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The Gearboat Chronicles

Music For Wild Places on the Lower Salmon

You know that song ‘Africa’ by Toto? It goes like this:

It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa . . .


What about ‘El Paso’ by Marty Robbins? (two-three-four…)

Out in the West Texas town of El Paso
I fell in love with a Mexican girl . . .

Of course you know those songs. We all do. But I don’t just know them now, they’re part of my DNA. We spent four great days floating the river with music makers Kai Welch, Ross Holmes and Matt Menefee, who can play purt-near anything they have a mind to.

Riverside concerts after dinner on the beach and a standout lunch performance from a cave below Half and Half Rapid made this Music For Wild Places trip what music critics like to call super-duper.


The other guides and I also got to hear some behind-the-scenes rehearsals. Matt, Ross and Kai play the spectrum, but were also focused enough on nailing Africa and El Paso that I now have one compartment of my brain devoted entirely to Marty and Toto. On a loop.

They’re great tunes and all, but this is no ordinary case of music sticking in your head. Marty Robbins has been grafted on at a cellular level and I now have a Toto gland that secretes rains down in Africa every four minutes. I’d like to think this might pass, but there’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do.

Kai Welch is the mastermind of Music For Wild Places, where he taps musician friends from Nashville and all over to come on float trips and bring world-class music to Mother Nature’s backyard. A portion of the love goes to Western Rivers Conservancy, who look out for all of us by keeping our rivers accessible. Look for the lineup next summer and get in on this.


And thanks to Jaco from our friends at Wet Planet for bringing along such a great group of folks. We had ourselves a time.


Quiet paddle through Blue Canyon.



Here’s Jaco’s Mom, one cool customer and a pleasure to have on the boat.