Sunday, August 1, 2010

August 2010 "On The Road with Nawang Khechog"

It had been years since I'd seen my friend, Tibetan Flutist, Nawang Khechog. I had heard of his near fatal traffic accident in India two years ago through mutual friends and was very upset by it. He was mostly out of communication because of either being outside the US or when he got back, was recovering and literally completely withdrawing from any contact from the outside world. Then I heard about his heart attack and more health complications. At this point I'd had enough and I contacted him and insisted that he stop putting me through so much and cease this untimely romance with death. It was too soon from him to leave and I didn't appreciate the stress he was causing me with constantly being hospitalized etc. LOL. We talked briefly and he returned to his home in Boulder to continue his healing process. Then about 5 months ago I contacted him again and proposed we do a little concert tour together to spend some time and make some music. He liked the idea and felt for the first time since his traumatic last couple years that he was ready for a little road adventure and some quality time with his good friend.

Nawang and I had recorded our Dance Of Innocents album sometime in the mid to late 1990's. It was the only record we recorded together and since then had only performed a few concerts together. But they were good ones. Carnegie Hall in NYC, JFK Stadium in Washington DC and some other smaller venues around Colorado like Chautauqua Park Auditorium in Boulder. I don't think either of us really knew what to expect musically when we got together and were more looking forward to some quality time together since there was a degree of uncertainty around the future. By the time we got together a few weeks ago in Southern California, we hadn't seen each other in about 7 to 8 years.

I definitely noticed considerable growth in Nawang both musically and personally. It was a pleasure for me to be around someone that truly does his best to "walk his talk". Nawang's "Be Kind To Each Other" slogan is his daily practice as well. I watched him everyday practice his teaching in every way possible. Never saying a harsh word about any one . . . always looking for the best possible explanation putting everything and everyone in the best possible light. I've worked with many "indigenous" or culturally specific musicians over the years and was not always thrilled with the person behind the image or facade. And at this time in my life I simply don't want to deal with personal "contradictions" of that nature. So, to be with Nawang for a couple weeks, concert after concert, on the road was a welcome and affirming experience.

The tour wasn't very long really. Only 10 concerts in about 14 days. A few in California, a few on the East Coast and several in Colorado. Each concert was a little more of "getting to know you" musically and the following day was a little more "getting to know you" as a human being as we'd drive to and from airports, hotels and sound checks. We'd chuckle to ourselves when the curb side baggage checkin person recognized our names on our drivers licenses and said how they just listened to our music last night and we were very moved by the great feedback we'd receive night after night from the people that would talk with us after the concerts. And we'd both acknowlede afterwards, driving back to our hotel or to the next gig that it truly was truly a gift and honor to be able to facilitate "meaningful" experiences in others by the music that came through us. We'd have conversations about the meaning of "essence" or "true nature" for us individually and for Nawang as a follower of the Dalai Lama. And we'd wonder at the beautiful planet that we live on (especially in traveling through Colorado).

I think for both of us there was very little distinction between the music we played at night and the personal exchanges we'd have driving to and from the airports, hotels and venues. Nawang and I are brothers from different cultures and mothers. I think we recognized that early on in our meeting some 16 or 17 years ago and there are just a small handful of men in my life that I can say that about and it's really nice to spend some time with them on occasion. We're planning on doing some concerts in Hawaii this fall perhaps and maybe some more in other places as well. Nawang is releasing a book this winter about his "Be Kind" workshops and is working on a film about this life. He walked as a small boy of only 3 years old from Tibet to Dharam Sala India with his family some 50 something years ago. He's lived a diverse and interesting life and continues to follow the path of his spiritual unfoldment. It is a pleasure and an honor Nawang to be your friend and share music with you! Here's to your Long Life!! You can read more about Nawang and his music on his website . Thanks for reading! WIth Love, Peter