As we approach the summer solstice and the longest day of the solar year, I’m reminded never to let an I love you or a thank you go unsaid. We always think there will be another chance to show affection and appreciation, but sometimes there isn’t. Enjoy every precious moment, and enjoy all the good news in this issue of your A 440 Newsletter!
Teaching Artist of the Month
I’m humbled and honored to share the news that I’ve been selected as the Lifetime Arts Teaching Artist of the Month for June, in recognition of my work with the Creative Aging initiative at the Chandler Downtown Library, where I conducted my Myths & Masks and Planet of Percussion workshops. You can read an interview with yours truly find out more about the award and this excellent national organization at:
I’ll return to Chandler Downtown Library to complete my workshop trilogy with In a Word on Saturday June 25th from 10-11:30 AM. You can pre-register for this all-genres, multi-age creative writing experience at:
What Lies Beyond
The new RCNQ album What Lies Beyond on Canyon Records is being mixed and mastered as we speak, with the goal of a mid-summer release in time for our late summer tour. We’re loving what we’re hearing, and we know you will, too!
Men in Black 4: What Lies Beyond?!
photo courtesy Robert Doyle Photography/Canyon Records
Trialogue Takes to the Air and Lands on the Charts
Since it’s April release, Trialogue has been getting a slew of airplay throughout the US as well as in the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, Canada and Australia. At last count, we’ve been played on over thirty shows, with new playlists coming in almost every day from Heart Dance Records.
As reviewers have noted, it is indicative of the eclectic breadth and scope of the album that different songs are being played on New Age, contemporary instrumental, world, fusion, ambient and classical programs.
While we’re genuinely grateful to every single station that plays our music, we’re especially jazzed that three different songs have made seven different playlists on the world’s leading ambient music radio program Echoes, and the album as a whole is charting at #8 on the Echoes Top 25!
Temenos Quartet will return to the cool confines of Saint Cecilia Studios in early August to complete work on Forecast, the band’s debut album. A limited edition EP of the first six songs was pre-released this spring at a rockin’ Sea of Glass Center for the Arts concert, and we’re looking forward to tracking the final four this summer and getting the complete LP mixed, mastered, manufactured and marketed this fall.
Music as Spiritual Manifestation
Looking down the river and around the bend, the R. Carlos Nakai & Will Clipman duo will present an evening of “music as spiritual manifestation” at Tara Mandala in Pagosa Springs CO at 8 PM on Saturday July 9th. You can register for this transformational event and learn more about this enlightened community at:
photo courtesy Robert Doyle Photography/Canyon Records
RIP Jack Miller
The life and career of legendary engineer Jack Miller were celebrated at the MIM Theater on Memorial Day. Among the many glowing tributes, heartfelt performances, vivid video projections and personal anecdotes that were shared, I was invited by Robert Doyle, President of Canyon Records and producer of this special event, to read the following eulogy I had spontaneously composed upon learning of Jack’s death:
photo courtesy Robert Doyle Photography/Canyon Records
In the liner notes for my solo Canyon Records album Pathfinder I refer to Jack Miller as The Sonic Buddha: an unflappable font of wisdom, patience, musicality and technical skill who invariably brought out the best in me, and I suspect in every recording artist he ever worked with, from Duane Eddy to Henry Mancini to the Rolling Stones to R. Carlos Nakai. Jack was the engineer on all but three of the thirty-four albums I’ve recorded for Canyon, and his presence was keenly felt even on that thirty-fourth and most recent one, recorded near the end of his life when he was not able to be physically present in the control room. Jack forgot more than I’ll ever know about the art and science of recording, but he was always willing to listen to my suggestions and consider my requests during the creative process; he never forced his vast and comprehensive knowledge on the artists, rather allowing us to discover on our own that he’d been right all along.
Jack was all about feeling: he didn’t much care how that feeling was achieved, as long as the music felt right when it came back out of the speakers. Of the innumerable examples of this simple yet profound aesthetic I can recall over a quarter-century of recording with Jack, one stands out as the quintessential Miller Moment.
We’d been trying all day without success to find just the right drum sound for a particular song, and even though the studio was beginning to look like the Ethnomusicology Wing of the Smithsonian Institute after a tornado, none of the dozen or so exotic instruments I’d brought in gave us the right feel. Jack got up from the console, walked through the studio and disappeared into a storage room behind the main recording room. After several minutes of rummaging around, he re-emerged with a cardboard carton designed to ship 120 CDs. He handed it to me and said “Here. Play the Sacred Canyon Drum.” I thought he was joking and laughed; but he walked back into the control room, slated the take and said “We’re rolling!” And of course, the Sacred Canyon Drum—Jack’s secret weapon when all else failed—sounded great and gave the song the perfect feel we’d been searching for.
For all his expertise, Jack was one of the most genuinely humble people I’ve ever known. This brilliantly gifted engineer who’d had a stellar seventy-year career that encompassed every known genre of music and garnered Grammys, Gold and Platinum Records, and millions of sales worldwide, kept a CD of a mono mix he’d inadvertently sent to the manufacturer instead of a stereo master tacked to the wall above his mixing console. I suppose it was his way of reminding himself that even genius is fallible.
I visited Jack a couple of months before he died. His mind and body were failing him, but he recognized me and we spent a lovely afternoon weaving fact and fiction into a new chapter of music history. What I remember most vividly is how clear and blue his eyes were: I could tell the old Jack was in there, listening for the feeling. I loved him. I will miss him, as will the music.
