Well, techically we swam with a string quartet, and technically we weren’t swimming, we were playing music.  But in the words of David Bashwiner (now, a very famous personage in Albuquerque*), playing with our string quartet (we don’t technically own them–we just wish we owned them) “is like swimming with dolphins.”  According to our bassist (see above about ‘ownership’), Michael Olivola, playing with Cactus Tractor is “traumatic and fun.”

A short clip of us swimming with dolphins (that dog-shaped one is actually a killer whale, and my jeans were destroyed by a pack of sharks!)

Anyway—we’ve been traumatizing dolphins and bassists and fancy drummers and horn sections because we’re practicing for a very, very important day.  Friday.  Of all the Fridays in the year this is Friday, December 18th.  And if that wasn’t weird enough, it’s also the Friday that we will be playing at the Outpost AND releasing our second album: Lydian Water Songs.  “An Evening with Cactus Tractor” will be a night to remember—so get your tickets now!—and remember the evening later!

“But what”—you say—”is lydian water singing? And how can I get me some?”  We reply, “Ah-hem, Lydian Water Songs can be got (pre-ordered) here, and if you really want to know what it is, you should read the review of the album that was published last week right now (scroll down till you see “Cactus Tractor”).  [Editorial note: You can also read David’s slightly more informative account in his interview, in which he waxes professorial on what it means and how it feels to write in the Lydian mode (and, as in our radio broadcast of a few weeks ago, once again falls still a wee bit short of actually having a point—or at least making it seem like he does). -DB]

An example of Lydian Water Singing, and a preview of “An Evening with Cactus Tractor”

Have you finished reading these tiny tomes? Are you intrigued? In awe of our “mighty blog”? Still in need of some clarification?  We recommend you come to the show on Friday!


*David (see photo above) will actually be featured in next week’s Alibi as well (in addition to this week’s Alibi) and we predict that, by the following week, people all over the world will be saying his name.  Probably loudly.  Probably before they have breakfast. [Editorial Note: I did. This morning. -CC]

Dear Cactus Tractor Fans (and Future Fans!) We are in the thick of our Kickstarter campaign to make our second album (Lydian Water Songs Pt., II) and we want you to be a part of it!

If you join the campaign before April 15th (easy, just turn us in with your taxes!) we will send the downloadable AlbuquerquEP to you!  The AlbuquerquEP consists of three original Cactus Tractor songs written by Stef, David and Christy respectively, all about Albuquerque.   To help us spread the word about the Kickstarter and this fantastic thank you gift we’ve hired Cornelius Rothbury (world famous Independently Wealthy Motivational Speaker and Lounge Singer) to speak on our behalf.  Take it away Cornelius!


If you would like to meet Cornelius in person (or anyone in Cactus Tractor for that matter), join us for BRUNCH at the Boiler Monkey cafe and eatery (located at the corner of 8th at Mountain in Albuquerque) on April 19th from 9:30am-12:30pm.

If Cactus Tractor had to claim to be good at only one thing, that thing would have to be brunch music.  Historians will probably determine that Cactus Tractor got its chops serenading late breakfasters on the corner of 8th and Mountain (which we did for many many man-months, every Saturday, during our first years as a band).

523238_3680392373050_1518566367_nIn the early days of Cactus Tractor… playing for free on a street corner (8th and Mountain)!

We also have a history of playing at Wafflucks (waffle potlucks) which, by their very nature, epitomize brunch (as determined by historians).

waffluck3The flyer for the most recent Waffluck we played in Ashland, Oregon, in honor of my (Christy’s) dad’s birthday!

Finally, Cactus Tractor also washes cars with champagne (Join our Kickstarter and get a CT Car Wash as a prize!)… washing cars and champagne (with orange juice) are both Saturday-morningy in nature, and by association we would say that they are also breakfasty, or brunchy.

IMG_7226Samuel giving the car a champagne rinse after sudsing!

If you’re unable to make it to brunch we’d love to have you at any of the other shows we’re playing this month!

April 11 (Today!): Tricklock’s Reptilian Lounge, The Box Theater. 10pm.

April 16: UNM Music Educators’ Variety Show, UNM, 7:30pm

April 18: Keshet Fundraiser, 4121 Cutler Ave. NE, 6pm-9pm

April 19: Sunday Brunch at the Boiler Monkey, 8th & Mountain, 9:30am-12:30pm

April 23: CT at Gold House, 8pm

April 25: Eileen and the In-Betweens CD release party at Low Spirits.  With performances by Me & My Wife (CT’s Christy and Stef), Cactus Tractor, and Wagogo.  8pm

April 30: Cactus Tractor’s Kickstarter Campaign Ends!  Please pledge your support now!

Greetings Cactus Tractor Friends, Family and Aficionados!

In the traditional spirit of the Easter/Passover/Spring Equinox season we thought it would be fun to draw on our album with white crayons, dye it bright colors, then hide it in the backs of toilets, under eaves, inside of sewing baskets, in cello cases and light fixtures—all so that you can find it before it rots and smells like sulfur!

But then we realized that although our album is like an egg in many ways—the glimmer in all 20 of our eyes (give or take a freak jousting accident), the unhatched realization of our creative potential, the tiny delicate dream we’re sitting on and warming with our butts—it isn’t actually an egg.

So we hit upon an alternate plan.  We reworked our backer prizes so that the album (The new album! The future album! The egg!) can be pre-ordered for a pledge of $15 flat (no shipping, no nothing! It’s no yolk!).  We only need 500 people to pre-order the CD to make Lydian Water Songs, Pt. II, a reality!

To clarify the Eastery metaphor: Our future album is an “egg”; we’ve “hidden” five hundred of them in places like the “toilet” and the “yard”; and if they’re all found by April 30th, the eggs will hatch into beautiful community-supported “chickens”—which shall be named Lydian Water Songs, Pt. II, Cactus Tractor’s second album.

