Thursday, December 24, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
I posted a quote not too long ago on Facebook. Something about how an artist must do art, a poet must write and a musician must make music if they are ever to be at peace with themselves. Many of the comments seemed to say that music or art made them feel peaceful. Funny how every person brings what is from their context, the experience into comments. The same can be said about art so it was really interesting for me and instructive. I took the quote to mean that there is something in artists that compels them to create, and when they aren’t they will go through new interests, friends, experiences unknowingly looking to express that drive. I know from personal experience. When you take the commitment to hear the muse, as it were, you notice the world differently. You feel things others don’t and when you suppress or make excuses you can literally splinter and succumb to emotional and mental turmoil and destructive behaviors. Again, personal experience.
So seeing how every person read something different into that quote got me thinking about the art experience from the observer’s view. We look at a painting, watch a movie or attend a concert and come away with such disparate takes. I know at my performances people will say things about songs or whatever that I have no clue what they are talking about. I just listen. I just say thank you. Because ultimately I think most artists want an audience of one or many to “feel” something. Most times I don’t know where some lyrics or a melody is going but I trust it. I am not at all clever or trained enough to intentionally do this or that—i.e., manipulate what I want a listener to feel or think. Not at all. Even so all of my musical training and experience comes together and connects with a deeper source and intelligence. That collaboration is remarkable and never lets me get prideful.
When I’m not on the road I try to busk (street playing for coin) at our Las Cruces Grower’s Market. It has been going on for decades every Saturday and Wednesday. I have busked in many cities and I remember when I first started busking with the Native American Flute in 2004 I was shit. I would hide in the doorways wanting so much to make a sound I couldn’t yet. Being a lifelong musician I knew it would eventually come and it scared me to play it in public. I routinely do things that really terrify deeply. Of course I’m now completely confident playing. What I’m confident about is not that I’ll get all the notes right—that is no guarantee—but that I can communicate what I’m feeling. One of the coolest things I notice is that when people walk by me, sometimes even before that realize it’s a real person playing, they change. Their pace all of a sudden slows. Their stride gets longer; they close their eyes and put their head back to let the sun hit it. It is wonderful to see that. When they realize it is me playing they get embarrassed like someone caught dancing when they don’t know someone is watching. I love it.
People are more cautious with their purses. They clutch them a little closer. Usually they walk by, pause then turn around to open their wallets or purses and toss money in my case. Or they send their kids to do it. No matter what I am playing I stop and say thank you to the kids. I want their early experiences with musicians to be a positive one. People at our Famer’s Market aren’t afraid of musicians they way some other cities are. When I play my Hang I end up answering the same questions a couple hundred times. It gets exhausting but I’ve learned to be patient. Days when I’m not feeling patient, aching with arthritis, depressed, angry etc. I don’t bring the Hang. Still the number question is do I make my own instruments. I seriously don’t know what that it about but other musicians tell me it happens to them.
I am so grateful that I can actually make money busking. It is not for the sensitive or moody. You encounter thousands of people in a several hour period. No exaggeration. You must put up with cranky vendors, asshole cops, know it alls, transients eyeing your tip case, asshole Mariachis…(can’t figure that one out yet), competitive performers who set up way to close to you, people not respecting your time, music, personal space, dogs who steal the candy you set out for the kids or piss on your case….
If you can’t take that all in stride and still smile at absolutely everyone, expect the really creepy ones, you should not be out there. I can make friends with anyone and usually do. I try to play short, entertaining songs because you only have them for a few seconds. People take so many photos and videos of me playing I wonder where they all end up? I’ve been learning Christmas songs on the Native Flute which is not that easy. Cross fingering, half and micro holing not to mention every flute maker is different in the fingering and notes you can reach. I set up with my Roland Mobile Cube, a clip on mic, my cd’s, tip case, candy and my post cards which is all a small hassle to transport but worth it. Lately I’ve come to rely on the income of it all and usually sell out of CDs. There are a few hagglers…geez. Don’t make me get out my taser…haha. You will be interrupted, dissed and overlooked but you will also learn so much about how people experience live street music and musicians. Most of all you will be doing exactly what you, as a musician, are meant to be doing. It may not be a concert hall but it is real. You know the renowned violinist Joshua Bell went busking with his Stradivarius in the New York subways as an experience. He got completely and actively ignored for the most part. Jeff Buckley was so freaked out by his stratospheric success that he cancelled a tour and went busking and playing solo in coffee houses. Same thing. Everything you do that scares you will make you stronger. Believe me. I was playing last Saturday and a woman asked which was the best CD for her to buy. I mentioned the various songs. She wasn’t impressed. I mentioned the various awards they received then. She looked at me like I was purple with orange spots, rather incredulously. She said are you telling me you’ve won awards? I said yes, a few here and there. She said well then what the hell are you doing playing here for dollar bills? I said I was really enjoying myself.
Merry Christmas and thank you for your support and allowing me to live simply, create music and support myself all while really loving what I do.
Here’s a video for What Child is This from Winter Colors.