Will playing Jack’s Sacred Canyon Drum
Poem of the Month
I thought I’d follow my own advice and close with this Poem of the Month as an example of never letting a thank-you or an I love you go unsaid. It may seem long at first glance, but the lines are very short, so it’s really a pretty quick read. Enjoy!
I like to think of May as a month of possibility, of giving ourselves and others permission to discover what can happen when we let go of fear and anger and dare to embrace beauty. Give yourself permission to enjoy the possibilities in this May issue of your A 440 Newsletter!
What Lies Beyond
The R. Carlos Nakai Quartet has been in the studio at Canyon Records recording its first new album in ten years; it promises to be the most commercial recording Canyon has ever released and the best RCNQ album of all: irresistible global native fusion dance grooves propelling the signature Nakai Native American flute sound to new heights!
Canyon President & Producer Robert Doyle always jokes with me that the drum booth at the Canyon Studio was designed with me in mind, but I must say in all seriousness that this room has always felt like a sacred creative space to me; I’m delighted be back here holding the heartbeat for this capstone to Nakai’s extraordinary recorded oeuvre.
the maestro makin’ magic
yours truly holding the heartbeat. . .
. . . and deep in the groove
Amo blowin’ cool in the Big Room. . . .
. . . and Basshawk bringin’ the funk
Russ makin’ it all sound great. . .
. . . and Robert keepin’ his eyes on the prize
Hearing is believing!
Trialogue Takes Flight
On stage, in the music media, in the awards arena and in the retail realm Trialogue is taking off! Our latest CD release performance was at central Arizona’s premiere small concert venue Old Town Center for the Arts, where the trio wowed the crowd with its original blend of classically jazzy flutes, Americana guitars and world percussion, and was rewarded with a standing ovation.
Trialogue takes a bow (photo courtesy Amy Mahoney)
grinnin’ and groovin’ (photo courtesy Amy Mahoney)
Our first shipment of CDs to amazon.com sold out virtually overnight, and I’ve just added us to the Purchase Page on my website:
This movement is no doubt due in part to some wonderful press the album has been getting, including an insightful in-depth feature article by Michael Diamond in Music & Media Focus, which got over 700 Facebook hits in the first 24 hours it was posted:
Ever the intrepid entrepreneur, Sherry Finzer took the chance discovery by yours truly of a wine by the same name and ran with it, pitching the song to Dark Horse Wineries as potential theme music for its ads. As the band’s resident oenophile, I’m lobbying hard for a gig at the vineyard–talk about a horse of a different color!
photo courtesy Heart Dance Records
And check out the trippy new video for the album’s second single Cote d’Ivoire on YouTube (my personal favorite image is. . . wait for it. . . the dancing puffin!)
Will Play for Water: Wilde Boys in Palm Springs
While Trialogue may play for wine, The Wilde Boys (aka, R. Carlos Nakai, William Eaton & Will Clipman) will play for water in Palm Springs CA. . . literally! We’ll perform a private concert for the San Luis Rey Indian Water Alliance Conference on May 18th. I’m packing my extra-large rainstick for this gig!
Once experienced, the possibilities and potentialities of Myths & Masks have a way of enduring and re-emerging. Of the many accolades and expressions that have resulted from my recent Rites of Spring: Myth, Mask & Personal Renewal workshop at Western National Parks Association, I’m especially struck by the fact that workshop participant Patty Whitley framed her mythic persona poem and combined it with her mask art to create this lovely display in her home:
photo courtesy Patty Whitley
Equally memorable and lasting is this recent compilation of YouTube clips from my Myths & Masks: Lifetime Arts Creative Aging workshop at Chandler Downtown Library last fall: you can select any episode from the page-right menu at
And speaking of Creative Aging, you can now you can now access my program offerings on the Lifetime Arts national roster at
As Guillaume Henri has sagely opined elsewhere in the A 440 Archives: For the spiritual musician, praying and playing are one and the same. Mindful of that mantra, I’m humbled and honored to have been invited to accompany R. Carlos Nakai in a concert of “music as spiritual manifestation” at the Tara Mandala Retreat Center in Pagosa Springs CO on July 9th. You can learn more about this progressive organization and our event at
photo courtesy Robert Doyle Photography/Canyon Records
Poem of the Month
Coming full circle to our May motif of possibility, here’s a brand new Poem of the Month on the very personal nature of this thing called happiness: what it is, how one might find it and hold it, the many forms it takes, its elusiveness and evanescence, the way it is inextricably interwoven with other emotions and sensations. Enjoy!
On the western horizon
Orion takes aim at a brilliant half-moon
painting palm fronds white-gold with spilled light,
squiggling photon calligraphy on the blood red surface
Contrary to what T.S. Eliot wrote in The Wasteland (a poem and poet I greatly admire, BTW) April is not the cruelest month in Willyworld: we’ve had crazy cool weather here in Northern Sonora at a time of year when the thermometer has been known to threaten triple digits, and it’s all good news blooming in your April A 440 Newsletter!