So, without further ado, let the Cactus Tractor Easter egg hunt begin!  Follow this “clue” to “find one of the “eggs” (Click here to pre-order our future CD!).


davidsweetbunDavid lovingly implores you (with his two unscathed eyes) to join the hunt! He’s holding a traditional sweet bun (or nontraditional vegan lavender doughnut—you decide!) in honor of the season.

In the course of planting a garden I came across a lot of stuff that Orson has left scattered about in the backyard (in this case “stuff” is not a euphemism for “scat”).  As a creative force in the band, Orson has long been under-recognized.  Each of the items below has been carefully chewed, buried, partially eaten, rolled in the dirt, and in some cases destroyed by the elements just for you.  By Orson.


Before beginning our respective summer teaching gigs in messy art, remedial music theory, and stilting, Stef, David and I went to Kerrville Texas to swim in the river, camp and attend the Kerrville Folk Festival’s Songwriter’s School.

Due to a flush of torrential balmy Texas rain the only swimming we got in was while we were walking to class on Monday morning (although, later we would get the chance to wade through a field of mud-sewage in order to access David’s cute mud-sewage covered VW).

For these reason we spent most of our nights camping in hotels. To keep ourselves guessing (and to practice “life on the road”) we slept in a different hotel every night. Write to us and request our forthcoming pamphlet: “Middle-Cheap Hotels on Sidney Baker Street in Kerrville Texas: A Case Study comparing the Relative Merits of America’s Best Value Inn, Motel 6 and Super 8. With notes on the Origins of ‘Hey Cute Girl.'”

So the one thing we really did get to do in Texas was learn about songwriting and ‘the music Biz.’  To demonstrate our improved proficiency in both we’re going to have to refer you to our future songs and any evidence we can scrounge up that indicates we’re getting more famous.  For Instance: Just now we were approached by a self-proclaimed Michael Cera look-alike asking to take a picture of David because he “looks just like Mick Jagger”—Yeah! Watch out world, here we come!

Bob+Gruen+Mick+Jagger,+NYC,+1972David at the Kerrville Folk Festival

Another demonstrable effect of our time at the Kerrville Songwriter’s school should be evident at our live performances.

We opted to undergo a terrifying (because of his tendancy to tell the truth) and enlightening tutoring session with amazing songwriter and performer Vance Gilbert, who misheard Stef’s lyric “saw an eagle” as “solid negro” (this served as an object lesson on the importance of clear diction) and who taught us some simple stage techniques that felt cheesy down to the very marrow of our bones WHILE making us appear to be an accomplished tight group of professional performers. Who knew!?

Our hearts and souls were massaged and tickled by the other teaching faculty.  Luckily, yours can be too:  we highly recommend you see Terri Hendrix on August 13th at the Cooperage and Mary Gauthier on August 15th at The Outpost performance space.

After a week of rain, music, crying, laughing, songs and one instance of choking on a fry (ask Stef) we began the 11-hour trek back to Burque.  (To Be Continued.)





We’d planned to spend Halloween lying low and hiding from the scary members of Cat Distractor but then we had a better idea.  We came up with this totally fresh thought: disguises!  Why not go out on a limb and wear costumes for Halloween!  Unfortunately most of the band weren’t into it.  David was flying to North Carolina, Brandon was polishing silverware, Samuel decided to stick to the original plan and was ‘lying low’, the list goes on.  So Stef and I thought long and hard and came up with the perfect Hallow’s eve theme for the two of us: the Power of Love!

ImagePhoto courtesy of Eric Parthum (Not only did he meemily edit the be-hooey out of our Halloween wife photo he also texted me at 1am this morning to remind me that the month has changed, what would I do without Eric!)

No costume describes the power of love like Leeloo floppily dangling from Bruce Willis’ arms (especially with such a cinematic arch behind us).  We were greeted with cries of joy at Anodyne, “It’s love! the fifth element is love!”

polaroid45 polaroid47Leeloo and Brucey play pool.

As Leeloo and Bruce we did encounter a little love-themed competition.  The members of the really awesome band Pancakes were dressed up like a human heart and John Cusack from the movie Say Anything respectively.  We didn’t see Cat Distractor, but it’s possible that they too were wearing disguises.


“John” told me that he dressed up like Leeloo last year!

Love was, and really is the perfect theme for this month, and, well, the upcoming year.  Our Kickstarter campaign is nearing it’s sweet, incredibly successful end, and when its over we’ll begin our most intensive Valentine’s day preparation ever.  That’s right!  Our Debut Album debuts on February 14th.  And it will be shipped to you bursting with love.

meandmywife1 Like side project band “Me and My Wife” the Cactus Tractor Debut Album will reek Love and Oppulence.

For now, goodnight.

The cacti were separated for the weekend, although we continued to be caught together in the beautiful whirlwind that is our kickstarter campaign.  In the style of storm-naming I’ve decided to name our “whirlwind” Millie, in honor of David’s grandmother whose centenarian birthday celebration coincided with our previously humble (now auspiciously sparkly) campaign.

131019_002You couldn’t name a storm after a more elegant centenarian. (Birds is the angelic figure in the background—you’ll learn why this is important later)

You may have guessed where Birds and I were this weekend.  We flew to Illinois to sing for Millie, and luckily we didn’t have to keep our repertoire down to “Happy Birthday”  (David did play that number with lots of frills and 1920’s showmanship that would make any grandmother’s toes curl.  In happiness.)  A few more lucky things: we also got to play for Millie’s family and all of her friends!  Also, the venue, the very comfortable and elegant foyer of the Regency, was the most acoustically perfect room in which either of us has ever sung.

Over the past few days we’ve asked ourselves why it sounded so good in there.  The acoustics were definitely amazing (the ceiling was tilted just right, so that all the little trickles of sound dripped perfectly into our audiences laps) but there was something almost magic about it too.  For instance: all morning we’d been practicing and our voices were sometimes gooey, other times sharp and whistle-like.  Blowing out here and there, squeaking and rasping.  It was really gross.  But as soon as we started singing for the crowd at the Regency it was like two very tiny angels had taken our vocal cords captive, and made them agents of beauty against their wills.  Thus the angelic post-show photo of Birds above.  It was nothing short of miraculous.

