Randy Granger

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

Saturday, January 23, 2010

One night on the way to Casa Grande Ruins fest.


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This time last year I was performing at the Sundance Film Festival. Though I’m not there this year my music is included in the instrumental CD that goes into every official gift bag at the festival. I’m thrilled. Instead this year I’ll be returning to the Casa Grande Ruins American Indian Music Festival in Coolidge, Arizona. The Casa Grande Ruins National Monument preserves an Ancient Sonoran Desert People farming community and "Great House." Created as the nation’s first archeological reserve in 1892, the site was declared a National Monument in 1918. It is an anomaly in the Phoenix valley. Butted against the sprawl it in a place so developed it is a protected 472.5 acres. Estimates say the Casa Grande (The Big House) was established around 1350 CE. Many tribes in the southwest and Mexico claim some relation to the ruins. Read the information at http://www.nps.gov/cagr/historyculture/the-ancient-sonoran-desert-people.htm for some insight.

According to the website, http://www.desertusa.com/ind1/du_peo_hoh.html:
The Hohokam were creative artisans who became famous for their intricate work with shells obtained from the Gulf of California and the Pacific coast. They created a coiled pottery finished with a paddle and painted with red designs. They retained a great deal of Mesoamerican influence as can be seen in their use of ball courts and decorative feathers. They also became entrepreneurs in a thriving trade with their neighbors, the Anasazi and the Mogollon. Their fate is unclear, but they seem to have disappeared from the archeological record between the first half of the 15th century and the time when the Spanish first came upon their descendents, Pima-speaking Indians still using the ancient irrigation techniques. Some of their original irrigation canals are still being used in the Phoenix area today!
But truthfully cultures never fit into the templates of archaeologists or researchers. Cultures are dynamic, human, emotional, spiritual and driven by motives we don’t understand. I think that if a people felt secure enough to build a huge house and permanent village they were doing something right with their neighbors. My own ancestors were Mesoamericans much like the Hohokam are said to be. They roamed through the Yucatan, northern Mexico and the southwest trading, hunting, running from enemies and sometimes living among other tribes. This festival is unique in that it is held in a National Monument so the feel is decidedly not as commercial as some festivals. I’ve been honored to perform for the Centennial Celebration of the Gila Cliff Dwellings and in Antelope Canyon. What is so unique to me is that when you play in a place like Casa Grande Ruins of the Gila Cliff Dwellings, the real star is the monument itself. When we performed last year right next to the Big House ruin the sense of humility and honor is something none of us couldn’t help feeling. A reverence for ancestors and what they sacrificed that we are here now enjoying prosperity, regular meals and a warm roof overhead is part of the Indian and Mestizo cultures of which I’m both. Not to say this is unique to these cultures, but it is significant. In tracking down my own history I had to look in unconventional places as my own parents weren’t told about their ancestry in part to help them assimilate into American society by severing their more ethnic ties. I understand. They were punished for speaking Spanish and had the spelling of their names changed. It still frustrates me when I get asked about my last name as if it should be “Sings with Wolves” or “Gonzales de la Luna.” The selective ignorance of how acculturation happens to people means I don’t have to explain anything and don’t. There are these places called Libraries where you can learn things. Amazing. In my own quest I had to research as much about the migrations, Diasporas, accounts of Spanish Monks, archeological writings and eventually a DNA test to confirm things. Even then, since there weren’t exactly a Census of Indians a thousand years ago and the Dawes Rolls are limited to only a handful of tribes I’m still learning more with every relative I speak with. They aren’t always willing to remember.

All this is to say that when I am playing at the Gila Cliff Dwellings or Casa Grande Ruins I spend quiet time beforehand literally listening for what the ancestors have to say, try to connect with them. How I do that is between them and me. If you know anything about mitochondria, DNA and RNA you understand how experiences are passed generation to generations adding to the collective cellular memory. What else is passed down I often wonder? Are dreams, hopes, wonder, sadness the awe at seeing an eclipse or a blood-red sunrise all part of that soup? I don’t know. I do, however, feel obligated to challenge myself and express myself without censor and as fully as my skills and abilities allows. I never feel the need to preach, politicize or have an agenda through my music. Knowing how every person listening brings their own experience to it I try and rehearse, practice, structure, be interesting, entertaining and then just get the heck out of the way. Please stop by my booth if you attend the Casa Grande fest. where I’ll have my music, some beautiful flutes and my hand-crafted massage oil blends and plenty of smiles. I am glad I will see musicians I've had the pleasure of working with like Gabriel Ayala, Scott August, Loren Russel among others. I will miss not having Michael Graham Allen to share coffee and the stage with and especially Alan Stanz, a wonderful musician and the park ranger whose passion got the 1st festival off the ground last year. He has moved to another position. The staff still there like Carol West, Dave Winchester and the crew and volunteers are more than capable and know where the coffee pot is--and isn't that what's really important?

Check the website for more info. http://www.nps.gov/cagr/planyourvisit/american-indian-music-fest.htm

Randy

Here is schedule of performers. I’ll be on the main stage Sat. 1PM and Sun. 4PM as well as the Sat. night Performer’s Jam, weather permitting. There will be an open-mic stage both days in the parking lot area where the vendor booths are set up. Hope to see you there.
January 30-31, 2010
Exact performance times will not be announced, as some times will need to be adjusted during each session. The schedule indicates the day and session in which musicians will perform and the order in which they are scheduled.
Saturday, January 30
Afternoon Session -- 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Opening Invocation by O’odham Elder
ROTC Presentation of Colors
Barnaby Lewis and River People Basket Dancers
Travis Terry, Native American Flute
Randy Granger, Native American Flute, Hang Drum
Nathalie Picard, Flute Player/Storyteller
Cynthia Johnson and Hashan-kehk Dancers
Loren Russell, Native American Flute Player and Story Teller

Evening Session -- 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Alex Maldonado, Native American Flute
Flavio Martinez, South American Panpipe Flute
Gabriel Ayala, Classical Guitar
Mixed Musician Session

Sunday, January 31
Full Session -- 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Barnaby Lewis and River People Basket Dancers
Loren Russell, Native American Flute Player and Story Teller
Scott August, Native American Flute
Gabriel Ayala, Classical Guitar
Nathalie Picard, Flute Player/Storyteller
Randy Granger, Native American Flute, Hang Drum
Travis Terry, Native American Flute

Here is a video of Michael Graham Allen and I playing at the Native Rhythms
Festival last November. Since he won't be at CG this year this will have to suffice.

video

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