Category Archives: didge box

Didjeridoo Summit

Ondrej Smeykal and Stephen Kent’s Didjeridoo Summit was wonderful again this year. This music and these people are just so healing for me. I know from the faces and responses that everyone who experiences a show like this is touched by the energy, as well.

I don’t know what it is about primal music. It takes to us a native place, where we felt each other and our bodies more intuitively and honestly, where “We Are One” wasn’t a mantra yet because we hadn’t forgotten. I reflect on what it is about the didgeridoo that fosters that Oneness. I imagine ancient instruments remind our cells and psyches of a time and place where reliance on one another was requisite for survival. Perhaps in those times, community comfort and love was simpler, too. I always think of the Earth in those days, so pure and unadulterated. I think, “But time marches on. We filled the planet simply because we did. We invented better ways to do our work because that’s who we are.” Invariably I wonder, “When did the power grab separate us from our planet and our integrity? And how could we let it continue once we recognized it? How do we not insist that we save Her?” I just don’t get it. I feel anxiety rise in me that I’m not doing enough. Then I breathe again, because simply being in a community, in a concert like this, is something. I believe that the voice of the Earth comes through these instruments and whispers to each participant, “Come back to me. I want to be your home. I want to be well, and embrace my children.” Writing that, I feel like a New Age, do-nothing hack.

I’m struggling with a recent trauma. It is for this reason that I haven’t written. As I take myself back into the energy of that room, however, this is, in fact, what I received. Getting that pit-of-my-stomach poser shame is my own hubris, I know. I’m willing to accept that I care and would do more if I could.

I came home from the performance praying that those with power and money would be touched by the need of our human family to reconnect with and recover our Mother. I say that prayer again now. I’m so grateful for those in my community who do have means, and use them for awareness and activism. I love the musicians and artists who take us to that place where Spirit speaks, and we hear. I love the people who attend such rallies, meetings, and performances for their desire to learn and share this message, or simply to find relief. Whether you’re there for the first time or for a refresher, this is what you can receive.

And it just makes you happy! Stephen Kent told Marko, “I don’t know what it is about Salt Lake. I get so silly here! I’m usually very serious when I perform.” I’ve only seen an even blend of both. It’s very effective. He’s just the most utterly delightful man. He plays with us! It makes discussions about Aboriginal people and the dire condition of the planet not more palatable, but more… natural. Yes, we are here to celebrate! Yes, we need to get things done. NOW. Otherwise, I just kept grinning at how cute he is up there, haha! I love his style and how he moves when he plays. It has something to do with the way shaking a percussive rattle makes him shake his tail feather. It’s organic and… darling. And who can say enough about his personality and pithy British wit?stephen

My relief and healing began again when Stephen started, though that’s not to suggest I did not deeply feel the passion and prayer that emanates from Leraine Horstmanhoff. She’s amazing, and I look forward to all of her performances. (I enjoyed a house concert in winter last year. I should have written about it.) When you sit with the continuous drone of the didgeridoo, however, with that gorgeous deep breath again, Source knows what you need and gets it for you. Oh man, it was good to relax! (I went to Spain in July and had a very bad experience that resulted in hiding for the remainder of my stay in a safe house for battered women. My attacker was a [female] friend of 10 years.)

I completely let go of my belly and breathed. Soon, I got up and stretched. My soul ached and so did my body. I danced some, but mostly I just stretched. Ondrej Smeykal was playing now, and there’s not a word to describe the meditative place he takes us to. I want to invent a new one. It was very much a feeling of, “You’re right. We took us here!” I felt the energy of everyone in that room contributing to the healing of my body, and thanked them for it. Then I opened my eyes and saw my friend Peter lying on pillows on the floor. He fell 40 ft. in June from an anchor as he started to rappel a rockface, and broke his back. It’s a miracle he’s alive. I went to him and danced and stretched nearby. Ondrej had invited us to close our eyes and go within, “and see what we create. I’m not very interesting to watch,” he said. Inasmuch as he doesn’t dance or talk or play various instruments, I suppose he was right, but he channeled for 35 minutes straight. (My date, a first-timer, told me later, amazed.) I think he played 4 distinct pieces, between which we clapped, of course, but the effect was continuous, pure connection.

Ondrej is mistaken, in my opinion, about not watching him. You’d be stirring inside that magic space and then, sure enough, he’d blow your mind again and you had to look. His aura sucked you straight into his energy! It was so powerful and beautiful. Stillness isn’t boring. It’s peace. How strange to enter quiet against the backdrop of this explosive, percussive sound! Indeed, because of it. ondrej

Ondrej closed the evening elaborating on the theme that became the title of last year’s review: Simple, Complex, and Exact. “With these instruments there’s no restriction or frustration,” he said. “You don’t need a passport and there’s no language barrier.” He couldn’t have known how relevant that was for me. For weeks, I’ve marveled at the good fortune that was mine in Spain. Beyond language limitation, I met and healed with the most beautiful, energetic people. I knew as it was happening that my own resonance attracted safety and love.

