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Lincoln Center Education, NYC in 2015...

TULAROSA : AN AMERICAN "DREAMTIME"

Description and Artist Statement

TULAROSA is a song-cycle and musical in development that explores the American zeitgeist set against the backdrop of the Wild West.  Across a distinctively American mythological landscape, individuals on various points of our historical timeline find their way through Tularosa, New Mexico and confront their very personal, sometimes impossible, desires and American dreams.

The work is inspired by my study of the Tularosa region, an arid and inhospitable strip of desert plain in central New Mexico.  Despite the land's resistance to farming and human habitation, it has nevertheless been an object of intense desire and control for the region has been fought over for centuries-- first by the Apache and Comanche tribes, then successively by Mexican farmers, Texas ranchers, eastern railroad interests, and finally the US government. 

I built the song-cycle around American folk music traditions-- spirituals, Appalachian bluegrass and country americana.   Additionally, songs were inspired by my study of various American religiousand environmental movements, social migrations and the exploitation and shaping of the American landscape.  Comprised of many first-person, character-based narratives in the spirit of Edgar Lee Masters' "Spoon River Anthology", TULAROSA presents a myriad of historical and modern characters telling their personal stories, which collectively form a portrait of a continuously evolving American Dream.

TULAROSA's theatrical component, performed by twelve American "archetypes" playing many different characters, is a meditation on the history and outcomes of underlying American mythologies-- specifically, beliefs in manifest destiny, land exploitation, technological progress, religious fundamentalism and government-sanctioned violence.

I believe mythology is the hidden fabric of every culture that weaves the way we percieve and treat each other and the Earth.  In my work as a storyteller and songwriter, my aim is to examine the mythologies that underlie our belief systems and to create work that embeds life-affirming and challenges dis-empowering mythology and symbols.  I want to "infect" the culture with symbols that heal and teach younger generations to build personal symbolic landscapes that reflect empowerment, sustainability, community, creativity and human integrity.

KAMARA THOMAS :

Biography

KAMARA THOMAS is a song-speller and storyteller based in Durham, NC, where she fronts the country-soul group Kamara Thomas and the Night Drivers.  She released her debut EP in 2013 after performing, recording and touring nationally and internationally for over ten years as singer-bassist in the rock band Earl Greyhound.

In 2005 Kamara returned to her roots in theatre and began writing, developing and performing musical storytelling experiences.  Her work BULGARIA, a dark fairy-tale examining rock-n-roll mythology and the feminine creative experience, has seen numerous workshop presentations in New York and is now in final stages of development. TULAROSA,  another musical work in development, explores the mythology of the Wild West and its shaping of the American Dream.  In 2016 Kamara presented the song-cycle from TULAROSA as a guest artist for Lincoln Center Education.

Kamara was invited to a residency at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, New York, to develop BULGARIA and TULAROSA.  Kamara has been invited to speak at SOHO 20/Chelsea Gallery in their "Feminist Conversations" series and has also been a panelist and guest speaker on the black experience in rock music at Lincoln Center Institute, Princeton and Indiana University.  She graduated from The College of William and Mary with a BA in Theatre and Speech.

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LISTEN / LYRICS: 

The Tularosa Song Cycle  

The Tularosa song-cycle is comprised of first-person stories, as fictional characters offer their unique viewpoints of events throughout American history.  The following are a cross-section of the Tularosa material, as many songs are still in development.

(NOTE: To download Kamara's current album "EARTH HERO", go to THIS LINK and enter password: cosmic)

TULAROSA  I

On the banks of a leper white desert
The cattlemen claimed Tularosa
The farmer then fought with the herder
In the distance I stood with my father

He said, "Son I must bid you go hither,
For we've betrayed by our brothers
They have placed us between Tularosa
And a band of the dreaded Comanches"

"No father, I will not be parted
Like you I would walk as a warrior
I will take up the bow and the arrow
Side by side we will fight the Comanches"

"Son you must lay down your weapons
And walk down this pass with heart open
For there in the town Tularosa
We are known as the wicked Apaches

When you come to the gates of Tularosa
You must pray to the sky, desert, eagle
Then look into each eye with your kindness
And walk straight to eyes that reflect you

