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Take a musical journey in Glenwood

Stina Sieg Post Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado Far out.Thats about what you think after a conversation with Carl Bernstein. And its not just because the guitarist uses the words himself. Heres a fellow who came of age in the hippie days, who spent years traveling in South America. Now, after half a century of playing, he still sounds excited about his music. At an age when most folks are thinking about security, the 65-year-old is mapping his own way musically.Isnt that out there?It all boils down to being really present, he explained, of his work, doing that piece with total involvement in the moment.

It was Wednesday morning, and he was speaking by phone from his home in rural Ocatae, New Mexico. He was hearty and jovial, going into his past, his years of teaching, his career shifts, his upcoming Glenwood show. He didnt give some full, extensive history, but more of a collection of short, important anecdotes that have shaped him. More than once he laughed, cutting a memory short, saying it was far too involved to detail. He was probably right but it was still all fascinating.At 7, he had an awakening to music, he said. Though hed playing for a while before that, one day, while practicing alone, he broke through to something new.Suddenly, everything changed, he recalled. It was just the shear joy of playing and being in the moment. It was wasnt work anymore.He was too young to know what had taken place, yet he spent his childhood trying to return to that instant of clarity. His musical journey had begun.At 15, he heard Pete Seeger in concert and was turned onto guitar. Shortly after, he started playing classical, because it struck a chord, he said.He talked about being 22, about the most intense, sustained experience hes ever had, studying with guitar great Andrs Segovia in Spain. For three weeks, he practiced six hours a day and was surrounded by others just as dedicated as himself. Segovia, he explained, was the man who made classical guitar an accepted instrument. It was his lifes work.He just wanted to get his music out there, he said.Bernstein was right there with him. And heres where his story gets thick and even more interesting kind of hard to believe, almost. 1972, he took off from Santa Cruz, Calif. with the intent of traveling to the farthest tip of Chile. Ostensibly, this was to meet a woman who had moved there, one hed seen profiled in National Geographic. Really, though, it sounds like he just wanted adventure. Like Segovia, he dreamt of playing for all who wanted to listen. He imagined himself as a troubadour. Other than that, there wasnt a plan.I was going to play music as a means of livelihood, he said. I was going to play music for anyone at anytime anywhere. And he did, for seven years. From small venues to sidewalks, to the first live concert on a rural radio station, he really performed wherever he could. Though he had left with only $400 in his pocket, he created this new life for himself. Being spontaneous opened up so many doors, he explained, to jobs to meals to friends. He found himself doing shows for the U.S. State Dept. He even met his wife. Music has almost always been his meditation, he said, his way of sharing himself. After all, in his words, it is a universal language.Everybodys open to music, he explained, It has a way of transcending all of peoples beliefs of who they are and who they should associate with.Of course he had so many more stories to share, about moving to the Southwest, the family hed raised, the 20 years of teaching hed done. Not surprisingly, however, the thing he sounded most jazzed about was what was going on with him right then.My whole life, Ive been learning to live in the moment, he laughed.These days, that means being a retired instructor from New Mexico Highlands University and the United World College, both in Las Vegas, N.M. It means having time to share his music with people again.The goal is to play from my heart and soul, he said, and help bring people into their heart and soul through my music.While he may not be the gypsy of his past, hes starting to perform his mixture of classical, folk and Latin songs for people across this country. Hes in a new life phase, he went on. Who knows where it will take him?I guess I would say Im feeling freer all the time, he said.Again, far out.


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