I began my new musical and spiritual journey after a long dusty ride on the back of a Harley Road King to Sturgis, South Dakota to meet up with friends from Minnesota at a campground ...
...a friend had fallen on his bike and had broken his ankle. His friend, Howard came to play him a Healing Song, and also a Song of Farewell as my friend's injuries forced him to return home early.
This Flute Player was Howard Heath
Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota Native American Flute Player
After wondering at his incredible talents, I met Howard and he recommended I buy a CD, which I did at Mt. Rushnore the next day.
It was R. Carlos Nakia's Canyon Trilogy"
This CD changed the way I thought about music. I listened to the CD almost everyday in my truck for two or three years. This was my first exposure to the Native American flute. I found myself drawn to search out it's sources and listen to it's call, and eventually for it to lead me back to the home that had once sent me away with an admonishment never to return.
One day I looked up Carlo's friend and flute maker Ken Light and had him make me a flute. At first I bought his PVC F# water spirit tuned flute. It's made of plastic but has the sound
of wood. I even skinned it in leather to give it a more organic feel and recycled some leather tomake a flute bag shown here to the left. I practiced with this for several months.
Keith Bear - Native American Flute player from Mandan North Dakota, tried it and was duly impressed, calling it my "Urban Assualt Flute"
When I was satisfied with my playing, I had Ken make me a cedar Raven flute.
It's a raven carved waterspirit F# with six holes.
It represented the Ravens that have always followed me, taunting me, bringing me bad news.
I wanted to play for them, who were once strangers and the enemy, now a friend and a comforter.
Ater much practise, patience and R. Carlos Nakia's Book, I was soon playing beautiful songs that encouraged me to continue.
Forget your single barrell, we're lettin' 'em have it with two barrells of power and harmony. Stops a room dead. How are you doing that? they ask. You don't really know, and no one can explain it, but there is a spirit in the drone that does what it likes, and it sounds good.
On the left, a custom made two octave alternating purple heart drone by Miguel Medina. A masterpiece in G#. Cutting, Crisp sound, great for Jazz.
On the right, Gary Badke's cedar Alternating drone, he also makes an "Over&Under" alternating drone. These are remarkable flutes that echo round the lake like a loon and feature a design both that is concert quality and primitive.
I've collected many flutes and drones in different keys and types of woods. My favorite flute makers are
Miguel Medina - Singing Tree Flutes
Ken Light - Amon Orlin Flutes - Flutemaker to R. Carlos Nakia
Billy Spear - Wildwood Flutes
Gary Badke - Windflower Flutes, British Columbia