Randy Granger

Randy Granger
In the Chihuahuan Desert near the Organ Mountains, New Mexico

Monday, December 29, 2008

How Loud Should Peace Be Played?

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“Once Poets resounded over the battlefield; what voice can outshout the rattle of this metallic age that is struggling on towards its careening future? …. Let such a person go out to his daily work…where greatness is lying in ambush….” Rainer Maria Rilke [Fragment of an Eligy]

I’ve come back to this line by the poet Rilke time after time. I think what it means to me is when entropy, that is the rush towards more speed, volume, shock and consumption, is the order of the day it is the stillness and authentic feeling that is all that will remain when the battle is done. By battle I mean my own drive to succeed and be heard amidst the great clamor of musicians and media competing for attention—with more money and better skills at politicking their ways into gigs than I have. Earlier this month I played a gig with a band. For a solo artist like myself it means releasing any ideas of working my brand of Mojo on a crowd. Not that I don’t enjoy it—I do, immensely. Having been in bands, combos, orchestras and choirs all my musical life I love the shared breathing and energy. I remember in one of my bands several times people actually walked up to the stage and would say things like; “You guys need to play softer. We want to hear his voice not your damn drumming (or other instrument).” This never went over well with my band mates of course. But it points out that whatever gift given me is one of peacefulness and calm through my music and it is best heard in your CD player, solo or with really sensitive musicians. But that is only my opinion today.

Before this sounds like I’m a Prima Dona let me say that it has nothing to do with my ego and all to do with being that conduit of deep stillness that has been there from the start. I remember working in my dad’s construction company office as a boy and complete strangers commenting on how calm it seemed when I was there. When I worked at a drug treatment center the counselors and medical staff would hang out in my office referring to the contact high they felt around me. My 17 years as a massage therapist has really let me focus that peacefulness and it permeates my music I feel. So when I was recently with a loud group who like to bang the hell out of every drum in sight I felt a little lost. At one point I noticed about four different tempos in our combo. The dancers were following some internal tempo so that cool. Nonetheless, I knew people were there to dance to a banged away on my Hang drum and Cajon and Udu so much that my hands became red, swollen and very painful. When we took a break several people mentioned how they had come to hear my Hang but that they were leaving because they couldn’t hear me and obviously the sound system sucked. It was my system. Oh well. Then I remembered I use it for solo gigs. Hmmm must rethink this. Return to the Human Jukebox days or book more “sit down” venues?

Having paid my dues in countless bars, clubs, parties, conventions, conference and dinners where I was seriously just background music, and let me tell you: that is just about paying bills and getting the next gig—I’m in no hurry to do that again and regularly turn down private party, dinner and wedding gigs. Not that I think I’m too good for them; and if the economy keeps spiraling downward I may accept more. My current instruments like the Hang drum, Native American flute and guitar and vocals are really more intimate instruments. You can only get so much sound out of a Hang. After awhile it is like banging the hood of your car if people can’t hear it. Professional musicians know that more volume does not equal intensity but rather a more concentrated focus of intention with your playing. In fact things like changing the volume, or dynamics, creates amazing interest and can build energy into a frenzy and release. Enthusiasts think louder means energy. Ugh. It doesn’t any more than eating a beautiful meal as fast as possible increases its flavor. In my Hospice work I’ve learned that my Native American flute music created a space for healing as opposed to healing outright. When we hear music that is coming from that Soul place our beings recognize it which is why people say it is so peaceful and calming or soothing.

Being a solo artist is challenging in the sense that you are completely exposed and there are no other instruments to hide behind. You are ON the whole time and the commitment to be present and in the moment can be daunting. It is something I relish but know how much it will take out of me. Being a sideman in a group is fun for a while but then comes the real work of creating a space for people to join you so we can all transcend together through the music. It doesn’t always happen sure, but it stands more of a chance without the rattle of this metallic age. Many of you have heard me perform in various settings and I would really love to hear about your thoughts to this blog or on what your experience as an audience member was. I am constantly humbled on how articulate and insightful you all are.
Happiest memories for the New Year!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Music and Movement Collaboration. A Peaceful Piece.

Randy Granger, Composer; Debra Knapp, Choreographer

Music, rhythm, movement, peace and grace all in less than ten minutes. There is something so ephemeral about music and performance, yet eternal. Last weekend was the premiere of a dance piece “Peace Dance” set to music by me called “Ancestor’s Dance.” The music was commissioned by the NMSU Dance Program and choreographer Debra Knapp. We had worked together on a multi-media project last year so I was honored and very happy and excited though wondered exactly ‘when’ I would be able to get to it. I stopped by their dance studio on my way out of town to perform and watched what they had so far, took notes and filed in my creative storage room of my mind to let it stew. Debra said she had been to Hawaii recently and was struck by the peacefulness of their native culture and how it didn’t seem to have the violent history (I called it cultural baggage too) that our mainland tribes have. She wanted to dance to give a a sense of coming from the ancestors through the generations. I understood what she was saying and in my studies of Polynesian cultures I had sensed that strong self-identity and peaceful grace based around water that is reflected in their dances, music and art.

Randy Granger & Candance Williams, Dancer

I ran into Debra at the Renaissance Faire where we were both performing and she said she loved the song….but that it was just a tad too fast for the dancers. I laughed imagining them passing out during the performance. She said if I could slow it down a touch without offending my artistic vision it would be helpful. I’m not a purist by any means so agreed. When you watch the video below you see how athletic and physical the movement is. The premiere of our collaboration was December 6, 2008 as the finale of their Tis the Season program at the Rio Grande Theatre in Las Cruces, NM. I was really looking forward to the dance but was surprised when Debra introduced me in the audience to the packed house of over 400 and said that the dance would not have been possible without my music and was grateful to have such a talented composer living here. Needless to say I was pretty embarrassed but grateful. Before the number came on I hid in the back of the theatre to tape it and avoid the tomatoes if people hated it….

I needn’t have worried. The dancers were really amazing, sensitive and emotive. They were really beautiful and I was so so proud of them and truly happy as if my spirit was actually smiling and beaming. Debra’s choreography was brilliant and told a story of a people’s movement through time. It was wistful and emotional. I thought how beautiful is dance that you must be attentive to it as it happens because unlike a CD, movie or book once it is done only the ghosts of movement are left on that stage. Knowing that my music, my creation and assemblance of notes and instruments inspired dance movements was pretty fulfilling. I used the Ocean drum to simulate the sound of waves and water, the Native American flute to represent the voice and both the Ding and Gu sides of the Hang drum. I added harmonized vocals that fall off at the end of phrases like I’ve heard the Maori singers do. I look forward to working with all sorts of artists. So far I’ve worked with Poets, jewelry makers, sculptors and dancers. Hmmm what’s next?

I’d recommend listening to the dance video with headphones to fully hear the low Gu part. Sorry it is so dark but it was pitch black in the theater. I’d love to know what you think of it. - Randy

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advocating for compassion and getting paid.

I would rather feel compassion than know the meaning of it. Thomas Aquinas:

Monday is the 20th annual World AIDS Day an event that hopes to bring light to the continuing Pandemic of HIV disease and AIDS. In my community there will be an event with speakers, information, free testing and me providing music. Check my calendar for details. As a musician, and like many artists, I get asked to provide music and entertainment for many causes. Recently a radio interviewer was commenting on how I am at so many benefits and fundraisers performing. With a chuckle in her voice she said that obviously I’m not getting paid and why do I do them and how do I decide on which ones to support. I could feel the resentment rising in me like yesterday’s enchiladas so I took deep breath and said I would do more if I could afford it and that I let my Heart decide. That ended that line of questions thankfully.
The truth is that I do get many requests to use my music and to perform for so many causes that I have lost track. Nonetheless, I decided years back that I would be an advocate for compassion whether it be for Relay for Life, Animals, Hospice care, HIV, Cancer, Prisoner rights, Native Americans…you name it I’ve leant my music, time and talent to it. Sometimes it has only been me and organizers who showed up but hey I was there. When I lived in Albuquerque I worked for the All Indian Pueblo Council as my day job while playing bars, clubs, festivals etc. with my alternative band The Peat Column at night. Through an IHS grant I would visit all 19 New Mexico Pueblos doing HIV/AIDS outreach and education. Oh yeah that went over well. Tribal councils would schedule a presentation with me at 6 pm then sometime around 1 am would tell me to come back tomorrow. This is the Indian way of making someone prove their commitment. Oh man it paid so poorly, (we called it Rez wages) that I fell behind on student loan payments so they garnished my wages and after rent I had nothing left so my car was repo’d. Them were some lean days brother. I had to leave and find another job on the bus route and buy a used, ancient Honda civic wagon. I did write a good blues song out of the whole experience to good for that.