Rites of Spring
I’ll get an early jump on April (as in, TOMORROW MORNING!) with my weekend Myth, Mask & Personal Renewal workshop in the Kiva Room at Western National Parks Association in Oro Valley AZ. A pre-registered cadre of ten intrepid inner voyagers will experience plaster bandage Lifecasting of wearable mask art, painting and three-dimensionally embellishing their individual creations according the Mythic Persona Poem each participant writes, all interwoven with themes and motifs of the Spring season as a metaphor for personal renewal. And, of course, we’ll have a ton of fun!
All those wintertime hours in the recording studio are bearing musical fruit this Spring in the form of two fabulous new CDs: the eponymous Heart Dance Records debut LP from the contemporary instrumental trio Trialogue; and the independently-released debut EP Forecast from the folk funk fusion foursome Temenos Quartet.
Trialogue has generated quite a buzz even before its official street date of April 15th, and can be preordered and previewed at the following sites:
The appropriately named Trialogue is a musical conversation between three superb musicians who collectively have numerous international awards, GRAMMY nominations, and more among their impressive list of accolades. The alchemy of Sherry Finzer’s flutes, Darin Mahoney’s guitar, and the percussion of Will Clipman is magical, covering diverse musical terrain that ranges from light and breezy to exotic and atmospheric. Trialogue is truly a harmonic convergence of world-class talent that will appeal to a wide audience of music lovers.
You can also enjoy a video for the album’s first single Dark Horse at
Forecast burst forth like a monsoon thunderstorm on March 26th in the form of a live CD Release Concert at Sea of Glass Center for the Arts, where Temenos Quartet raised the roof and an energetic audience polished the hardwood dance floor to a glossy finish en route to taking home copies of a limited-edition pressing of the EP.
Speaking of CD Release Concerts, Trialogue kicks off its Spring ’16 CD Release Tour with two April shows: 7-9 PM on Saturday April 16th for the Palomino Nights Concert Series at Plaza Palomino in Tucson AZ; and 7-9 PM on Saturday April 30th at Old Town Center for the Arts in Cottonwood AZ.
There are no advance tickets for the Palomino Nights show; this one is $10 at the door, or FREE admission with a same-day receipt from any Plaza Palomino store or restaurant (which makes a shopping-dining-concert package very attractive!).
information & advance tickets for the OTCA show can be obtained at
Excellence Reporter founder Nicolae Tanase contacted me recently through my website with an invitation to answer the question What is the Meaning of Life?
While I found the question ultimately unanswerable, I was deeply intrigued by the responses of other commentators, ranging from contemporary artists, healers, writers, musicians and philosophers to cosmic heavyweights such as Joseph Campbell and Mahatma Gandhi, and decided to at least attempt a response, which you can read and comment on (along with over 600 other interviews on the subject) at
The environmental education video produced by Spencer McCormack for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of the Odawa Indian Tribe, which features the title cut from the CD Heart of the Wind by Robert Tree Cody & Will Clipman in its soundtrack, can now be viewed at
Canyon Records Wins Governor’s Arts Award
I’d be remiss in not sharing the good news that Canyon Records won the 2016 Arizona Governor’s Arts Award in the Small Business category, celebrating Canyon’s 65 years of producing and distributing Native American Music. Canyon President & CEO Robert Doyle would be too modest to publicize this, but as a proud Canyon Artist I wanted to spread the word about this well-earned and richly-deserved accolade.
photo courtesy Elana & Jim Thornton
Poem of the Month
Sometimes I catch myself being too busy to just be. Not good! As Guillaume Henri has sagely opined elsewhere in the A 440 Archives: One must be the song one wishes to sing. In a sense, then, I sing myself into existence, and it is only the illusory fear that (gasp!) IT WILL ALL BE OVER SOMEDAY that inhibits me from giving full throat to that song which only I can sing, simply because no one else is me. My inner and outer travels around the Vernal Equinox this year yielded the following verse meditation on this subject, which I’d like to share here as your April Poem of the Month.
These days everyone with a smart phone fancies himself or herself a photographer; but it takes an artist’s eye and a great deal of patience and perseverance to truly capture a timeless moment and render it as an image fixed in time. I’d like to close with this shot (completely au naturel, no photoshopping!) of Sunset at Lion Rock Lodge by Shery Christopher: this is the view out the west corner window of the Huichol Suite, with a sliver of the Pacific Ocean on the far horizon.
photo courtesy Shery Christopher Photography/Dreamtime Arts
Monday is get it done day, so I thought I’d take advantage of this extra Leap Year Monday in February to get my March A 440 Newsletter out a day early. Enjoy all the multifarious musical manifestations “springing up” in Willyworld this month!
Planet of Percussion
My Lifetime Arts Creative Aging workshops continue this month, with our final two hands-on sessions on Tuesday March 1st & Tuesday March 8th and our public performance on Saturday March 12th. The Planetary Players Percussion Ensemble will raise a joyous noise in the Copper Room at Chandler Downtown Library in Chandler AZ as we demonstrate our mastery of world music rhythm and polyrhythm and venture into uncharted waters of melodic and harmonic improvisation.
Free fun for all!
Trialogues in the Valley of the Sun
Tuesday March 8th will be a double-header day for the ol’ Desert Drummer as I head southeast from Planet of Percussion in Chandler to Queen Creek AZ to perform a private concert with Trialogue at Trilogy at Encanterra at 7 PM.
