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  • Oct 20

    Hotel Encanto

    Las Cruces

  • Oct 27

    Center for Spiritual Living

    Las Cruces

  • Nov 2

    Dona Ana Arts Council Renaissance Faire

    Las Cruces

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Better Living Through Travel

Posted by David Salcido
June 28, 2014

Sometimes the best way to replenish one’s mental health reserves is to get away from it all for a while – discover new sites and reconnect with the inner you.

To put this notion into motion the Center for Spiritual Living, 575 N. Main St., is sponsoring a one-of-a-kind “Spiritual Journey” to the sky city of Acoma and Canyon de Chelly, with award-winning Native American musician, Randy Granger, whose 2013 release, “Strong Medicine” soared high on New Age charts, is still a regular staple on Sirius Soundscapes and was nominated for Best Native American Album by the Zone Music Reporter. The journey will take place over four days and three nights, Tuesday July 22 through Friday, July 25, 2014.

Included in the trip will be luxury coach travel, accommodations at the Sky City Casino Hotel Resort and the Sacred Canyon Lodge, as well as tours, concerts, drumming circles and plenty of opportunity to slough off the cares and worries of the work-a-day world.

One of the destinations for the Spiritual Journey is the magnificent Canyon de Chelly.

One of the destinations for the trip is the magnificent Canyon de Chelly.

“As I tour around the country as a musician, I meet a lot of people who tell me that they think my music is very spiritual,” Granger said. “They find it very uplifting. When I’m writing my music, I don’t necessarily think in those terms, but I’m glad that people are finding something in it to help them.”

This spiritual connectivity to the world around him is one of the very reasons Granger was first attracted the Center for Spiritual Living, where he is now a regular attendee and performer. He makes it clear, however, that he doesn’t necessarily adhere to any particular religious affiliation. In fact, he sees a very clear delineation between the spiritual world and the religious world.

“I recently heard on NPR that more and more people consider themselves spiritual, rather than religious,” he said. “I think, far too often, the word religion comes with the baggage of judgment. Spirituality is a more personal way of exploring your connection to whatever higher power or source you believe in. There isn’t any judgment involved.”

For Granger, this journey to ancient lands cherished by native peoples is an opportunity not just to make new friends and introduce them to both his music and a simpler way of living, but also to stretch his teaching and meditation muscles. As facilitator of the journey, he will lead meditation exercises in the mornings, to prepare his group for the day ahead, and in the evening, to ease them with relaxation afterwards. All against some of the most spectacular backdrops New Mexico has to offer.

Acoma Sky City, one of the oldest, continuously inhabited locations in North America, is another destination point.

Acoma Sky City, one of the oldest, continuously inhabited locations in North America, is another destination point.

“I think one of the major benefits of learning to meditate is to reduce stress,” he said. “If you look at the top ten causes of illness and death in the United States – heart disease, smoking, obesity, diabetes – you find that they are all linked back to stress. There have been a lot of studies about how meditation can help people with coping skills, pain management and improving sleep without a prescription and without side effects. My hope is that, not only will the people who come with us on this journey learn something about the land we live in and their part in it, but also come away with better coping skills that they can use in their everyday lives.”

Conceived by tour guides Pat and Cindy Breedlove, who have over 25 years experience conducting tours all over the world, this particular trip holds a little more meaning for them.

“We’ve always done pleasure travel,” Cindy Breedlove said. “We have an awesome group of travelers who have been all over the world with us, but this is the first time we’ve had a facilitator like Randy. It just seemed to be a perfect match. We’ve taken groups to a number of southwestern sites and these are just a couple of our favorites. We think his flute and drum music will be amazing 370 feet up on the Acoma mesa and down in Canyon de Chelly. It was made for that.”

Of the many experiences the couple are hoping to share with travelers on this particular journey, one they are most excited about are the group tours.

“We will be doing individual group tours of 4 to 7 to the bottom of Canyon de Chelly as part of the trip,” Breedlove said. “In Acoma, there will be small group tours up to the pueblo on top of the mesa and a three quarter mile walking tour around the top of the mesa. All lodging, programs, concerts, tours at Acoma and camera permits, private tours at Canyon de Chelly and rim tours, are all part of the package.”

Other highlights, according to Breedlove, will be a drum circle led by Granger in the big outdoor amphitheater at the Sky City Casino and Hotel, where the group will be staying, and a concert on the final night at the bottom of Canyon de Chelly.

Multi-instrumentalist Randy Granger sees a significant connection between his music and the land that surrounds him.

Multi-instrumentalist Randy Granger sees a significant connection between his music and the land that surrounds him.

“These are very special sites and Randy is a very special guide,” she said. “It’s a unique opportunity that is not real costly, but our objective is to have an experience that is very worthwhile for all who are going with us – a real southwestern and natural experience, with special music, through Native American eyes. Opportunities like this just don’t come along very often and, in the end, it’s for a really good cause.”