Meanwhile in Albuquerque angels were also capturing things and inciting goodness with them (or “miracles were also happening”).  Stef and Samuel were taking Orson on a walk in the Bosque.  That wasn’t the miracle!  Wait for it…  As every experienced Stef knows, walking a dog by a river comes with certain risks, and she was prepared for all of them.

Something must have peaked Orson’s interest: a silvery gleam in the waters of the Rio Grande, the scent of a beaver wafting across from the other bank, some kind of waterfowl announcing its presence (one thing we know it wasn’t: a skunk, Orson has learned to avoid those stink badgers).  For whatever reason Orson jumped happy and headlong into the unpredictable waters of the Rio Grande.

Stef had been watching and probably even waiting for this to happen.  She ripped off some of her clothes (just some!) and threw herself after him into the brown freezing river.  The waters were high, she couldn’t touch bottom and the river was flowing fast.  She’d observed previously that Orson was having trouble with the current, and was consequently swimming in the wrong direction.  In order to cope with this difficulty Samuel was darting around on the bank, nimbly announcing Orson’s trajectory. “He’s up here!’  Stef swam in the direction of her husband’s voice, found Orson and grabbed him around his muscular chest.  She hauled him to the bank and pushed him up until he was able to clamber out on his own, wet, shaken, and ready to do it all over again! (…Just kidding).

Here’s what the river may have looked like:


Here is a picture of Orson, but I imagine that he probably looked a little more alert in the midst of his wet adventure.


Orson looks like he’s related to an Otter, but maybe Stef is.

Luckily Stef was able to extricate herself from the freezing quick-moving water without the assistance of a second, very-prepared rescuer.  She also happened to find a small minnow in her shirt (that is how I know that she was wearing some clothes).

There were several other miracles over the weekend including an incredibly generous donation to our Kickstarter Campaign from David’s uncle and aunt: Gord and Deb.  We can probably thank the architect at the Regency for that, or maybe we should just thank them!  If you haven’t yet seen how fabulously campaign Millie is doing, please do check out our Kickstarter page, and please don’t take an exploratory fun dive into the Rio Grande.

We’ve been incredibly busy this week with the campaign to bring cacti and tractors together at last.  Incidentally we met a “real” cactus tractor last night at the source.  In this photograph you see Steve operating the cactus tractor, and together they are squashing prickly pears into fuschially teeth-tinting cactus juice.  Our proposed tractor doesn’t promise to squish anything (especially not a cactus!) but it will definitely deliver some sweet juice to your ears.


Ya, ya, ears don’t drink juice (or anything) I know!  My metaphors are getting sloppy (slimy, slick, sloshy) because I’ve been riding around on a cactus tractor—or as our host this morning at the Local Food and Field Day announced us, a cactus trailer.  After he said it I realized I really like the name Cactus Tractor.  Not only does it feel fun to say, it’s also fun to imagine.  It could be the juicing machine above, a vehicle made entirely of spiny fleshy plant matter (farm equipment adapted particularly well to surviving in the desert!), a bunch of cacti growing unexpectedly out of a metal tractor, or, if you heard it wrong, a device designed for distracting cats.   When I hear the phrase cactus trailer…  Eh, maybe it is better.

Here are some pics of the band at Sister last Wednesday when we played with the lovely Memphis Dawls!


Cactus Smusher!

ImageBirds shredding.


The Memphis Dawls!

ImageSpiny leaf wagon!

ImageI like Stef’s boot in this one.  And Paul’s face.

That was last Wednesday.

On Saturday morning the gang got up bright and early to play at Zendo for a our favorite kind of audience (one with plenty of kids!).  We played for a couple of hours enjoying the beautiful light, the awesome coffee and the gorgeous people that come into Zendo for both (the light and the coffee).   We then took a brief respite and headed over to the Source for ArrbiZZarr (where we met the cactus squisher).

ArrbiZZarr, like CT, can also pride itself on having an unusual name (the kind of name that’s forever being mispronounced or misspelled even though it’s well meaning parents tried really hard to make it easy: “you know ‘arr’ like pirates and capital Z’s in the middle, and more pirates at the end!)  Anyway, ArrbiZZarr was AwwSSome!!!  There were a plethora of local vendors selling jewelry (I procured some fantastic feather earrings), herbs, foods and more… and everyone was willing—no, eager to dance!

I can honestly say that I’ve never enjoyed seeing people dance as much as I did last night.  One moment stands out as particularly impressive.  We were playing one of Paul’s songs and the entire audience started to jump on the beat.  It was a little like everyone was having a tantrum.  It was that kind of stampy two-footed jumping that little kids do when they’re upset.  This was, perhaps, all the more incredible because we didn’t have a drummer so there was, essentially, no beat for them to jump on in the first place!  Like I said, increZZible!

A few hours later we woke up again and headed out the Gutierrez-Hubbell house for the 6th annual Local Food and Field Day.

ImageCactus Tractor, third show in and still smiling! (At least I think Stef is smiling…)

This proved to be another completely delightful place to perform, and it was also stock full of amazing local vendors, food trucks and farm stands.  Plus we had a huge Band Tent and plenty of families.   After playing a couple of sets we went home and crashed. David woke up anxiously every 20 minutes or so and had to remind himself that no he didn’t have to get ready for the next gig.  Yet.

Yay!  Cactus Tractor!  If you haven’t already, check out our kickstarter!

Yesterday we launched our Kickstarter campaign.  It was a pretty dramatic event.  Birds, a 1st grade artist we know (we’ll be the house band at her upcoming Zendo show later this month—stay tuned)) and I counted down from 3 and yelled “BLASTOFF!” when David (Birds) pushed the “publish” button.  Now we can say that we know exactly how the folks at NASA feel.

After blasting off we kept a close watch on the campaign in case there were any space-themed emergencies like parts falling off, gravity loss or extra-terrestrial language translator typos.  Instead (and much to our surprise) we started getting pledges to fund our project!

