© 2013 Womad Ltd
Company Reg. No. 2734599
Place of registration : England
Registered address :
From United States
I started making music in 1993, while living in Portland, Oregon. I had moved to Oregon from Pennsylvania 3 years earlier. I was kind of lost in the corporate world, doing various computer jobs for mostly large companies throughout my twenties and into my thirties, with some financial success but little satisfaction or happiness. In Portland in 1991, I took an African drumming class just for fun, and found that I enjoyed it and actually had some ability. In March of 1993, I heard a dijderidu played for the first time, actually 3 of them played together by some very experienced players. I was completely mesmerized by the ancient drone sounds, and with the help of a friend I put a wax mouthpiece on a section of plastic pipe to explore playing. I learned some about the aborigines of Australia and their deep connection with the earth, and was inspired to play on.As a child I had always been soothed by drones. The dishwasher was good, but the attic fan we had in our home in Georgia was my favorite. I remember looking forward to going to sleep when one of these machines was on. So when the didjeridu came along I was attracted to the drone sounds right away. It took me two years of playing to accomplish circular breathing, a method of keeping the drone going while taking in air. It turns out that the breathing does amazing things for my mind and body. So by Halloween of 1993, at the age of 36, I quit my last corporate gig, with all the silly clothes and evil managers and pointless work, to begin my journey as a musician.At first, quite naturally, I wasnt very good at making music. I had played clarinet as a child in elementary and then high school, but that didnt prepare me for the world that I was entering. Luckily I had some cash reserves and a nice home in Portland. I made didjeidus from yucca flower stalks, selling them mostly at craft fairs in the Northwest, to try and preserve my cash as long as possible. In 1994, after only 9 months of making music and with the help of a couple of friends, I produced a cassette tape and made 250 copies to sell along with the didjeridus. I told myself that if people liked the music and bought the tapes, then I would continue with music. People bought them fairly rapidly so I took the hint and kept going.In 1996, in my home in Portland, I first tried playing the djembe (African hand drum) and didjeridu simultaneously. At first a friend held the didj in place to I could use both hands on the djembe. The combination sounded good to me, and the act ofplaying both was very fun. At that point I was almost out of money, and I had to either sell the house or get some kind of job again. I was struggling musically, not sure of myself, and not making much money. But I decided to cash in the equity on my home and continue learning about making music. There was no going back to that strange world. By 1999, my cash reserve was dwindling again. I had moved to a small town in Washington state, called Port Townsend, after selling my home in Portland. Prodded by a new musician friend whom I met while busking (playing music on the sidewalk) in Port Townsend, I decided to try my luck busking in Europe where busking is common and better supported than in the USA. After very little success in the Netherlands and northern Denmark (in a town where my friend had great success), I was ready to give up and head back to Port Townsend with virtually no money, and no idea what to do. Some new friends in Denmark urged me to try my luck in Copenhagen before leaving, so I gave it one more try. In Copenhagen things finally clicked and within 6 or 7 weeks I had earned almost $13,000. I returned to Port Townsend feeling triumphant and ready for more adventures. Since then Ive traveled to 17 more countries, busking my way through most.Now I play more than 20 instruments from many different countries. On the street I play up to 6 instruments at one time to keep it interesting. A couple of my favorite instruments these days (in addition to the didjeridu and djembe) are the hulusi from China, which is a gourd and bamboo woodwind instrument with warm tones that dates back to the time of the Buddha, and the hang, which is a new kind of steel tone drum made in Switzerland. I enjoy mixing different instruments and tones together to create songs reflecting my deepest feelings. For me, music is a great way to connect with other beings, not so much entertainment. I enjoy the freedom of busking, and the lack of hype that goes with it. If people like what they hear they can stop and listen, even if they have no money to spare. It feels really good to know that many people use my music for healing: for massage, for yoga, dance, meditation and relaxation, or to help them create in their own way. When I see a person stop in the middle of a busy street in the midst of their busy day, and close their eyes and stop everything for even a few seconds, then I feel I am creating something of real value, and I feel satisfied.