That job came after being a volunteer for an HIV speaker’s bureau that took me into prisons, schools, medical schools, and government and teaching programs. I had lost some friends to AIDS and have always volunteered places. The thing about compassion is it is free from judgment. You feel that empathy regardless of circumstance. We tend to think in the West that AIDS is a gay, white male disease but the current reality is that: *

• More than 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981.
• Africa has 11.6 million AIDS orphans.
• At the end of 2007, women accounted for 50% of all adults living with HIV worldwide, and for 59% in sub-Saharan Africa.
• Around 67% of people living with HIV are in sub-Saharan Africa.
• Young people (under 25 years old) account for half of all new HIV infections worldwide.

These statistics affect us all. Think of the 11.6 million AIDS orphans in Africa. It wouldn’t take much for a war lord with promise to offer a direction to these children that makes them feel empowered and loyal to a really destructive way of life and if you follow events in Somalia, The Congo, Nigeria etc. you know that is dangerous. In developing and transitional countries, 9.7 million people are in immediate need of life-saving AIDS drugs; of these, only 2.99 million (31%) are receiving the drugs. See while in the prosperous nations people are seeing AIDS as a chronic, manageable illness, citizens of less prosperous nations die of simple things like dysentery and diarrhea—something we might take for granted. Mother Theresa received a check for $500 from a wealthy British man who read about her plight in then Calcutta and he received a very quick letter back. He expected a florid thank you note instead he found a scrap of paper saying, “We need much more than that.” That is the thing about compassion—it is selfless and reminds us we are connected and certainly not alone. We are, as indigenous cultures know, are interconnected.

Next Friday there is a CD release fundraiser that I am so honored to be a part of. It is for La Casa which is a shelter and program for domestic violence victims and their children. New Mexico has a pretty big problem with that and I’ve done programs for them in the past. I was really humbled to be asked to be included and am looking forward to the CD “Peace Begins at Home.” Here is a link to a story about it. http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-sunlife/ci_11090673
The number of people living with HIV has risen from around 8 million in 1990 to 33 million today, and is still growing. There is no room for blame when it comes to compassion unless you point the finger at yourself first. Be an advocate for compassion and the world will soften. Like the Dalai Lama said; “Compassion is the radicalism of our time.” And to close with Mother Theresa’s famous quote; “We cannot do great things, only little things with great big love.” Remember that when you feel overwhelmed. -Randy

more info: * http://www.avert.org/statindx.htm

Monday, November 24, 2008

Transcending DNA & Thanksgiving through music!

This year began with a set of concerts in a museum in January and in November another performance in another one. These are those great museums with life sized figures, sound, lighting and information plaques. I really like these places and get immersed in the past. Turns out both places have permanent exhibits about the first peoples of the area collectively “called ‘Paleo-Indians’ (meaning "ancient" Indians), appear to have occupied the Americas, including the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, for 10,000 to perhaps 40,000 years – a period of time longer than that for all the succeeding cultures combined” *

The fact that one of the most well-known spear head led to the idea of the “Clovis Man” around 15,000 years old was found a few hours north of where I was born has been on my mind as I reflect on these museum exhibits, the Thanksgiving holiday and my work as a Native American flute player and musician. My own family’s ancestry had always been murky and shrouded in stories of Apaches, a great-grandfather who was a Seer in the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico, Aztecs, Mayans and Spanish and Germans who came to the new world via the Yucatan area. My ancestors didn’t take genealogy notes as they scraped by crossing back and forth over the Rio Grande. In order to be as truthful as I could I took a DNA test to determine my origins? The results are complex and there is a link on my website’s Bio page. Suffice to say that indeed my Amerindian heritage is ancient Mayan, Apache, Athabaskan, Dogrib and a few Central American tribes. What does this mean to me? I don’t know. Is this my culture? I don’t think so. I think a culture is first of all a shared language then shared values like how they care for their dead (something pretty important to archaeological research) and a shared history—their stories.

It turns out that DNA tests only test “two of your many” ancestral lines. You would need to test your mother’s male relatives and cousins in order to piece together the most accurate “probability” of your lines. Whew! Time and money baby. I’m satisfied knowing the little I do and decided to let things be and not pursue tribal enrollment. Funny thing is that DNA tests don’t reveal your spirituality, religion, political affiliation, language or any of the myriad “choices” we make in life. Does being Native American make me a better musician? A better flute player? Who knows? I often get the comment that a listener could tell I was Indian because of emotional playing. Hmm. I believe music transcends all that I am--thankfully. I have this notion that every experience I and my ancestors have is distilled through my music. What I mean is when I’m playing my egoic self is put to sleep and every joy, happiness, struggle, grief and spirituality is focused into a note. Musicians like Les Paul, Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald understood that and often talked about the importance of the one note you are playing being the most important.

So maybe in order to transcend through music the musician needs to transcend the cellular memory and be a prism, an instrument. I like that idea and don’t feel so alone knowing that all my ancestor’s work, struggle and resilience is supporting the music coming through. I can also blame them when I forget the notes. Ha ha.

Thanksgiving is here and I know it hasn’t been about the historic Pilgrim and Indian shared meal in a very long time. It is symbolic, a metaphor. As we gather with our families and friends we take part in something that every one of our ancestors has done—the sharing of bounty. So transcend any guilt or judgment and pass a little appreciation and love with those yummy mashed potatoes. I’ll be in Phoenix with my Flutes and Hang in tow hopefully making the holidays just a little more peaceful through music.

Happy Thanksgiving and Safe Travels.

* http://www.desertusa.com/ind1/du_peo_paleo.html

Here is a little video of a song “Calling Snow” from Winter Colors, 2006.

Email Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-g6OlsENbRk

Monday, November 10, 2008

What the Luck?

“Luck? I don't know anything about luck. I've never banked on it, and I'm afraid of people who do. Luck to me is something else: Hard work -- and realizing what is opportunity and what isn't”.- Lucille Ball:

“I don’t believe in luck, but I could sure use some.” – Randy Granger

I’ve been hearing luck attributed to success lately. Roger Moore said on a morning talk show recently that it was just luck that he got the James Bond roles and further that the idiom of success being 33% talent, 33% looks and 33% luck but that he thought it was actually 99% luck. A few other interviews I’ve come across lately all pointed to similar ratios of luck being most important. A major-label Native American flutist said he “just got lucky” when I congratulated him on an extended feature on Echoes the New-Age Radio program. I’m suspect of this attitude and make it a practice to never wish anyone good luck opting to say I know things will go well for them and reminding them to enjoy themselves etc. I meet a lot of musicians who know about the Hang and how challenging (understatement) they are to get right now. They always say how lucky I am to have one. I remind them I did Pay for it (maxing my credit cards) and tracked down how to find a used one. So lucky? If that’s another word for determined I guess so.

I don’t feel lucky. I do feel grateful and fortunate often though. I’m grateful I’ve driven over 11,000 miles this season and not been in an accident—especially through places like Oklahoma and Chicago where driving is a combat sport. I’m very glad my snarky mouth didn’t get me into too much trouble or get me punched out. I’m fortunate my carelessness with my instruments resulted in zero loss even while singing CD’s for an hour while my Hang and Flutes sat behind the stage for all to procure… Dang I need some roadies. Any takers? Ha-ha

John Lennon said that life is what happens while you’re making other plans. So true. I’m tempted to change my bio on my website and MySpace to a more truthful one like: “Randy…..an overly talented musician mired in self-doubt and prone to panicking at the lack of interest in his music and a total Gig-whore who will play at your house-cleaning for a discount.” Wouldn’t that be funny if all the musician profiles were that revealing? I had been feeling self-indulgently depressed so last week I vowed to make my performances about sheer enjoyment. It helped. Last weekend at the Dona Ana Renaissance Faire I gave up any expectations about the future and dove into the moment. It worked. I had such fun and even with over 450 vendors, five stages and between 35,000-40,000 people all of my performances drew excellent crowds and I made some nice coin. Yesterday I dragged myself down to our weekly Farmer’s Market a huge 10 block open air local growers and craftspeople market, and with my Hang and Native Flutes I Busked up a storm. The Hang is such a people, and money, magnet and I had crowds just circling me with all ages, races and types. No one was Republican, Democrat etc. everyone was just completely puzzled and smiling about this flying saucer that makes music. I must have said, “It’s called a Hung, from Switzerland…etc” several hundred times. I came home and ordered 1000 postcards with all my info to pass out at gigs.