I will stay and watch on from this distance
Til I see you have reached Tularosa
Then I'll turn my face to the Comanches
And I know they will not show me mercy"

So I walked down the hill and a farewell
Saved my tears til I faced Tularosa
And I held my head high like my father
A hard wind dried my face at the outskirts

As I walk down the road to Tularosa
The eagle I felt on my shoulder
I offered my prayer to the desert
As I stared through the fog of their hatred

There they stood in the sunset's warm halo
A woman holding hands with her daughter
And they called me from something inside them
So I answered and walked to their side

I made my home there with this family
And I worked with glad heart to repay them
For to walk alone never would they let me
To the angry crowds never betrayed me

And I came to be ready for marriage
With joy took the hand of their daughter
And we made our home there in Tularosa
And the sky blessed our house and our children

But I knew all but one had forgotten
The first day that I walked in Tularosa
For whenever the times that he passed me
He would still call out "wicked Apache!"

The day I was killed in the desert
I was gathering the fruit of the yucca
As they faced me they saw a man smiling
Left my body in white sands of gypsum

As my breath floated over the canyons
And o'er the mountains of Sierra Blanca
I remembered the pink desert flower
I remembered the cheeks of my sweetheart

I have seen a man shed blood for water
Offer gold to the sky for the rain
My people too prayed for three rivers
To visit our desert again

To my people they call the Apache
The desert is old holy dust
To the cattleman, Mexican, Yankee
The desert will do what it must

To my son I will not leave a rifle
Nor my daughter the dry Tularosa
To my killers I leave only wisdom
To the desert my blood and my bones

My blood and my bones
To the desert my blood and my bones
 

STRANDED IN SAN ANTONE

We came out western in a wagon
full of all that we owned
And a vision of silver and gold
We stopped for what I thought would be
a moment in San Antone
You said to stock our stores until El Paso

When was it you decided
you were gonna leave me alone
As you whispered your land of milk and honey lies
My love I'll wait for you send for you
Once I reach the border of New Mexico
Oh why would a man deceive his woman his wife

You promised me the rivers of Damascus
When your love was all I was asking for
Instead you left me

Stranded in San Antone

Heard tell your story from a traveling man
recalling your boasts
From a dry well outside of Tularosa
How now you're hunted by the marshals and the widows and ghosts
But no mention of glory or gold

Ignoble husband just another outlaw
breaking the law
While I waited and worried and wept
If not the lawmen then the desert
the devil the angelic hosts
You're gonna hang or burn
like the summer burned me down

And still I wait with my eyes on the horizon
Hoping for the day that I die on
Because you left me

Stranded in San Antone

Laid myself down in the tented towns of China where they lay the railroad
Got me as far as the border of New Mexico
Caught myself up in a mad dash and
a fever for gold
Bright yellow stone come chase my past away

I chase my California dream
all the way to Cali-for-nye-aye
If you let me forget that faithless man
Build me an empire with a tower
where I can stand like the desert sage
Stubborn and stoic and brave

And as eternity claims me for my death
His name remains in the darkness
Nobody left me

Stranded in San Antone


MY KENTUCKY

This is Kentucky, the town of Hazard
And I'm living with my ladylove, the lily-white Olivia
Oh I say Olivia, I won't do for mining
I'm gonna take the railroad to the southern tip of Mexico
Now little girl you dry your eye and keep it on our mother mountain
From there I will come home to you
And I promise that I will be true, I'll say
In my Kentucky, the town of Hazard
Lives a lady, and I love her oh
So it doesn't matter what they may got to say to me
My home they'll never be

This is rail yard, downtown Chicago
And I've been working on the rail cars days, sleeping in the board house nights
Oh I dream Olivia of you dressed in ermine
Stepping off the luxury line
So I'm telling every friend of mine
In my Kentucky, the town of Hazard
Lives a lily-dove, and I'm the one she's thinking of oh
So it doesn't matter if I got things I gotta do
To me she'll always be true

This is a highway through Minnesota
And I'm a-following the heartland snow through the corner of Oklahoma
Oh I know Olivia that I'll find my treasure
Buried in these southern hills, and I know I gotta have my fill
As for my Kentucky, well I had to pass her
I know she'll understand why I had to keep going
I won't pay no matter
'Cause there's a thing I gotta be
And home a-waiting always is she