Not wanting to waste a moment of the most precious 45 days of our lives we got down to business and played a show at Low Spirits for The Palace Flophouse‘s CD release party (an auspicious occasion for the first day of our campaign).  We were joined by some other awesome local acts: The American Rails and Mr. & Mrs. Jones.

Today, not wanting to stop performing for a single moment Stef and I wandered into Musica Post-Apocalyptica dressed as Cowboys Post-Disco and performed a piece with the Chuppers.  We were joined by Marisa and Monica Demarco who can harmonize at the drop of a sequin-studded hat (or pants).

IMG_4580Christy and Stef, Space Cowboys for Cactus Tractor.

The Chuppers (magical musical machine instruments designed by Manny Rettinger), incidentally, set off the Martian-language translation device.  I knew it would come in handy.

Tomorrow we’ll seek out new life and new civilizations and boldly go where no one  has gone before.

If you’d like to fact-check this post try reading David’s account on our Kickstarter page!

In a previous post I promised to tell you about THE THING, and shortly you will find out about THE THING, in fact, I plan to remind you about my exciting plan to tell you about THE THING every few words, just so you know that THE THING is out there and that I will indeed reveal to you the great mystery of the THE THING very soon!


We drove over the New Mexico and Arizona border and immediately noticed that the road was smoother, and the hills were greener and the sky was a little bit brighter.  We stopped at a rest  stop, and Stef and I gathered some quarters together so we could see THE THING.


David took our photo ( a la Scooby Doo) before we ventured into the cave-like entrance that promised us the enticing opportunity to see… well you know.


We followed a set of yellow bigfoot tracks.  If you look carefully you’ll notice that ole’ bigfoot may have been trying not to pee his pants. You may also notice that he had stepped in paint.


Here are some of the things in one of the three scarily enormous warehouses we explored (whilst following big yellow bigfoot’s big feet).  NOTE: these things were not THE THING.


We walked into the third warehouse, and were holding hands because it had begun to feel like a scary thriller movie.  As soon as we walked inside a bird chortled around in the rafters and then we saw it, THE THING.  I didn’t take a photo, because I didn’t want to spoil it for you, so next time you’re traveling between Arizona and New Mexico check it out.

While you’re there you can also check out this awesome Cactus.  It sprouted out of Samuel, but we decided to leave it there rather than pack it in with the accordion and everything else that was basically blocking any view out the back window of the car.

 IMG_4516“I give and I give and I give,” says Samuel, after birthing his body-cactus.

PART II: Hinklefinny Duster

Shortly after this set of strange happenings, David decided to develop his own special super power: becoming a different, even nerdier person: Hinklefinny Duster. Here he is, ladies!

IMG_4517 IMG_4518

See Hinkle in action by clicking here!

photoCactus Tractor at PotluckCon

Yesterday we recorded “Columbia” at PotluckCon in Dusty Wakeman’s pop-up studio in Tucson Arizona in the Mojave suite at a resort… There is all kinds of name dropping and crediting we get to do, so settle in! Samur from Seahorse Sound in L.A. recorded and mixed the session, and Freidl filmed us (at one point there were several photographers and sound engineers in the room and David sighed happily and said “Finally, we’re getting the recognition we deserve.”) and offered moral support.

Here’s the result of our fun recording session:

Later on in the evening we took our newly recorded track to the CharterOak Suite and had it Mastered before our very eyes. The resulting track is here:

We’re not really sure which is better, but we encourage you to give us your two cents (or more–remember, our Kickstarter campaign is about to launch!). It definitely was a heck-of-a-lot of fun, and this morning we got to listen to our newly recorded, mixed and mastered track on a pair of $15,000 speakers in the show room! It sounded pretty good.

This morning 4/7ths of Cactus Tractor headed for Tucson, Arizona to attend an audio and recording conference tastily named PotluckCon.  Keeping this in mind we’d packed lots of snacks for the trip (knowing that road-withered fruit and left-over handfuls of trail mix are excellent additions to any food sharing festivity).

IMG_4472Stef tries to eat a peach, but unfortunately, it tries to eat her back.

Well into the drive we realized that August 1st was supposed to be the first day of our Kickstarter Campaign to make a Cactus Tractor album and, that August 1st is today! Great!  I made a list of everything we have to do starting with David’s suggested list item “make a list of everything we have to do.”  After making the list, I checked off item number one.  That’s about as far as we got today.

However, we had plenty of interesting adventures on our way to Tucson starting with our stop in Hatch.

IMG_4479David carried this banana peel around with him all day.

IMG_4482Stef started getting snuggly with the Colonel.

IMG_4490Meanwhile I was trying to combine two of my interests: Space travel and Pin ups…

IMG_4484Same story.  Or I was trying to get to the big chile on top of this pole, and slipped. 

IMG_4493Stef shared tea with a robot…

IMG_4494And slipped.

IMG_4478David and his banana peel take a walk together.

Please take a moment to watch a short film about it.

Moral of the story: The Cactus Tractor Kickstarter Campaign will begin in a few days, but in the meantime we’ll be posting all about our adventures in New Mexico, Arizona, and wherever else there is a Cactus Tractor (we did find cacti and several tracti at a rest stop / gas station that advertized itself for hundreds of miles with giantly lettered billboards reading… “THE THING!”  Find out more about THE THING in my next post.

Also, watch out for banana peels.

Recently we had the opportunity to introduce a new cocktail to Albuquerque: Cactus tractor, the drink!


Bob and Juliana enjoying Cactus Tractors.

This particular cocktail was invented by Randa Duffy in Denver, Colorado during the brief period of time (July 21 – August 10, 2012) that Colorado was engaged in being a part of Yemen. Miss Duffy took our band name, “cactus tractor” and scientifically formulated it into liquid—just in time for our performance at her house (The Post Pony Palace, August 9). Lucky for us she wrote down the recipe, I found it (scanned for your benefit, see below!), and David, having finished only a few hours earlier his philosophical doctorate in mixed drinks, stews, buying houses, and then warming them, was fully qualified to prepare the Cactus Tractor (the drink!) for our guests this past Friday.