Its funny people always talk to me while I’m playing and engrossed in my music. This used to irritate me but I have a better perspective and attitude now. The late Studs Terkell (he died on Halloween this year) said that “In our impersonal world of ours pretense is put at a premium.” I think my lack of pretense is why I’m approachable. That or they think I’m homeless. This summer I witnessed how unattractive pretention is in performers and hope all of you will set me straight if I get that way. I know working hard, being prepared, being authentic and working on your craft are what you do because you call yourself a musician—however, I would sure enjoy having an honest manager, a decent booking manager, a supportive record label and as much radio play as possible and I for one would love to be on the Echoes playlist. In the meantime I continue to make music because It is what I do and so far people enjoy it. Thankfully! The NMSU Dance Program recently commissioned a song from me they will premiere in December. A local NPR radio program asked me to compose a new theme song for them. I have a song on the INAFA 2008 Compilation CD. Yeah! My CD was #12 on the New Age Reporter charts. I’m playing at the El Paso Museum of Archeology. I'm on a Fundraiser Compilation CD for La Casa a shelter for abused women and kids, a serious problem here and I love what I do so even if I never get invited to perform anywhere ever again at least I can take my music to the streets any given day and bring people joy. Lucky me.

A couple of photos from the Renaissance Faire.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

DNA Music in my blood and yours too.

What is it about music that is so conducive to healing and emotions? I've been wondering this and mostly just accept it. Some recent experiences have brought it home. I know how affected I am by music and see the affect on listeners and sometimes hear from them about being brought to tears or moved by my songs. Other times I hear from people how much they hate my music and me in general. Hey, at least they are listening and are usually from either Canada, Germany or France and hear it on YouTube. Go figure ha ha.

I listen to podcasts when I'm travelling the hundreds of miles to gigs. Recently I was listening to a Living Dialogue with Dr. Larry Dossey about the late scientist, Susumu Ohno, who took strands of DNA from humans and other species and assigned notes or musical values based on a really complex method which you can read about at: http://www.mimg.ucla.edu/faculty/miller_jh/gene2music/previouswork.html His wife is a violinist and performed the notes, which resembled a musical score. The result is something called DNA Music and when you listen to it knowing what it is you will be so struck with awe. The music sounds rhythmic and like a modern Bach or Mozart. It sounds like a Hang drum or celestial Harpsichord. Go to http://whozoo.org/mac/Music/samples.htm to listen. I've noticed things like melody and pitch are universal and people react to harmony and dissonance the same way across so many cultures. My main instruments, Voice, Hang drum and the Native Flute are all instruments that are exposed and expressive in direct ways.

Last weekend I was in Phoenix at the FarWest Folk Alliance conference where me and hundreds of other Folkies listened to tons of music and went to cool workshops about the music industry. All these people united in music was special. I did a showcase and overall felt flat and stale. I think when I am trying to impress industry people and be something more than I am at the moment I lose connection to that source of creation flowing through me and my Ego (the part of me who wants things) takes over and pushes the 'real' me out of the way. That is why doing concerts and informal performances are always so fun for me and the audience—I'm there for them and they are there to hear me. Oh well, I did it and heard some amazing music and met some fantastic people regardless.

I stayed an extra day with my musician friend Saggio and his wife Barbara. They live west of Phoenix in a Geodesic home. They were such gracious hosts and lead Healing Music Meditations one of which I was lucky enough to attend and offer some music of my own. The affect the music had on the attendees was very peaceful and healing I thought. Saggio and I played a lot of music on our combined 5 Hanghang, Native Flutes and the wonderful variety of instruments. Being amongst so much music I lost track of time and worries. What a retreat! I've heard it told that when we are being creative we are tapping directly into THE source and things like depression and pain can't enter our mind. I felt that lately and driving back to New Mexico I was blasting Coldplay and Snow Patrol and reconnecting with my own music in a new way.

Music is real and part of the now that I think Eckhart Tolle writes about. This weekend I'm playing at the 37th annual Renaissance Faire in my home town where they get about 35,000 visitors and as I play my Hang and Flutes I'll be aware that my music is part of something larger, innate and immediate. I'll remember to let it flow and get the hell out of the way……haha. See you all there! Check my Calendar for the performance times.

Here is a video I call Hang Heaven because being surrounded by 5 of them is pretty cool. It's a little improvised song on a couple of them.

Have a wonderful musical weekend Y'all!


Hang Heaven

Friday, October 17, 2008

NM Music Artist of the Month

New Mexico Music Commission
New Mexico Music Directory
Noteable New MexicansNews & AnnouncementsArtist ResourcesAbout the Commission
G Clef
Artist of the Month

Randy Granger

Randy Granger's latest CD, A Place Called Peace, is reviewed by Emily Drabanski in the current issue of New Mexico Magazine.

A Place Called Peace
GENRE: Native Flute

Randy Granger’s latest CD is a diverse collection of meditative flute songs. Richly layered with the sounds of a variety of flutes and percussion instruments, A Place Called Peace offers more depth than some flute solo recordings you might find. Here Granger also plays the hang drum, a metal lap instrument developed in Switzerland, as well as an Australian didjeridoo and an African djembe (drum). Recognized for his ability on both flutes and drums, he was a featured speaker at this summer’s International Native American Flute Association convention, in Wisconsin. The Hobbs native, who has lived in the Las Cruces area for more than seven years, calls himself “Mix” Granger for his diverse ethnic ancestry, including Mayan, Apache, and Dogrib.

While all of these songs are skillfully played, several stand out. The CD opens with the catchy “Za Zee Za Zu Zing,” Granger’s sweet tenor voice giving the song a hypnotic, soothing quality. This is the only track on which he sings; I would love to hear more. Amazingly, in “Double-Barrel Train Wreck,” Granger captures the sound of a train with his double-barreled drone flute. He gets the drone chugging by making the most of the one-octave difference between the flute’s two chambers. “The Dog Star” has a haunting melody, while “Río Grande Lullaby” is uplifting and peaceful.

But my favorite is “Chaco Moon Meditation”: Granger’s light, chime-like tapping on hang drum reminds me of a gentle rain falling in Chaco Canyon, the sound of a flute in the distance. If you enjoy meditative, contemplative music, A Place Called Peace fits the bill.

For info: www.randygranger.net. To hear a song: www.nmmagazine.com.

Learn more about Randy Granger online at

Monday, October 13, 2008

Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Jr. song Fly on Home

Hi everyone. Ten years ago Matthew Shepard was beaten and tied of a fence in Wyoming where he died of his injuries. The men who killed him said he was gay and deserved it. That same year James Byrd Jr. was beaten and dragged behind pickup truck with a rope and also died from his injuries in Texas. Byrd was an African American. Both of these introduced the idea of a "hate crime" to many Americans.

I wrote a song called "Fly On Home" which mentions both murders and some other global crimes. The message is actually hopeful and intended to offer healing. The song has been used for quite a number of memorials and the like. The DNR show on Sirius Radio asked to use this song today in a special program--though I haven't heard back from them--I said yes. The lyrics have been published in several social awareness and peace journals. I'm making this song "Fly On Home" available for download for this week only on MySpace then will replace it. The lyrics are posted as well.

This song is available on an EP of my singer songwriter songs called "The Rio Grande Incident." If you are interested in ordering it zip me a note.
Thank you as always for listening.

Peaceful breaths...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hillsboro, NM show wrap.