Monday, November 30, 2009
‘Tis the Season’ for dancing
Writer: No author cited
The New Mexico State University Dance program will present its annual holiday dance concert, “Tis the Season” at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, at the Onate High School Performing Arts Center.
NMSU performing companies will include Contemporary Dance Theatre, Sol y Arena Flamenco Dance Company and Crimson Rhythm DanceSport.
Contemporary Dance Theatre (CDT) will perform “Paloma Blanca,” choreographed by Debra Knapp. The piece will be performed to “Cucurrucucu Paloma,” composed by Tomas Mendez and sung by Perla Batalla.
When Knapp said when she first heard this rendition, she felt the sadness of the lyrics but also was overwhelmed by the beauty of the song. She chose to create movement that would represent the beauty of love and the memory of what is so enduring about love.
Student members of CDT have collaborated under the direction of Knapp to create the choreography for a modern dance piece using large colored scarves titled “Ray of Light.” “Chaco Moon Meditation” by Las Cruces musician and composer Randy Granger will be the music for this flowing dance.
Also being performed by CDT is “From Our Pages,” choreographed by NMSU dance faculty member Ann Gavit. This piece is a glimpse into the life of a family, and will be performed to “Ode to Simplicity,” “Serenade to Spring” and “Papillon” by Secret Garden.
Set during World War II at Christmas, NMSU dance faculty member Kendal Cherry Beasly has choreographed a period piece danced by CDT members. The characters find themselves resting on park benches after a day of shopping and work. With many eligible men off at war, one handsome gent catches the attention of the ladies and soon, the pursuit is on. “Bye Bye Blackbird” is danced to “Ballin’ the Jack” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street” by Les Brown, as well as “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “Zing! Went the Strings of my Heart.”
Sol y Arena will perform “La Entrada,” an adaptation of the choreography of Pablo Rodarte arranged by NMSU dance faculty member Lucilene de Geus. “Huellas de Gaviota” with music by El Pele, is an Alegrias flamenco dance choreographed by NMSU dance faculty member Paco Antonio. “Guajira,” with music by Paco Jarana, is choreographed by Lucilene de Geus. “Bulerias” is choreographed by Antonio Granjero. “Palomas Oscuras,” with music by Camaron de la Isla, will be performed by dancers from Alma d’Arte charter high school, and is choreographed by Lucilene de Geus.
Crimson Rhythm will perform dances to holiday music ranging from intense and powerful to playful and festive. Student choreographed dance numbers will include fox trot for four couples, a swing/Lindy Hop/quickstep number, a 3-couple Viennese waltz/jive number, and a Viennese waltz. NMSU Dance faculty member Betty Burgess and student Derek Levya will perform a Nightclub two-step to the song “Where are You, Christmas?” by Faith Hill.
Tickets are $8 for students and Pan American Dance Institute (PADI) members and $10 for adults. For more information please call the NMSU Dance department at (575) 646-2070.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
How quickly the holiday season is arrived. I’m grateful to be home and am looking forward to the huge Thanksgiving Day dinner with the same group of friends. It has become a nice tradition. We eat about 2:00 then go for walk along the Rio Grande walking path, then go back for coffee and home-made apple pie. My own past thanksgivings have been not always too peaceful so I value these memories. There are about six poets, 5 musicians, 2 book publishers, 2 artists, 3 self-entertaining kids, about 20 people in all…and a partridge in a pear tree. Not really, but it seemed to fit. I’m back from my most recent travels to Florida. I played at the Native Rhythms Festival in Melbourne. This was their inaugural festival and I wish them complete success. What I like about it was how friendly the people were. The organizers, volunteers and the general public who came out stopped and took a moment with you. Hey when you tour like I do half the year or more you learn to appreciate very much friendliness. The festival didn’t feel as commercial as many festivals have become. Sometimes, just in my opinion, the drive to move product, sell flutes, be the headliner can make things feel aggressive. I think Native Rhythms is on the right track and I could see them already thinking on how to make a more integrated festival experience, i.e., vendors, entertainers etc. in a more communal space. That is something I think really helps for a better festival experience. Most festivals have the vendor’s tent backs facing the stage and usually a couple of hundred yards away. See photos at http://nativerhythmsfestival.com/2009_photos.htm
Here’s the thing. When the public is there talking to you at your booth, or sitting in the audiences or simply asking you where something is—you ARE their festival experience. They way they are treated reflects exactly what they will take away and report to others. For example: A woman stopped at my booth. She had heard me play and wanted to maybe buy a CD. She said she had flown from Pennsylvania to come to this festival. I asked if she knew anyone here. She said no but she had seen it advertised or posted on line somewhere. I asked if she was enjoying it. She smiled and said, “Oh yes.” She recounted how she had flown out to a flute festival (I’m not saying which one) and that it was good but that she didn’t feel very welcome. I asked if she wouldn’t mind elaborating. She said she didn’t know anyone there either and that while people were friendly enough, she kept feeling like she was bothering them (the vendors and musicians) when she tried to talk and that it seemed cliquish so she left early. Wow. I felt so sad when she said that I invited her to sit down and we talked for an hour about flutes, music, traveling etc, in fact I missed out on the final jam session because I thought it more important to make a connection and help build our community. She bought four CD’s; I gave a discount as well and put her on my mailing list.