Saturday March 12th will be another doubleheader day for your peripatetic pan-global percussionist as I head west from Planet of Percussion in Chandler to Ahwatukee AZ for an intimate evening of contemporary instrumental music with Trialogue as we present a CD Release Preview House Concert at 7 PM in the home of multi-flutist extraordinaire Sherry Finzer. Sherry’s tasteful and elegant melodicism will be amply enhanced by the rich harmonic textures of Darin Mahoney on guitar and the resonant rhythms of Will Clipman on percussion as we perform selections from our forthcoming eponymous Heart Dance Records album.
Seating is limited so make your reservations now at
email@example.com or 602.903.0348
And speaking of the new Trialogue album on Heart Dance Records, here are a couple of candid shots from our last session at Clamsville Productions in Chandler AZ where the intrepid trio has been tracking, editing and mixing with Big Clam John Herrera:
“Brushing up” on the Clamsville Custom TJS kit
El Almeja Grande y Guillermo del Ritmo in the Clamsville control room
Awakening the Fire in Green Valley
On Wednesday March 16th at 7 PM I’ll join inimitable Gold & Platinum Record artist R. Carlos Nakai in a duo concert at Green Valley Community Performing Arts Center for an evening of Native American flute and world percussion. We’ll perform selections from our GRAMMY-Nominated Canyon Records CD Awakening the Fire as well as never-before-heard improvisations, making this a one-of-a-kind musical offering just for you!
This show is SOLD OUT, but here’s the info & ticket link just in case:
Folk Funk Fusion in The Old Pueblo
On Saturday March 26th at 7:30 PM I’ll hold the heartbeat for Temenos Quartet at Sea of Glass Center for the Arts in Tucson AZ. A band rumored to be the pagan love children of Richie Havens and Joni Mitchell, TQ features To-Ree-Nee Wolf on guitar and lead vocals, Heidi Wilson on alto sax, AmoChip Dabney on bass, and Will Clipman on drums & percussion. There will be plenty of space on the sprung hardwood dance floor at SoG to get your groove on, as well as comfortable concert seating for those who wish to chillax and trance out.
*Temenos has just finished mastering it’s forthcoming EP Forecast and is striving with all due temenosity to have a pre-release limited edition available at this event for folks who’ve contributed to our indiegogo crowd-finding campaign!
Out of the Blue. . . I Hear Voices!
I recently received a delightfully unexpected call from legendary Tucson musician Bobby Kimmel inviting me to add congas to a couple of songs on the new I Hear Voices! album. As I’m sure you know, Bobby was a founding member of The Stone Poneys along with his good friend and fellow Tucson music legend Linda Ronstadt, and has gone on to play with and lead a Who’s Who of traditional music ensembles in the intervening years. Needless to say I jumped at the chance to become this vintage vocal quartet’s first drummer ever, and recorded my tracks at A Writer’s Room Studio with Bobby in the producer’s chair and engineer Duncan Stitt at the board.
I Hear Voices! courtesy LA Times
Poem of the Month
With Spring fast approaching and the warm weather having already arrived in Baja Arizona, I’m reminded of another “breathless sentence” poem I composed a few years back after a stroll through the nearby Sweetwater Wetlands: an oasis of cattail rushes, shade trees, waterfowl and wildlife along the Santa Cruz River in the middle of the Northern Sonoran Desert. Nature never fails to surprise and delight us, if only we take the time to open our senses and appreciate its wonders. Enjoy!
With the first new moon of the lunar year, the days begin to become noticeably longer and the first signs of Spring begin to emerge. In keeping with that spirit of renewal and growth, a fabulous February is unfolding here in Willyworld, as evidenced in this issue of your A 440 Newsletter!
Myths & Masks
Monday-Friday February 1st-5th I’ll continue my annual Myths & Masks Artist-in-Residency at Cheyenne Traditional School In Scottsdale AZ. My fourth grade students have successfully completed their plaster bandage Lifecasts and the first half of their Mythic Persona Poems; this week we’ll be fitting the wearable mask art, painting, adding our three-dimensional sculptural embellishment, completing our poems and preparing for our community showcase presentations–a full week to say the least!
Masks for Maya
On Saturday February 6th from 10 AM-5 PM I’ll conduct a private maskmaking birthday party here in Tucson AZ. I met the birthday girl a number of years ago when she and her parents attended my Myths & Masks weekend retreat at Enchantment Resort’s Mii Amo Spa in Sedona AZ. Years later, Maya remembered that experience vividly enough to ask for Myths & Masks as her 11th birthday present. What an honor for yours truly!
Wednesday February 3rd will be a doubleheader day for the contemporary instrumental trio Trialogue (Sherry Finzer, flutes; Darin Mahoney, guitars; and Will Clipman, drums & percussion) as we complete tracking for our forthcoming Heart Dance Records album at Clamsville Productions in Chandler AZ with engineer John Herrera at the helm in the afternoon, then bust a rush-hour move all the way across the Valley of the Sun for a 7 PM concert at Grandview Terrace in Sun City AZ.
Three happy clams mixing it up in the control room at Clamsville
Dialing in John’s awesome TJS Custom Drums–gotta get me a set!
Beginning on Monday February 8th and continuing through Friday February 26th I’ll conduct my annual Arizona Alive! storytelling Artist-in-Residency at Sonoran Sky School in Scottsdale AZ. Over the course of ten days, my fourth grade students will compose original stories based on their studies of Arizona history and perform them in a community showcase presentation.
