Christopher Blue’s music career has taken him from working with John Cale to fronting his own raging band, 10 Minute Warning – alongside Duff McKagan, fresh off the ultimate in balls-out rock and roll trips, Guns N’ Roses to the release of his latest acclaimed solo effort. It’s no wonder he’s chosen an off-grid place to help him unwind and get away from the hectic Seattle music scene he was once part of.
The geodesic dome Blue calls home is in Mendocino, California and its made of trees felled from the spot! The home also has an incredibly interesting history.
The dwelling was built in the 1960s by the grandson of Hiram Bingham IV, a diplomat stationed in France during WWII who helped over 2,500 Jews to flee from Nazi-occupied territories. Not even his family knew of his heroic acts, though his son subsequently discovered a bundle of letters and documents at their home which brought Hiram posthumous recognition.
Interestingly, Hiram Bingham’s father, Hiram Bingham III, was the re-discoverer of the Machu Pichu settlement in 1911.
Back to Chrisopher, though it seems the peaceful lifestyle afforded by his off-grid home has helped both his music and personal life.
Years earlier – down and out and tired of the Seattle music scene he ran into an unlikely guardian angel.
Mark Lanegan, the former Screaming Trees frontman, was waiting in a car, in a 7-Eleven parking lot, for a beautiful woman to buy his cigarettes.
He saw me and said, Chrisopher, keeping singing, man, keep doing what you’re doing, remembers Blue.
A fellow Pacific Northwestern musician, Lanegan had met Blue years prior through mutual friends, but whether Lanegan could read Blue’s obviously distressed face that day or not remains unknown. However, it was those words of encouragement that kept him going.
It’s happened a few other times as well, Blue says. He’ll just randomly pop up in my life.
Since then, he’s had some experiences that probably made it onto the album in one guise or another.
He was jailed briefly in Kansas last winter on marijuana-possession charges.
It was just like in the movies, he says. The patrolman walked up to the van and called me ‘son,’ and a few minutes later I was in handcuffs. They don’t like you driving around with a bunch of green stuff in the car.
It seemed like a good time to move to Mendocino, Blue recalls. I became a vegan, and decided to take responsibility for myself and my health. No one else was going to take care of me.
Statements like that are what inform room tones with its poetic sense of painful lessons finally learned. Track after track play out like a journey, and each is a story rich with cinematic imagery.
Room Tones is warm and simple in tone, but entirely complicated in thought and sentiment.
I’m really trying to redevelop my vocabulary, Blue offers, I want to steer away from the 20th century self loathing poetic irony. I feel like I’ve mastered the art of being down. I’m just trying to grow past all that and do something honest and pure and unpretentious.
Room Tones is out now (available at the Apple iTunes store); check out Chrisopher Blue’s myspace page.
Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the off-grid.net web site
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