For the visual learners, we’ve including a step-by-step play-by-play below.

Step 1. Gather your supplies.


Step 2. Dice Jalapeno. Avoid eyes (especially with knife).


Step 3.  Cut fresh basil.


Step 4. Muddle.


Step 5. Pour in lime juice.


Step 6. Muddle some more, till it looks something like this.


Step 7. Pour in agave. You maybe should have done this before you muddled last, so perhaps muddle again. No more muddling after this. We promise.


Step 8. Sniff the snifter, making sure it was cleaned after the last party.


Step 9.  Double check.


Step 10. Grab some ice.


Put it in the mixing cup.


Step 11. Pound it in if it doesn’t fit…


…making sure not to hurt yourself. Be sure to read all instructions in advance.


Step 12. Repeat step 11 until ice is firmly in cup.


Good job. But close the freezer because you’re wasting energy.


Step 14.  Add a dollop of muddle to the ice.


Step 15. Add orange liqueur.


Step 16. Add tequila


Step 17. Pour in pineapple juice.


Step 18. Put various hats on the top of your mixing cup.


When all the hats are in place you should have something that looks like a metal sarcophagus, or a Russian nesting doll with her back to you (wearing a metal dress).


Step 19.  Shake.


Whoops! Don’t forget protective glasses. Now, Shake!


Step 20.  Place martini glasses on the table.


Step 22. Remove one hat and fill the first glass.


Now the second.


Step 23. Admire.


Step 24.  Drink! (Keeping an eye on the other person if you’re worried she might be a leprechaun).


When we asked each other what Mr. Watson would like for his birthday we both said “an original Jackson Pollock painting.”  So we set out to make one—since we couldn’t get a hold of Pollock on a Sunday, not to mention Monday was a holiday!

Click on the first picture then scroll through to read about this fabulous adventure!

On the road Sebastian and I came up with an invention, that, like Cactus Tractor, Cat Distractor and many other misheard musings, is sure to make us rich and famous forever.  Sebastian’s family has, stored in their garage, a small tea tin containing the remains of much loved family pet named Mushroom (careful readers of our blog will be familiar with this detail, see “The Most Important Thing is That You Blog,” July 28, 2012, Farnsworth).  We were discussing what else could be done with the ashes of a pet (other than the traditional burial, distribution via wind or water in a beautiful location, keeping in an urn on the mantle piece, etc.) and we came up with something quite remarkable.

What if the ashen remains of a beloved ex-dog, cat, bird or fish could be made into ink for the mourner?  As the ink would actually contain the pet’s corporal remnants it could be called incorporated ink and our production business could rather cleverly be called “Ink, Incorporated,” or “Ink, Inc.”

Taglines immediately presented themselves:

“Ink, Inc.  Making ink meaningful,” or

“Ink, Inc. Bringing death to ink, bringing ink to life.” 

As we considered the advertisements for such a product we naturally began considering it’s uses.  Incorporated ink could be used to add a certain weightiness to special documents.  Witnesses signing birth, death or marriage certificates would represent themselves, as well as their ex-pet.  Manifestos would seem more potent, invitations would be harder to turn down and, mad libs would finally be considered seriously…all because the the ink with which they have been drawn up is now tinged with a melancholy reminder of mortality.

If an especially well-loved animal were to pass on, the potency of the ink could be cut back to only a few particles per million in each bottle.  Thus the lives of millions could be touched (literally) by this animal’s chalky remains.

This could be the biggest marketing scheme since personalized grains of rice.  Hey! The names on said rice grains could be printed with incorporated ink!  The personal value and meaning afforded the personalized-rice-grain-buyer would be multiplied exponentially with the addition of a beloved pet’s totemic presence.

Clearly Ink, Inc. is a fantastic idea.  It was only when we began discussing Blood, Inc. (another kind of incorporated ink, made with the blood of the living buyer) that I began to think we might be getting a little carried away.  Obviously ink made from blood would be superior to pet-ash ink when creating treasure maps, pacts, or wills—but would it be sanitary?  Sebastian’s tagline for the new product, “Blood, Inc.  Tattoo her name on your body, in blood… her blood” sounded more creepy than awesome.

Blood ink would be ideal for signing documents or sealing secret envelopes because, unlike a regular signature, watermark, or seal it couldn’t be faked.  You can’t fake DNA.  But, you could steal it, and it would really suck if someone stole your ribbon of personalized ink to type up their crappy zine, and then you got the unasked for credit because it happened to be written with your blood.

Clearly, there are a few kinks to work out, and probably a lot of public health permits we’ll have to attain before Ink, Inc. becomes a reality.  So, we’ll see.



We returned to Albuquerque on Friday, quizzed friends about our tour with questions from this blog (Stef won, even though she just sort of skimmed the blog while Bethany studied it in detail all day long), and barely woke up in time to get to our regularly scheduled Saturday morning gig at Tiles of Santa Fe coffee shop.

Now is probably a good time to divulge that Jason Warshof’s Cactus Tractor is not actually a duo.  In fact, it turns out that we are an 8-piece, sometimes 9-piece—aspiring to be 10-piece band (though we’ve only performed with 2–6 people to date).  We’ll be adding trivia, stats and measurements for each of our attractive band mates to the “cacti” section of our blog soon!  For now all you need to know is that Brandon and Ashley Smith (Stef) joined us on Saturday morning and exponentially increased the quantity and quality of everything.

Margarita took this snapshot of us playing on the porch at Tiles—she would later be enthusiastically thanked by Sebastian!

