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Chipmunk Big Bear CA

The Americas

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Having travelled to 49 of the 50 states in North America, I have realised the amazing diversity amongst its people. In fact  the Americas (North and South) are home to over 1000 indigenous languages. And what amazing musical sounds and styles from the second line drumming of New Orleans,  Inuit throat singing known as katajjaq from Quebec to Brazillian samba and Guyana calypso. What stands out artistically amongst the indigenous people of these lands is their visual arts – their pottery, paintings, jewellery, weavings, basketry, beadwork, carvings and sculptures.

Music on top of the Rocky Mountains!

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James Nesbit and a team of musicians had been invited by Dennis and Aldi Hockley of Shalom ministries to their home near Cranbrook B.C. Situated in the Rocky Mountain trench, a valley lying between the Rocky Mountains and the Purcell Mountains, this beautiful 320 acre estate is used as an amazing wedding venue and place of retreat. We had been invited to a gathering called “Releasing Treasures from the Land”, a retreat looking at encouraging the people and sounds in this area. In the last few years, we have been invited to a number of places to encourage the artists and help discuss similar themes regarding the ‘sound of the land’. This has been a wonderful season where people are starting to delve into the history of where they live, listen to the narrative of the people from the region and realise that they can express their own unique stories. There is not a place in the world where the fingerprints of The Great Creator have not left whisper’s of who He is and what He has done amongst the people. The artists have a role to play as scribes, chronicling these testimonies of God, reminding us of the amazing stories within the land.

One of the highlights was a wonderfully mad idea of taking a bunch of mischief musicians to the mountain tops in a helicopter!!! Freezing temperatures and strong winds added to the musicality as we joined creation in sound and voice. A truly memorable experience!


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So how did I find myself in a wonderful studio in Barbados you might ask? I was invited by Paul Milner, a producer/engineer from Canada I have worked with a number of times. Paul worked in Barbados for 3 years with Eddie Grant and jumped at the chance of being there again to help Dianne Hanko’s 7th recording project, a singer/songwriter from Canada recording her latest CD. We enjoyed a week of exploring a new sound using a hybrid kit and percussion.

I am always amazed at the unexpected connections on our journeys. The owner of Paradise studios, Scott has an incredible story of how there was a divine orchestration in his ability to bring his dream of a top class studio to the island. The desk and all the equipment (including some furniture designed by Timothy Oulton) has its own history as it was shipped all the way from Hugh Padgham’s  studio on a boat! Hugh is a prolific UK record producer and audio engineer who has won 4 Grammy Awards. Because of Scott’s journey of faith he was so encouraged to meet Paul and I and we spent many hours talking story and encouraging him in his wonderful dream for Barbados.

Jingle Dance

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The beautiful Jingle dance regalia is adorned with metal cones that cause a unique sound as they shake together. These are made from 365 snuff or chewing tobacco lids! The origins of the dance are from a dream that an Ojibwe man had, which instructed him in a style of dress and dance that would heal a young girl. I have also heard it called a Prayer dance. More powwow pictures.

The pilgrim story you may not have heard.

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It is said that history books are written by those who win wars! This short video tells the story of the pilgrims from a Wampanoag perspective. Ships had been trading with Native Americans for fish, furs and people for 100 years before the pilgrims arrived to set up camp. Squanto, a Wampanoag, amongst many others was kidnapped and taken into slavery 6 years before the pilgrims arrived. He was taken to Spain and then became an interpreter on an English boat, eventually escaping back to his people – sadly, returning to his people, he found his village Patuxet, and everyone he knew, dead, from a plague and he ended up becoming a type of servant with another tribe. When the pilgrims arrived he became their interpreter and guide, and helped negotiate a treaty with the most powerful local Native American confederation, a peace that lasted more than 50 years.

Mariachi Divinas

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After a morning of recording in San Diego we went to my favourite Mexican restaurant to find a wonderful group of six girls and one guy playing wonderful mariachi music. The group is called Mariachi Divinas worth checking out if you are in the area.

Hoop Dancer

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Whilst on the island of Kaua’i, a friend Kaplan Bunce invited me to the Powwow in Paradise, a cultural event and a traditional Native American powwow for the community . Many tribes and Pacific nations were represented and much dancing and drumming – this exert is the amazing hoop dancing.

Pasadena Pow Wow

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The high pitched chant and the sound of the drum filled the arena, as tribes from California slowly filled the sacred circle (a space that had been blessed) in reverence to the Great Creator. Each dancer carries stories, woven into symbols and colours on their distinctive regalia (Native costume) and for some, as they dance, each individual dance step is offered up as a prayer. Read More

Chumash reservation

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First Nations - Chumash reservation - 04

It was an honour to be invited to a gathering of tribes on the Santa Ynez Chumash reservation. A people group that numbered tens of thousands  along the islands and coastline of Santa Barbara yet are now down to the last couple of hundred. Sadly, through missions and the European settlement, the Chumash started to speak Spanish and even took Spanish names trying to hide their Indian identity.  The last fluent Samala speaker died in 1965.  Read More

Barona reservation, CA

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Barona ReservationA wonderful afternoon at Barona reservations 7th annual Gathering listening to traditional bird singing and watching the dancers. Unlike many other tribes, where the drum is the instrument of choice, a gourd or tortoise-shell rattle filled with native palm seeds accompanies the Kumeyaay bird songs. Read More