Introducing: The Dream Machine!

Since my youth I can recall how vivid dreams are. So dramatic, real, and of great mystery.

When a musical instrument comes to me in a dream, oh my are they fascinating! Like low hanging fruit just waiting to be literally plucked or listened to. I have learned to keep a dream journal handy at my bedside wherever I may be. To write down my dreams–and not just the musical ones.

So came to be the instrument  I call the Dream Machine.

After sketching it in the journal (as seen below) it sat untouched. A number of years later I’m at my church’s rummage sale looking at all the items on so many tables and see a letter holder.

Dream Machine Sketch

“Ah hah! That’s that thing from the dream!”

“But it looks kinda different….”

“Yeah, but that’s still it. Dude, it’s like a dollar-buy it!!”


I took it home and looked at it. Now what??

Dream MachineHere began a litany of issues to solve: how many strings? How long is the string length? What gauge strings? How do I tune this thing? What kind of bridge exactly do I make? How are the strings mounted to the body? Just precisely where do the bridges get placed? On and on…

This whole process gave me a much deeper appreciation for any instrument maker.

I found the matter of string length is the math of things extremely touchy. Little to no tolerance allowed.

Dream Machine Close UpInstrument finally assembled.

Now the next and very important question; “How do I play this thing???“

It sat for a year or better. People coming to my place would certainly notice this curiosity sitting against a wall. Conversations would ensue.

I felt slightly ashamed I hadn’t completed any compositions for it. I still have techniques and ideas that aren’t yet realized, as I need to further some design issues. But through the notice of others I sat down and said “Well at least write something simple-just get it going man!”

And so “War Cry” was born.

It is a piece of music sitting somewhere between African American spiritual, Oriental tone and Native American spirit. This joining of cultural influences makes me very happy. Taking the dream machine to concerts is a great conversation piece!

The “skateboard with strings” is ready to roll.


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Midwest Tour Wrap Up – 2014

14-9-01 Faith TreeThings turned out amazingly well considering I only planned this two week solo tour 6 weeks in advance, as previous plans had to change.  I played in Dallas TX, Edmund OK, Joplin MO and my hometown of Waukesha WI.

It was wonderful driving these routes again after many years away. In 2002-2007 I traveled to these places dozens of times with Spoken Groove, so I reunited with many old friends and places.

Photo: Joplin Missouri.
I’ll call this the “Faith Tree”. This was in the path of the tornado, which cut the town in half. If a tree was left standing they often were stripped bare. 3 years later, now, thankfully some people had a great idea and brought back life from destruction.

Helpers at the shows took on the form of a 10 year old girl, my nephew, wait staff, and other performers, etc. This kind of help was a specific prayer request and it was beautiful to see who chose to get involved. Also implemented was the grace on my part to ASK for help.


The van performed without a hitch. Driving tours by myself takes more consideration to do things wisely and safely. Such as staying healthy and in good form, not falling asleep at the wheel. I don’t need to conquer the entire world today. I am learning this new rhythm better now after recent years of solo tours. To admit my limits has taken so many years…

Photo: Special people in Waukesha, Wisconsin. 
The Kinart family. My old bosses and life long friends. It means the world to me to have people you once worked a job with some 20 years ago, and they return with the warmth of extended family. August 9, 2014 at Sprizzo Cafe.
14-9-01 The Kinart Family in Waukesha

The first week was a challenge as most of the traveling and playing was in this period. Many magic moments kept popping up the entire tour. I think of the uncanny timing in many forms, provision of rest and rest areas, playing for hurting souls including my own, seeing my old bosses who had such love in their hearts, watching a community heal in spontaneous song, and encouraging and being encouraged by old and new relationships alike.

Who is giving to whom? Oh how this line is beautifully blurred when God is in the middle of it!