After two and a half hours of performing music Sebastian proudly informed us that we had been playing in 102 degree heat all morning and that he wanted some pancakes.  By this time Samuel (married to Ashley Smith and also in the band) had scootered up, so the 5 of us went to breakfast and then to Bethany’s (also in the band) awesome Friends of the Orphan Signs show at 516 ARTS in downtown Albuquerque.  We took some pretty good band photos while we were there:

Today we practiced with Bethany, Ashley Smith, Samuel, Brandon and Tim for several hours.  It was when we revisited Jason(also in the band)’s song “River” that it started to rain—in the same mystical way it started raining about a month ago when Jason was visiting Albuquerque and practicing with the band for the first time (that time we were playing Columbia, another rain summoning song).

There’s more to say on the subjects of rain, Omaha Nebraska and audiences entirely comprised of choir members but I’ll save it for my next post.  Although Sebastian and I blogged much more than we practiced (or even played music) on our tour of the United States in the shape of Yemen there are still several holes in our story.  Hopefully we’ll be filling these holes in soon with lots of true stories and beautiful lies (and maybe a little bit of caulk).

We’d like to thank Jason Warshof and family for sponsoring this blog post.

ImageWhen we visited Glenna in Milwaukee, David got put in prison for imitating a raccoon.  They just don’t stand for that kind of thing there!  However, everyone seemed to be fine with Orson imitating a hopping beaver (look for footage soon)!

ImageWhen we moved Paul Wilhelm out of his Hyde park apartment in Chicago, we also had the opportunity to build a sculpture.  I’d like to describe it as a “found object” work, but a more apt term would be “finders keepers,” as people kept walking off with parts of it.

ImageDavid and Orson can’t sit on a street corner without looking like the cover of a record from the 1970s.    Further evidence that they may already be famous.

ImageDavid Cook (brother!) points at a mouth in an art book.  “It look’s like David’s mouth” (he means Sebastian.)

ImageWe don’t smoke cigarettes but that doesn’t stop us from wanting to collect them all!  Plus, American Spirits look really good with everything we wear.  David carries three boxes around in his pockets as a means of illustrating this point.

ImageThe car! Orson is under that pile somewhere.

ImageDavid Cook.  Wearing red string and talking on a smart phone.

ImageThis photo just appeared on my phone.  I’m thinking some kind of poltergeist artist is at work.

Dear Readers,
Turns out I have my own secret blog (not anymore!) so I posted something on it today.  I would hate for our loyal Cactus Tractor blog followers to miss out on this exciting event so I’ve posted this blog post so you can see that blog post.

Just to be on the safe side I’ll provide a third link:  Click here to read Ginger’s exclusive new post on her personal blog!

Also, stay tuned, there’s a rumor that Claude Lord Farnsworth will be adding to the Cactus Tractor blog again soon!  But he seems to think it’s more important for us to get to our show in Omaha on time first.


In Galesberg, Illinois. –Sitting in the pleasant breeze of a lazy summer window, Earle Grey tea at hand, cicadas and trains syncopating the background sound scape.  There are giant red candles massed out across the wide window sill boards next to me.  Leafy shadows romantically caress the computer screen in front of me and a group of Knox college folks are discussing the logistics of why groove music is sexy.  David is illustrating a point with some complex beat-boxing, which I didn’t even know he could do… You’ve been holding out on the band Bashwiner!

On our drive today we decided that we’ve been on tour forever.  It just seems like we’ve always been on the road; waking up on strange mattresses, couches, floors, squished next to dining room tables, in a tent in someone’s backyard, and occasionally, in very comfortable beds.  It’s just become normal to wake up in one of these places, repack* the car, wander through the day and eventually fall asleep somewhere else.  (Sometimes we play music too!)

It’s also started to seem normal for people to approach David on the street.  Someone greeting him with the congratulatory  salutation, “Hair god!,” as we pass, or a woman grabbing his curls in awe… these things just happen, a lot.  It’s lead me to pose the question: “Wait, are you famous already?”  A question he refuses to answer.  But perhaps you can!  Which of the images below is a picture of David (Sebastian/Claude)?  Your poll answers are much appreciated, and perhaps we can clear this whole thing up, together.

Further evidence has surfaced that David may be famous in his own right, already.  Turns out he’s got a hit song in Galesberg that has been played on repeat for weeks in fraternity kitchens.  After this came to light we transformed a trampoline and started shooting footage for the music video.   Coming soon, I hope!

*repack–  On repacking:  Repacking is Sebastian’s favorite part of the day, which is mystifying to me because he does it differently every time.  When I repack the car I follow a precise blueprint so that one can see out the back window.  But this does not appear to be Sebastian’s goal.




We’ve been on the road for almost two weeks.  Sleeping on a variety of surfaces, bathing in different parts of Lake Michigan, gleaning our water from coffee and rivers, and eating every other day has some interesting results.  It feels like I’m at a perpetual 3rd grade slumber party.  Everything that is gross is also funny.  In fact we’ve been collecting gross things (Sebastian picks them up and puts them in his pockets —but I’ve just been making a list).

We haven’t played music in a few days so instead of saying things like “Oh, we should blog about the time when we were Rock Stars in Chicago!” we’ve been saying things like “Oh! We should blog about that piping hot bag of dog poop!”

The other day on our way to the beach in Hyde park I noticed that Sebastian had stepped on a condom:

“David, you just stepped on a condom” –Ginger

“Ew! Was it in a wrapper?!” –Sebastian

“No, nor was it on a rapper.” –Ginger

We helped David’s friend, Paul Wilhelm, move out of his apartment the day before yesterday (also in Hyde Park).  7 or 9 (but definitely not 8) of us were helping him carry boxes down three flights of stairs like sweaty ants taking food to the queen.  Orson licked our legs as we passed him on our way up, then, perhaps as a direct result, he vomited on the stairs.

We spent the better part of the afternoon this way: sweating on a vomity staircase. Every once in a while we’d hear someone further down groan under the weight of a bookshelf, or a particularly heavy box.  It was a disconcerting descent through hot sticky air accompanied by the sounds of tortured moans and curses drifting up from below.  We joked and laughed about hell to make ourselves feel better.

When the couch was lifted up from its place in the living room there was a collective cry of shock.  The couch (which probably had not been moved for about 7-9 years) had been obscuring a bed of thick mouse-like rolls of dust which had ensnared a giant collection of empty (and full) water bottles, a couple of flip flops and several tennis balls. It was nothing short of amazing.  See the film!


