Sedona, Arizona is famous for its vortexes, or “highly concentrated energies conducive to prayer, meditation and healing.”

Our itinerary was pretty well planned, and included highlights like San Diego’s beautiful zoo, the Queen Mary, the Pacific Coast Highway, the Korn family, Yosemite, Death Valley, the Lion King in Vegas, the rust red beauty of Sedona, and the canyon grand, but hanging out in a honky-tonk Karaoke bar with my friend Michael Gonnella, his girls and my son was at the top of the list and was a late addition to our own South by Southwest 2009.

Taking advantage of Arizona’s 75 mile per hour speed allowance, we sailed South down the long, wide lanes of I17 from Sedona to Anthem, Arizona in about an hour to Dillard’s digs. Almost immediately the old photo albums came out with pictures that trace back some 35 years including early high school and college snaps documenting our desert life, full KISS regalia and our house-rousing “air-band” performance of AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie.” And yes, in a rip-off of pal RustedRobot’s recent series of hilarious archive photo commentary, I’ll have some doozies gracing this site soon.

While Kyle made himself at home watching a movie in Mike’s desert decorated room, we drove to the Boulder Creek High School to pick up Nina, Mike’s daughter I hadn’t seen since she was a toddler. Now 16, Nina possesses the beauty of Mike’s mom and the heart of her dad. She and Kyle chatted up some “Harry Potter” as she baked muffins to take to her friend’s house. A short time later, 6 year old Anna arrived and proceeded to spin like a top for the next several hours, peaking back at her mom’s with a delicious and genuine Italian gelato from mom’s gelato shop. The rambunctious Anna is a near clone of her big sis with the marked difference of sparkly blue eyes in place of Nina’s doe brown. Mike and Elena have two beautiful girls.

Prior to our gelato break though, there were three hours of drinks, grub and singing at Mike’s throw down, the Roadrunner. Mike opened for Kyle warming up the crowd with “Runaway Train” by Soul Asylum, followed up with Kyle’s too-early-in-the-show rendition of “My Heart Will Go On.” (Video at 11…) I spent most of the night meeting Mike’s many and mostly-female friends and avoiding singing by telling Nina stories of her dad’s early days… Like Megan and her dad, Nina now lives full-time with Mike and really adores him. She enjoyed hearing the stories, but most of them served either as confirmation her dad’s yarns were true, or that we collaborated on them, which I recall we had to do often as misguided youth.

As for my boy, it was certainly a first for him being in a bar, albeit outdoors enjoying an overcast cool breeze, lightning and even some desert rain, but the fact he could be handed a mike to sing whenever he wanted made it everlasting for him. And for me. Seeing the smile on his face and the excitement in his voice delivered more healing energy than any vortex ever could.