Open Mic – the community gathers! The anxiety in the room heightens as the group of new musicians gather to support each other and take their moment in the spotlight. There are several open mic events in Denver, every night, all over the city. Tonight, we are visiting Swallow Hill Music – Open Stage.
Swallow Hill is a gathering spot for musicians in Denver, CO. They provide space for classes, concerts and community music gatherings. Often Bright Hawk attends this open stage and has been featured as the “Best of” open stage. Once a month they have an open stage and they choose several people from the open stage that are considered the “best” to be featured at a special concert the following the month. Providing more space for the community to not only connet in community but also to lift each other up. Sharing audiences helps all in attendance to develop as musicians. We can lift each other up and celebrate our diversity. Swallow Hill Music certainly has the feel of not only professional musicians but also the community of people that celebrate music.
Bright Hawk plays the hand pan in a way that is different than most other hand pan players. Her background in percussion, music and African music shows through in her diversity and talents. The instrument, the Hang PANArt, is a very unique instrument but is normally played for only atmospheric music, until Bright Hawk.
Bringing her instrument to the stage brings immediate interest as usual. Everyone has questions about how to get one and where it comes from. The instrument is interesting and the sounds it provides for music enthusiasts is uniquely interesting. The sounds are compared to many other instruments such as the harp and even an orchestra! Some people have even insisted there is something inside of it, really underneath in that big hole. Others want to know how to get one or where they can get it. The instrument in itself gets tons of attention.
Once you get past the initial fascination with the instrument you are moved by the smiling Hang PANArtist and amazing talent of the Percussionist Bright Hawk. Her 20 years experience and lifetime of music study shows through in her compositions. Songs that begin and end in a way that feels like she took you on a journey. A journey with an instrument tuned in F that inspires happy and joyful feelings. She does two songs at the open mic that are upbeat and fun. One song with a little visualization about traveling and honoring those that have come before us. Then we are reminded of where the original Americans came from with a fun Irish Story and music that inspires community and hospitality.
A story! A story! Bright Hawk is a storyteller that crosses the lines between children, young adults, families, and even the elderly. Her ability to capture her audience in a way that transcends age, cultures, and even belief systems. Her original story “The Dancing Happy Hippo” is one of those age old tales that any audience can enjoy. The story unfolds in a way that helps us fall in love with the main character, Mvuu. The magic is certainly ever present in this story!
The most creative manifestation of the story unfolds when she tells it live, with the Hang PANArt. The Hang, one of the original hand pans, brings an atmosphere type of feeling to the entire story. The story is unfolded verbally with Bright Hawk’s animated mannerisms combined with her emotional tones. When she gets the audience to participate we find ourselves as emotionally involved as the teller. She takes us for an emotional journey with the Hippo in a way that we all forget that she is a Hippo, until Bright Hawk teaches us Hippo sounds! Then laughter takes over the audience that delights most of us. The deep bliss the hippo experiences is remininse to many “trance dancers” since Bright Hawk uses those words when she describes the Hippo’s experience. This immediately helps the 20-40 somethings to identify with the “Trance dance” experience. Young children identify with the animals and love the participartory parts of the story. Bright Hawk’s wise lessons about being authentic and following our bliss gets adults and the elderly on board to support this amazing storyteller. Her delivery of the story with the instrument makes it so unique that almost anyone just walking bye is likely to stop and listen in. The instrument is not only atmospheric but she even has little songs that helps us feel that part of the emotional story. We can feel the struggle, the suprise, and the wisdom is delivered in many of the lyrics for the songs. The songs have catchy chorus that the audience is immediately inspired to sing along.
Bright Hawk’s storytelling has evolved into something uniquely refreshing. Her ablity to not only make music but also tell a little story around her music brings her into a type of storytelling we rarely see. Many storytellers have music put behind them. Bright Hawk’s amazing storytelling talents can easily hold a crowd without the music and often at festivals she will mix a few songs between her stories. Just recently she developed her story with songs and music to go with it. She is working on developing more of her stories this way. Her talents are already celebrated among communities all over the country including at Rights Of Spring in Massachusettes. This yearly festival features her for familys and youth festival attendees. She has developed as a storyteller with the support of this community. Currently, in the works, is a DVD of Bright Hawk telling her story as a fundraiser to publish her original story into a book. We are still in the filming process but the excitement builds as we approach a dream come true for Bright Hawk. Bright Hawk is currently available for live concerts and storytelling events. The diversity in which she can entertain is vast and she is excited to continue to develop her stories with music of the Hang PANArt.
Here’s a video from one of her Live Performances at Rights of Spring. Follow this blog to get announcements about the DVD of her original story – “The Dancing Happy Hippo”