After a long day of moving we crashed at another friends place, a very nice apartment with several large collections of liquor.


It could be that Orson had a little too much alcohol, or that he was still confused from all of the sweat and lake water he’d been drinking, but as soon as we got downstairs yesterday morning he peed on David’s suitcase.  Later, when we arrived at Glenna’s in Milwaukee he made himself at home and threw up on her neighbor’s foot.

—Look for a second installation of great gross stories soon!

Swimming in Lake Michigan, or “the Ocean,” as I’ve become accustomed to calling it has been wonderful.  However the Ocean was also indirectly responsible for a harrowing series of events and a string of sleepless nights: starting with the first moment that my head went under water.

I came back from the beach with slightly waterlogged ears (a minor annoyance at tops) which Sebastian/David solved by handing me a few cue tips.  I didn’t want to embarrass myself by mentioning that I had never used a cue tip, so I watched David clean his ears, and started in on mine.  In a matter of moments I had tucked all of the earwax (in both of my ears) tightly up against my eardrums.

“I can’t hear!” –I garbled blindly, and watched as David and Paul Wilhelm mouths moved mutely in the sea of silence in which I’d been engulfed.  I could barely make out snippets of their conversation “has she ever uuuuut cuetips!?,” “she needs to snooooodll and then smuurrrrr.”  Paul Wilhelm lay down on his back and rolled from side to side flapping his hands by his ears.

In the manner of someone speaking to a very old foreigner David assured me that we’d figure something out first thing in the morning.  I slept fitfully waking up frequently to the overwhelming and pressing sound of nothing.

In the course of the night I remembered that I’d had a plugged ear in Mexico and my host mom had laughed and said “Oh!  Necesitamos un cigarrillo!”  I had laughed and said “otra vez?” thinking I’d misunderstood her.  She then lit a cigarette, took a few long drags, puffed out some smoke and stuck it, filter end down, into my ear.  Nothing had happened then, but as I fought with the horrible foamy silence I figured it might be worth another go.

So, I spent the first part of the morning sharing a cigarette with both of my ears.  I  felt like we were three truant middle-schoolers, smoking secretly out the bathroom window. When that didn’t work (what!? Really!?) I tried ear drops, a rubber water squirting bulb, some ear oil and an ear candle.

I’d used an ear candle once before (and still have burn marks on some of my clothes) to no avail, but again, I figured it might be worth another go.  David monitored the “slow vacuum” while reading up on them online.  We learned that ear candles are somewhat notoriously known for adding wax to an already plugged ear which explained why the instructions on the box were so ambiguous –nowhere mentioning an ear and generally avoiding a law suit.

Over the course of 48 hours I regained hearing and then regained not-hearing repeatedly, David kept talking to me like an old person, I was perpetually yawning to try and clear my ears and I was generally feeling like a wet pile of horrible everything (a phrase I also use to describe my swimsuit and towel pile).   At about 5am this morning I found myself considering sharing another fag with my ear and decided it was time to go to a doctor.

Early this morning Glenna (Wisconsin’s best—not a cheese but a person!) dropped me off at the Urgent Care facility in downtown Milwaukee where a nurse expertly sprayed a stream of water into my ears from a bottle labeled something like “Elephant Ear Wax Removal Spray Gun” (why Elephant?).  In a matter of minutes I had regained all of my hearing.  I almost told the nurse I loved her, but then noticed the insane clumps of wax which had fallen out of my ears.  Instead, I asked her if I could take a picture before she threw the wax water out.  She told me I was the first person she’d met who’d wanted to do that, and I told her it was for my band’s blog.  This seemed to be a good enough reason for her.

We left Springfield Illinois yesterday feeling like rock stars because we played a disproportionately large number of shows for the days we had been in town, we made a lot of friends and were recognized virtually everywhere we went, a few people liked us on facebook, and we had been keeping vampire hours (though not vampire practices, out of fear of the well known former president/vampire slayer who protects the citizens of Springfield from the undead).

Our last day in town was spent touring the Old State Capitol building—which incidentally is where the aforementioned president’s body was brought after his death—sleeping and eating.  Our last night in town was spent playing two hours’ worth of music at the Tin Can Pub, where we were joined by the self titled “Coolest guy in Springfield,” Mason Summers, who played an instrument previously untested by the Cactus Tractor gang: a tin soup can struck with a seashell!

The soup can doubled as a drinking vessel and served Mason well at the Celtic Mist (pronounced by Springfieldians as if they are imagining Larry Bird‘s head popping out of the clouds), a pub we visited after the show.  A portion of beer had just been poured into the can when Mason set it down to demonstrate a dance he called something like the “slanky dance.”  When we returned to our drinks the can had mysteriously disappeared.  After questioning all attendant bartenders, it was discovered that one of them had indeed thrown the can away.  Being not only a can, but also a musical instrument, a mug, and possibly much more, this discovery was more than a little upsetting.  Therefore, all parties were very pleased when the bartender returned with the can retrieved from the refuse pile.

Mason, pictured above with his prodigal can

So, we were high on stardom (and low on caffeine) as we left Springfield on our way to David’s dad’s house near Chicago.  We arrived after nightfall so we tried to make a quiet, unobtrusive entrance: which David instigated by sneaking around the house and spying in windows to see if anyone was awake.  Orson shot into the bushes chasing some night animal as we discovered that David’s father was, indeed, up.   We knocked at the front door and were surprised when it’s opening corresponded with the arrival of a sickeningly strong stench.  We didn’t notice at the time that the smell’s arrival also corresponded with Orson rejoining our group.

After a brief series of investigative smell-searches (and gag reflexes) it was discovered that poor Orson had chased and then been sprayed by a skunk.  Our arrival became slightly more conspicuous as the house filled with the volatile aroma of skunk thiols.  Luckily we had all the ingredients needed to dissolve the smell on hand.  Unluckily we didn’t think to apply them to all surfaces of Orson, and focused on the visible yellow spot on his chest.  After we’d tossed out the remains of the odor removing potion we noticed that Orson’s face was still radiating a less awful, but still remarkably bad, scent.