The point here is not to say I’m great or anything. The point is what I’ve learned my many years as a professional musician. It is about human connection. It isn’t about your $1300 flute with Abalone Inlay and dinosaur totem or your press, reviews, awards, reputation, groupies you pepper in the audience or even your skill at some level. It is about sharing your passion, and your person, with others in a real and authentic way. I owe my success to making one fan at a time and selling one CD or download at a time. Believe me, when I’ve heard for the 179th time in a day (no exaggeration) if I make my own flutes and what a Hang is my eyes can glaze over but I remind myself to treat them as I would like to treated by performers. Michael Allen and I were playing on stage during his set. A woman walks up to the edge of the stage and says, “Could he tell everyone what that thing he is playing is?” I looked at Michael and he says go for it. Next day, he notices a woman in the audience (this was an afternoon set) who is looking confused and puzzled. He says I think we have some people wondering what that is Mr. Granger. So he says the Hang spiel and she yells, “But what is it?” The Hang is something so outside of people’s frame of reference that even if you tell them and explain what it is they just are not going to get it. Anyone who knows Michael Allen knows he is without ego and more laid back than a surfer. Still, when you are playing on someone’s set you are there to support. I was glad he tried to explain about the Hang. When I’m on stage I just ask people to go to my website… haha. Visiting with Doc Greene, Mark Holland, N. Scott Robinson and Jonny Lipford (a friend for several years) and Clint and Vera Goss was awesome. I love getting to know other musicians on a personal level and talking shop as it were. I spent a lot of time hanging out with Bruce the sound guy as I share a love of live sound and engineering.
I had a wonderful time. I am so fortunate that I am easily entertained. One of my pleasures is to think about something and follow that thought all the way through. One thing I think about is how the distance between electrons in an Atom compared to the universe, or how thoughts have weight, mass and velocity or how time is cyclical, dimensional and changes with gravity. I spend several hours driving just on these thoughts and it is such a treat for me. They used to call it “Daydreaming” but I just call it wondering. I got to see my cousin Toni who lives near Tampa. I hadn’t seen here since she was in training shorts and wore really high pig-tails. We don’t know much about each other but we knew we’d find something in common. It was great. She was showing me the ritzy homes along the water in Tampa. She is a professional in the TV industry. She asks me, “So cousin, what are your favorite top five movies or films?” I say, “Well probably, Humoresque, How Green Was My Valley, Bring it On…..” She says, “Wait wait wait…Bring it On as in Brrr it’s cold in here…?” I said yes that’s the one. She laughs so hard I think we’ll drive off the road. I said I have the dialogue memorized and recite it sometime when I’m driving. So much for her intellectual, artsy cousin image. While at Native Rhythms I got to say hi to Marsha the flute stand lady who is as crazy as they come—a kindred soul for sure, Dennis Fredrickson and hang out with new friends like Ed Doughtery and Jon Norris. These guys are like hanging out with cousins. We went out to eat Grouper on the intercoastal waters where a duo played Rolling Stone covers, then went back to the hotel—and not being one to ever pass up a stairwell—we played our rim-blown flutes unbeknownst to us waking up guests. One bleary-eyed guy opens the door and says hey guys it’s 1AM here in this hotel can you guys cool it? We’re thinking “in this hotel?” I pointed out it was only 11PM in New Mexico. We apologized profusely and promised to stop. Ed and Jon seemed embarrassed a bit but I assured them it happens to me all the time and most hotels put my room next to the stairwell anyway. Cirque de Solei’s cast was staying there as well and they were always outside the door smoking and stumbling drunk when not running up and down the hallways with not much clothing. So we didn’t feel so badly. There was sequence and glitter all over that hallway.
I know the crowds will only grow for Native Rhythms. All the factors are there and the organizers are smart, perceptive and flexible it seems. If I’m invited back I will definitely make the journey with gigs along the way as I usually do. I love Florida. How nice it is to feel part of a community who shares the love of the Native American flute and its peaceful effect on people. I hope the vendors made enough money to meet expenses. Don’t forget that while we all love what we do in the end we need to justify it to our bank accounts, wives, husbands, partners, children etc. I’m happy to say I’ve never lost money promoting or performing at a show. It has taken tons and tons of work, personal invitations, building an audience and a willingness to spend just as much time with someone considering buying a CD as it takes. I made double my expenses at Native Rhythms thankfully. I don’t say this to boast, but I am not at all squeamish talking about the business side of the music business. It is an exchange and when you feel what you do is valuable others will too.
I am thankful for so much every single day. I do a mental inventory before I even get out of bed. I have lived the worst and best of life and am glad that presently, it is mostly good. I read biographies and memoirs of successful people and one thing they always have in common is their passion. My passion is music and anything creative. I take pleasure in the lady bug who hitched a ride in my car over 600 miles until I finally put her on a rose bush. Likewise in helping giving someone directions. What I’ve learned from Dogs is that each moment is exactly what it is. And so it is. Happy Thanksgiving friends.