It’s been a struggle since my return to maintain that feeling of worthiness and humility. I was fine for about 2 weeks after coming home, and then the bottom fell out. This concert, this connection reminded me. The following week, I made an appointment to begin trauma counseling. I’m also doing music therapy, though I didn’t know that’s what it was when I signed up. I started an 8-wk. djembe workshop that I am rocking, if I do say so myself! It was inspired. I’m the cheapest tightwad you’ll ever meet. I’ve been wanting to join this class for years, but couldn’t justify the expense. Now here I am with credit card debt from an ill-fated trip and, boom, I just did it! It is saving me. And I actually practice! I never did find my on-switch with the didgeridoo. 🙂 But, oh, how I love it!

Tribal music heals the soul.

me with a spanish tanI try to imbue this blog with my personality, yet stay a little more distant from it than my personal blog. I intended it to be a forum for discussions mainly on the didge, naturally, but also on broader native music. It also was a means to highlight the instruments and talents of Marko Johnson, who coordinated the show and is the go-to didge guy in Salt Lake, and a known inventor in the didge world. The man holds the patent on the didjbox, a compact didgeridoo perfect for travel and just plain cool, like its designer. He was the first to alter this instrument in 400,000 years. But this Summit touched a place in me that was deeply frightened. Thank you for bearing with me. Blessings!marko and yanaHere’s Marko playing The Micro Didjbox and Yana holding one of his leather didges at my 41st birthday party. I’m blessed with good friends. Thanks again, C

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Filed under concert, didge box, didgeridoo, didjbox

Simple, Complex, Exact

Ondrej Smeykal, Didgeridoo Master & Friends

What an awesome show!

Can you believe it was FIVE hours?!!! I couldn’t either. There were social breaks between performers and sets, so we wiggled around and hugged old friends/met new ones, but… five hours! I couldn’t believe it when I turned my phone on.

We were transported.

Ondrej spoke briefly before he began. He’s very hushed, and even mic’d it was difficult with his accent and pitch to understand, but I did hear him describe the didgeridoo as “simple, complex, and exact. We forget about these things,” he went on, “but these instruments are here to remind us.” He talked about his “didge conversion,” the awe that a mere hollow tube can do and be this thing!

And then he played. WOW! When I heard him a couple years ago, it was an intimate house concert, acoustic. This time, it was still quite intimate but intricately amplified. It was totally different and… just amazing, that’s all. Amazing!

****

Leraine Horstmanshoff was first to play. I was glad to finally hear her. She’s well-known in the valley and I’m surprised it took so long to meet her after hearing so much about her. She was wonderful! Unique and female. Powerful, evocative, and emotional. She hadn’t brought any CDs, but I will get one at first opportunity. She mixed unexpected instruments – guitar, banjo (!), her voice (more than yelps and trills). She sang in the thing! (Beautiful voice; rich, unforced vibrato) It was tribal, feminine, human. Leraine also briefly demo’d The Micro, and Marko sold three on the spot. Thanks, Leraine!

Leraine Horstmanshoff

Leraine Horstmanshoff

Dan was next, and he’s just a hit. I already introduced you to him, so I won’t elaborate much except to say I like his new stuff, especially on his newer didge tuned to the gyspy scale. He was funny. “This is called ‘The Gypsy,'” he said of it, telling us why. “This is called ‘The Slugger,'” he said of another. “Not because of its harmonics but because…” He trailed off and threw the huge stick over his shoulder, taking the hitter stance.

Dan’s always interesting because he gets into the precision and mathematics of split didge manufacturing. He mentioned his association with Dr. Frank Geipel, the German engineer whose computer program he uses to achieve the exact specifications for each unique didge he dreams up and handcrafts (Computer Aided Didgeridoo Sound Design, CADSD). The audience loved that.

Dan Flynn and "The Big Apple"

Dan Flynn and “The Big Apple”

Stephen Kent added every imaginable percussive accompaniment, and some beyond imagination. He introduced each strange piece, explaining that he searches the world for unusual instruments. I loved his music. He talked about his didge conversion, which took place at The Valley of Winds in Australia, and played the piece that evolved from that night, on an authentic eucalyptus yidaki (a tribal name for didgeridoo) hollowed by termites. (That still blows my mind. This thing, this powerhouse instrument of music and meditation, is not man-made. It’s bigger than us. Makes you feel a “meant-to-be”ness about the world, though I think the universe, while loving, is more random than that.) I got the most satisfying, deep breath I’ve had in years. I have this weird thing where I can’t catch my breath. I have to talk myself off a ledge sometimes when I need that diaphragm-stretching breath and can’t get it. I got it!