Last Sunday I was delighted to perform at the Hillsboro Community Center in Hillsboro, New Mexico. I was invited to play and invited a few friends to sit in with me. I had a really great time and hope the audience did too. It is a real cool experience to bring your music to people who have never heard you play or don’t know much about your music. Bringing those listeners into your stories and music is a challenge and one that I really look forward to. They were very nice and attentive and I appreciated every minute they listened.

Poet Wayne Crawford sat in with me. We had been working on some recordings of mine and of his poetry set to music including the Hang drum. He did great and I was really pleased with how the audience seemed to enjoy it. Michael Kunz, a Native American flutist from Silver City, NM sat in with me and we did a duet on flutes. It was a fun improvisation and I always am amazed at his beautiful playing style. Brandie Thornburg, a singer from Silver City sang some awesome harmony with me while Veronique De Jaegher played her incredible Digeridoo. We all ended with a cool version of “Za Zee Za Zu Zing” that had the audience singing along.

The night before some friends and I stayed in Silver City at the Palace and partook in the festive night life of that transformed mining town eating at Isaacs, then dancing at the Twisted Vine. Really a whole lot of fun, wine, good food and friends. Who could ask for more? It was so incredible to meet some of the people I’ve gotten to know through MySpace. They came up and said hi and I knew who they were right away. Wow! I love when that whole thing works like it should. Here is a photobucket slide show I put together of some pics sent to me by the promoter Bob. Thanks Bob!

See you out on the road. I’m off to the Oklahoma Flute Festival this weekend, then to Mesa, Arizona.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

New Mexico Magazine CD Review for A Place Called Peace.

Here is a new review for A Place Called Peace appearing in the October issue of New Mexico Magazine. I'm grateful for the positive coverage in such a wide reaching and respected magazine. As with anything that appears in print a couple of things to point out: I was a "workshop presenter" and performer at the 2008 INAFA Convention and have never called myself "Mix" Granger.

Randy Granger, A Place Called Peace
Genre:Native Flute
Story by Emily Drabanski

Randy Granger’s latest CD is a diverse collection of meditative flute songs. Richly layered with the sounds of a variety of flutes and percussion instruments, A Place Called Peace offers more depth than some flute solo recordings you might find. Here Granger also plays the hang drum, a metal lap instrument developed in Switzerland, as well as an Australian didjeridoo and an African djembe (drum). Recognized for his ability on both flutes and drums, he was a featured speaker at this summer’s International Native American Flute Association convention, in Wisconsin. The Hobbs native, who has lived in the Las Cruces area for more than seven years, calls himself “Mix” Granger for his diverse ethnic ancestry, including Mayan, Apache, and Dogrib.
While all of these songs are skillfully played, several stand out. The CD opens with the catchy “Za Zee Za Zu Zing,” Granger’s sweet tenor voice giving the song a hypnotic, soothing quality. This is the only track on which he sings; I would love to hear more. Amazingly, in “Double-Barrel Train Wreck,” Granger captures the sound of a train with his double-barreled drone flute. He gets the drone chugging by making the most of the one-octave difference between the flute’s two chambers. “The Dog Star” has a haunting melody, while “Río Grande Lullaby” is uplifting and peaceful.
But my favorite is “Chaco Moon Meditation”: Granger’s light, chime-like tapping on hang drum reminds me of a gentle rain falling in Chaco Canyon, the sound of a flute in the distance. If you enjoy meditative, contemplative music, A Place Called Peace fits the bill.



Thursday, September 11, 2008

What is Za Zee Za Zu Zing?

The opening track on my new album A Place Called Peace is a song called Za Zee Za Zu Zing. It is a fun song with vocals, djembe, Native American flute and Hang drum. The chorus is the nonsensical phrase Za Zee Za Zu Zing which really doesn't mean anything that I'm aware of. I was playing around on my Hang and came up with a melody and heard the djembe part and the singing etc. Sometimes the words come first, other times the melody or the flute part I never know but I'm glad it does.

An interviewer for New Mexico Magazine asked me recently if I had vocal training and I answered yes. She said she asked because she is also a singer and said her choir would warm up with za zee za zee za zee za zee za while singing the major scale. Then it hit me she's right. I warm up with all sorts of syllabic stuff, chicken sounds melodic yawns. Oh man, when I'm driving to a gig I'm thinking there must be a hidden camera recording how ridiculous I sound and look. Nothing new though.

This video was put together and produced by Moonface Media Farm and the clips are from the World of Faeries Festival where I played earlier this year. I think he did a pretty great job. Thanks Michael!


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Honor Jar.

Performing musicians need to be creative when it comes to the art of selling your CD’s and merchandise at live shows. Recently I’ve come up with an idea I call “The Honor Jar.” Basically it is a plastic coffee container that I’ve peeled of the label and put the words “Thank You!” with some designs on the outside. I’ve printed a little sheet detailing the price of the CD’s and how the Honor Jar works. You put the money or check into the can and take out the change you need. I always seed it with a few $5’s and even has hard candy and coins to keep it weighed down. My minor was marketing so I know that consumers need a price to evaluate the value of something. That is why I don’t leave it open pricing like Radiohead and Jane Siberry (or whatever her name is now) have done. It has worked pretty well and allows me to keep performing.

The alternative is to have a crew who sells my merch for me but until I do this serves two functions. It says I have faith that I will sell some stuff and that I have faith in people to be trustworthy. And I do. It is funny; people will often hold up the money and make eye contact with me when they put it in the Honor Jar. Some even put in tips…. Hey I’ll take it. This weekend I was performing at a festival and when I played on my Hang drum the crowds just converge like magnets. I’ve written about it before how at first it is so exotic and mesmerizing but in order to keep them engaged you need to construct actual songs. I’ve noticed that when I just start to improvise some will walk away. If I make a mistake—even if they have never heard the song—some will walk away. It is amazing to witness that. I think it comes down to how much I am concentrating my energy and emotions into my music. People feel when a performer is not engaged.

That all being said I have to say it can be some seriously hard work, especially at open air festivals where the temptation to wander is natural. A gig like Labor Day weekend where I’m playing for two hours a day each day, solo, can be draining because you aren’t getting the immediate exchange of energy and you are giving so much ….. well you get the idea. I have a solo concert coming up Sept. 28th that I am looking forward to quite a bit. It is a chance to develop and pace a two hour show for a sit down audience. What a treat that will be! I’m energy, the music is vibrational energy, the flute, guitar, hang and singing….energy, laughter, applause, tears, smiles, money….all energy. My little Honor Jar is my way of honoring that gift and exchange. So far I’ve only come up short once, and that was probably my own mistake. Oh yeah, and the only phone numbers I’ve found in the jar wanted to know where to buy a Hang drum. Sigh….


Monday, September 1, 2008

A New Day for Peace or Bored with Barack?

Maybe it is a new day for us in the U.S. I know many of MySpace friends are in other countries. Barack Obama was nominated as the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party at their convention tonight. It was the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream” speech at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial in our capital. What is remarkable to me is that we had a woman and an African American vying for the nomination something that is historic and unprecedented. Maybe healing and the repairing of so much devisiveness can begin to take place in our country and with our friends with whom we share the planet. Keep us in your highest and best thoughts. We have some serious work to do.

This week while volunteering at Hospice, where I play my music regularly, a client had her two adult children listened as I played a familiar song for them. She began to cry and I kept playing. I’ve learned that the music helps in releasing the emotions. We talked a bit about where each of us was from and our stories. I realized what bound us was that we all had a story, family, sadness etc. I said I hoped I would seem them next week and the woman kind of chuckled and said that she hoped so too but that you never know here in Hospice. People go there when they are given six months or less to live and they come regardless of ability to pay. You can imagine I meet a wide range of people and here a lot of stories. Some days it is hard but I try to stay detached enough to get through my hour of music.

I am one of the 47 million Americans who do not have health insurance. Being a self-employed, entrepreneur musician I’ve been concentrating more on gas prices, CD sales, the cost of postage and booking more gigs than health. Call it optimistic denial if you will. I’m so grateful that in the over 8,000 miles I’ve driven touring since June of this year, that I’ve been safe. I’m hopeful that a dialog can continue on insuring all Americans affordably. After all, congress gets health coverage not to mention getting to vote on their own raises. Nice work if you can get it. (that’s my only rant, forgive me) I’ve never been inspired by politicians though I know what it must take to motivate millions of people. Seriously though, this new day could mean a return to empathy, compassion, equanimity and a fairer playing field than we’ve endured for eight difficult years. And possibly, when people are feeling more included and empowered—maybe a return to Peace—for everyone.