Here is an improve I did with Michael Allen on Mike Knight’s Zumba Tubes….Enjoy
Friday, November 13, 2009
Having left my town of Las Cruces early on Sunday morning the first order was to get two large coffees and a breakfast burrito at our local Pic Quick. That could fuel me for several hundred miles. Good thing because the 9-1/2 drive to San Antonio is bleak I tells ya, bleak. Save for the wind turbines on the mesas, the prolific road-kill and constant Buzzards you see mostly the trucks in front of you. What I can never grasp is the huge amounts of dead animals on Texas and Oklahoma roads. In New Mexico we just don’t have that. The NMDOT is good about that. I do notice that none of the Deer have their heads in Texas. I understand the whole cut off the head take the antlers thing but if they are Does? It becomes unsettling after a while. I’m wondering if it isn’t the state meat of Texas.
I made my way into San Antonio. My brother is a Pediatrician and Capitan in the military and was based in SA for a while, but recently moved to Japan otherwise it would have been nice to visit. It was wet and raining but I went to the river walk and had dinner at Casa Rio which is the restaurant who takes credit for starting the idea of bringing diners on boats. It was nice to hear so many languages walking by and see the boats. Only thing it is really dark in so many of the cities I visit and after a rain especially so. I went and took some shots of downtown and had a conversation with a homeless guy with no legs. He went on and on about Texans. Turns out he is from Nebraska. I gave him a buck for his story and turned in. I have had trouble sleeping since I was a boy and still do. Sometimes I sleep and sometimes not when I’m on the road. When I was a boy I would hear loud music before the heater started. It was a combo of tambourine, drums and guitar. On top of that I saw creatures coming in and out of the walls and the occasional shadow walking the hallways. I was tortured by nightmares where I was being held down on a metal table as creatures around me cut pieces of flesh from me. You can imagine what my reaction was when I saw The Sixth Sense.
The next day I made it to New Orleans. Hurricane Ida was just ahead of me and made land that night. It was raining and windy but not much more. I walked to the Mississippi river front area near Café Du Monde. It was really dead because of Ida the bartender said. When I’m traveling alone I often eat at the bar and probe the staff for places to see or hear music etc. There was a great Jazz guitarist playing in the corner not looking very happy. I thought of how many “out of this world musicians” there are in NO all doing this kind of gig for tips. Meeting hotel and B&B owners they eventually ask about my music and instruments. So I take the time to explain about the Native Flute and Hang and have practice answering really uninformed but sincere questions about Native peoples. I see it as real opportunities to maybe inform and open dialogue, and of course talk them into buying my CD’s! I made my way over to the Mississippi and played my version of “Hallelujah” on the banks. It is a Leonard Cohen song but Jeff Buckley probably has the best know version. He drowned in the river while on tour sadly.
I stopped in Palm City Beach to break up the 10-1/2 hour drive to Tampa where my cousin lives. This was a great stop. The waves were really high and cresting white right outside my balcony. I’ve learned that states visitors center’s have free maps and books of coupons for hotels, restaurants and more so I found a place called Flamingos for a good price. It wasn’t pink however, yellow. Across the street was a place called Shuckem’s, bar-type place with local beer and lots of fried things. How can you go wrong? It is a place I had seen on the Food Network, but forgot until I saw the thousands of $1 bills covering every inch of the walls and ceilings. The story goes that he was about to go out of business and the people at the hotel across the road staples one’s and said when he needs rent money to take the bills down. My British waitress explained it all to me. I drew on the bill and stapled it to the ceiling next to the surfboard. If you go there take a pic for me please.
My cousin lives near Tampa with her partner. They are both in the TV news business and I hadn’t seen her in about 8 years. They invited me to stay with them before I went on to the festival in Melbourne. They took me down to Ybor City a cool area of Tampa. Kind of retro-hip/bohemian with a touch of Cuba. It was great and we ate at a Spanish placed called The Columbia. I wasn’t sure if that meant the Drug Cartel or the Coffee. Neither as it turned out. The tapas and salad were delicious and we laughed often. Their dog, Godiva, is a real sweetie and reminded me how much I miss my dogs. It was interesting for both of us I think, catching up and remembering what we never knew. We come from some pretty disastrous homes yet we both are pursuing happiness as well we can and don’t dwell on the past or blame anyone for our current state. It helps being wry and open about things and we are. I told her stories about our ancestors she hadn’t heard and about all the ghost stories which she was suitably skeptical about being a producer and all… I’ve included my uncle, her dad, in a song or two that I’m recording soon. He was a help when I was younger and very lost. I gave her a jar of salsa I made and carried across six states and three time-zones…
The skies have been gray and low with lots of moisture but overall not too bad. It is surprisingly cold here with a promise of blue skies and mild temps. I’m playing in the evening mostly so I hope it keeps warm for the audience. I will be playing solo and with the flutist Coyote Oldman, aka Michael Graham Allen. That alone is always worth the drive. He is a musician and flute maker I have so much respect for and happy to also call him a friend. In 2003 when I was first thinking about playing the Native American Flute I wrote Stephen Hill, Hearts of Space founder, and asked about spacey Native Flute Music and he turned me on to Coyote Oldman. Late 2004 I got my first flute from him and was moved to tears at the beauty and craftsmanship of his flutes and the sound was cooing. Five years later to be sharing the stage with him is humbling and deeply meaningful. http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20091113/LIFE/911130309/Rhythms+festival+honors+native+pride
Here are some things I’ve learned a few things driving so much:
• Car commercials are the same everywhere with people yelling at you.
