Tribal Gathering in Breck |

Tribal Gathering in Breck

KIMBERLY NICOLETTIsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Reid Williams Michael Angelo Nelson and his primitive sculpture will be one of many features at a "Tribal Gathering" this weekend at Main Street Station in Breckenridge.

BRECKENRIDGE – While musicians at the 20th annual Genuine Jazz Festival push the possibilities of music forward, a group of local artists returns to the roots of art and music – with drumming, didgeridoo playing and mask-making this weekend.The Summit County Arts Council and Access Artists presents a Tribal Gathering, featuring didgeridoo and portrait demonstrations, a drum circle, mask displays, a masked dance drama and a DVD show portraying Australia and Bali.”The theme is tribal, but the gathering is about bringing people to the face of art so that we can, almost in a primitive way, express ourselves and express our art,” said Michaelangelo Nelson, who will display his primitive masks.An earthly vibeThe event begins with Alma resident Michael Reid’s didgeridoo demonstration at 7:15 p.m. today.After playing trumpet for seven years, Reid picked up a friend’s bamboo didgeridoo, and he’s been hooked ever since.”It’s an instrument of transcendence,” Reid said. “I’ve certainly felt the sacredness, and I deeply honor the Aboriginal tradition. The vibration of the instrument is very much the sound of the Earth. It’s an ancient instrument, so for the listener (and the musician), there are definitely benefits. It can bring harmony and balance in people’s lives.”

Creating a whole rhythmSimilar to the didgeridoo, Jon Crawford – who will lead a drum circle tonight – uses drumming to reach a state of transcendence, or wholeness. He has trained with a neurologist who studied the benefits of group drumming and found it lowered cortisol levels, which decreases stress and increases T1 killer cells, which benefits the immune system, he said.”Drumming has a unique ability to deeply connect people,” Crawford said. “Cultures throughout the world have used group drumming for that very purpose.”Crawford’s company, Peak Rhythms Inc., works with schools, businesses and other groups for team building.He invites people of all ages and abilities to tonight’s drum circle, which includes basic instruction.”Bottom line – it’s a lot of fun, and it’s very accessible to all kinds of people,” he said. “I’ve had age 1 kids to 91-year-old grandmothers drum.”A trip to the Outback, mate

Dale Montagne met black opal dealers on a picnic table 45 minutes from a town the size of Dillon in the Australian Outback. Surrounded by piles of dirt and holes where they dig for opals, the aggressive dealers rolled out $100,000 worth of opals.”These guys were living in pretty harsh conditions, and they were pretty aggressive,” Montagne said. “They wanted to put you off guard and make sure you’re there for real, so they’d say, ‘Oh, you’re just a looker mate, you’re just a talker.'”Montagne bought a handful of opals for his jewelry making, but along the way, he produced a DVD show of his trip to Australia and Bali.”I tried to show a little culture of the Aboriginal life, then the minerals and the mines,” he said. “I’ve got pictures of houses made of bottles that miners built. In Bali, I tried to show a slice of life – the craftsmen, temples, people, monkey forests.”The primitive face of artNelson grew up in the Mediterranean, and ethnic cultures always interested him. He began as a sculptor and after studying different cultures began creating masks out of found, natural objects such as drift wood, long grasses, ash and soot.”Your art works are almost something you stumble upon,” he said. “Masks carry universal meanings. Most of the times, they’re like memorials to the dead, to memorialize our ancestors and people we revere. Some cultures believe masks hold spirits. Obviously, I’m not a part of those groups. I’m still looking at man as art and emulating and memorializing the beauty of the face and body.”

Nelson tries to evoke certain emotions or qualities through his masks, but he doesn’t attach information about what inspired him or what he was going for in making the mask. Instead, he leaves the interpretation up to the viewer.A dancing drama and visual portraitsLetitia Eldredge uses poetic narrative, dance and ceramic masks to depict qualities of a quiet room in what she calls a dance drama.Through a series of masks, she depicts different people in her performance.Breckenridge artist Cecelia Eidemiller gives portrait demonstrations throughout the weekend.”I think it’s really encouraging to see the Tribal Gathering,” Reid said. “Here we are in these wild times politically and socially, but there’s certainly a group of people that seem to be rekindling their connection with the tribal (spirit). It’s a beautiful thing that tribal arts are able to thrive in our modern society.”Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or by e-mail at

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