J. Krishnamurti wrote and spoke about getting to the root of things. And like Aristotle and many others, Krishnamurti called for deep questioning of everything. I’ve reflected on the Bush/Cheney years with constant angst. I remember when Bush was first appointed by the Supreme Court and the anger and violation so many people felt. A gay, retired postal worker friend of mine was despondent how this was the end of fairness and peace and the beginning of judgment, fear and an active aggressive silencing of disenfranchised voices. I paused and said it will be ok that their way was not the way of the universal laws and that we needed this to learn compassion and that a balance would return. He was right on many levels. Many people I know had their cars vandalized, death threats sent to their homes, conflict after conflict—I lost several friends and don’t speak politics around my family—all because of their openly opposing the military invasion of Iraq.

So I am wondering what is about the greed of the people who put Bush/Cheney in office that is driving our lives into an unaffordable way of living? What is it that some need to make so much more money than they ever need? What is it that allows our government to spin and lie openly about issues and rephrase them to scare and promote a fearful population? Studies have shown that if you phrase something in a negative way, i.e. that someone could happen to you if you don’t do this is so much more effective at motivating people. What is it about the top 5 percent of our world who have resources beyond the rest of so many people that they want even more and will do anything to get it? Our televangelists scare people into giving them money in exchange for redemption and so many end up indicted for tax evasion have adulterous affairs etc. My mom’s pastor did the same thing and ran off with the money. The church was soon after struck by lightening.

Greed must come for fear. It certainly doesn’t come from faith. Why are we so distracted by the slightest scandal? Are we that bored? I’m so busy earning enough money to keep my music business going I don’t even subscribe to newspapers. It is exhausting. Only a passion for moving people with my music keeps me going. Politicians have become an industry. Anyone who watched the made for TV DNC convention knows they’ve learned from the RNC. The method of pre chewing and digesting then telling what issues we should be thinking about is absurd. It didn’t help we had the major news channels giving hour after hour of what they thought the speakers might say, milking the Clinton thing like a calf, telling us what we should feel and think after the speech and all the while not showing non prime time speakers. If you are a politician you’ve had to make deals to get there. Nuff said.

The only government you need is the one between your scalp and your stomach.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Milking the music Muse. And a video too...

I heard an inspiring interview this week with a master Cello player, Bernard Greenhouse, who is 92 and still practices hours every day and plays concerts. It wasn’t his age that was inspiring but his passion for music and something he said about the rare ability to communicate emotionally through music and if the players feel it on their skin then the audience will too. He was a founding member of the Beaux Arts Trio who just played their final concert at Tanglewood this weekend wrapping up a successful 53 year run. Rehearsing in a lonely thing to do sometimes. It is amazing how 4 hours can just whiz by when I’m working on music or “wood shedding” as we musicians call it.

The real joy of course is when I get to perform for people. That exchange is incredible. There is an art to playing expressively. I’ve been working on a workshop I’m presenting at the Oklahoma Flute Festival in October on just that subject. Sure there are techniques but ultimately the musician has to feel something before they can translate that. I love the mystery of music. The way a passage of music in a movie or a singer at a funeral can immediately touch us so deeply is….well something I don’t want to deconstruct. Many flute players talk about playing from the heart. Being a professional musician means playing from the heart while you are keeping the audience engaged, entertained and hopefully in their seats for 90 minutes. My approach has always been to work up a set that is paced in tempo, energy, familiar, brand new and length of songs. When you think about it I play some pretty relaxing music and run the risk of making my audience doze off or start doing yoga poses. So far they seem to stay awake and usually say things like, “I could listen to your music all day.” That’s when I mention the CD’s for sale. Ha ha.

An interesting thing about the Hang is that there are really only about 7 or 8 notes including octaves (the same note just higher) and you wouldn’t think it would be very expressive. That was one thing that drew me to the Hang. The challenge of playing it emotively expressively was something I wanted to try. An interviewer asked me recently how long it took to learn the Hang. I paused and said, “Oh, I’m still learning.” Like Bernard Greenhouse I’m still working to get as much expressiveness out of my instruments and myself as possible. I think that is why we want people to listen to us, really listen. A lifetime of practice, passion and being completely open to inspiration and feeling things thoroughly all distilled into a four minute song. Whew! Here is a link to the interview I mentioned with Bernard Greenhouse: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93844925 It’s only about six minutes.

Ok, this is my attempt to be expressive on the Hang. The song is “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. I love this song and melody and am trying to use both my HangHang more. Let me know what you think. Daniel, a hang player from Florida, called the video Grunge Hang. That’s too funny.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Chicago Tribune write up.



All's fairy
Festival brings the sprites out of hiding and reveals their secrets (who knew they loved pickles?)

By William Hageman

Chicago Tribune reporter

August 17, 2008

On a beautiful summer weekend, under a canopy of oak trees at Vasa Park in South Elgin, the fairy people gathered.

Hundreds of them, many of them winged, some wearing pointy ears, others with curly-toed footwear.

Welcome to the World of Faeries Festival 2008.

"We tell people, it's a fantasy festival, so come in your Renaissance or fantasy gear," said Dave Yaeger of Crystal Lake, who with his wife, Gloria, puts the annual event together. "It's not a must, but I'd say 15 or 20 percent come dressed."

The Yaegers were inspired by a Pennsylvania event, the Fairie Festival, which has been celebrating all things fairy for two decades. The Yaegers' business, The World of Faeries (theworldoffaeries.com), specializes in fairy statues and Celtic jewelry, and they thought that a local festival would enable them and other vendors to reach a new audience. The first one was in 2005, and it has grown steadily in size and scope.

"We get a little of everything," Gloria says. "Some [visitors] are just curious. They don't know what this is all about. I tell them it's a little like a Ren [Renaissance] fair. But just a little. Ren fairs don't have people dressed in costume like fairies."

And how many Renaissance fairs have a pickle guy? Dressed as a pirate, no less.

A.K.A. John Folan of Chicago, he set up his barrel at the far end of the park and hawked his crunchy green wares to all within earshot.

"Icy cold, fresh, delicious, nutritious ... a bill a dill!"

"How about a pity sale? I'm a grown man, for Pete's sake."

And "There's no breath like pickle breath!"

Folan said he started dealing pickles back in college some 20 years ago.

"It helped get me through school. You do a big fair, you could make $500 in a weekend. That's a lot of pickles."

He left the pickle biz a little over 10 years ago but came out of retirement for the weekend. "My wife is the artistic director—or something—with the fair, and she shanghaied me."

The pickle-pushing pirate was just one of the fest's interesting cultural overlaps. There was Mother Goose, standing next to another pirate, not far from a balloon man in a leprechaun get-up. And flitting about the grounds were visitors, especially young visitors, in all their fairy goodness.

Paula Hutson of Crystal Lake was soaking it all up with daughters Emma, 6, and Audrey, 4, and friend Leslie DeWitt of Carpentersville, and her daughter, Stephanie, 3.

"I said, 'You guys want to dress up?' And they were down in the basement getting their stuff," said Hutson, holding two half-eaten pickles that her daughters had temporarily abandoned.

The girls—heavily into pink girly-girly outfits, with wings, of course—were busy interacting with some of the 30 or so entertainers sprinkled around the grounds. At the gate, each kid got a sheet listing various activities (make a craft, tell a joke, etc.); as they accomplished each task, it was marked off. A sort of scavenger hunt.

That hunt eventually took the kids to the throne of Queen Belladonna of the Unseelie fairies, enchanting in her blue and purple wings and seated amid pillows and flowers under a Sports Authority canopy.

"They come to bow or curtsy to a queen of the fairy court," she explained, handing a half-eaten pickle to her handmaiden as a group of children approached.

In addition to some 30 vendors—offering coat-of-arms T-shirts, body art and crystals as well as soy candles and jewelry—the fest offered two full days of entertainment.

