Tag Archives: music

What to Do When You Meet a Mirage : Karla mi Lugo

I met a mirage today. Amber face full of hope and longing, flaming red hair in coils and curls of frantic grace, slender fingers and puckered lips: Karla mi Lugo.

music, street music, portland, portland writer, portland musicianAt first, because I was busy and because I have grown impatient, I avoided her eyes. Don’t talk to me, I thought, because you are beautiful and probably crazy, and I don’t have time to get sidetracked and sucked into yet another personal labyrinth. Also, don’t ask for money because I don’t have any. At all.

portland writer, beverage writer, portland music, street musicianHer music is reflective; a wash of accordion and clear, piercing whistling, and a husky voice like an autumn evening. As I sat, carefully ignoring her, her music sidled into my consciousness with a purity that finally had my attention. I put down my work. I engaged.

beauty, accordion, pretty dressWe talked. 5 years ago I also made my living performing in the streets and hoping equally for engagement and clinking coins from passersby. I am relieved to have left that urgency, but then again: I never handled it with such grace and aplomb as Karla does. Since I cannot offer money, I pull out my camera and lovingly explore the silken planes of her face in the afternoon sun, the crisp stripes of her apron, the delicate arabesques on her instrument.

musician, beautifulKarla will be, in her words, “going on [my] musical pilgrimage to Paris” next month, and, I believe I overheard, competing in an international whistling contest. I wish her the best of luck and glorious chance meetings, and I look forward to her return to our gritty streets.

When you meet a mirage, you’d best drop your work and listen.

music, beauty, portland music

beauty, well met, portland street musicafternoon/ Alberta St. Arts District / karla mi lugo






In Which I Meet at Least His Harp

Raphael's Harp

3.5 years ago, renowned harpmaker Raphael Weisman stood on the brink of retirement, and I wrote a tribute piece on him for the American Harp Journal. It was my first publication breakthrough. When my dear friend Devin and her lover Brock asked me to play at their wedding, I put the pieces together: they lived just miles from Raphael’s workshop in Questa, New Mexico. I called him, and with his characteristic gentleness he agreed to loan me a harp.

So here am I, embracing one of the last harps he made, in the soaring sanctuary of an old Catholic church in Albuquerque. I rest my fingers on the strings and feel the potential there–hear the bell-like treble and the warm, clear bass. The sound rings out like a blessing, and my friend raises her face to soak it in.

We’ll meet next time, Raphael. Until then, thank you.

Albuquerque, NM / early afternoon / w/Harps of Lorien