Planet of Percussion
Beginning on Tuesday February 9th from 9-11 AM and continuing on successive Tuesdays through March 8th I’ll conduct my Planet of Percussion workshop for Lifetime Arts Creative Aging at Chandler Downtown Library in Chandler AZ. Our hands-on exploration of world music rhythm and polyrhythm will culminate with a public performance by the Planetary Players Percussion Ensemble on Saturday March 12th at 11 AM. . . more on that in your March A 440!
Registration is full, but you may still be able to get on a short waiting list at
www.chandlerlibrary.org or 480.782.2800
Awakening the Fire
On Saturday February 13th at 8 PM I’ll perform a duo concert with R. Carlos Nakai at Galactic Center in Tucson AZ. We’ll play themes and variations from our GRAMMY-Nominated Canyon Records album Awakening the Fire, as well as never-before-heard improvisations just for you! There are no advance tickets for this event, and of course the Gem Show is in full swing, so early arrival is highly recommended. Galactic Center is a really cool art gallery in addition to being an intimate performance venue, so spending some time in the space prior to the concert will be fun for all.
Temenos Quartet (To’Ree’Nee Wolf, vocals & guitar; Heidi Wilson, alto sax; AmoChip Dabney, bass; and Will Clipman, drums & percussion) have completed tracking for our six-song “folk funk fusion” EP Forecast at Saint Cecilia Studios in Tucson AZ with engineer Steven Lee Tracy at the helm. We’ll be dialing in final mixes and getting the prints off for mastering this month, with the goal of having a physical CD in hand for our upcoming March 26th concert at Sea of Glass Center for the Arts. . . more on that in your March A 440!
Amo spankin’ the plank
Heidi gettin’ saxy widdit
To’Ree’Nee seriously tuning in
Big Daddy Boom Boom percussing everything within reach
R. Carlos Nakai Quartet
Yes, the rumors are true: the R. Carlos Nakai Quartet has re-formed with original members R. Carlos Nakai on Native American and classical European flutes, coronet and indigenous aerophones; AmoChip Dabney on keyboards & saxophones; and Will Clipman on drums & percussion; joined by our new bassist Johnny Walker. With a few concerts under our belts, we’re developing an entirely new repertoire of original world music for our first new studio album since 2005, and plan to record early this Spring.
The Q jammin’ outside our rehearsal studio at Rancho Improvisoso
Heart of the Wind
The title track from the album Heart of the Wind: Robert Tree Cody & Will Clipman (a perennial Canyon Records best-seller and a 2006 GRAMMY Nominee) is featured in the soundtrack for a new environmental-educational video produced by the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians in Michigan.
Poem of the Month
With the sun rising a little earlier each morning, setting a little later each evening, and arcing a little farther north on the horizon each day, I’m reminded of a “breathless sentence” poem I composed in 2013 around this time of year. I’ve revised the line breaks and trimmed the syntax a bit to make it (hopefully) a little less breathless, and I offer it here in keeping with this month’s motifs of renewal, hope and growth.
I don’t imagine anyone will boot up first thing this morning to see if the January issue of your A 440 Newsletter has arrived; but I’m up with the sun, my head full of lucid dreams, and I’m getting an early jump on 2016 to set the tone for a new year of timely timelessness. Happy New Year!
The feature article on my Myths & Masks workshop for Lifetime Arts Creative Aging is now published in the PBS omniblog Next Avenue. Read all about it–and other exciting LACA initiatives–at:
. . . and on the heels of our success with Myths & Masks, I’ve been invited back to Chandler Downtown Library to conduct my Planet of Percussion world music workshop in February and March. The five workshop sessions will be on Tuesdays February 9th, 16th, 23rd, March 1st & 8th from 9-11 AM; and the community showcase will be on Saturday March 12th from 11 AM-1 PM.
Enrollment is limited to twelve and there are only a few spots left.
Find out more about the program and free registration at:
www.chandlerlibrary.org or 480.782.2800
M&M at CTS
. . . but I’ve gotten ahead of myself. . . I suppose that’s better than getting behind! From January 25th through February 5th I’ll conduct my annual Myths & Masks Artist-in-Residency at Cheyenne Traditional School with students at the other end of the creative aging spectrum:
‘Tis the season to make records, and I’ll begin the new year with three new recording projects: one with Trialogue (Sherry Finzer on flutes, Darin Mahoney on guitars, and yours truly on drums & percussion);
one with Temenos Quartet (To’Ree’Nee Wolf on lead vocals & guitar, Heidi Wilson on alto sax & harmony vocals, AmoChip Dabney on bass & harmony vocals, and yours truly on drums & percussion);
and one with the R. Carlos Nakai Quartet (R. Carlos Nakai on Native American & European flutes, trumpet & indigenous aerophones; AmoChip Dabney on keyboards & saxophones; Johnny Walker on bass; and yours truly on drums & percussion).
Needless to say, there will be an abundance of new music to share
in the coming year!
. . . but of course, you needn’t wait for these forthcoming releases to add some awesome new music to your library: Native American Flute Music for Yoga is available right now at:
This meditative collection features a veritable Who’s Who of Canyon Records artists, including R. Carlos Nakai, Robert Tree Cody, Aaron White, Kelvin Mockingbird and Tony Duncan, with subtle percussive pulsations provided by yours truly on multiple tracks.