There was the unusual, like the Swords of Valor, where performers flailed away at each other with swords, a giant mallet and shields as the crowd offered encouragement ("Kill! Kill! Kill!" they suggested). Just as entertaining was the music.

"This is my first fairy fest. I didn't really know how to dress," said musician Randy Granger, who performed on the Native American flute and hang drum both days. "I sort of Googled 'male fairies' and got all kinds of hits."

Pause. Laugh.

"From what I could tell, it's much like a Renaissance or medieval festival. And it smells good —soaps and patchouli."

His performance on the hang drum, a Swiss instrument that sounds like a steel drum, added an other-worldly sound and atmosphere to the weekend. But that's what these events are all about.

"I think the common thing about fairy festivals is an honoring of the spirit," said Samantha Stephenson, half of the duo Gypsy Nomads, who also performed. "I grew up in England, and the fairy thing is very British. It's the child's spirit we all have, and it comes out in these festivals. There's a big emphasis on music and playfulness."

And pickles.


Copyright © 2008, Chicago Tribune

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ghost Dancers video.

This is "Ghost Dancers" is from my new album 'A Place Called Peace.' The song was inspired by the Ghost Dance religion that tragically led to the Wounded Knee Massacre. Indian people at that time in the 1890's were having it hard. Hunger, disease, despair and extreme poverty was the story of the day. A new religion that came to the Pauite Shaman Wokova said by praying, meditating, chanting and dancing the Ghost Dance an Apocalypse would come and after that the ancestors would return and the Buffalo and the old ways of Indians before whites. Ideas like borders, ownership and especially alcohol would have to done away with.

Tragedy upon tragedy followed ending in the Wounded Knee Massacre where 290 men, women and children Indians were killed by a heavily armed 7th Calvary. The same Calvary Gen. Custer once commanded. There were reports that many of the soldiers yelled "remember Little Big Horn?" as they chased Indians into the hills, the majority of them unarmed. 29 soldiers also died though it is said that it might have been from "friendly fire" as the Indians had been disarmed that morning just before the slaughter began. 23 7th Calvary soldiers later received Congressional Medals of Honor. There is a well-known photo of Chief Big Foot dead in the snow. He was known as a peace negotiator, was elderly and ill with pneumonia when he as branded a "fomenter of disturbances."

What saddens me about the entire Ghost Dance tragedy is that it was essentially a messianic religion and they believed that Jesus was going to raise their ancestors and restore the natural balance and order. This as a peaceful movement akin to Gandhi's nonviolent movement and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s philosophy. That they were banned, persecuted and eventually murdered for practicing their religion is a tragedy that more Americans should know about. Peace begins with forgiveness. Understanding and recognizing such violence will help to know when it happens again and call attention to it before more tragedy ensues. There is so much more on the Ghost Dance story and I implore you to research for yourself. Hate begets hate. Compassion leads to empathy. In this video and blog I don't want to blame anyone and make anyone feel bad or sad. I'm trying to tell the story that inspired the song Ghost Dancers from my perspective. I welcome a respectful debate. Thank you for reading.


Dog Days of Touring, Poem. And Friends or Fans?

Ah the Dog Days of summer are here in the southwest with long sultry days and occasional thunder-head clouds that look like huge cotton candy icebergs above the Organ Mountains. The green chilie is finally being harvested after too much rain kept fields muddy as cake batter. I’m happy to be home for just a while after tours that resemble long-haul trucker routes. It’s funny that I’ve been thinking about how I’m always a little late to the continental breakfasts at the hotels where I stay. The rare times I actually have a night in the same city where I woke up I head down to the gym, if there is one, then to see what’s left at the breakfast bar. Let me tell you it is competitive sport with people lined up and the baked goods and waffles go first. The only thing left most times is oatmeal and some individual cereal boxes. Myself I’d rather have something more substantial like lasagna, enchiladas or pizza--or just get on the road.

I’m playing at a church this Sunday, something I haven’t done for a while and swore off altogether. Even so, this is a special situation involving a church that really needs some healing, a new minister and because a very spiritually powerful friend asked me to play when she delivers a guest sermon. More local gigs are in line including a show in conjunction with the U.N. International Day of Peace. Check it out and maybe organize something in your area. Would be nice to have an eon of peace instead of just a day but peace is something that begins with the individual then grows from there I think. It is strange being on the road then coming back to your home town and few people know you’ve ever left…ha ha . I know that CD’s are sold one at a time and that fans are made one at a time as well. It is cumulative really. As I continue to work and work and work I’ve hired a radio promotion company to do what I usually do and it is going well. Of course no one ever works as hard as you do but I’m trusting and having faith. Air play and reviews continue to grow for A Place Called Peace and I’m happy about that. I read a quote recently about the music industry; “There are no airbags in the music industry. When it goes wrong YOUR head is going through the windshield.” I’m not fatalistic about it but I do know that you and your listeners make it all happen and every relationship is personal. I try to spend as much time as I can talking to people after gigs, answering emails, questions, listening to every story. Sometimes I’m so tired I feel nauseated but try not to let it show. Sometimes I even hang out with fans, etc. after gigs or accept an invite to come to dinner or stay at their house. That doesn’t always work though. Too often I’m either the brunt of their frustration or they start picking at my amour and finding all the chinks only to realize….OMG….he’s human. Hell yeah I’m human. I need to rethink these offers.

Friends or fans? We’ll I’d like them both. But a friend is someone you need to be able to be yourself around; your “real” self with all the idiosyncrasies, bad hair days, bad smell days and changing mood days. Sometimes I get emails (or at shows) asking what my religious or sexual preference is, how much I paid for my Hang and how I got it, etc. I don’t mind being open at all. But, hey get to know me first or at least buy a CD before we go there eh?

Here is a funny (well I hope it is) poem about my dislike of cereal I read at an open mic last week. Happy Dog Days of summer.


Boxed Mornings

The cereal box mocks me
From top the pantry
Judging me in silence I recall
All the commercials and NPR

Stories “eat breakfast” loose weight
Live longer--as if I wanted to--
Stuffed with puffed rice shredded
Wheat, Life and Corn Chex

I’d rather eat the lasagna from
Last night or potatoes with green
Chilie and cheese smothered in
Lard or tamales with ketchup

Wash it down with chef’s
Salad and enchiladas none of
This filler granola taking
Up space like a church of

Overdressed congregations in
The belly of my disgruntled
Hunger oatmeal is phlegm
With sugar, Denny’s is

Oklahoma dressed in
Aluminum Siding I need
To eat more yoghurt and
Fruit maybe in a cocktail

Randy Granger, August 2008

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Dancing to keep the lights on. Illinois gig travelblog.

“I’m just one little Indian/Dancing to keep the lights on
One little Indian/Singing to light the sky
Just one little Indian/Dreaming of the old ways
One little Indian/Looking for the Red Road home”—Randy Granger

I’m back in New Mexico from a Midwest gig trip and appreciating the drier climate, bigger vistas and Green Chilie. This trip took me up to South Elgin, Illinois to perform at the World of Fairies Festival with stops in Oklahoma City, St. Louis and Albuquerque. Being a musician in the southwest USA means you travel quite a vast distance for paying gigs. In the Atlantic northeast area, west coast and some part of the south you can book shows where you only need to drive 90 miles to the next town and sometimes closer. It is about population density and out west cities are far apart meaning you cover hundreds of miles—ah the things we do for fans…

Having just completed a tour up to Wisconsin I wasn’t too excited about a repeat 23 plus hour drive but a traveling companion agreed to come along up until Bloomington, IL. It helped having someone to talk to and laugh at how there seems to be a black hole of time between Amarillo and Oklahoma City that slows down time. Maybe it is the largest cross in the Western Hemisphere along I-40 that warps the space/time fabric. Whatever it is it is one of the longest 260 miles known to human kind. St. Louis is quite nice. I stayed in the Soulard District with its brick buildings and streets. I imagined how St. Louis must have been so beautiful in its heyday. I will say it was so hot and humid there that the word sultry didn’t suffice. The next morning I walked over to take a photo of the Archway to the West the famous landmark. It was so smoggy that only the top of the Arch peeked above the haze giving a creepy, surreal quality to the morning. I-40 through Missouri has giant billboards about every twelve miles advertising XXX Video Arcades, Stores etc. They are invariably located next to churches with or without steeples. One XXX is right next to a billboard for a church and a giant Bowling Pin. We looked and looked for a bowling alley or something but didn’t see one. What the enormous bowling pin is doing there is still a mystery. The XXX Arcades usually adversities free trucker parking and have names like The Lion’s Den, Pleasure Palace and Big Louie’s Too. Too funny. I was in too much of a hurry to explore them further.

