Last year brought two new experiences my way: I was asked to play my seashell flute over a PA system at the New Smyrna Beach Farmer’s Market during the Christmas season. The Beau Sister’s were singing Christmas songs and during one of their breaks I played ‘Greensleeves’. I remember being a little nervous but it sounded good and people seemed to like it.
I usually can’t get away from my vending booth long enough to play tunes with the hired musicians because I don’t have any help. So I just play along with them from a distance. I find it’s a good way to advertise my wares. People hear me and are attracted to the sounds. They’re curious and want to find out what’s making that soft flute music.
I’ve gotten a lot of practice over the years playing my seashell flutes along with different musicians at the markets. That’s one of the main benefits farmer’s markets have given me. Lot’s of practice. It’s how I’ve become a Shellist. Practice. I tell everyone that the seashell flute is not an easy instrument to play. It’s just like any other instrument. You have to practice a lot to sound any good.
The first time I played in front of an audience using a PA system was at the Silverhawk Native American Flute Festival last year. That was also my first NAF event and I feel I will always remember it as the best. You know how that goes. Anyway, the MC at the event announced that it was open mic and anyone who wanted to could come up and play a tune. I played Amazing Grace and something Celtic sounding.
This spring I am scheduled to vend at four or five music festivals. I’m excited to be able to play along with many excellent quality musicians, from a distance, of course. A few of the festivals are NAF events. I really like the sound of NAFs and the quality of the music. It’s a soothing and soulful style of flute music.
I will be vending at the 60th Florida Folk Festival this Memorial Day weekend and expect it to be my biggest event. It certainly is an honor to be part of that great musical tradition. I have been asked to be a ‘demonstrator’ also. I think that means showing folks how I make the instruments, talk about how I discovered them and perform a few tunes, away from my booth. I sure hope my sister, Betsy, is able to help me vend.