Dreams, Interrupted (Part II)

Unravelling the music…

I couldn’t just leave it all hanging out there like that, flapping in the wind—not for too long. Dreams, Interrupted has to have some kind of second act. It’s pretty bad when someone finds their way to your blog because they typed the words ‘life in hell online’ into Google’s search engine. Despite my trippy doo-dahs about how life just went down in a flame-throwing blaze, part of me knows there was something deeper going on—a bigger picture, a forest beyond the smoldering tree trunks in my immediate vicinity.

Okay. So I tend to maneuver the extremes. But I needed to know. How else could I have, without leaping from the precipice and moving to Santa Barbara to see how it fits? Yeah, my wings flailed against a determined headwind until it spun me around in what seemed like an about-face. But that’s not it, you see. I’m not going back, I’m moving forward. I’ve just had a minor course correction.

A little backstory about the music:

It was in Santa Barbara where I first landed, in 1983, with rock-star dreams intact. I drove that long trek from the Midwest to California carrying all my worldly possessions, consisting mostly of music equipment. I had been touring for the past six years all over the eastern half of the United States and Canada as a multi-keyboardist, singer/songwriter.

Once I got to SB, I searched out other musicians. An all-girl band was forming, and I was asked to join. However, we did not survive our first rehearsal. The guy who had donated his spacious home to us was under surveillance. In the middle of setup—while we were thinking how lucky we were to have such a cool rehearsal space up in the hills overlooking the city—a battalion of Santa Barbara S.W.A.T. guys crashed through the sliding-glass door pointing automatic weapons at us and yelling Get down! (Too bad they weren’t talking about the music).

I was in the middle of attaching the legs to the underbelly of my Rhodes Piano. I ducked behind 73 keys, hammers and tines encased in plastic.

All four girls—a drummer, bass player, guitar player, and keyboard player—were directed to the kitchen and handcuffed to patio chairs while being questioned as to our knowledge of the $150,000 worth of hallucinogenic mushrooms at all stages of growth in the guy’s garage.

The short of it: it was the biggest drug bust in Santa Barbara’s history. The police thought we were there to transport the loot, especially in my window van, with its pink India-print curtains for hiding the evidence. But the only thing in my van that night was my grandmother’s cedar chest filled with my clothes, which were ransacked.

* * *

When I moved to Santa Barbara again twenty-seven years later, in October 2010, one of the people paying me to write web content gave me a contact number for a female musician in town, saying he thought she and I would get along. Jill Avery, bass player and painter extraordinaire, listened intently as I explained over the phone my brief history with Santa Barbara. When I started down the long tale of woe regarding a first rehearsal with an all-girl band, she stopped me mid-sentence, saying, “I know where you’re going.”

She was there! She was one of the musicians handcuffed to a patio chair that night. As it turned out, she had a whole other perspective on the event. She stirred my memory of her, the girl who just kept talking, asking questions, getting permission to go to the bathroom, etc. When she and I compared notes, we realized we had a whopping-good musician story to tell. The best of it is: we are connected, and we reconnected. If it were only this one thing that Santa Barbara offered me in return for my short stay here (this second time around), it has been worth it. Because finding a soul-level female friend is priceless.

And… Did I say I would never play live again?

After having gone through the whirlwind, I feel a sense of peace, and hope, and I’m grateful for my own courage. Where I stood at the moment of my perceived collapse, is where I had to forgive myself—for making a big mistake. But now, as I step beyond this process, I see how the forces of that mysterious night within me were participating, in that night where resides my ghost, my duende, that aspect of soul who often appears as an objector. He can be relentless, and he/she can initiate a dismantlement of old dreams. Because, you see, the duende holds secrets to destiny, and to where one’s passions truly lie.

In the middle of packing and moving back to Thousand Oaks, I was asked to open for SoulAviv in Santa Barbara the first Friday in February, at the one venue I performed last month that felt like home—Cambridge Drive Community Church. With all the rubble I was sifting through after December’s fallout, I had failed to acknowledge my first gig in December, which turned out to be a starry starry night of success: my first time out performing my own songs solo in fifteen years. I was nervous, but the sacred space inside the church sanctuary soothed me, and I was able to connect with the audience, and give a little of myself to them.

My duende reminded me not to forget about that. And so did Roy Donkin, pastor of the church. I was honored to receive his invitation, and I knew immediately that it was right for me to accept.  I’ll be warming up the crowd for SoulAviv with a half-hour set of my original songs.  Now in preparation.

My performance schedule has been updated.

Did I not say in my last post that I was going to limit my future ramblings to 500 words? Oops…

2 Responses to “Dreams, Interrupted (Part II)”

  1. Mary Ellen Bruskotter Says:

    Hello Tysa,
    It just so happens that “Starry Night” is my husband’s favorite painting.
    I am intrigued by your biography. And I understand you are the new choir director at CVUUF. I am directing QUILTERS there the last week in April, and would like to talk to you about working with the seven actresses on the music.
    Mary Ellen

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