Tag Archives: Utah

Didgeridan Flynn

I’m so excited! I just checked in to Facebook to find that Dan had posted the announcement for an upcoming show in LA with Ondrej and Stephen Kent, whom I’ve heard of but never met. Marko talks about him a lot and by now I recognize some of his music. He’s performing at the Dancing Cranes event on the 14th, as well. Well, this time cousin Dan isn’t listed as pre-show entertainment, but 4th billing as a headliner! Way to go, cous!

It’s not that I wasn’t proud and happy to hear him again as pre-show; It’s just that seeing his “name in lights,” as it were, took me back to the days when I didn’t know him at all, and he blew my mind. I imagined some didge enthusiast going to the concert for another of the 4 names and not even hearing of this guy, in no way anticipating what he will do, this guy who… “ended up being the best surprise of the night!” as I’ve exclaimed after so many live music experiences.

I realized Dan was my first didge idol. I mean, Marko opened my eyes to what this instrument was and what it was capable of, but Dan… I mean, some sounds I didn’t even know could be made on earth. And there he was, right there, circular breathing, pumping out this purcussive, perfectly simple, impossibly complicated call. His was the first signature I could recognize.

Before Dan, the music of the didgeridoo was traditional, tribal, very very unknown. After Dan I asked questions. He answered. He really answered! I found out I love the way his brain works. A friendship was born. And then we discovered we’re family. It happens in Utah. Or Nevada, as the case may be. 🙂didgeridan

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Ondrej Smeykal Returning to Salt Lake City

I met Ondrej 2 years ago when he gave a private concert in Park City at the home of Marko’s friend, Don Fulton. I’m looking forward to his show on May 14th at Dancing Cranes Imports. Especially exciting is that my cousin Dan performs in the pre-show! Ondrej was Dan’s didge idol for years, and when I heard him play in person it was immediately clear why. Mind-blowing stuff! At the time, Ondrej had begun experimenting with just his breath, no lip vibrations. It was surprising to me that I could be so moved by just the rhythm of his breath. I remember getting really philosophical about the human experience, the magic of being alive, and sharing air with everyone in that room. The breathy music was percussive and earthy and made me think of the ocean. At one point, I was listening with eyes closed when I heard the screech of a bird. I looked outside to witness an eagle in a steep, fast dive! One of those moments in life when you feel intensely connected. It was a little overwhelming and a lot AWESOME!
smeykal

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Hovia Edwards and Women Playing Traditional Tribal Music

A couple of years ago, I came across a most interesting PBS documentary following young musicians from different backgrounds brought together for a single purpose. The series was called Soundmix, the Episode, “Five Young Musicians,” the purpose? To create a collaborative original piece of music.

How are these youth going to blend such distinct sounds?! I thought. Even harder, how might they give voice to each?

It was thrilling to learn the journey into music of each of the players – a Latin drummer from New York, a classical cellist from Cali, an improv New Orleans horn player, an old-time West Virginia fiddler, and Hovia Edwards, from Idaho, on the Native American flute – and to observe their creative process as they adjusted to each other, then bonded, learned from one another, and made a strange, glorious symphony all their own.

I was really excited because I lived for a time as a very young girl with my grandparents right down the road from Fort Hall Indian Reservation, where Hovia Edwards grew up. My big sister was the only Anglo in first grade! I used to walk down the road to the red brick schoolhouse and play with her at lunch… until a big, scowling girl decided she didn’t like me one bit and I was too scared to return. 🙂 As an adult I’ve found myself attracted to Native Americans and their culture, almost by accident. I certainly couldn’t have predicted being asked at age 20 to model in a $100,000 authentic Indian dress! But I feel humbled and blessed to have meandered barefoot on that ranch in Montana, feeding horses, posing in a teepee. (At the time, I was frightened and unsure, retreating from what seemed like a painful and terrifying future.) Later, I didn’t intend to meet people who would invite me to pray with them in sweat lodge, but their association has enriched my life. I finally begin to perceive the power of prayer. Every time, as the heat rises and the song begins to shift me from “out there” to connectedness, the same image comes to my mind: I see myself as a girl on a covered wagon crossing the plains and meeting the faces of our brown brothers and sisters as we journey through strange land. I really do!

I was gratified to learn that Miss Edwards represented the Goshute Tribe in the Opening Ceremonies of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

Native flutes are considered medicine, and are also used in courtship. Historically, only men played but by the 60s there were very few players left. In the 70s, a resurgence of interest in tribal people and custom popularized the instrument anew. I’m of the opinion that keeping any tradition singing is worth a tweak to convention. Young people need to know who they are! I believe in adhering as much as possible to ritual for the sake of continuity and cultural identity, but… I’m a white girl who goes to sweat lodges. What do you think I think of women playing instruments excluded to them for millenia? Of course I find it transcendent and inspiring! Moreover, I think it makes the circle complete. I believe that change can co-exist with tradition when the time and place, and therefore understanding, shift. For me, the real beauty exists in my view that, anymore, the world is a small and intimate place. We all benefit from sharing the best of our people with each Other.

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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