Monday, May 11, 2015

Out on the Range

In the middle of the desert just a few miles east of Salton Sea and about fifty or so miles south of Indio, California, exists a place which comes to life only on Saturday nights. Rain or shine and though it is after dusk  this place rocks to varied beats of sound for varied sorts of humans.

We’re talking about The Range! 
Lit up for entertainment!

A place so hip and remote that people come from around the world to visit this famous – or infamous venue to sing, play music, recite poetry, be standup comics, or just want to express their feelings about the world through imagination and creativity.

Mystery Man? Who is he? He wouldn't tell us!

The Range is located within the confines of Slab City – an eclectic setting of RVs, tents, and whatever else which could be an excuse to call home. The Slabbers, as they refer to themselves, have taken to residing within what used to be a 640 acre military installation known as Camp Dunlap, a Marine training facility which operated from 1942 to 1946. By the early 1960’s the installation was demolished and in came the residents taking up space on the cement slabs which used to house barracks and the like. Thus the term ‘slabbers.’

More and more folks moved here with temporary or full time residency, and then like magic a full blown community was hatched.

Home sweet home?

With any village, which the Slabs was turning into, the people wanted more and more things – things like entertainment. This is where the innovative ‘Builder Bill’ comes into play.

 ‘Builder Bill’ who taught himself how to play the guitar, decided that he had a vision. And that epiphany was the design of an outdoor stage where locals and not so locals could come and enthrall the early nighttime crowds.

Locals moving to the groove - perhaps 'enthralled'

 What started out small ended up large with entertainers from about the globe traipsing across the sandy outreaches of the Slabs to bring joy and smiles to hundreds of guests on the seventh eve each week.

Actually, very talented bands

As John and Paul (Laureen wasn’t able to make this adventure) wandered through the crowds ‘grooving’  to the various bands, it was a wonder this seemingly forlorn stretch of stage three short miles from the shores of the Salton Sea weren’t hosting top-notch musical acts. But, perhaps it was – the three bands we listened to were actually very good with one female vocalist who also played acoustic belting out tune after tune impeccably. Sadly it was her last show at The Range since she was moving on the following day to more gigs in San Francisco.

Off to Frisco - last gig at the Range

The guests waved to the beat and yes, there was a strange odor in the air but it was the entertainers allowing the body movements with excellent sounds and not the cannabis. Then again, since the J and L crew did not participate who knows?
No issues – no violence – no drama. People having fun dancing, laughing, singing and having a good time beneath the rising moon at The Range.

People with children – people with dogs – dogs with dogs – people all alone - no one was turned away and the music played on.

Touching but oddly awkward.

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