In With The New
Shery snapped this shot of our New Year’s Eve fire last night: a perfect closing image for this New Year’s Day A 440 Newsletter. The wood we’re burning is a trunk section from a huge old palo verde that had been growing for at least fifty years between what is now the deep end of our pool and our greenhouse, its gnarled roots uplifting the more recent brickwork, reminding us that what humans construct is only temporarily overlaid on the deeper patterns of nature. The living tree provided us with cool summer shade; now, its wood provides us with winter warmth. And so it goes: out with the old, in with the new, in a never-ending cycle of ending and beginning. Enjoy it all in joy!
~Peace & Prosperity to One & All~
January 1st, 2016 | Category: Uncategorized | Comments are closed
It’s hard to believe that another year is coming to an end. After two solid months of hyperactivity in October and November, I’m grateful that this December will be relatively relaxed here at Rancho Improvisoso and I’ll be able to spend most of the winter solstice season this year closer to home and hearth. With apologies for the lateness of this issue of your A 440 Newsletter, and with best wishes for all the blessings of the holidays to you and yours, please enjoy a few year-end highlights!
POP Goes M&M
Having completed four different but overlapping and interwoven Artist-in-Residencies and workshops in both Myths & Masks and Planet of Percussion with students of all ages this Fall, I’m delighted that the success of each program will manifest as a further incarnation of the other in the new year: Myths & Masks with Lifetime Arts Creative Aging at Chandler Downtown Library has given rise to Planet of Percussion in February 2016; and Beauty & the Beats (a custom-designed variant of POP) at Western National Parks Association has given rise to Myths & Masks in April 2016!
Enrollment for both these newly-emergent workshops is capped at twelve, and pre-registration for both has been brisk, so mark your calendars and be in touch!
Yours truly enjoying a light-hearted musical moment at Beauty & the Beats
The cast of characters at Lifetime Arts–who’s that scary-looking guy in the middle?
and for a more comprehensive look at the Lifetime Arts process, click on
This Myths & Masks workshop also received national recognition in the form of a feature story on the PBS show Next Avenue!
A Sonoran Sky Mythic Persona poet nestled among the rocks at SSky Camp
A bold Santa Cruz County Young Audiences volunteer model getting “plastered”
Music as Spiritual Manifestation
Two new projects in the realm of spiritual music have taken flight: a new Canyon Records digital-only release entitled Native American Flute Music for Yoga, on which yours truly is included on multiple tracks with world-renowned flutists R. Carlos Nakai and Robert Tree Cody, among others; and a concert next summer with R. Carlos Nakai & Will Clipman at the internationally-acclaimed Buddhist retreat center Tara Mandala in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
This soothing and healing music can be sampled and downloaded at
My newest musical adventure is Trialogue: a contemporary instrumental trio with flutist Sherry Finzer and guitarist Darin Mahoney. We’ve been in the studio at Clamsville Productions with engineeer John Herrera, and are currently mastering a three-song booking demo that will form the nucleus of a full-length album, to be released on Heart Dance Records in early 2016.
Darin, Sherry and yours truly at our Sea of Glass concert last Fall
And on December 17th at 9 AM we’ll perform a private Holiday Breakfast Concert at Grandview Terrace in Sun City, Arizona.
Big Sky Christmas
And speaking of new musical adventures and holiday musical extravaganzas, yet another new flute, guitar and percussion trio has formed expressly to perform for a private Christmas Eve/Christmas Day event at the spectacular Spanish Peaks Resort in Big Sky, Montana. This ensemble is so new we haven’t even come up with a name for it yet, but the stellar musicianship of flutist Claudia Tulip, guitarist Gina Machovina and yours truly will no doubt bring a magical sparkle to the proceedings. The setting will certainly be a winter wonderland!
And of course, one’s own winter wonderland is always best: be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home, and nowhere I’d rather be for the holidays. With that in mind, I’ll close with this image of our own backyard during a rare and beautiful snowfall in Northern Sonora, a baby saguaro nestled in the sheltering embrace of its overarching palo verde nurse tree and the craggy peaks of the Santa Catalina Mountains in the distance. . . .
~Wishing you and yours
all the brightest blessings of the holiday season
with peace and good will to all~
Early on Dia de Los Muertos, the Sunday morning after All Hallow’s Eve, three cawing ravens flew over our land through a cloudless blue sky. What were they saying? I have my own understanding: in Saami culture, the raven is a bird of power who brings welcome news from the “other side of the world” along with intelligent insight into the hidden nature of things. I welcome your interpretation, as well as your perusal of all the good news from Willyworld in this November issue of your A 440 Newsletter!
Creative Aging on PBS
Lifetime Arts, the sponsoring organization for my on-going Myths & Masks adult workshop at Chandler Downtown Library, has been contacted by PBS for a feature on our program, including interviews with participants; so it appears that our Creative Aging program here in Arizona will receive national publicity. I’ll include the link to this in my November email signature as details become available.
Meanwhile, the final three sessions of our eight-week workshop series will be held at 9-11 AM on Tuesdays November 3rd, 10th & 17th, with our showcase presentation at 9-11 AM on Saturday November 21st, all in the Copper Room at Chandler Downtown Library in historic downtown Chandler, Arizona.
Myths & Masks with SCCYA
Beginning on Monday November 9th and continuing on Thursday November 12th, Monday November 16th and Wednesday-Thursday November 18th-19th, I’ll conduct a Myths & Masks mini-residency for art students at Wade Carpenter Middle School in Nogales, Arizona under the auspices of Santa Cruz County Young Audiences.