• If you want someone to get off your bumper, turn on your blinker
• Be careful at rest stops. People are in a hurry to get to the restroom.
• The “non gourmet” coffee has way more caffeine
• Resist at all costs the leathery hot dogs in the rollers.
• A real smile can diffuse any situation you find yourself in.
• Audiobooks are the Only way to pass 12-hours drives.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Fall came overnight here in southern New Mexico’s Mesilla Valley along the Rio Grande. Then almost 80 degree days meant lots of yard work for the industrious. Our 14 Pecan trees require lots of love and soon they will freeze the husks and be ready for harvesting. That is a serious task that usually means lot of hot baths and Aleve. A Harvest Full-Moon this week was astonishing and beautiful. I find myself busy as ever managing my career and time. I had a couple of weeks off preceeded by shows in a Cave in Boerne, TX, Austin, Dallas, Arlington and back again. I played this week for the Hospice Candlelight Memorial and it was as moving as ever and the most people they’ve had. For the first time it was in their expanded facility and I’m very proud of them for the work they’ve done and the $6million they raised for the expansion.
Saturday Nov. 7th I’ll return to the Dona Ana Arts Council’s Renaissance ArtFaire. I’m really glad. Wasn’t sure if they were going to include me due to mid-stream staff changes, but I talked them into it. I always enjoy it and the 30,000 people who attend do as well. We are so lucky to have the best November weather. It is always deep blue skies, dry air and in the mid 70’s. They put a dragon in the moat and have giant smoked turkey drumsticks, the best pastrami and kosher dills this side of New Jersey and lots of entertainment. I will be on the Rio Grande stage Saturday at 11:30 and 3:30 playing my Native flutes, Hang drum and singing up a storm. I’ve invited a dancer, Terry Alvarez, and a cellist from la Cella Bella, Allison Reynolds, to sit in with me should be fun. Here is a link to some press about the RenFaire as well call it http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-sunlife/ci_13680330
A Place Called Peace continues to receive great reviews and of course winning the Indian Summer Music Awards in the Flute category is something I am so proud of because it was a blind judging and not a popularity contest. Beating out a Grammy® and several NAMA winners really didn’t mean much other than it validated that if you express yourself from the heart 100% and have faith in your music you will be recognized and heard. A music journalist who is the most sought after critic in the New Age genre said “there is deep feeling here, and that is something you can’t fake” as Bill Binkleman said in a review on NewAgeReporter.com. You can read the full review here: www.randygranger.net/REVIEWS.html I found out this week that I’ve been invited to perform and conduct a flute playing workshop at the 2010 International Native American and World Flute Association’s conference in Eu Claire, Wisconsin and am delighted and happy about it. Learn more about the conference at http://www.worldflutes.org/
Sunday I am on my way to Florida, Melbourne specifically for the 1st Native Rhythms Festival November 13-15. This is a new festival put together by the Indian River Flute Circle, a whole host of passionate volunteers and sponsors. I will be performing solo as well as with Michael Graham Allen, aka Coyote Oldman. Mark Holland and N. Scott Robinson, Jonny Lipford, Jan Sieden, Clint Goss, Doc Green and other musicians will be there along with Native American Flute makers and other crafts people. I will also be one of the judges for the Flute Playing Competition which will be an honor. I am excited also because a few NASA launches are scheduled while I’m there and Cape Canaveral is just miles from Melbourne. I love Florida’s people and food. I will be travelling through San Antonio, New Orleans, Tampa, Savannah, Macon and hopefully Arkansas depending on the weather. Originally the Poet Wayne Crawford would be travelling with me and we scheduled performances from our collaborative CD “Oasis Bound” however, his duties as poetry editor, Arts Council work and more piled up so I’ll be driving alone and may or may not book a gig in your town… Of course, if you have a flute circle or would like a house concert get in touch with me. My Hang drums are always a real hit especially when people hear them for the first time. I always look forward to bringing my unique Native American flute music from a trained musician, healer and native New Mexican perspective. My own ancestry is so rich with peoples who journeyed far, held rituals, were seers and resilient. I’d like to think they all meet in my Heart—and that is where the music is made.
