Bosque & Ruthie Report

I’m back from my Las Cruces trip to hear Ruthie Foster and Eric Bibb in concert. The Bosque was mostly deserted. A few looky-loo humans with monster lenses, the usual two bald eagles stuck to the tree in the middle pond in the middle loop. I watch them and the black phoebes, kinglets, and assorted ducks as I chow down my pastrami sandwich, trying not to eat the buzzing honeybee that wants a bite.

The Bosque presents various sights, like a familiar box of assorted chocolates. Harriers cruising, white tail bars glowing in the sun; Canada geese sucking up debris from the canal; the colorful pheasant on the side of the road; homebound cranes pecking through the tall tan grasses; red-winged blackbirds chortling; meadowlarks singing melody; a tiny marsh wren flitting through the reeds, sipping water. I walk east down a perpendicular side road, chasing a hunting harrier. She dives, grabs a mouse, hunkers down on the matted yellow grass for the “early bird special.” Blackbirds move en masse from one tree to the next as I approach. I try not to take it personally. I have to leave before the evening fly-in to make it to the concert in time.

I am driving down the interstate. I feel the wheels of my car stretch and elongate, sprout hooves. I ride on, galloping my steed down the road, hooves clopping rhythmically on the concrete pavement, through the sunlight and the desert landscape, wind in my face, steering reins in my hands, toward Ruthie Foster and food for my soul.

“I see what you mean,” says Laura, one of my Las Cruces concert companions, at the end of the concert. “It was amazing. I can’t imagine how that voice comes out of her body.” Ruthie has hooked another 300 or 400 folks. They held their collective breaths as she sang.

Ruthie was joined by her long-time companion and friend Cyd Cassone on percussion. Ruthie almost cried on stage as she introduced her song CROSSOVER. She talked of the civil rights marchers as they tried to cross the bridge from Montgomery to Selma, Alabama in the 1960’s. She, Odetta and Richie Havens were asked to create a soundtrack for the documentary “Where Do We Go From Here” about the civil rights movement. At the end of the introduction, Ruthie said, “I send this out to our sister Coretta Scott King.” Ruthie didn’t have to say that Coretta died a few days ago; we all knew. We got to sing along on the chorus.

CROSSOVER (listen here:
…..I’m gonna plant my feet
no matter what hangs over me
gonna stand up for freedom,
go down in history.
When I want to roam,
I’ll never be far from home.
I’m gonna keep holdin’ on,
singing my song,
No matter what’s goin’ on
I’m gonna keep movin’ strong.


I’m gonna plant my feet,
keep my eyes on the prize
gonna climb higher and higher
to keep the dream alive.
When I can’t go on,
you’ve got to carry on.
Oh you gotta keep holdin’ on
singin’ your song
no matter what’s goin’ on
you gotta keep movin’ strong.

CHORUS: You gotta cross over (and overcome)
You gotta cross over (and overcome)
You gotta cross over (and overcome)
And overcome.
Oh, you gotta cross over (and overcome)
You gotta cross over (and overcome)
You gotta cross over (and overcome)
And overcome….

CROSSOVER, lyrics and music written by Ruthie Foster

I had never heard Eric Bibb sing. [My husband reminds me that I DID hear Eric sing once when he opened in Albuquerque for Odetta. OK, so I didn’t remember having heard Eric sing.] Picture a strikingly handsome, young man in shiny brown loafers, faded jeans, an orange sweatshirt, and a dapper flat felt hat. He sings alone, accompanies himself on guitar. He gently marches in place, knees rising deliberately, feet placed back down exactly. He is probably setting his tempo and rhythm, but to me it appears as if he is calling the music up from the soles of his feet, and sending the songs out through his voice, instrument, and heart. True soul music. Smooth mellifluous voice.

He and Ruthie, joined by Cyd on percussion, end the concert with a duet “For You,” written by Eric. “This song didn’t come alive,” Eric explains, “until it met Ruthie.” It is on his new CD “Friends.” Ruthie reins in her power to collaborate with Eric. You can tell that doing so challenges her.

I came home today. As I crossed the bridge over the Rio Grande, I looked for eagles in the shoreside cottonwoods and tried to ignore the dilapidated green couch sitting in the middle of the river. When I got home, I learned that Ruthie and Eric will be singing in Socorro tonight at the NM Tech campus. Oops, I could have driven only 160 miles instead of 498. However…I enjoyed spending time with Lonnie and Julie, Laura, Ruth, Judy, Mark and Chris in Cruces. Ruthie, Cyd and Eric will be in Farmington, Clovis and Alamosa over the next week. and have details. Travel to hear them if you can; you won’t regret it.