (perhaps), of harmonic bliss set against the giant Texas sky.
I’ll let you know mañana.