Thursday, March 17, 2016

Another spin 'round with systrum a shimmerin'

NAMM Jan 2016  (in a nutshell)

Wednesday, January 20:  arrived late @ LAX and Diana meets/greets me in her Golden Chariot. We stay up to the wee hours gabbing away, catching up with one another and I retell my tale of excitedly presenting Hossam Ramzy with the Systrum @ a concert in the Lehigh Valley less than a week prior….

Thursday, January 21: slept till 2 pm and slowly get ourselves organized to depart only to find ourselves in rush hour Santa Monica et al so it was a slow go down to Anaheim.  We checked into our hotel, ate dinner nearby and then luckily since there was a Target across the street we shopped for some “supplies” for the weekend ~ breakfast yogurt, fruit, granola, etc. o, and the real essentials, dark chocolate and red wine *wink*

Ready, set, NAMM 2016 here we go!

Friday, January 22:  still a bit jet-lagged, it was another slow start enjoying a leisurely breakfast in our room and then walking to the Convention Center to get our badges et al.

Upon arrival inside the Hall I hightailed it to catch Bakithi Kumalo at the NS Design Booth while Diana bee-lined it to the Remo booth.  After seeing Bakithi I stopped to say hi to my friends at Breezy Ridge strings.

 Breezy Ridge Strings NAMM 2016 booth
After that I enjoyed a nearly 2-hour meeting with Greg Kundrat, president of Mid-East Mfg., meeting his son Max and Bret Hutchinson, designer of their newest product, the Idiopan, crafted in America,
Bret Hutchinson, Idiopan designer 
the first and only steel tongue drum capable of being tuned to hundreds of scales from around the world.

After our meeting I offered to introduce Greg to Bakithi so we proceeded upstairs where Bakithi warmly welcomed us.  I excused myself and met Diana on the upper level of the Hall where Latin Percussion was set up for the weekend.  We said hi to Jerry Zacharias (formerly at Remo), greeted Ms. Sheila E., took loads of photos and then bopped back downstairs to start to make our way to the Remo drum circle, but first had fun doing a little ‘photo shoot’ at Zildjan’s impressive wall!

Thank you Abe  for capturing me sitting alongside Arthur Hull
I then scooted outside to “secure” myself a spot on the inside circle (which YAY I achieved) while Diana stopped and chatted with Ami Belli.  The drum circle was a blast (click here to see a lil' video someone in the crowd shot and wait for it... about a min. into this along comes yours truly happily groovin' at the NAMM2016 Remo Drum Circle...)
and I am soooo grateful to see many friends and familiar faces and re-connect with them in this way.  Such a beautiful heartfelt exchange.  Met Gino Gamboa for the first time and was impressed with his fierce castanets prowess and was honored he liked my finger cymbal playing too!  Diana caught a wee bit of our little impromptu jam following the drum circle ~  one of those sweet little NAMM moments!

Diana and I considered hanging with the Remo crew post drum circle but it was a bit chilly and neither one of us felt we were attired warmly enough to hang around outside so I checked in with the Mid-East gang who invited us to join them for lite fare and drinks at their hotel, which as it turns out was only two doors down from our hotel, so walked there and enjoyed relaxing and chatting  with Greg, Bret, and Max et al.
Max & me

Bernard Fowler on L, Doug Wimbish on R
with Diana and I in the middle YUM!
Saturday, January 23:   We arrived in time to “catch” Doug Wimbish@ the Rotosound Music Strings booth albeit I thought we were gonna hear him play some of his fierce bass musings.  Instead, he was signing posters *and* I couldn’t help but notice, *bonus* Bernard Fowler was at the booth too!  Since I conducted a couple interviews with Bernard on World Rhythms, a program I periodically host on the Lehigh Valley's NPR station WDIY, it delights me say that when Bernard saw me he came out from behind the booth to greet me with a big hug and then Doug invited me to “C’mon over and give ‘im a little sugar, too.”  Gladly *wink*  …. Big smiles all around!

*BTW, here's a link to a nice lil' sampling of DW's musicality:

Hey, Bernard:  Shake it!

Diana, REMO Belli himself and yours truly
After that, Diana and I headed to the Remo booth where Angelo Belli introduced us to Dr. Craig Woodson, ethnomusicologist and music educator, whom I am happy to say took an interest in the Systrum and with whom I need to follow-up, for sure!

Then I headed back to the Mid-East booth.   Bret and I decided to meander thru a bit of the other halls before the Center closed for the day.

Meanwhile, before rendezvousing with Diana back at the Mid-East booth, she found herself in conversation with Ms. America, ‘Darling’ Julie E Harman. Their conversation was about synchronicity. Julie was sharing with Diana that she had recently attended a women's shaman gathering and during the course of the evneing she pulled an Angel card for a reading and the card she pulled was the Egyptian Goddess Hathor! Julie was telling Diana this tale and just as she was uttering the name of the Hahtor, I approached the two of them with the Systrum in hand. I shimmered the cymbals and Julie was awestruck by the synchronicity.  We all were!

So, right then and there we gifted her with the Systrum and invited her to use it as her new scepter.  T’was a magical  moment and only the just the beginning of this connection with Ms. America.

Blessed be!

Diana & Ms. America
Saturday, January 24:  Diana and I got ourselves decked out in our finest High Priestess attire, checked out of the hotel, hopped in the Golden Chariot and made our way to the Goddess Temple of Orange County in Irvine, CA, an easy 20 min. jaunt.  The space dedicated as the Goddess Temple is located in an industrial park but the moment you walk thru the entrance you are transported to a very sacred space most auspiciously and gorgeously transformed by Ava Park, Founder & Presiding Priestess, and the attending priestesses.  In addition to the main sanctuary, there are various rooms exquisitely decorated for meditation/contemplation/relaxation.  The priestesses  who had assembled ahead of Diana and I were preparing the sanctuary for the 11 am service but they cheerfully stopped what they were doing to warmly greet us and escort us to the inner sanctuary where Rev. Ava smiled broadly and welcomed us with open arms.  As I turned my head away from Ava to look around the room a large than life Sekhmet statue obviously situated where one’s eyes would land. She was grandly illuminated and to her right was a regal throne-like chair which Ava instructed me was my seat for the day!  O yes! Queen for a day J

Following the opening ritual of blessing/cleansing each of service’s attendees with a frankincense smudge, Ava invited Amina, Priestess of Divination, to honor the four directions.  Ava then offered a beautiful homily reflecting on the phases of the moon, honoring the body and welcoming/acknowledging the elements of air, earth, fire and water within and without.

I was then invited to present the systrum and my (abbreviated) slide show all of which was well received. Blessed, blessed, blessed be!  There was much enthusiasm surrounding purchases, Thank Goddess/God/Goodness....

One more spin around still decked in goddess gear
and "running into" SEAN LEE!
... and then Diana and I headed back to NAMM for one more go ‘round.  We said our goodbyes to the folks at Mid-East and then rendezvoused with Sean Lee and headed out for some supper.

Upon returning to Santa Monica, we floated into a supermarket still decked out in our priestess garb, never having taken the time to change since the Goddess Temple program. A handsome young man crossed our path in the produce aisle and said, “Where was that party and why didn’t I get an invitation.” Haha… we all exchanged smiles, struck up a conversation and then exchanged numbers et al, the magic of NAMM and the Goddess Temple still a swirl around and through us!

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