Dear Reader and fellow adventurer:
“A Little Dome Home in Northern Vermont” is this week’s bit of literary nostalgia!
Since last we met, Dearest Reader, I’ve been lost in thought for an eternity. Alas, it was just a few weeks, but it seemed to go on and on…
My goal was to re-organize things to fit into this new reality. It was a lot to contemplate. In an unguarded moment of escape, I was browsing the archives for thoughts and new directions. And Whoa! I found these photos of a dome we built…
A few friends and I were toying with architecture, looking at building something. We had the coming summer open, and we were restless for something new. Then we discovered Buckminster Fuller!
We were inspired by The Dome Book II and excited by the possibilities it represented. Fortunately for us, I actually had 10 acres of beautiful land in Vermont, and we wanted to go up there and build this thing!
The times supported the “get away” culture that had seeped east from Big Sur. We embraced these ideals and their main “experience nature” philosophy. All we needed was a place to do it.
We started this project in the driveway of the Lexington house. It was convenient and served as an ideal staging ground. It was ideal!
The plans suggested we use wood, so the high school shop was busy in the evenings. There we cut the parts, pulled together the plywood, the 2″ x 4″ struts and cut and shaped everything. We collected and counted out all the nails, too.
Next came the electric skillsaws and the drills, screws and bolts.
Once assembled, the guys loaded it all in Bill Hathaway’s Volkswagon Micro Bus. Note: it barely fit so we had to rent a 20ft. U Haul. Then, all secured, we drove it up to St. Johnsbury, Vermont. One hour’s drive north and we unloaded everything at the site.
The thick, dense North East woods, were almost impenetrable. The blue spruce and pine trees were sticky with sap, and they seemed to grow taller as we watched.
The scent of the deep woods was intoxicating. And the spring rains were relentless. At this stage, there was no foundation, no road into the forest, and few resources available other than what we brought.
Moving and hoisting stuff was wet, dangerous, and very difficult. The Racoons were constantly buzzing our campsite. An occasional brown bear would saunter through to check the humans out.
Mike Kessler and I had come up a few weeks earlier to measure the base, and dig the foundation shafts. In between pouring Spring rains we mixed and poured the concrete and set the steel U’s we had made to hold the railroad ties in place.
The idea was to lift the dome off the ground, and we planned to use the beams to support the platform.
Big beams were needed. We took a chainsaw, drove back to St. J and found an abandoned mill. It was next to an abandoned Police Station. Stealth would be critical. In the relentless, pouring Spring rain we cut eight 10′ beams, loaded them in the VW bus, and headed back up to Brownington.
The rest of the story is here in the photos: Bill and I lived in a tent while we put everything together, and then we moved up onto the platform as it was completed.
We covered the structure with cedar shakes. It was warm, acoustically surprising and an incredible experience from start to finish. Building a little dome home in Northern Vermont, and learning about geodesics and Buckminster Fuller, was life-changing.
“If there’s a place for musical perfection, it’s wherever you’ll find Eric Sommer – A blistering acoustic style plus a variety of slide and open tuning formats will knock you for a loop…” wrote Studdie Burns, New Melody Maker/UK in 2013. “How one guy can do this so well is remarkable, but if you look a little deeper there’s a batch of road miles around this lad… and it all makes sense.”
Eric started his musical career in the Boston area under the eye of legendary promoter Don Law and was onstage at The Paradise Theatre in Boston for a record 40 appearances. He has been a regular player on many national and international tours and showcases, and worked in Europe for two years with Nick Lowe and acts Bram Tchaikovsky and Wreckless Eric; during this period Eric worked on Danish, German and British rock stages, returned to Boston and formed The Atomics
As a founding member of Boston’s legendary pop/new wave cult trio “The Atomics”, who toured non-stop with Mission of Burma, Gang of Four and The Dead Kennedy’s and were on the leading edge of several musical transformations, Eric never lost sight of his acoustic roots, returning to his heroes and mentors often: David Bromberg, Steve Howe(YES), Duane Allman (Allman Bros.), Bert Jansch, Davy Graham, Robert Johnson. Mr. Sommer’s current project with power trio “The Solar Flares” shake up Chet Atkins and David Bromberg’s influences with those of Randy Travis and British Rocker Elvis Costello – a remarkable mix.
And to keep track of it all, Eric started keeping notes, which evolved from napkin scribbles to paper and pen efforts, writing stories, making poetry and capturing the roads and bridges as they went by, plus people, places and… more people which become his notes, then become characters for songs, stories, and prose.
Eric currently has four volumes of verse, 5 studio albums, a LIVE in AUSTIN DVD as well as an electronica project titled “The Smallest Particle” and more on the way… this blog is an attempt to keep track of it all…
You can reach Eric directly at ericATericsommer.com and see more of his projects here on this website. Red Chairs, Black Pancake and Blue Turtle are all available here, as well as all current releases. Please share and comment below.
Singer/songwriter Eric Sommer is an unbelievable intersection of improbable influences and experiences channeled into an amazingly diverse catalog and a résumé that reads more like a musical adventure novel than a series of career bullet points.