Quepolandia logo

Bird Song…?

Rufous-vented_ChachalacaBy Nancy Buchan

Every once in a while I’ll be rudely jolted out of a blissful sleep at like 5 in the freaking morning by the incredibly loud call/song/RACKET being produced by what I call the Maniacal bird.  He mostly hangs out under dense foliage, and apparently likes to walk and talk right by my bedroom window.  He’s got this raspy, rusty-hinge kind of voice for part of his call, then a weird whoop whoop thing and tops it off with a long anguished note that can wake the proverbial dead.  It’s not quite as obnoxious as Woody Woodpeckers cackle in the old cartoons, but it’s definitely in the same category.   I finally saw him one morning, traveling on the ground under a papaya tree and a tangle of hibiscus, and he is about a foot tall, has a long skinny neck, he’s shades of non-descript brown and a pretty clumsy flyer.   I looked him up in my tattered bird bible, A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica, and he’s called a Chachalaca.   Boom cha cha laca laca, boom cha cha laca laca.  (Anybody remember Sly and the Family Stone?)  Anyway, de-forestation of his habitat is taking its toll, and some species in his family are on a fast track to extinction – which would be a horrible thing ‘cause to tell ‘ya the truth I’ve come to enjoy his boisterous concerts,  which is kinda like saying you like the sound of bagpipes  or fingernails on a chalkboard. 

Read More…


Women & Music

Envision FestivalBy Nancy Buchan

While happily slopping through the ankle deep mud at the Envision Festival I started talking with a young woman about why she was there.  It was clear early in our conversation that she was smart and politically active about all kinds of things back in her home turf of Portland.  She was open-minded about music, passionate about social and environmental issues and she was off on an adventure!  She could even play that flute she had hanging around her neck.   I started talking to more of the women there, and found most all of them to be very together.  Creative types of course – their clothes were weird and wonderful and whimsical.  They were adorned with feathers and lace and leather and crystals and tattoos and face paint and pierced body parts, yet they were mostly independent savvy young women who will probably evolve into women of substance.  I don’t go stateside very often and probably don’t hang out in the same world as these females, so I was pleasantly surprised to meet so many funny and hip young things, and am happy about their activism and commitment to global issues.  Me, I was just there to hear some music…..

Read More…


IT

By Nancy Buchan

There’s a generosity of spirit – a musical selflessness – that sets some musicians apart from their equally skilled fellow musicians. They have an uncanny ability to affect people emotionally through their playing or singing, and this is why we turn to music in the first place – to have an emotional experience.  Sometimes they are described as a ‘real musician’, or maybe a ‘musician’s musician’. Or they are said to have that elusive thing called ‘charisma’ or ‘star power’. That kind of trivializes their abilities, and I’m not really talking about commercial success or pop stardom – I’m talking about the power to tap into our deep wells of emotion and make us feel sadness and hope and all those things in between. 

Read More…


Nearby Music Festivals

By Nancy Buchan 

Going to an outdoor music festival is just about as much fun as a person can stand.  Whether you’re dancing to a circle of banjo players pickin’ some fine bluegrass in the Colorado mountains, or laying in a lounge chair sipping a drink with a little umbrella in it on the French Riviera, listening to some cool jazz cats – it’s fun!  The opportunity to hear a bunch of different artists at one venue is irresistible.  Even if there’s 12 stages going on all at once (like the wonderful New Orleans Jazz Fest) and you have to approach it like some kind of military maneuver, it’s fun!  There are lots of interesting festivals being held all over the planet – for just about any genre of music.  Some of them showcase other artistic endeavors besides music, many have ecological or planetary themes, or maybe they’re concerned with our spiritual health…  Anyway, there are a couple of interesting new or newish festivals being held in our little part of the world I want to tell ya’ll about.  

Read More…


Bob Dylan

 By Nancy Buchan 

I am a huge cheerleader for live music, as anyone who read my columns in the now-defunct Dominical Days would know.   I’m glad there are folks out there who love music in all its forms, but I’m especially thrilled that people will search out and support live music wherever it might be.   Give the mariachi guys a respectful listen and some colones.  Walk into the church when the local music students are playing a little concert.   Frequent and spend heavily in the bars that hire musicians and buy their cds directly from them.   Close your eyes and move to the music that will never again be played in just that way.   Be part of a glorious instant of creativity and communication.   Perhaps witness greatness.  

  Read More…


Memories

By Nancy Buchan

 Music has been described as the ‘soundtrack of our lives’, and for most of us living today, that’s pretty accurate.  We’ve always had access to music –not just music being performed live, but music re-produced through vinyl recordings or cassette tapes or 8-tracks or iPods or computers or even player-pianos.  My generation leaned heavily on radio stations to presumably play the coolest new thing or to introduce us to new musicians.  Sometimes they were brave and experimental and sometimes they played only crap provided and pushed by the studios.   TV shows allowed us to hear everything from symphony orchestras to the then revolutionary Rolling Stones.   Then that medium morphed into MTV, which sent it a bit sideways with its preoccupation with visual looks and style.  There’s less control of what is out there now – the all-powerful record companies and distributors have been knocked on their butt by the internet – but there is still plenty of music being played and preserved somehow all over the planet.   Every generation seems to have their ‘own’ songs, and those songs can bring forth a memory of a time or place that is crystal clear. 

Read More…