Here is a video of the Police song Every Breath You Take on Native flute and Hang drum. Enjoy.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Finding the Updraft
Being a working musician is not the same at working a being a musician. You do the gigs, do the time, do the practice, do the social media thing and at the end of the proverbial day you pay your dues and bills with money you’ve made trading your talent and time for money. That is the simplicity of it. The complexity of making that happen takes nerves of titanium and a resolve not even Sisyphus had rolling that rock up the hill. I heard an interview today with Stewart Copleland where he said before he drummed with the Police he would write letters after every show in different handwriting saying how awesome the drummer Steward Copeland was at last night’s show. I can relate.
In the past 30 days my music has taken me to Milwaukee, Dallas, Austin, Boerne, Chicago and points in between. Driving through west Texas I saw the Buzzards, AKA, Turkey Vultures cleaning up the road kill the TDOT never picks up, ever. Driving the 12 hours to Austin or Dallas I see the Buzzards riding the thermals, what I call the updrafts. It is so serene, effortless, and efficient. Craning my neck to admire them with their featherless heads and huge wingspan I think how perfectly their gliding accompanies Native American flute music, or vice versa. Then I remember they are Carrion, feeding on decay and death. Usually around then I think of my enemies hovering around me waiting for the same. I’d rather not think on my enemies but as Sun-Tzu said in “The Art of War” keep them closer than your friends. Recent events have reminded me of the pettiness and viciousness in the music business. Hey, it’s the same in any endeavor where you don’t share the self-imposed limitations and comfort zones of those around you—but this is not about my enemies, it is about me. The thing about ART is it needs a creator and an observer. A performer needs an audience whether it is watching you on YouTube, on their iPod or hearing you live. The exchange and communication is essential otherwise you are creating in a vacuum.
Somewhere along the way I learned the freedom of knowing that everyone and everything in my experience is of my own creation. Not in a narcissistic way but rather in what I need to learn that I missed the previous time it happened. The freedom to not be a victim of anything is liberating but comes with an enormous responsibility that “I” did this. So as I watched events unfold I imagined I was in a theater watching a movie. In this movie the haters were navigating a maze where my success and talent was a dead end so they blamed me and I took the time to indulge their delusion. Nothing is personal as Don Miguel Ruiz reiterates in his book, “The Four Agreements,” absolutely nothing. In Milwaukee my album, A Place Called Peace, won the Indian Summer Music Award in the Flute category. What rocks is that it was a blind judging where the judges had no idea who the artist was therefore judging it on things like musicianship and how the music made them feel. How wonderful is that not to have to beg and deluge your fans, friends and family to “vote for me” in this popularity contest that has nothing to do with music. Something I was reminded of when my name was inadvertently left off a Native American awards ballot recently and the organizers were so hostile to my fans (fans of Native American music I will add) that they have lost credibility. Or how a Facebook friend (let's hope no longer) reported that I was badmouthing a flute maker whose name I never mentioned. Wow, talk about circling Vultures, though vultures don’t deserve to be maligned that way.
See there I go back into being the victim I said I didn’t want to be. Ain’t easy is it? But I know that I and only I brought the bad and the good into my life. How? I was not impeccable with my word, #1 of the Four Agreements. Turns out, as I’ve said before, I’m human and in need of constant readjustment. I’m in the real world playing to audiences who sometimes know nothing about me and are paying $20 a head. I’m on YouTube, where I don’t delete comments, being called everything from God to fag, daily. I read reviews from Switzerland, get emails from Australia to Russia people saying how much they hate or love me. My online sales surprise even me, yet I panic at every new sound my car makes. I don’t take any of it personally, hate or the praise. At an open mic recently a fantastic poet and teacher at NMSU said to me afterwards, “Dang every month I come ready to give it to the man and rip the shit out of everything wrong in this world with my poetry and then you play. All that anger just leaves me and I forget what I was so pissed off about.” How cool is that? I am grateful that I no longer struggle with musical insecurity and questions of self worth. A calm assertiveness (as the Dog Whisperer always says) is in me that radiates. I know that there will never be a shortage of inspiration, confidence, determination, talent and skill. My best work hasn’t even been recorded. I know these things, I don’t have to will them, just make them happen, fearlessly, regardless of circumstance or health. I wish that same contentment to all my fans and friends. Just find the updraft and ride it.
Here is a video from a recent performance in Dallas, Texas of my soon to be recorded song, “Hello Daddy.”
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Well friends. I am happy to report that my CD "A Place Called Peace" has earned the 2009 Indian Summer Music Award in the "Native American Flute" Category. I am honored, humbled and in the acceptance speech I mentioned how all of my resilient ancestors meet in my heart, and that is where the music is made. I know that my experiences and life represent so many people who have lived, worked, loved and passed that I may be here today. In other words each of our lives is never a solitary thing just as each accomplishment or award is never earned alone. The Indian Summer Music Festival has been a wonderful experience. The people are warm, funny and prone to jokes about everything. These characteristics are common to so many Native cultures and a side I value.