This is a fire side, cold dark Alaska
And I've been searching from the Iowa plains to forests of the Pennsylvane
For something, Olivia, I can't quite remember
I've been alone so long, I can't recall my home
Kentucky, oh town of Hazard
There ain't nothin' I wouldn't do to get me back home to you

This is a ghost town outside Tallulah
And I've been staring at the southern sun from the dawn until the day be done
Oh I heard Olivia, of your body buried
And now I'm riding me a riverboat back to the banks of my Hazard home
And then I'm gonna cry my eye for the daughter of the mountain
May our mother make a use of my tears
May she find me fit to bury here
In my Kentucky, the town of Hazard
I knew that I'd return one day
But not that I'd find my treasure this way
But what does it matter
I am old now
And my lily-love golden is gone

Oh Olivia, oh Olivia...

 

NINE DAY NOVENA
(A Mourners' Waltz)

MARIANA:

I sit and watch by this windowsill
It's curtains my wedding trousseau
For the open wagon with my child and husband
Now left many days ago
While the whole town whispered, friends warned of danger
From rustlers, rogues and enemies all
And the hired helpers of my husband's rival"
The injurious Albert B. Fall

LUPE:
Senora go easy, we'll offer novena
To sweet Mother Mary implore
For the ones for whom you languish, their safe and right passage
Their safe right return to your door

MARIANA / LUPE:

Nine day novena, Nine day novena,
Nine day novena might bring the baby back

MAGGIE:

I rise and I walk through these candlelit halls
Escaping the plague of my dreams
Both my sleeping and my waking full of silence and shadows
Shapes of demons and devils it seems
Oh the pale phantom visage of my dear and sweet daddy
Walks far lonesome hills when I sleep
And the ghost of my brother, lil' favorite companion
Awakes me to hear my own weeping

LUPE:

Be still señorita, our prayer has flown now
It's waiting for heaven's reply
Our humble novena and ourselves now included
Abide still till our answer is nigh

MAGGIE / LUPE:

Nine day novena, Nine day novena,
Nine day novena might bring the baby back

LUPE:

The night of the ninth day, it's moon dark and silver
I fear fate now is taking its turn
Neither the mother nor the daughter, no I  cannot console
And for my own peace forever will I yearn

MAGGIE:

My mindsight can see them, three ill-willed Tejanos
Spill the blood of the ones I adore
Dear brother forgive me, I asked father to take you
Thus forsaken I forsake the Lord

MARIANA:

I pray you saint Jude, patron saint of lost causes
Do they wait at the gates to the stars
This vessel once heavy laden, now empty, broken and hollow
Hopes they watch over us from afar

MARIANA / MAGGIE / LUPE:

Nine day novena, Nine day novena,
Nine day novena won't bring the baby back


OH GALLOWS !

Oh gallows, oh gallows
My Lord knows what you do
Your carrion crows so tender, so tender

My darling son I wonder
How did you end this way
What fault of me, thy mother, thy mother
Did not my teachings teach you
To walk straight in your way
My words of faith not reach you, not reach you

Oh gallows, oh gallows
My Lord knows what you do
Your carrion crows so tender, so tender

What did possess you brother
We'd made our fair escape
To render your confession, confession
This wicked town doth judge us
Unworthy to forgive
Would rather see us hungry and beggars

Oh gallows, oh gallows
My Lord knows what you do
Your carrion crows so tender, so tender

All eyes fall on you father
Oh carrier of disdain
Your shame our only fetter, our fetter
For though we walk with honor
You taint our family name
And cause us now to wander, to wander

Oh gallows, oh gallows
My Lord knows what you do
Your carrion crows so tender, so tender


EUGENE MANLOVE RHODES

On the flows of the sea did the Trojans meet
Their foes from Athens come
And when betrayed by a horse, as a matter of course
Fought brave for their kingdom
So a cowboy lives by the sword of his word
Though the sword be of guns and smoke
And he's a noble man, for adored by the pen
of Eugene Manlove Rhodes

Eugene Manlove Rhodes!

