Historicity of music | Album Review: Roam Home to a Dome album rekindled love for Buckminster Fuller’s dome home | Music
What are some of the things that come to mind when the town of Carbondale is mentioned?
This is the home of the SIU Salukis, of course. Some consider it the mecca of a bustling arts scene in the unlikely region of southern Illinois.
But many recognize Carbondale as the town where architect, inventor and futurist R. Buckminster Fuller called home for many years.
Interest in Fuller’s ideas drew students to the city and to his lectures, which were held both in Southern Illinois University classrooms as well as in casual, impromptu settings around campus.
After his death in 1983, a nonprofit organization finally assumed ownership of the geodesic dome house that Fuller had built and in which he and his wife resided for a decade.
By 2005, the structure and property, at the corner of West Cherry and South Forest streets, had fallen into disrepair.
An amazing thing then happened.
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Two friends who were WDBX radio volunteers and Fuller idealists took it upon themselves to design a fundraiser – a music album played and recorded inside the so-called Dome Home.
“I think it all started with a conversation between me and Mike Lescelius,” said “Roam Home to a Dome” co-producer Steve Gariepy. “We had to do something to raise money for the non-profit organization to stop the decay of Bucky’s Dome Home. Mike and I also agreed that Fuller’s story deserved more recognition, support and love. appreciation, both locally and globally.”
Lescelius, who still operates a recording studio in Murphysboro, spread the word among his musical contacts, asking them to play on the benefit album.
Over the course of several weeks, local and out-of-town artists participated in the recording of “Roam Home to a Dome”, released in 2006.
“Famous musicians like Jason Ringenberg were there,” Gariepy said. “We had Hugh DeNeal of the Woodbox Gang, Stace England and many others. The ‘Fuller-philes’ and musicians from Seattle all traveled at their own expense to participate.”
The result was a 22-track compact disc that contains a variety of musical performances and spoken word, including historical recorded segments of actual Buckminster Fuller lectures.
The title of the album comes from a reflection on Fuller’s spoken word where he half-sings “roam…home to…a dome” to the tune of “Home on the Range”. A recording of Fuller delivering the reverie is included on the album.
Another of the tracks are excerpts from a Fuller lecture overlaid with comments by Bill Perk, a founding member of the nonprofit foundation.
“The first time I heard the Fuller lecture,” Perk begins, “was at Royce Hall, UCLA, in the fall of 1958.” He goes on to explain that Fuller’s conference was scheduled to run from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. and that about 1,000 people were in attendance.
“He told the audience he was just going to think out loud,” Perk recalled. “And he just started talking, and talking, and talking.”
The actual audio recording of Fuller’s lecture is intercut with Perk’s play-by-play. Two and a half hours later, at 10:30 p.m., Perk said Fuller was still in full conference mode.
“By 11:20 a.m. the crowd had thinned to around 100 dedicated people who were seated closely,” Perk said. “Finally, I woke up around a quarter to midnight, and Bucky was still talking.”
The conference lasted until 1:30 a.m.
“It was off the scale,” Perk summed up, “and of course what he said was absolutely riveting. Bucky said it was either all of us or none of us, it is either utopia or oblivion. We have to make the world work for everyone or it won’t work for anyone.”
Other music on Roam Home to a Dome ranges from odd-meter songs — borderline punk rock — to mandolin-driven bluegrassy melodies.
“Buckminster Fuller We Need You Now” by Jason Ringenberg is a beautiful melody that the American artist sings in his characteristic, pure and plaintive voice.
Of particular note is Stace England’s composition “Can’t Stand in the Corner”. Bearing in mind that the song was recorded inside the Dome Home, a structure with no corners, the pointed observations in its lyrics provide the listener with thoughtful commentary and a lesson against complacency.
“Lying around the sun on an Earth spaceship, what a rough ride. Utopia or oblivion, we can’t decide. If we had listened to Mr. Fuller, we wouldn’t be wondering. Outside the box, you can’t stay around anymore.”
“They rule with smoke and mirrors, not good and evil. You feel in the deception that you have a duty to be strong. You wonder why young people are still dying, marching to war. Inside the dome, you don’t stand in the corner anymore.”
Gariepy said: “I can’t recall exactly who came up with the idea and theme for Roam Home to a Dome. What I do know is that there was a synergistic energy towards common goals that catalyzed an action that rippled through, producing the album.”
Inspired by Fuller’s books and philosophies, album co-producer Lescelius came to Carbondale in the late 1970s. After graduating from SIU in 1984, he served in the Peace Corps for two years before to return to teach recording engineering at the university for eight years.
Lescelius’s drive to donate his efforts on the 2006 recording “Roam Home to a Dome” is evident in his life philosophy.
“I’ve come to believe that life on this planet depends on what you think and what you do,” he said. “We are all part of the earth system and we are called to keep it from breaking apart.”
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Dome House has undergone several phases of renovations in recent years and is now available for tours.
Copies of the “Roam Home to a Dome” CD are available on R. Buckminster’s nonprofit Fuller Dome website, fullerdomehome.com.