I did visit Abraham Lincoln’s tomb and his home in Springfield, IL. Climbing the stairs and gripping the same handrail he and his family touched was moving. He had so much weighing on him I imagined he paced quite a bit. His tomb is gracious, austere and understated. Much like the man.

The World of Faeries Festival was mostly beautiful people in as beautiful setting along the Fox River west of Chicago. People drifted along in canoes and the crowd was dressed up in costumes somewhere between pixies and Middle Earth. I met some really wonderful people including The Gypsy Nomads and Knotty Bits. I heard some excellent music and got a chance to see other performers which is always a wonderful privilege. My own sets went really well and I was just awed at times thinking I’m bringing my music, my stories, and my culture to people 1500 miles away. I debuted a new story I perform with Indian Buffalo Drum where I tell the story of how Wind brought the first flute to the people because he was lonely and didn’t have a voice. It was fun. Playing the Native American flute and Hang drum for total strangers and winning them over is a tremendous amount of work and also a real honor. If there had been more people in attendance I would have sold many more CD’s—enough to cover the new Struts my car needs….yikes.

Such is the life of a working musician. We need to be paid for the work, investment, energy, rehearsing, preparation, travel etc. that we put into our act. We bring an intangible quality to venues. What we need from venues is to advertise and get the word out as much as possible. I usually send out my own press before gigs but the promoters get touchy about that so I stopped doing that. I’m not complaining about any one in particular mind you, just some thoughts in general that the outdated adage of “Well at least you made enough for gas money..” line we’ve all heard from bar owners for years is an attitude that leads to mediocrity and lack of professionalism. It’s like me saying well there weren’t many people out there so I just gave 40%. You know what I mean? Hey 2 or 2000 I’m giving all I got regardless. I, like many others, work really really hard to make sure when you come to my show that hopefully something transcendent will happen. You know, those moments when we all feel connected and know that an unseen inspiration is at work through this unlikely goof on stage. That requires a commitment and willingness on my part to get out of the way and bring all my training, gifts, talents and inspiration into focus and give give give everything. It is hard work. It is exhilarating and draining and it what I do everyday. And sometimes I make enough for gas money and sometimes I don’t…….ha ha ha. There is a line from one of my songs that goes, “Are you one of those legendary souls/Who hears God’s whispers?/I said I really do not know/Right now I’m living at my sisters….oh oh oh.”

Here is a video of various people dancing and a fire eater I made between sets. I love any festival where people feel free enough to dance. The song is Hang Jig from my 2008 release The Roswell Incident.

Be Well and thank you for reading these blogs.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ego? What Ego?

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being. - Goethe

I always try to believe the best of everybody -- it saves so much trouble. Rudyard Kipling:

I’ve been thinking about Ego this week. Ego has come up on my tour where I witnessed some exploding Egos, an Ego self-destruct before my eyes and had a radio interviewer project their ideas of being a performer onto me. Revealing the details of the distasteful acts is too much like gossip so I’ll spare you the ugliness. Suffice to say that thank goodness for my training. As one performer was going off on me complete with name calling and false accusations I began to get angry then asked for help from my much wiser soul. Suddenly a feeling of compassion and even embarrassment for the frothing ego in front of me took hold. I stopped and said I was done with this conversation and walked away....not as cleanly as I would like but I ended it.

I believe when I perform I am expressing freedom. The freedom that comes from knowing I am doing exactly what my gifts, abilities, dedication and hard, hard, work allow me to do. The urge to express and create is compelling for me. “It” drives me not the desire to be celebrated, recognized, win awards or even make a living. If the arthritis in my joints got so severe I couldn’t play any instruments I would sing A Cappella. The point being is that the need to express, the creative force surging in my dreams even, is strong and regardless of instrument or art form it will be expressed. The Ego cannot sustain self-expression or inspiration; it can only sustain delusions, self delusions. Performing, doing interviews, marketing and promotion are the vehicles we use as artists to communicate and connect with others. A song only comes to life for me when someone hears it. In that communication that is creation recognizing itself. And that is cool.

An example of how Ego stagnates things is when musicians or writers have “blocks.” Blocks, I think, happen when the artist thinks they can create something and so draws on their limited power complete with all the baggage and self delusion they possess. Soon the superficial reality of Ego gets angry and resentful that people just don’t get it and it feeds itself convincing us we are above and superior to everyone etc. ICK! What a load of compost. I know. I’ve been there. Not anymore thankfully. I know I must feel something real and let it gestate in me so that when I come to my music all that feeling meets with my years of training, insight, skill, muscles, breath and now a distillation of that experience is communicated through an instrument and ultimately a microphone, a recording, a product…etc. Then I have to write about it, send it out to radio stations, Magazines, Newspapers, Promoters, Booking Agents, etc. etc etc. and subject that deeply personal experience to criticism, reviews, sales and play charts, audiences that sometimes listen and sometimes don’t. So I ask you…What Ego? I’m self-employed musician, a Journeyman; there is no time or room for Egotistical thinking. Are you kidding me? Anyone who chooses to subject themselves to this sometimes wrenching process should be examined not celebrated. Not that I’m whining mind you. I just think giving a working musician’s point of view regarding Ego might be entertaining.

Sometimes friends will tell me, like 6-months after a gig, they really thought my concert or interview was great but didn’t want to tell me at the time because I might get a big head. I just laugh and say right driving myself 22 hours to do a gig is really A-list. So why do I do it? Because I have something unique to express and I’m completely open to sharing that experience with an audience. Volunteering at Hospice, adopting Racing Greyhounds, being my friend’s caretaker after surgery and seeing just how happy my music makes people sustains me and keeps me absolutely grounded to the fact that relationships are most important. They connect us. Recently I had a few extra hours before a gig in Oklahoma City and visited the Oklahoma City Memorial site of the 1995 Alfred P. Murrah bombing. I was so moved by the serene reflecting pool and especially the 168 empty chairs for each person killed. There are a few smaller chairs for the children killed. Wow. Talk about powerful. I’ve included a couple of photos I took.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope I’ve revealed something interesting, insightful or at least entertaining. I always welcome your comments.


Reflecing pool sculpture

Chairs respresenting each victim

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wisonsin Road Trip - INAFA Convention

Well about two weeks ago I set out on a tour that would end up in Wisconsin at the 2008 International Native American and World Flute Association convention. I was driving so set up a couple of gigs along the way to break up the 23-hour drive. First night I stopped at the KOA in Amarillo, Texas. It was pleasant except that it is wedged between the railroad lines and the airport. I played my flutes and Hang drum for a group of nice people and sold a couple of CD’s. I headed down to Palo Duro Canyon south of town. It is a beautiful canyon reported to be the world’s second largest canyon. The history of the Native peoples, Spaniards and outlaws who lived there is interesting. I stopped and had lunch and played my flute as a Buzzard circled overhead. Next night was in Oklahoma City. The drive between Amarillo and Oklahoma City is where time actually stops. It felt like an 8 hour drive. There is the world’s largest crucifix along the way and it is huge. Kind of surreal really.

I wanted to attend the monthly Oklahoma Flute Circle meeting in the historic Jacobson House. I did. It was a nice turnout considering it was the 4th of July. I met some really great fluties who even showed up the next night to hear my play at the Borders Books in Norman, Oklahoma. I had a great time and was grateful for the review in the previous day’s newspaper The Norman Transcript. The audience was attentive and bought quite a few CD’s. I was thinking hmmm maybe I should have brought a lot more…. I played the flute and Hang and sang and people seemed to enjoy it. Afterwards some of the people from the flute circle and I went to eat afterwards and had a really nice visit. As I was driving back to OKC there were fireworks going off everywhere and especially downtown. It was cool.