R. Carlos Nakai Quartet at MIM
On Wednesday November 11th at 7 PM, the R. Carlos Nakai Quartet will serve up its indescribably groovy cornucopia of Global Native Fusion and inspired improvisation at the world-renowned Musical Instrument Museum Theater in Phoenix, Arizona.
Featuring R. Carlos Nakai on Native American and concert flutes, trumpet & assorted indigenous aerophones; AmoChip Dabney on saxophones & keyboards, Johnny Walker on five-string electric bass, and Will Clipman on drums & world percussion, RCNQ will be joined on this bill by Sihasin: the Navajo rock duo comprised of brother & sister Clayson & Jeneda Benally, plus Very Special Guest Jones Benally, award-winning Navajo dancer and the father of Clayson & Jeneda.
Beauty & The Beats at WNPA
On Friday November 13th (my lucky day!) from 10 AM to 4 PM I’ll conduct a hands-on world drumming and percussion workshop entitled Beauty & The Beats in the Kiva Room at Western National Parks Association in Oro Valley, Arizona. Participants are invited but not required to bring a favorite drum and/or percussion instrument of their own.
I have fans who are coming from as far away as Grand Junction, Colorado and Santa Fe, New Mexico for this event, and enrollment is limited, so click on that link now and reserve your space!
Temenos Quartet at OTCA
On Saturday November 14th at 7 PM, the Temenos Quartet will bring its original New World Music to Old Town Center for the Arts, central Arizona’s premiere small concert venue in Cottonwood. Featuring To’Ree’Nee Wolf on acoustic guitar & lead vocals, Heidi Wilson on alto saxophone & vocals, AmoChip Dabney on electric bass & vocals, and Will Clipman on drums, world percussion & vocals, TQ delivers a sound that will make your soul groove and your body move!
On Friday November 20th at 7:30 PM, the William Eaton Ensemble assembles for a performance of original World Chamber Fusion at Sea of Glass Center for the Arts, southern Arizona’s premiere small concert venue in Tucson.
Featuring William Eaton on exotic multi-stringed instruments of his own design and construction, Claudia Tulip on concert & world flutes, Allen Ames on violin, mandolin & electric guitar, Mary Redhouse on electric bass, Native American flutes & five-octave vocalizations and Will Clipman on pan-global percussion, WEE explores the outer reaches of contemporary instrumental music with skill, taste and joyous flair.
Poem of the Month
Now that summer’s heat is finally subsiding here in Northern Sonora and it’s actually beginning to feel like autumn, I’m put in mind of a gnomic utterance from Wilderness in the Marrow that perfectly suits the moment, in more ways than one. Enjoy!
Having been ushered in with a total eclipse of the super blood moon, how could this month not be filled with creative magic? Read on and enjoy all the good news in your October A 440 Newsletter!
Exceptional Music Matters
Pursuant to my recent interview with Dr. Walter Jacobson on his Exceptional Minds, Exceptional Matters radio show, “Dr. J” is now using the title cut from my GRAMMY-nominated solo world music CD Pathfinder as his podcast bumper music–thanks, Doc!
CDs available at
Raisin’ the Roof
On Saturday October 3rd at 6 PM I’ll hold the heartbeat for the William Eaton Quartet as part of a fundraising benefit concert for Desert Star Community School at Tequa Plaza in Sedona AZ.
info & tickets at
http://www.desertstarschool.org/raising-the-roof.html | 928.282.0171
Lifetime Arts at the Library
My Myths & Masks adult workshop at Chandler Public Library in Chandler AZ will continue on Tuesdays October 6th, 13th, 20th & 27th under the auspices of Lifetime Arts. Our first session on September 29th was a scintillating success: I’m blessed to have a lovely group of “Lifetime Artists” who are bringing a wealth of intelligence, creativity, sensitivity, curiosity, personality and life-experience to our exploration of the Inner Mythic Persona through the combined arts of maskmaking and poetry.
DVDs available at
Beginning on Wednesday October 7th and continuing through Wednesday October 28th I’ll conduct my 21st Annual Myths & Masks Artist-in-Residency at Sonoran Sky School in Scottsdale AZ. Wednesday-Thursday October 14th-15th will find us at Chapel Rock in Prescott AZ for our annual SSky Camp art-in-nature experience as part of the overall AiR.
Duo & Trio Doubleheader!
On Saturday October 24th from 10:30 AM to 12:15 PM I’ll play pan-global percussion with contemporary fusion flutist Sherry Finzer in two Dia de Los Muertos Festival sets at Mesa Arts Center in Mesa AZ. This event is free and open to the public!
Then on Saturday October 24th at 7:30 PM Sherry and I will be joined by her long-time guitarist Darin Mahoney for a Sherry Finzer Trio concert at Sea of Glass Center for the Arts in Tucson AZ. This show is the Tucson premiere of SFT in a don’t-miss performance of original contemporary instrumental fusion compositions and inspired improvisations: John Diliberto of Echoes Radio calls Sherry’s sound “winged chamber music” and Will Ackerman of Windham Hill Records has written of Darin’s sound “The overall impression is of being in a place you know well and love deeply, but being suddenly amazed one afternoon that the view is so spectacular.”
info & tickets at
In the Sacred Groove Grove
As the growing tribe of Temenos Quartet lovers know, we take our name from the ancient Greek word for sacred grove and bring that timeless concept into the present with our sacred groove! Heartfelt thanks to all who’ve helped put our INDIEGOGO campaign over the $1K threshold and brought us that much closer to sharing our first album with the world.
