Native Arts Festival, Italian Food, and Glass…Oh, and a Native Flute — I’m Not R. Carlos Nakai, But There Was Still Sweet Music That Day

Went to a major native arts festival the other day.


Hundreds of vendors.  Thousands of people.  Infinite possibilities for a good day.

It was the first really warm day of the year thus far, and I have to say…when I look in the mirror, I am definitely reminded that I was outside in the sun.  My bad.  But it was worth it!

I have been going to native art fairs for many years with the family (one of whom is a major art collector), and I have made a lot of friends on the circuit.  Going to these shows isn’t just a commercial endeavor (not that I can afford a “commercial endeavor” at this point) but rather, a chance to catch up.  Many of the artists have become close family friends over the years, and it is good to catch up, ask about their lives, and do some smiling and laughing!  Their art always boggles the mind and dazzles the eyes, and it is so beautiful to see their art emerge and grow.

I have to say, however, that I was on a mission at this festival.  I have been teaching myself to play guitar, and for the past year, I have been wanting to take up the native flute.  Now, understand this — I am never ever ever going to be the great R. Carlos Nakai nor is it likely that years from now I will be invited to play in an R. Carlos Nakai tribute band.  It’s just that the sound of the native flute is a sound I love and something I would like to do.

So, I found a person selling flutes.  After a little dickering and a little sampling, I chose an E-tuned flute adorned with a man in cougar head dress.  For the past few days I have been playing around with the chords, trying to figure out the open, closed, and partially-closed hole system.

It’s tough!

Of course it’s tough.

But it was gratifying to be able to make a sound immediately.  A recognizable sound?  Well, sort of.  It was an “E” (all holes closed).  Then, I figured out “G” (one hole open).  And so on.  Now, all I need is four hands and I’ll be able to play guitar and accompany myself on the flute!

Much like guitar (or any instrument) this new flute will take practice and care — and respect.  The man from whom I bought it gives lessons, so who knows?  Maybe that will be in the works someday.

But for now?  Well, for now, it’s nice just to make a sound…and possibly a new connection at the fair.

Later that evening, a glass blower my family has come to know came over to the house.  We had family and friends around the table with pizza and salad, and he regaled us with stories of glass blowing and the pursuit of art.  I talked books.  He talked glass.  We both talked religion and politics.  I discovered that he and I possess common interest on many fronts, and we had some pretty deep conversation over Caesar salad (or, as deep as anchovy paste will allow).

You just can’t beat humanity, art, and salad.

It was a special day all around.  New instrument.  New knowledge.  New conversation.  All at a favorite old fair.

I can’t wait until next year when something old is new again.


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