I just got back from Musical Echoes in Florida a couple days ago. This was my first time there and I had a wonderful time. This trip included a lot of “firsts” for me and I thought I’d share some of the weekend with everyone.
As always, the days leading up to a trip to perform are always busy. This is more so when I’m not driving as I have to figure out how to get all my stuff to the location. The week before I shipped product, forgetting to pack my Anasazi book. Then I had to borrow a better suitcase so my shirts and coats wouldn’t get too wrinkled. They always do anyway.
The next morning when we arrived at the terminal the TSA line snaked back and forth in a landing above the ticket counter, out the door down to the next terminal and then doubled back on itself. I thought sure I was going to miss my flight. However after spending over an hour in the line I made it to the gate just as boarding started.
I had to stop at DFW, which was much easier to deal with than LAX even though I’d never been there before. They had a train that connects all the terminals like a lot of newer airports. From DFW I boarded a 50 seat jet and head to Ft. Walton Beach.
As I headed toward the baggage claim area there was my “ride”, David waiting for me. David is one of the organizers and I liked him right away. A musician himself, he had a strong southern accent and welcomed me to “LA”
“LA?”, I replied in confusion.
“Yeah, Lower Alabama, that’s what we call it down here”.
I felt right at home.
We drove by the park where the festival is held, right on the water of a channel behind a barrier island. I met the sound guy and some others. Everyone was really friendly. Then he dropped me off at my room, which was too nice for the likes of me, and said to call when I needed a ride in the morning. I grabbed a bite for dinner, read some of the book I brought and went to bed. It had been a long day.
The next morning I woke to clear, sunny skies. I grabbed some breakfast at a Waffle House (another first) and then David swung by to take me to the festival.
There I met Dave McCullen in person, we had only dealt online before (another first). Dave, for those of you that don’t know, makes amazing PVC rim blown and oblique blown flutes. He has been doing so for a long time. Second perhaps to Michael Graham Allen. I have one of his PVC Hopi flutes. He doesn’t sell flutes, but gives them to those lucky few. He works under the name Warrior Wind Flutes. While we were talking I was expressing how lame I felt since I hadn’t shipped a blanket for my table. Dave said he could get one and took off. He returned about five minutes later with a really nice blue fleece with a “Native” design on it. When I asked who let him borrow it he replied “I bought it for you”. I was so touched, but insisted that I pay him back. He took the money I gave him and promptly bought a copy of Radiant Sky from me! He later came by the both with a Ney and a Kaval. Several of us were lucky enough to get flutes by him. What a treat. I got a Ney and a Kaval and another Hopi flute and an oblique blown flute with a NAF tuning. The last two I can play, the Ney and Kaval, not yet.
Mark Holland had a booth near mine, Jeff Ball showed up later and set up next to me. Also there was Jonny Lipford and Michael Searching Bear. I’d met Jeff and Mark and Jonny before. Jeff I’ve been lucky to know since 2002 and Mark I met in 2007 I think. They are both great guys and as we all know great flute players. Jonny I meet at the last INAFA convention. He’s really coming up with his career and I hoped to get a chance to talk to him sometime during the weekend.
During the day there was a flute competition and then the performing began. All this time the nice sunny sky was becoming darker and darker, the air turned cold and rain threaten to start. I took the stage at 6 PM and as I was playing I could see lightening to the west. It started to drizzle. The sound guy, Bob, told me to keep playing while they dismantled the lights in front of the stage and the speaker stacks. I slogged on as best I could as the lightening got closer, thunder started to clap, the rain increased, and the sound guys yelled back and forth as they lowered the lights in front of me. Finally the rain got so hard it was time to shut everything down. Even with all the commotion I felt lucky. At least I got to play. All of the evening performances were canceled. Once I stopped the brave few that were still in the audience rushed for cover and we all headed out.
Performing during the lightening, thunder and rain
Photo by Cynthia McDonald
The lightening storm was amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much lightening in one storm. We don’t get a lot in LA. A bunch of us went to dinner. Myself, Katy Owen, Deborah Peterson, Lynn Lipford, Michael Searching Bear and his band, and the 2nd place winner of the flute competition, Traci Conley Junge and her family, were just part of the group. While at dinner Katy told us that she’d been hit by lightening three times!
We all hoped for better weather the next day…
(After I wrote this I got a call from David. Ft. Walton Beach could be hit by the oil spill any day now. He asked that I keep them in our thoughts. Thought I’d pass it along. The more the better.)