Posted: July 30, 2015 Filed under: NEW POSTS | Tags: alt music, doug lewis, michael c ruppert, new white trash, red cloud ranch
I’m no fan of making music without others or recording only myself playing, or attempting to play all parts, so it was never my intention to record a solo album. There was the intention to complete the New White Trash trilogy with a third album, to be recorded with Mike (Ruppert) and Kristen (Vigard) over the winter of 2013/14. Almost immediately after completing Age Of Authority
, I spent that summer of 2013 with the music and twenty-two song sketches formed into enough of a tangible and themed semi-whole to become the final chapter of that trilogy.
These were written at Red Cloud Ranch
in Southern Colorado, a place at the far north end of the great San Luis Valley and a stone’s throw west of the Sangre de Cristo’s, known locally as the ‘east range’. Red Cloud Ranch falls between Moffat and the upward rise of Poncha Pass to the north where the Sangre’s meet and merge into a triad with the San Juan range in the west and the Collegiate range due north.
This is big country. At over eight thousand feet, you can kiss the sky. Standing at Red cloud, the fourteen thousand foot peaks of the San Juan’s curve like a backbone trailing off and away to the southwest passing within 10 miles of the ranch at its closest then well beyond a hundred as it diminishes into the lower highlands of north New Mexico. Looking east is a whole other trip. The main thrust of the Sangre de Cristo’s, literally and visually, occurs between Poncha Pass and Mt. Blanca, on a long and jarring outline of almost always snow-capped 14 thousand foot peaks. The range continues south-south-east through New Mexico and flattens south of ABQ, New Mexico. Red Cloud occupies ground on the valley floor and west of Highway 17, or the ‘Cosmic Highway’ as it is known locally. The view from Poncha Pass to Mt. Blanca is unbroken. The peaks at dawn are like sharks teeth sharpening the sun.
There would be no merry music-making that winter. I was away from Colorado in the Bay Area tending to my mother for much of November and December, and when Mike Ruppert departed
Red Cloud Ranch in late February of 2014, those twenty-two songs were put aside then buried when he was, in April of that same year after his fatal and self-inflicted gunshot to the head took him down, marking his passing as indelible, his blood-ink drying in a California field somewhere north of San Francisco, a world away from the music we made together and away from the Colorado el rancho we inhabited for that eighteen month frame out on the vast plateau of the San Luis Valley, overlooked by native spirit.
I did then what I have always done, buried the dead and began again, restrung the six-string and searched for the muse of music and sound. There were few visitors that spring and early summer, so time and memory were on my side, moments and scenes that had been, imprints of Mike and of Squishy and Rags, outlines now aligned with some intangible force and muse, hell-bent and insistent.
It was not my intention to record a solo album, or maybe not record at all. But out in the high desert, late at night, stars get struck and demand their say. Another twenty-two songs came from that place and unwound over the summer and through the fall then into winter, 2014. Throughout the making of Clutches
, Mike was in and out of thought, a loose association of chemistry, character and disembodied being.
Where we arrive at is never where we’re going. I was shocked but not surprised to hear he did it…pulled the trigger on his own life, ending what for him was a painful odyssey. The hero’s journey is never pretty; it is mostly messy business.
Doug E. Lewis
Posted: February 21, 2015 Filed under: Doug Lewis, NEW POSTS, New White Trash, Red Cloud Ranch | Tags: michael c ruppert, michael ruppert, new white trash
A year ago today, Feb 19, 2014, Mike Ruppert took leave from the el rancho here in Colorado for points west, steered by fate, guided by destiny, aligned by stars and, like all of us, hindered by time and place, by age and by all that we cannot leave behind, no matter how far we travel. His decision came quickly, calls were made and some new accommodation was found on the west coast, in NoCal, close to where MIke had departed from eighteen months earlier, with someone he knew but not well. Mike was sure but he wasn’t, only knew he had to make the move and it had to happen immediately. This was Mike, acting on impulse but always with a direction. My heart broke a bit that morning; we got his vehicle packed, Rags climbed in and we said our goodbyes with a long hug. Back in the house I watched him creep his way to the end of the driveway and stop at the green gates, at the edge of the cosmic highway. Mike got out and had some communication with the range then scattered tobacco in the breeze before making the turn headed west then out of sight. It’s possible I knew then we would not see each other again. I remember that feeling and it made me sad. I cried for MIke that morning, wept for the man, my friend, felt how fragile life really is, the weight of it all laid bare in the newly scattered vacancy of the el rancho. Six weeks later Mike would be dead, shot in the head by using the one gun he did not sell. “I thought you were selling all the guns?” “Yeah, well I decided to keep this one…you know…for the trip out west. Gonna sell it when I get out there.” Yeah, sure. Mike had numerous attributes but he was a terrible liar. The evening after the suicide, the spirit of Mike arrived back at the el rancho. Following his sudden departure, I left Mike’s room undisturbed until he had made it safe to NoCal then moved the studio back into that sweet end of the el rancho with the smooth plaster walls and warm vibe. Mike and I covered a lot of ground that evening, it seems, and over a couple of hours much clarity was arrived at relative to our relationship and to the world at large. From its particular vantage, the spirit of MCR painted a very clear picture, in that, as we were there in the room together, I kept hearing the water heater spring on for a short time then cut off. This would only happen if somewhere in the house hot water was turned on. But it wasn’t, I was in the house alone and had been since he left. The north wing of the house and it’s bath and shower facilities had not been engaged in weeks. I checked the studio bathroom and the kitchen but all faucets were shut. To complete the inspection, I checked the spare back bathroom in the north wing and sure enough, the hot water tap had been loosened just enough to flow and toggle the water heater. I chuckled. We chuckled. The message was clear, this was MIke reporting back one final time indicating how we, all of us, this planet and this life are in deep HOT WATER. Make of it what you will. Go about your merry and recall always how life is fragile and the end is always near. Be kind. Be thankful. Be grateful. Pic from the morning of Mike’s departure, with neighbor Roman in the middle. Squishy and Rags.