You’re invited to jump on the TQ bandwagon at
And as a taste of what awaits you (along with a menu of tasty contributor’s perks) here’s a recent YouTube clip from our Summer Solstice Concert at Monterey Court:
The next mind-groovin’ body-movin’ Temenos Quartet concert will be at the legendary Old Town Center for the Arts in Cottonwood AZ on November 14th at 7 PM.
tickets & info at
On Friday November 13th (my lucky day!) from 10 AM til 4 PM I’ll present a world drumming and percussion workshop at Western National Parks Association in Oro Valley AZ. Enrollment is limited and advance registration is highly recommended.
info & registration at
Photo of the Month
A picture being worth a thousand words (and the popularity of my Poem of the Month feature notwithstanding) I’m going with this shot of the eclipsing super blood moon to close out your October A 440 Newsletter. No worries, I’ll be back next month with a new poem!
photo courtesy Shery Christopher Photography/Dreamtime Arts
~May your vision be clear and your magic strong
this month and throughout the year~
Kindness toward those smaller and weaker than ourselves
is the truest measure of strength.
As we move from the blessing of late summer monsoon rain toward the cooler, shorter and drier days of autumn here in Northern Sonora, September promises to be rich in music, myth and mask. Enjoy all the good news in this issue of your A 440 Newsletter!
Sherbino Centennial with RC & Will
On Sunday September 13th at 4 PM I’ll join the inimitable R. Carlos Nakai in Ridgway CO to celebrate the 100th birthday of the historic Sherbino Theater with a concert to raise funds for its restoration. We’ll play selections from our GRAMMY-Nominated Canyon Records CD Awakening the Fire, and as always we’ll weave in a good bit of our spontaneous improvisational magic just for you!
info & tickets at www.sherbinotheater.com
Temenos Quartet at The Studio Space
On Sunday September 20th at 7 PM I’ll join To’Ree’Nee Wolf, Heidi Wilson and AmoChip Dabney for a Temenos Quartet concert at The Studio Space in Tucson AZ, where we’ll conjure up a full evening of our evocative and irresistibly groovy New World Music with a foot-friendly hardwood dance floor at your disposal. Admission is a mere $7 for the music, art, raffles, a food truck and more, all at 4648 E. Speedway Blvd. on the SW corner of Speedway & Swan.
view The Studio Space at www.studiospacetucson.com
Celebrate the River
On Friday September 25th at 7 PM I’ll hold the heartbeat for an Arizona all-star band (including but not limited to members of The William Eaton Ensemble) in the 2nd Annual Celebrate the River Concert at Old Town Center for the Arts in Cottonwood AZ. This don’t-miss event is also the kick-off for OTCA’s eighth season as central Arizona’s premiere small concert venue!
Beginning on Tuesday September 29th and continuing on consecutive Tuesdays through November 17th, I’ll conduct my Myths & Masks workshop for adult lifelong learners at Chandler Public Library in Chandler AZ, under the auspices of the New York-based national organization Lifetime Arts. At last count, all but two of the twenty available slots have been filled, but registration is still open at
On August 29th, yours truly was interviewed by psychiatrist, author, motivational speaker and radio host Dr. Walter Jacobson to launch his new show Exceptional Minds, Exceptional Matters. Our lively and spirited conversation covered a wide range of topics from contemporary world music to poetry to maskmaking, and can be heard at
Interview with Will Clipman – Musician, Poet, Maskmaker
and while you’re visiting Dr. J’s website, be sure to investigate his uplifting programs and publications!
Remembering a Tower of Song
Tucson’s musical community suffered a great loss with the recent death of Arizona Blues Hall of Fame songwriter, guitarist and singer Stefan George. Those of us who new Stef personally and had the opportunity to play with him have lost a dear friend and bandmate. I got the news of Stefan’s passing from Mark McLemore at Arizona Public Media, who called the next day to request an interview. The thoughts I shared with Mark about Stefan’s remarkable life and career can be heard by clicking on the link below and scrolling down to Stefan George Remembered:
Ah, so. . . life and death. . . perhaps both are made meaningful by the love we bestow and receive? Your September Poem of the Month explores the nature of partnership and loss at the intersection of the wild and the domestic. Enjoy in joy!
My mate brought your mate to me yesterday
as I arrived home with food for us, her body
still warm, eyes still wide and lustrous,
wing and tail feathers still opening in radiant fans.
She broke her neck flying home with food for you,
unable to penetrate the pane between the mirror world
and this one. My mate buried your mate by the greenhouse,
and all day I was beset by uneasiness and a weird sense of loss.
Today you land on the kitchen windowsill
where my mate and I always leave shelled peanuts
for you and your mate, and I suddenly smash
into a pane of sorrow and confusion. Is it just me,
or are you disoriented, too: flitting from branch to branch
in the creosote and palo verde, singing all two hundred
of your courtship songs in vain? Is it just you,
or am I now, too, the brilliant red of oxygen-rich blood
as my heart explodes at the thought of losing my mate
as you lost yours? We go on, you and I, at least for today;