How fortunate am I to make a living doing what my genes, talents, willpower and sacrifice allows? Very. Working musicians, poets and artists take awards in stride and perspective. We have too. The recognition is sometimes a distraction from the work we do. Even so the recognition always opens more doors, allows us to endure, to eat, the afford a life. But, the true artists are compelled to express, to create and share it with others. It is like a fountain pen, regardless of its Gold or shiny inlay, must always return to the ink bottle for its sustenance--or it couldn't write. Such is music. I guess I'm that fountain pen.....
Friday, September 11, 2009
I hope the Dog Days of summer find you all well, rested and creating wonderful memories. Here in the Mesilla Valley on the Rio Grande River the Green Chile harvest season is well underway. All around the valley harvest and wine festivals abound. The smell of roasting chiles is strong and people are lined up with their burlap bags to get their supply into the freezer—a ritual in New Mexico. I played for the fifth year at the Franciscan Festival of Fine Arts in Mesilla Park, NM. This is an arts festival which resurrected (no pun intended) six-years ago after a two decade hiatus. The setting is a retreat center that which lends itself to my music. This summer also saw a return to the World of Faeries Festival in South Elgin, IL as well as performances in the Santa Fe area with poets Wayne Crawford and Wendy-Brown Baez and at the Sum Arts Festival, a co-host BlogCast on BlogTV.com with Rod Krug. You can see some of the recorded broadcast at http://www.blogtv.com/People/didgerod , and so many more exciting opportunities.
Right now I’m in route to perform at the Indian Summer Music Festival in Milwaukee, WI where I’m nominated for “Best Flutist” for my CD A Place Called Peace and am looking forward to hearing some great music. I take the Miller Stage at 12:30PM, Sat., Sept. 12th. September is full of performances with other musicians, something that is always a treat for me. Please check my website calendar for details on the upcoming shows at randygranger.net/calendar.html. Here is a list.
Sept. 17th, 8PM-Irie Bean Coffee Bar Austin, TX. 2310 South Lamar, Suite 102, Austin, TX 78704 Randy in a solo performance in the courtyard. Also that night buy a $12 bottle of wine and get complimentary massages from 7-9PM. http://www.iriebean.com/
Sept. 19th, Equinox Concert in the Cave Without a Name, 7-9PM 325 Kreutzberg Rd, Boerne, TX. Tickets and more info at: http://www.sacredinspiration.com/event.html
with Sound Healer and Tibetan Singing Bowl player Jodi Roberts as well as Native American flutist Virgie Ravenhawk.
Sept. 26th, Move Studios , 7:30PM Randy Granger with World Flutist Cornell Kinderknect and percussionist Martin McCall. 17062 Preston Rd, suite 108, Dallas TX, 75248 There is limited seating. For ticket info go to http://www.movestudio.com/ there click on Workshops Series and Events on the left hand side. Click concerts for mine and Cornell’s concert. Click the purchase link. You will be asked to register and pay online if you like or you can call 972-732-0206 during business hours to do the same.
Sept. 27th, Randy Granger and Cornell Kinderknect perform Special Music 10AM at Unity Church Arlington, 3525 S. Bowen Rd., Arlington, TX www.unityarlingtontx.org.
The Concert in the Cave will be something really special both acoustically and musically. Jodi Roberts is a wonderful sound healer and dear friend. Cornell and I have played together a few times at festivals and had an instant musical connection and friendship as well. What a joy these shows will be. I hope you can make some of them or maybe forward the info to friends and flute people you know in these areas. One of the truly awesome things about making music is how in the moment it is at the same time it is ephemeral. Those sounds that are vibration and rhythm will never happen again. Live music is like transforming sound molecules into emotions. It is something I try to never take for granted and feels so fortunate to be able to do what I do. It is interesting that the instruments I use, the voice, the hang drum, the guitar and native American flutes are all exposed and do best when played in a direct, emotive and from the heart way. Enjoy these Dog Days of summer. Fall is seeping in slowly but surely.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
IAMA | International Acoustic Music Awards | Featured Artists of the Month
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Sunday, August 9, 2009
My most recent road trip/tour was a journey I’ve made several times to the upper Midwest, specifically Illinois. This time I made sure to book a couple of free days in Chicago as down time. Booking a hotel downtown Chicago on Hotwire I wasn’t sure what I’d get but it turned out to be an absolutely perfect set up. I was right downtown between Rush St. and Michigan Ave at the older Tremont Hotel with its rickety old wooden elevator, Mike Ditka steakhouse, right across the street from Starbucks and an “old school” staff. On the ninth floor I could see the condos next door, the foot traffic on Rush Street and so much more. The shower even had a thermostat that told you the temp of the water. That impressed me, as a practical yet luxurious touch. The simplest amenities seem to impress me.
