Deb and I just returned from Los Angeles, California where we attended the Baha’i Conference called for our region by the Universal House of Justice.
There were about 5600 people at the Baha’i conference in LA. It was the biggest “reflection meeting” I’ve been to. I’m calling it that because it was more than a conference, in the typical connotation of the word. It was also a working meeting where real action plans were devised.
We saw hundreds of folks we knew and thousands we did not. And that’s always a charge. I was happy to see several of my musician friends from the Music Industry Weekend again.
Jamie Findlay was there and looking great. He’s one of the finest Jazz guitarists I know. Unfortunately, he did not perform there this weekend (but that made me feel better about not being asked myself!) I saw Jean Quinn and her husband Mike. I also saw Jupiter Lovejoy and his sister Colleen Lovejoy. I saw Dale Ramsdell and Kyra Platte. Travis Williams was there with his lovely family. I saw Jordan Rager along with Carmel Rohani, Kevin Ackermann, and all the Bosch staff there. Jon Rezin, of “Small Room Productions”, was there running the sound board. We had lunch with his bride Aunticlaire. And it was most delightful to again see Bahia Farahi, former the director of Bosch Baha’i School and long-time friend! UPDATE: I forgot to mention Don Reed who I saw there and was looking well. Don’s CD, which he recorded many years ago, remains among my favorites.
Now about the music: Excellent. What can I say? LA is home to some very talented Baha’i musicians. When Red Grammer came out the crowd went wild. Everybody LOVES Red! But, while Red is always entertaining, I have to tip my hat to J.B. Eckl and K.C. Porter. Not only was their harmony superb, the joy and energy with which they sang permeated the hall. Great job guys!
I just wish the program had provided information about each of the performers we saw. I knew a number of them, but there were some whose names I don’t know but would like to know. (Particularly the flamenco guitarist (Eric?), who was very good and quite entertaining). UPDATE: Thanks to Mitko (see comments) I now know it was Eric Lee Harper a very accomplished musician and producer.
My favorite speaker was not from among the famous visitors. Rather, it was Jerry Bathke of our own Regional Council. Jerry pointed out that the Southwest Baha’i Region encompassed not only the 4 states of California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, but also the area of Navajo Lands that spreads across several states. I think that was an important recognition of the unique status of that area.
Jerry also emphasized the benefits of getting new Baha’is involved with teaching the Faith to others right away. From my own experience I know that when a person first recognizes Baha’u’llah as the Lord of our age, his or her enthusiasm is contagious. I also appreciated Jerry’s statistics for enrollments in our region that showed a quantum leap in achievement in the past two quarters. The Baha’i Faith is Growing!
All in all, it was a rather momentous weekend. But I’m glad to back home in Tucson. LA is such a tangled mess of freeways. It feels like a beehive sitting on top of a glacier made of cars.