O.K. have you ever felt done for? This little angel sure did it to me. This is my grand niece “Zami”. My great uncles were musicians, too, so history shall repeat itself once again.
14-9-01 My Grand Niece Zami

Time at home in Wisconsin (where I was born and raised) was beautiful and bittersweet. My father has Parkinson’s and it’s progressed a lot this year. He is happy and in good spirits. It is beautiful to see my parents married for 61 years and they are still in love and worry for each other and their children same as they always have. They need prayer in their sunset years.

The Wisconsin landscape absolutely wooed to me like the fairest of maidens. A work of art in each breeze. Oh how I wish I could get YOU to see!!! Green flowing and waving from the trees like the sweetest song of God. He sings the finest Aria every time I watch the trees. How can such talent and genius exist?

Genesee Depot QuarryAnd yet it is but his handiwork! The Presence swims all around for the pure delight of it’s own gift. No reason perhaps? Or multifaceted? Just for the joy of it? Maybe so.

I understand this when I play.

And so we live,


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Southwest Tour Wrap Up – July 2, 2014

June 2014
Pyramid rock in Gallup, New Mexico. Canyon in foreground is one of my “holy places” I be sure to say hello to each visit. It always gives and reveals a little more each time.

After two weeks thru Lubbock, Albuquerque, Gallup and San Angelo, I returned to Austin on June 22. Travels were beautiful.

TX has had much rain-wildflowers were blooming even up in the panhandle. New Mexico on the other hand is in terrible drought with a visible wildfire outside of Gallup.

A highlight each year is spending time with the residents, mostly Native American at Villa Guadalupe nursing home in Gallup; a ministry of The Little Sisters of The Poor. I play music for daily masses-seeing the joy in the faces of the nuns and residents (they don’t have music like this often)….well that was pure gold. Also I’ll play a music program for them. You should hear them sing the Wolf Song! Seeing them loosen up and be children once again. The smiles on them, staff, and me too of course…priceless. This ridiculous song has brought the world so much joy. I spend much time with the residents, listening, learning and smiling. I am loved like a son.

A close call with my van turned out as good as one could hope-the water pump failed and thankfully a reputable mechanic (Leyba’s Auto Clinic) was within walking distance of the nursing home (where I also stayed). Gallup is a small town so I was worried about getting parts on time as well. All was fixed, ahead of schedule.
 June 2014

No this is not Sasquatch, but my shadow on New Mexico earth. Note the flute in the backpack-truly a happy hiker.


Performances were good including a last minute set for the Gallup Art Crawl. A BIG thank you to my friend Priya Sudarsanam for being the liaison for almost everyone Gallup it seemed. Numerous hikes in the area proved to be as magic as ever. Despite sand fleas that itched like fire and record high winds it was always the pure joy of discovery at every turn. I am at home in Indian country.

June 2014

An area known as “the waterfall” to ranchers near Fence Lake, New Mexico. A large rock outcropping there holds many treasures such as this beauty.

Spent a few days on the ranch of Danny Stokes near Fence Lake NM. Thousands of acres lay all directions and we covered a few indeed. Exploring an area they call the waterfall-it has many Anasazi petroglyphs upon the boulders. Nearby was a dwelling area-you find pottery shards everywhere, and down the way was likely a hunting ground. All this in his “backyard”. I’m hooked! Also of note were accounts from several people of cattle mutilations and other unexplainable moving lights over the years there. Freaky to hear first hand. Regardless I’m still hooked!!

Also stay w/my godmother and cousin in Albuquerque. Much exploration of the incredible landscape and people of New Mexico, I’m falling in love with that place.


Some recording in San Angelo, TX for Daniel Makins upcoming release was wonderful. He moves to TN soon. We recorded in his beautiful and near empty house. That record will be a sweet document of his home there. On the way home through Llano, Texas I caught up with Harriet Myrick and we ended up jamming for a few hours. This trip showered magic right to the very end. I am humbled and in awe of creation and the kindness of the Creator.

Ready to repeat!

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