The next day I was scheduled for another show in Kansas City but as sometimes happens in the music business the person I booked with originally was several people ago. I had been trying unsuccessfully to confirm and skipped that town altogether and head on for Des Moines, Iowa. I had scheduled an extra couple of days in Minneapolis to see the Modern Art exhibition at the Walker Art Center and the Sculpture Garden next door. It didn’t disappoint. Seeing the modern art pieces up close and personal always has such an impact on me. The great restaurants, bars, lakes, coffee shops in Minneapolis’ are really fun.

The INAFA convention was pretty awesome. Between the beautiful flutes, amazing musicians, workshops and concerts I don’t think I slept much. I presented a couple of workshops as well a concert that were so much fun—and a lot of hard work. Working hard is the part that comes naturally and from the feedback and CD sales the work connected with people, something I’m always grateful for. I stayed in the dorms which did not have air conditioning, ventilation or fans and it was humid beyond what I’m used to. My dorm mates were great and we all developed a sense of camaraderie I think. I feel I made some amazing friends and that is always worth it. Some of the highlights for me were hearing Michael Allen, Joseph Firecrow, Bill Miller, Skip Healy with Mark Bachand among others. I was honored to be invited to lay down a song for the INAFA compilation CD that will be used for fundraising. A huge honor was to be included in the INAFA All Star’s concert the closing night. Sharing the stage with R. Carlos Nakai, Peter Phippen, Mark Holland, Skip Healy, Mark Bachand, N. Scott Robinson, Sara Maurer and a few others was amazing and even though I was exhausted and dripping once we got started those wild endorphins kicked in and all was fantastic.

I drove back over a couple of days listening to music and was glad to be home. Work continues on music with interviews this week and mailing out of more CD’s. I sold out of The Roswell Incident pretty quick and need to get more for my next trip to perform at the World of Fairies Festival in South Elgin, IL August 2 & 3. Here is a short slide show of some pics. I haven’t developed the film yet.

There is nothing like performing your music for people live. That exchange of energy, the interplay and suspension of time and hopefully the transcendence is meaningful. Knowing that what I’m playing will only exist in this form in this moment is precious. When they come to you afterwards and mention a specific note or word you said it is humbling and reminds me to be present and aware every time I play. As a performer you are in it “with” the audience and it is a responsibility and a privilege and I don’t take it for granted when I finish a song and people applaud. See you down the road.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Notes from a Desert Pied Piper

Nothing like being on the road to give you an appreciation for home. This week began attending a memorial for a friend who died suddenly of a massive heart attack in his living room. His memorial was on a late afternoon in their back yard and art studio. It was so hot and we were all squishing around the shade like delicate plants. What was amazing was how he navigated so many different crowds here in my little town on the Rio Grande. Painters, poets, sculptors, writers and of course musicians all knew Juan and we gathered ate, drank and gave our funny accounts of our personal experiences. I played a song on my flute that he had suggested a title for. It was moving and interesting to see how many people showed up. I don’t even think I know that many people……

The chilie fields behind my house are growing so fast. Image Hosted by UploadHouse.comI trimmed many Mexican Elder and Pecan trees trying not to wear out my hands. Rehearing for upcoming shows is going well. Problem is when I rehearse I always end up writing new material so have to give myself a talking to. The fires here in the west make our skies hazy. The Mexican border town of Juarez is just 35 minutes away and when our monsoon season kicks in we can smell the acrid fumes from the 2.5 million citizen’s cars and huge Maquiladoras where our cheap electronics are assembled. The violence in Juarez is out of control lately. Nearly 300 killed this year alone from drug violence not to mention the women of Juarez numbering in the thousands by some accounts whose bodies are found in the desert raped and strangled. Very sad and disgraceful.

Yet there are wonderful signs of art and friendliness. When I’m in town I try to make it to our Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings where growers and artisans gather to trade their wares in an open market. Even when I’m traveling I always try to go down to the local Grower’s Markets and busk, or play for tips. There is nothing better than playing for hundreds of strangers and trying out your music. Today there were volunteers walking dogs available for adoption so that was heaven for me. As usual the children always gather around when I’m playing and I love it. I think this must be the first time they are hearing a Native American flute and definitely a Hang drum. They love it when their parents give them money to put in my tip can. Cool. I bought some summer squash, plums, chilie and fresh garlic to make Calabacitas. Yum.

Musically some great things are going on I think. My music was included this week on Hearts of Space a nationally syndicated ambient/new age music radio program. I was so happy as this is one of those desires that is in my things I want to manifest journal. My T-shirts with the Kokopelli/Hang logo are here and I have put a website to order merchandise and CD’s. http://www.randygranger.net/order.html You can still order the traditional way through CDBaby.com, iTunes and Amazon.com. My newest CD “A Place Called Peace” is out in the world and I wish it well. It is all Native American flute music some with Hang, percussion and vocals. I’m very proud of this music and grateful for the opportunity to share it.

A couple of gigs fell through mostly due to the person I booked with initially was three persons ago and my contract is no where in sight or because my promised time slot was moved, trimmed or given to the friend of the organizer etc. Oh well. I believe everything is just as it should be so no longer fret. I uploaded a new song called “Chaco Moon Meditation” that has Hang and the mysterious Anasazi flute. I missed a chance to hang out with radio host Robin from NAMAPAHH due to conflicts of time. Mainly I had to take a friend to the airport very early Friday morning. Sorry Robin. Added some new shows to so it all balances out eh.

So check out the T-Shirts and give a listen to the new songs on “A Place Called Peace.” Say hi if you are at a show or festival. There is a special deal I’m offering to my MySpace fans for a few days. Order any CD and a T-Shirt from my website and I’ll throw in a free copy of “A Place Called Peace.” Yep free. It is my way to say thank you. Only one T Shirt per person please. I need some to sell on the road gas prices kicking my ass and all…… Just type in the word “myspacefan” for the deal.

Peace and unlimited happiness to you all.


Zion Flutes Fest Wrap Up

I’m back from a road trip to the Zion Canyon Art and Music Festival in Springdale, Utah. Though the weather was amazingly hot, dry and breezy—kind of like living in a huge blow dryer set on low—overall some really excellent music took place and loads of fun.

On my drive up, which is a 13 hour drive from my home in New Mexico, I camped out in Canyon de Chelly on the Navajo Reservation of northeast Arizona. Canyon de Chelly is a deep, red-walled canyon with a small river running through it. The Anasazi and later the Navajo have made this verdant canyon home. Driving into Zion Canyon is always stunning and stirs every part of my being. Seeing the friends I’ve made again always makes me happy. This time I met several new people as we gathered around the campground across from the entrance to the festival. Rick Dunlap and his family on Djembe, the Tank Tongue Drum which sounded like a Hang and son Ricky on didgeridoo and all the others who were jamming up a storm made for a raucous good time. I volunteered to MC the open mic stage on Saturday and Sunday. I loved hearing the flute players from all over the country. Some really nice and original music was made.

Probably because I had a Hang drum with me several people asked me to sit in with them. Kiriel from Phoenix, Stephen DeRuby, the Dunlap Clan and others that I played with were all just really open and we all shared a passion for the Native American flute and its possibilities. Joe Young, a musician from Boise, Idaho did a fantastic job with sound and played an amazing set of music. He was nice and asked me to sit in on Hang and Cornell Kinderknecht on Bansuri played so beautifully both in his solo set and with us.

Will Hoshal asked me and California musician Vince Chaffin to sit in during his concert and it was just an hours worth of smiling on both sides of the stage. Thanks Bill. Can’t wait to do it again. Being able to do what is your passion is truly a privilege. All the dehydration, sunburn, egos, too little sleep and extremely long drive was worth it. On the return trip I camped below Sunset Volcano Crater north of Flagstaff, Arizona. Very serene.

I lusted after so many flutes this year and really wanted one of John Kulias’ ceramic flutes and several of Michael Allen’s flutes but since gas is over $4.00 a gallon so the choice was pretty clear. Buy flutes or walk home….ha ha

Here is a video/photo montage of Canyon de Chelly and Zion Canyon set to a song from my new CD “A Place Called Peace.” The song is “Apache Tears.” The CD is ready and available but I’ll post a note soon about a special MySpace offer….stay tuned.