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Sleepless in Taos

Our journey to Taos started with a meeting in Bumble Bees carpark in the dark with the saint of a guy who fixed our tenor ukulele. He glued and clamped it together with elastic bands and tape. We said goodbye to Hugh with some Tacos in our tummies and got on the road to Taos. Before we knew it, we were on the winding mountain roads into Taos and had arrived at the Historic Taos Inn. Mark, our ‘fixer’ for Taos was waiting outside the inn. We knew this was going to be a more relaxed couple of days with his help. There had been a lot of snow in the last couple of weeks and although the roads and paths were clear, much of it remained. We got the key to our room and with Molly asleep, Ben went for a drink with Mark and I went to bed. The next day started with breakfast over the road which happened to be next to our first gig venue - Op Cit Books. My breakfast was a Eggs Benedict Taos Style full of hot green chillies. We did a FaceTime with Molly’s best friend back home, Miles, and they blew kisses to each other. Very sweet!

We met Mark and he took us on a tour of where we would be playing including SOMAS where we were to play the following night. He took us to the radio station in Taos and had a chat to DJ Mike and played a couple of songs to help promote the gig the next day. We then went to Mark’s house to do some long overdue washing. Clean clothes! Clean pants! He lives in a small adobe abode as part of a complex of similar houses, all local red brick adobe. With the snow, sun and icicles hanging outside the house, it seemed an idealic home on the edge of Taos. Inside we saw some of his own artwork and got more of a sense of his style and interesting pilgrim-like life.

After that, we had a little wander past a few shops up to a local cafe that made lovely salads, soups and smoothies. We met a few of Mark’s friends and clients - he is mostly working as an artist consultant and there was a nice buzz in the place.

A little later, we were loading our gear into Op Cit Books. They had a lovely space upstairs in the shop with a couple of sofas and room to put some chairs out. We were lucky enough to be borrowing some equipment including a PA and a guitar from an extremely helpful man called Joe. Joe’s mother Margaret was on hand to look after Molly and they went for a roam in Taos and found a great play area and some other children. Once we were set up and sound checked, people started arriving and we had a full audience. They were very responsive as we had found with many of our gigs over here and they laughed in all the right places! We met a couple with a toddler around the same age as Molly and they were thinking of moving to Scotland for a year. I said they should come to Wigtown!

After a rewarding gig and a chat to a few people, we headed back to the Taos in for the Open Mic night - Kate and Billy’s Medicine Show. We had a slot booked for 8.15 which gave us enough time to have some dinner and listen to some of the other acts. The first was two young boys doing a mixture of rock/indie covers and some original material. They had just moved from Miami and reminded me of my brother Barney when he was that age. Molly loved them and kept going to the front to rock out! There were a couple of great blues guitarists and singers and once we had finished our enchiladas we were due to go on. It was really nice to play to a different audience and although it wasn’t completely quiet, it worked well and we met some interesting people. All the participants from the night were invited to jam for a song at the end and it was a really fun night.

Molly also had a great time but a late night and this is a poem inspired by the night that followed…

The mouse, The Molly and The Snore

If we hadn’t left the Reeses bloomin Pieces on the floor

There might not be a Mouse and there might not be a Snore

A rustle in a wrapper woke the Mother of the Molly

And the Molly gently stirring kicked her daddy in the tummy

The mother found a torch to see what beast was near

But couldn’t see the thing so her heart was full of fear

Wondering what animals live wild in snowy Taos?

A spider, a raccoon, a snake or little mouse?

The second time it happened I was quicker with the light

A little mouse was running fast til it was out of sight

With comfort that it wasn’t a creature full of poison

The Mother closed her eyes and tried to block out all the noises.

Molly woke soon after wanting milk from Mother’s breast

The Mother had to wait a little longer for her rest.