Driving up NM hwy 185 along the Robledo mountains I crossed the Rio Grande and reflected that I would cross the Missouri, Mississippi and play at a festival right on the Fox river. I liked that thought. In St. Louis I was out late at night trying to find a place to eat that didn’t have the words Bell, Del, Kentucky or Burger in its name. I stopped to get gas and noticed a guy looking at me and my car. He said, “You look you’re living out of your car these days. Get kicked out?” I laughed and said I was a musician and he nodded knowingly. After explaining what instruments I play and the style of music (something I rehearse on long trips) he thought I was just passing through but I said I was actually looking for in interesting, reasonable place to eat other than those week-old hot dogs in the store. So he says, “Hey you like Sushi?” I say sure and he gets his iPhone from his car and speaks “Sushi” in the phone and spends about ten minutes looking up places nearby to eat and so friendly and helpful, even rubbing my neck a little—in a completely innocent way—asks for my website etc. He sends me downtown St. Louis to Wasabi which I eventually find after walking a few blocks but it is closed on Monday’s. Sigh. I approach to guys walking up the street and ask their advice so they say yeah there is an Irish like pub up the street, but they warm me there is some really loud Karaoke. I’m starving at that point so walk in and there is an older gentleman and woman with a suitcase full of CD’s and they are just howling away. I sit at the bar only to find out the kitchen closed about 15 minutes before. I had to laugh.
I decide to take some shots of the Gateway Arch and stop and the Mississippi River to pay tribute to the late singer Jeff Buckley. Just as drive through downtown a late Cardinals game gets out and thousands of people dressed in Red are streaming out onto the streets. The Arch is beautiful at night reflecting the skyline and casting shadows on the clouds. I ended up stopping at the quick mart next to my hotel and actually bought one of those mystery-meat hot links that spin on those rollers took one bite and threw it away. Ate some MORE tropical trail mix—oh yum, and went to bed.
Driving through the Midwest plains reminds me so much of the Llano Estacado where I grew up in southeastern New Mexico, except it is green in the Midwest. The Missouri Breaks are beautiful and the hills of western Kansas are inspiring. As I drove through the part of Iowa where the Bridges of Madison County are I couldn’t help feel nostalgic for the times my family would pile into the car and take the long road trips through seemingly endless country. My brother, sister and I would sing all the current hits of the day to alleviate the boredom. Passing car after car stuffed to the gills and families watching DVD’s I thought how technology is just another distraction to do the same thing. Of course my crazy GPS unit named “Susan” kept me company often yelling at me to turn around when possible. I swear she gets more assertive each time she repeats.
I had spent time in Chicago but never more than a day and not in downtown. When I found a hotel in the near north area that was affordable I was excited. Chicago is such a beautiful city and the air is kept clean by the massive Lake Michigan. There are so many things to do free there if you don’t mind paying for parking that is somewhere between $35 and $50 a day. There were small parks on either side of the block where I was staying. I took my Native Flutes and played right in the middle of those awesome skyscrapers. It just rang out and soon people would bring their dogs next to me to do their business (shows what they thought of my music) ha-ha, as an excuse to listen. It was magical. The food was amazing, plentiful and the choices up and down Rush Street were overwhelming. I found a cool happy hour right across my hotel with a bar menu of Tapas to drool over. I met such friendly people who would welcome me to their city. It is funny that when you say you are from New Mexico this glazed look comes to their faces—almost like a reverence. I did get that comment of, “Wow we whites really screwed your people didn’t we?” when they find out my Native ancestry and say something like, “That’s okay the casino slot machines only pay out to Indians” to make them laugh. I walked about 15 miles up and down the Loop stopping at Tribune Plaza, Starbucks, the Chicago River, the Modern Art museum, Starbucks, Pritzker Center, the Jelly Bean sculpture, Chicago Institute of Art, Starbucks, World Plaza, Oak Street Beach, Fullerton Beach, (where I entertained beach goers with my Hang) Lincoln Park, the Dog Beach, Starbucks, Crowne Fountain and ended up at the Starbucks across the street from the hotel.
I did play some along the way as well but the destination was the 2009 World of Faeries Festival in South Elgin. We had rain, wind and cold on and off the first day which made for a long day. We all hung in there though and I performed several times and met some beautiful people. The woman in the booth next to mine found out I was Mestizo like herself and we just got all Mexican….. Too funny. Now get this, we got to talking food—no surprise if you know anything about me—and she said I’m going to bring you some home cooking tomorrow. And she did! She made Chicken Mole with Spanish rice and packed in a Tupperware bowl. Wow! It was delicious when I finally got to eat it 15 hours later in the Quad cities. The second day was beautiful and being in the Oak trees along the Fox River is just magical and a perfect setting. I actually sold some flutes too. I was so happy about that. I’m now distributing Coyote Oldman flutes at festivals and concerts and it is a huge honor. It was reported to me that during my first set on Saturday an Eagle suddenly appeared and circled above the Park. Things like that happen so often to me that I almost expect it. Kudos to the Fairy Fest organizers Dave, Gloria and the volunteers for their work, passion and dedication. This year was just about seamless and that is saying a lot—even with the rain.
I’ll be performing in the Santa Fe area this weekend with performance poets Wayne Crawford and Wendy Baez-Brown. Check my calendar for more info: http://randygranger.net/calender.html. Also I'll be performing at the Indian Summer Music Awards in Milwaukee this September where I'm also nominated in the flute category.
Thank you for reading these blogs I hope they are interesting and entertaining.