Local man hopes to share his Native American flute music

It’s been four years since Native American flute music changed the life of a local man, and now he is trying to share his joy.

Struggling through a tough time in his life, Warren resident Garry Campbell happened upon the music that would alter his musical perception.

Not too long after, Campbell had the opportunity to meet Al Cleveland, a Native American who makes his own flutes, at the Kinzua Heritage Festival just outside of Russell. It was during this meeting that he purchased his first Native American-made flute (NAF); a six-holed instrument in the key of F# and of the Thunderbird fetish (style).

For the next year, Campbell played the instrument with a passion, learning the ins and outs of the musical style. A year later, he went back to the festival and purchased another flute, thus cementing his interest and adding to his collection.

Three years later, the local flautist’s collection has grown to around a dozen flutes.

“They have a wonderful sound,” said Campbell, “as well as a spiritual aspect to them.”

While the flutes were originally made for the Native American style, Campbell reveals that they are used for everything from jazz to religious music. “They’re becoming more and more popular,” he added, “I share them everywhere I go.”

One of these occasions involved a rest stop on his drive home from Wisconsin. “I was so excited to play the flutes that I stopped and was playing in the parking lot of a rest stop,” he recalled. “A man was so interested that he stopped to listen to me play. Later, he took a picture of one of my albums so that he could try and buy it.”

Recently, Campbell has helped to create a larger interest in the art in Warren by creating a local flute circle that will have it’s first ever meeting on Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. in the Community Room at Thorne’s Bilo. The meeting will include a meet and greet session, individual performances, technique discussions, and hopefully refreshments as well, according to Campbell who is a member of the International Native American Flute Association (INAFA).

“There’s a lot of information out there on the Internet for people who are interested,” he explained. “Search Native American flute and all kinds of stuff comes up.”

In addition to the flute circle, Campbell is attempting to pursue becoming a flute maker. “It takes a lot of time, but I’m going to try my hand at it going forward. Every flute is different. The way it works, it has to be just right. It has to be carved perfect.”

“It’s just a wonderful interest I have,” concluded Campbell, “I want to share it with others.”