The Molly had her fill at last she wanted milk no more

No peace yet though for Mother though as now it was The Snore

That rumbled and vibrated but not quite regular

Enough to sooth to sleep an agitated Ma

The Mouse was now enjoying jumping in another bag

Mother was too tired and had nearly lost her rag

So when the Mouse woke Molly and the Molly woke the Snore

The Mother asked the Snore to check the Mouse upon the floor

The Snore shook the bag and surely gave the Mouse a shock

And he put the bag up high singing hickory dickory dock

He crawled back into bed and although the Mouse was quiet

The Snore returned soon after with it’s own little riot

By now Mama was hungry but didn’t want to move

It didn’t seem an option not even for some food

Then some fool from England dared to call a phone

Right under the pillow that Ma’s head was on

Then there was the Itch just as everyone was still

I couldn’t reach my foot, the chance of that was nil

Although the room was nice at he Inn at snowy Taos

Sleep was much reduced by Snore, Molly and Mouse

If I hadn’t been awake this poem really would not be

Written between the hours of one AM and three

If it wasn’t for leaving Reeses Pieces on the floor

There might not be a Mouse and there might not be a Snore

There would of course be Molly and Molly’s Daddy too

But maybe we would sleep as little babies do.

So feeling a bit worse for wear the next day, we went back to our breakfast place and I went for something with less chillies in!

We then transferred our stuff from Op Cit Books to SOMAS, not too far away, and had the help of Joe to set up. SOMAS is a great community project - not only a shop but somewhere people can go to do writing workshops, events and meet other keen literary people. They have just bought the building outright which is brilliant for a project like that

Mark had helped to set this one up for us.

After an early lunch, Mark took us out to Taos Pueblo where we had a guided tour around the Indian Pueblo village. We learned about their persecution from non-natives and the government over hundreds of years and saw the buildings that they lived in. At the moment, they have won back some of their land and only they are allowed into certain parts of the mountain behind and have access to pure water and the lake up there. They have environmental jobs within the Pueblo that keep the water safe. They have no electricity and live a very humble and peaceful life. They seemed very generous and open with their time and knowledge and we were able to look round some of the small shops after the tour. Mark told us that at Christmas they invite the town to come and share a tradition where they light many bonfires and celebrate their mixed religion - partly the old religion of the Pueblo and partly Catholic. Looking up at the mountain, I could see a crouching bear in the patterns the snow had left. There are bears, mountain lions, foxes, elk, rabbits and many other wild animals up there apparently. I’m glad we only got the mouse but I would love to see a bear!

Molly slept through the whole tour and when we got back into Taos we had a look round the shops - mostly art and jewellery. Molly slept through all this as well and I was ready to take her out the sling when she woke. We had been invited to Margaret (Molly’s babysitter and Joe’s mother) and John’s for an early dinner before the gig. They had a beautiful house just outside Taos where the snow was still quite deep. It was very homely and we had a tasty meal with clams and pasta, salad and a fruit pie with ice-cream. Yum. It was also a chance to sit and chat with Joe and he was full of ideas for our future tours of America.

We left Molly in the capable hands of Margaret and John and went back into town to SOMAS. We had plenty of time to finish getting ready as we had already soundchecked. Many people had already booked tickets for this gig and we had a lot of people walking up too. The place was rammed and I think they had to stop letting people in! The gigs are made by the people in the audience as we are encouraged by their responses. I had been very tired (from the Mouse night) and this really helped to carry me through the concert. We played Brave New World and were told that the ‘savage world’ in the book by Aldous Huxley was actually Taos Pueblo where we had been that day. So amazing to be able to picture that and the lyrics in the song - ‘Oh these mountains/My eyes are bored’ were the mountains we could see from the town.

We were very fond of Taos and would like to come back with a bit more time to get to know the town. We stayed in a different place just out of town that belonged to a couple who had been at the gig. It was a lovely spacious place and we were promised a bath with a whirl pool bubbles! We got there pretty late and Molly was still awake. The night was again quite disturbed with her teething but we didn’t have to rush off in the morning so took it easy before setting off on our next adventure to Denver.


Thank you so much to our tour sponsors Gardners and All Media Supply for making this happen.

If you would like to pre-order the Live In American Bookshops vinyl album we have recorded, please visit our Kickstarter campaign page: Only a few days left to reach our new stretch target of £3500.

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