So, Orson spent the night outside and we spent the night inside… but everyone spent the night with the smell.  The good news is David got up early (relatively) and cleaned Orson successfully, and we have a great new band name in mind: Stink Badger.

You can see (in figure 1) that St. Louis Missouri is located just off the coast of Yemen in the Gulf of Aden.  We drove along ol’ highway N-4, then had to off road it for several miles, eventually turning the blow-up bed into a raft, and fording our instruments (and Orson) through whale shark infested waters until we landed on the island.

figure 1

It was definitely hard to get to St. Louis, but if you have the wear-with-all to get there, it’s totally worth it.  –G

Booking shows is a lot easier than one would think.  When you spend about a month writing fruitless emails to bars and coffee houses all over the country—trying to seem hip, fun and talented, without sounding pompous—you start to get the sneaking suspicion that no one likes you and that it’s actually impossible to get gigs.  But the solution is so simple: all you have to do is go on tour.

Bashwiner and I have played at least one show every day: sometimes two or three.  Our strategy is basically to pick up some instruments and wander the streets until we find ourselves playing in front of a live audience.  We tried this out last night.  I had my washboard and ukulele and David was carrying two electric guitars (you never really know when you’ll need a spare).  Anyway, it was probably because of the two guitars that some folks immediately asked us where we were playing and informed us that they would be joining us wherever that might be.  Luckily we’d found out about a few open mics in the area and after listing a couple of them we found ourselves following the native Springfieldians to a bar called Norb Andy’s for Chris Maxey’s open mic.

Chris Maxey playing under Norb Andy’s nautical themed décor — Abe Lincoln might have been in this building once

We were early (and “on tour”) so our host, Chris, let us play a longer set than normal, during which, we impressed the audience with the seeming randomness of our song choices.  Even though it would have been impossible for someone other than a Cactus Tractor band member to guess what song was coming next, several people in the audience were singing and dancing along.  After our set Chris invited us to come and play between acts at his show (tonight!) at Boone’s Saloon.  We calmly nodded our ascent and congratulated ourselves on our careful planning and forethought.

Having played and booked a show we left Norb’s with a pleasant sense of accomplishment, but we thought we’d hit up the Tin Can Pub‘s open mic before calling it a day—just in case.  We opened the door to the rousing sound of people yelling the word “Yes!” over and over again.  We decided to stay and sign up to play.

Tin Can Pub Open Mic — There was either a very chaste porn or a very sexy regular movie playing above the performers.

When “planning” our tour we had tried to contact the Tin Can Pub in advance to set up a gig—a useless endeavor because we’d emailed the wrong pub.  David divined this information by accosting the bar tender and the owner, demanding: “why isn’t the door to your pub blue like it is on the website!?”

“Well, son, that’s because that is not our bar.”-Bartender

“Incidentally, we were trying to get a gig here.” -David

“Oh, you guys want to play on Saturday?” -Bartender

The bar owner then sorted out the fine print by adding us to his iPhone calendar—an act he described wonderfully as being a “guerrilla booking.”  After we’d been officially offered a gig we went up and played a few songs to finish off the open mic for the evening.  Luckily, there was not a rousing chorus of “No!”‘s and we kept our much desired spot on the iCalendar.

We don’t have any real shows planned in Chicago, but why would we?  We’re not there yet.

These pictures represent some of the things we’ve been doing on tour instead of booking shows: taking cute pictures of Orson, finding bird nests in fast food restaurant signs, and considering putting our photo on a cake.

In complete agreement with the laws of miracle tours, David and I found ourselves surrounded by new friends; smoking cigars and making large ephemeral art projects (respectively).  After playing a family-awesome-hipster show with Marty Peercy at his hipster-awesome-family coffee house we were invited to stay with a really awesome hipster family!

At some point the men all drifted outside to bond with fire and the night howls of wild animals under the cold distant stars, or something.  I stayed inside with the women and children and got to participate in the creation and destruction of a series of popsicle stick sculpture/paintings.

If you’ve read David’s account of our Shawnee experience you’ve probably already checked out LeAnne’s art, but you should know that she’s also an incredible art teacher, and her sons Titus and Duke are living evidence.  Titus, LeAnne and I spent the better part of an hour coming up with new techniques for each of our subsequent “paintings” (see below!).

These pieces were constructed with eyes open, with eyes closed, in motion and in motion with eyes closed!  And we were working against time.  At regular intervals the other two children would run into the room and destroy whatever it was we had created.

We got a late start to our tour today because Bashwiner was giving me music lessons.  He said he thought it would be a good idea for me to “catch up” to his PhD in music theory before we left, so about four hours later we were ready to go.

Our first order of business on the road was to think of a new band name.  We’ve been changing it pretty regularly: Dave, His Dog and His Gun begot Bandana Verde which begot Cactus Tractor…  We thought “why the heck not keep on begetting!”  And Cactus Tractor begot Cat Distractor.

At about nine we stopped to have a light supper of hot dogs and Subway sandwiches.  We sat at a little table nestled between wind chimes and a Slushie machine in a gas station super mart.  I tried to drink some free water and ended up drinking some free blue-flavored mountain dew. But Sebastian thought I stole it on purpose and tipped off store security.

Now I’m sitting Gingerly on my bed at the Bonanza motel (In Vega, TX).  Sebastian checked the mattresses for bed bugs by looking for blood stains  –He didn’t find any but the idea of finding bloody bug stains on mattresses… is gross.

When I asked what he would do if he had found blood stains he said “I would have started running!”  So at least we agree on the escape plan.


P.S. now it’s morning and it seems like we’re off to a good start:

“I didn’t realize they were that massive of shoes, they’re like two dying suns on my feet”

is what I just heard Sebastian say, here’s what he actually said:

“Can I wear these (pants) with these shoes?”