Monday, September 24, 2007

Ceder Fever

Here in Central TX, Ceder trees grow everywhere. Some consider them to be invasive, since they are not native to the area. They are known to horde water even. Yet, they continue to multiply. They are very beautiful trees and happen to make excellent wood for building. In setting up for the Texas Natural Building Colloquium, taking place in Kerrville TX, we spent a few days harvesting Cedar Trees from a neighbor's ranch. Harvesting Cedar Trees in Central TX is guilt free. Using mostly human power, we carefully and considerately plucked our trees from an overgrowth, leaving only small gaps where extra sun rays can peek through to help grow smaller trees whose size have been hindered by the shadows of their neighbors. This practice is much preferrable to clear cutting, the industrial standard of quickly capitalizing on lumber with no consideration of the long term effects. They maximize their profits and minimize expenses by taking ALL trees in an area while leaving the earth below to regress quickly into a desert scape that then loses its ability to hold water and plantlife.

When Cedar Trees are stripped of their bark, what is left is a very unique beautiful and smooth custard colored wood, which Erin the volunteer coordinator refers to as the wood used in Texas country porches. The bark can only easily be stripped within 24 hours of harvesting the tree. After that, as the water dries out of the tree, the bark sticks to the wood like glue.

Getting a few friends together and finding a rancher who wants an overgrowth of trees cleared can get you some of the highest quality wood available for free, with minimal impact to the land.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Tour Share

What is tour sharing ? It's when musicians on tour combine itineraries ( and a ride ) in order to save money and increase efficiency. When Raina Rose and Hunter Paye asked me to join them on tour down the West Coast back to Austin, TX ( where I was intending to fly to ), I knew that this was the universe stepping in with a better alternative. Raina's van gets 25 mpg, which is pretty good for a van. With 3 people, it gets 75 mpg per person ! This is a great improvement, considering that songwriters often tour solo. In addition, Raina transported a mattress ( a paid craigslist gig ) for someone in Austin. There is no quesstion that we maximized all usable space in the van. The universe was good to us in return and carried us safely without incident. Most music venues will put a few artists together on one bill anyway. This method of touring offers an already completed bill to a venue. Venues like that. It also combines fanbases for better attended shows. Being that Raina is the tour monger, she already had the shows booked, but for songwriters with less experience on the road, combining tours helps to also split up the work getting the gigs. We basically put the money from the tip jar towards travel expenses ( gas, etc ) and then we each kept our own CD sales to put towards our futures.