To the new world's shores the conquistadors
Brought hopes for treasures untold
When they landed there the chiefs knelt in prayer
Then were killed for glory and gold
So a cowboy takes what he knows is his right
Be it steer, water, life or steed
And it's a well known fact, indeed an honorable act
As written in Gene Rhodes' creed

Eugene Manlove Rhodes!

To the promised land Joshua led by the hand
The sons of Israel
And by the mighty song of that mighty throng
The walls of Jericho fell
So a cowboy rides by the force of his will
Over land that no mercy doest show
For it's a cold blue gaze tames the desert's blaze
Sayeth Eugene Manlove Rhodes

Eugene Manlove Rhodes!

With iron fists did the soldiers lift
That glorious empire of Rome
But on the by and by far foreign tribes
Cam a'conquerin' it for their own
So a cowboy learns that every empire falls
And was held by no great height
But if you're looking for fight, then it's an honest way of life
Said Gene Rhodes before he died

Eugene Manlove Rhodes!

Raise a long slow gin to the black an bloody with sin
To the white hot sun, to the barrel of a gun
To the palomino horse and to warm bordello doors
To the scorpions and the snakes, to the regals and the rakes
Both the jaded and the just written large in the dust
Of the gambler and the card, ol' Tularosa's bard
Eugene Manlove Rhodes

Eugene Manlove Rhodes!
Eugene Manlove Rhodes!


 

LAST RIDE TO LAS CRUCES

Last ride
Last ride to Las Cruces
Last ride
Last ride to Las Cruces


Out here nobody gets the last laugh
They only die by a beginner's hand
Like Patty Garret did to Billy the Kid
Just like the killers Billy's bullets did in 


Last ride
Last ride to Las Cruces
Las ride
Last ride to Las Cruces


There ain't no business is your business
Unless your making it your business
And if your business is to get paid
You may be doing business in your grave


Last ride 
Last ride to Las Cruces
Last ride
Last ride to Las Cruces

 

NO PEACE AT APPOMATTOX

There'll be no peace at Appomattox
And only ghosts to ride the field
Take my soul and plow me under
Before the devil takes hold of me

No peace...

I gave it all for my Viriginia
My youth, my children, oh lonely wife
And now a scarecrow I stand before you
Behold my heart of straw, my hollowed eye

No peace...

For love of country I wooed the pistol
Dragoon revolver and bayonet
And witnessed dread foe and brave companion
Romance the black soil with blood and breath

No peace... no peace... no peace...
At Appomattox

And thoughts lay heavy upon a memory
The words of old hag Magdalene
Her cough and cackle "My boy be careful now
I see your demon, he wants his way

I see him perched there upon your shoulder
The angry wolf say the Cherokee
I see you gentle wolf goes hungry now
The wolf that wins will be the one you feed

You feed... you listen now... to Magdalene...

Map of Tularosa Region  

Map of Tularosa Region

 

Apache Village

Apache Village

Apache Rite

Apache Rite

Three RIvers Petroglyph

Three RIvers Petroglyph

Ndee (Apache)

Ndee (Apache)

Comanche Chief

Comanche Chief

Sierra Blanca

Sierra Blanca

White Sands Desert

White Sands Desert

San Antonio Railroad Depot

San Antonio Railroad Depot

Steam Engine used for building Texas railroads

Steam Engine used for building Texas railroads

Chinese Railroad Workers

Chinese Railroad Workers

Tularosa River Basin

Tularosa River Basin

Kentucky Coal Patch Town

Kentucky Coal Patch Town

Razed Mountain near Hazard, Kentucky

Razed Mountain near Hazard, Kentucky

Kentucky Coal Miners

Kentucky Coal Miners

Mr. and Mrs. Fountain

Mr. and Mrs. Fountain

Henry Fountain

Henry Fountain

Albert B. Fall

Albert B. Fall

The Trial of Albert Fall and Oliver Lee

The Trial of Albert Fall and Oliver Lee

White Sands Desert

White Sands Desert

Gallows

Gallows

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Eugene Manlove Rhodes - The "Cowboy Chronicler"

Eugene Manlove Rhodes - The "Cowboy Chronicler"

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Canyon Road Art Gallery, Santa Fe NM

Canyon Road Art Gallery, Santa Fe NM

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White Sands Missile Range

White Sands Missile Range

Tularosa Region Solar Power Field

Tularosa Region Solar Power Field