Stephen Kent

Stephen Kent

Pithy British humor describes Stephen Kent. He was so fun! The man didn’t miss a beat! He was so quick and playful with a live audience. In the midst of all the laughter and joy, he talked at length about the plight of Aboriginal people and about elders, in general. My participation in Native American practices in recent years has deepened my connection to ancestors. I’d only ever felt connected to my own. Now I feel tied to all who live and who have. I believe that we have access to all consciousness. Everyone in that room felt it, and shared theirs with one another. It was love, magic, fun. You don’t look at the clock when you’re tapped into eternal time. 😉 Stephen closed with a traditional song wanting community participation. That felt good, though I think I’m the kid who could always be heard above the others in primary school, so gleeful am I.

Marko and Dancing Girls... naturally

Marko and Dancing Girls… naturally

Chad Butler, Stephen and Ondrej’s manager, spoke before each. He said, “Whatever the didgeridoo is going to become, it’s happening now.” He elaborated on his point that more and more people are coming to the didge, and the influence of the community is about to shift. There is power and purpose in what we care about. He talked about green and other global concerns and how the didge community seems to be in tune to those kinds of issues and yearns to be a force for change. He was very inspiring about the possibility for success. That’s how I feel. I just feel us “getting it.” Writing that is immediately followed by the question in my mind, “How can you say that?” But I feel it. I think this community is raising children and awareness and even money that will solve many current, urgent problems.

It was an uplifting reminder to act and speak for the planet and for patience with each other. And then Ondrej played.

Ondrej Smeykal

Ondrej Smeykal

Ondrej suggested we turn down the overhead lights. The only option was off. It removed us instantly from a room and took us to a place of simply being. He began with “the ocean” I wrote about before. It was really powerful amplified. That deep breath I got earlier kept rewarding me. I was relaxed and serene.

Then he exploded! Holy shit.

I find it remarkable sometimes that the didge surprises me so. I’m saturated with it, yet I can’t get enough. Five hours! Felt like two. Dance, laughter, connection, festival energy. And stupefying music! How do you even try to describe?

Meanderingly, I suppose. I really enjoyed this show.

OK! I’ll go back to practicing. Ten minutes a day, for the love of all that is holy! I tease. I don’t chide my lack of discipline so much as I celebrate a kick in the pants. I’m happily inspired and motivated anew. Didgeridoo!

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Filed under Aboriginal people, Australia, circular breathing, didge box, didgeridoo, didjbox, Marko Johnson, music, Salt Lake City, The Micro

Sales Picking Up!

Marko said there would be a lull in business after the holidays, when I started working for him. Sure enough, there didn’t seem to be much for me to do. And sure enough, come spring the orders are steadily trickling in! Visit didjbox.com to learn more about The Original Didjbox, as well as the didjbox originator himself, Marko Johnson… and to become the next proud owner of The Micro!

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Small World!

I just got the craziest call from Marko. He recently met a girl who “met a girl on a flight home from Peru in 2011” who gave her his card. It was me! The “small world”ishness of the whole thing is that she contacted him after another referral from someone else entirely, with whom she attended a yoga retreat in Yelapa, Mexico. It was when she met Marko, on the recommendation of this other person, that she recognized him from the business card I gave her 2 years ago. (Stranger still, Marko and I vacationed together in Yelapa 3 years ago!)

Her name is Trista. She’s a yoga instructor here in Salt Lake City. Marko gave her a didjbox, The Micro, in exchange for a lesson or two. I hope to meet with her soon to discuss the benefits of the didgeridoo as pertains to breathing, i.e. meditation, pranayama. I’m planning to write an article for The Catalyst, an independent magazine here in town.

I’ll keep you posted. But… crazy, no? Small world, indeed!

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Filed under circular breathing, didge box, didgeridoo, didjbox, meditation, Salt Lake City, The Micro, travel

Didjbox History

http://didjbox.com/history.php

Marko has been an artist/inventor his entire professional life. He first made and sold leather barrettes in a shop he managed, Kamaran Clothing, in Salt Lake City, UT. Marko and his friends opened The General Store, a hip shop where he expanded his understanding and love of tooling leather, including drums, wall art, even swimsuits! Later, his main sources of income were contracts to sell his handmade purses to Nordstrom and other retailers.

In 1993, a friend introduced Marko to the didgeridoo and his life changed. One drone and a yelp, and he never looked back. He began crafting leather didges and teaching himself how to circular breathe.

Marko soon considered the problem of portability, and the Didjbox was born. Rough sketches yielded the first box and tweak after tweak after tweak, the rich sound quality he obtained matched that of the traditional didgeridoo. The first patent came five years after the original Original Didjbox.

Marko’s current fascination is SMALL.
Just how small can a didjbox go when a didjbox still sounds good?

I’m Christie. Marko and I were neighbors at Burning Man in 2007, delighted to learn we’re neighbors in “the default world,” too. Five years later, I joined one of Marko’s classes here in Salt Lake City. After the third lesson, I finally got circular breathing! … and promptly lost it. But now I know it’s possible, even for me. I’ll be writing about my progress, my friend, and the didgeridoo.
Tell us about you!

Element Eleven 2011

Element Eleven 2011

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Filed under circular breathing, didge box, didjbox, Marko Johnson, Salt Lake City