In fact, this particular journey is something they put together in order to better serve the community they live in. Current members of the Center for Spiritual Living, the Breedloves would like to raise enough money to provide the building with some much needed renovation.

“They could use a larger kitchen,” Breedlove said. “And a little TLC in other areas.”

Though he has only recently become acquainted with the Breedloves, Granger was attracted to their philosophy and entrepreneurial spirit, leading, he believes, to a meaningful and hopefully long-lasting connection.

“What I’ve learned about the Breedloves is, no matter where they live, everywhere they go, they jump in with both feet and get involved trying to make change for good in their community, they connect with as many people as possible,” he said. “They’re just really great at networking and meeting people. And they’re really lovely people themselves. I feel very honored to have been invited into their circle.”

As an indicator of the Breedloves’ dedication to this principal, Granger points out that 100 percent of the funds raised will go toward renovations at the Center. Even so, he said, this trip shouldn’t be thought of as strictly a church function.

“We’ve been reaching out to anybody with an open mind, because we feel they would benefit most from a trip like this,” he said. “This journey is really for anybody with a willingness to experience something different, to unwind and to reconnect.”

With only 47 seats to fill, at a cost of only $450 per person, chances are good this trip will sell out fast. For more information or to book passage for the Spiritual Journey, call Cindy Breedlove at 202-0885, before July 15.


A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the Health & Well Being section of the June 27, 2014 issue of the Las Cruces Bulletin. All rights reserved.

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photo by Greg Bodin

Better living through travel

By David Salcido, Las Cruces Bulletin

Musician, teacher plans a ‘spiritual journey’ excursion

Sometimes the best way to replenish one’s mental health reserves is to get away from it all for a while to discover new sites and reconnect with the inner you.

To put this notion into motion the Center for Spiritual Living, 575 N. Main St., is sponsoring a one-of-a-kind “Spiritual Journey” to the sky city of Acoma and Canyon de Chelly, with Native American musician Randy Granger through four days and three nights, Tuesday, July 22 through Friday, July 25.

Included in the trip will be luxury coach travel, accommodations at the Sky City Casino Hotel Resort and the Sacred Canyon Lodge, as well as tours, concerts, drumming circles and plenty of opportunity to slough off the cares and worries of the work-a-dayworld. For Granger, it’s an opportunity not just to make new friends and introduce them to his music, but also to stretch his teaching and meditation muscles. As facilitator of the journey, he will lead meditation exercises in the mornings, to prepare his group for the day ahead, and in the evening, to ease them with relaxation afterwards. All against some of the most spectacular backdrops New Mexico has to offer.

“I think one of the major benefits of learning to meditate is to reduce stress,” he said. “If you look at the top 10 causes of illness and death in the United States – heart disease, smoking, obesity, diabetes – you find that they are all linked back to stress. There have been a lot of studies about how meditation can help people with coping skills, pain management and improving sleep without a prescription and without side effects. My hope is that, not only will the people who come with us on this journey learn something about the land we live in and their part in it, but also come away with better coping skills that they can use in their everyday lives.”

Conceived by tour guides Pat and Cindy Breedlove, who have more than 25 years experience conducting tours all over the world, this particular trip holds a little more meaning for them.

“We’ve always done pleasure travel,” Cindy Breedlove said. “We have an awesome group of 

travelers who have been all over the world with us, but this is the first time we’ve had a facilitator like Randy.


“It’s a unique opportunity that is not real costly, but our objective is to have an experi­ence that is very worthwhile for all who are going with us.”


In fact, this particular journey is some­thing they put together in order to better serve the community they live in. Current members of the Center for Spiritual Living, the Breedloves would like to raise enough money to provide the building with some much needed renovation.


“They could use a larger kitchen,” Breedlove said. “And a little TLC in other areas.”


Even so, Granger points out that though 100 percent of the funds raised will go to­ward this cause, it shouldn’t be thought of as a church function.


“We’ve been reaching out to anybody with an open mind, because we feel they would benefit most from a trip like this,” he said.


“This journey is really for anybody with a willingness to experience something dif­ferent, to unwind and to reconnect.”


With only 47 seats to fill, at a cost of only $450 per person, chances are good this trip will sell out fast. For more information or to book passage for the Spiritual Journey, call Cindy Breedlove at 202-0885 before July 15.


David Salcido can be reached at 575-680-1845 or david@lascrucesbulletin.com

Native American musician Randy Granger plays his trademark flute. Granger will be the facilitator of a trip to the sky city of Acoma and Canyon de Chelly.

Las Cruces Bulletin photo by David Salcido

I think one of the major benefits of learning to meditate is to reduce stress.

RANDY GRANGER, trip facilitator

Full Moon Nights return to White Sands 

Educational and entertainment events monthly


Zak Hansen Las Cruces Bulletin 

Stretching across 115 square miles of the largest gypsum dune field in the world is White Sands National Monument, a glistening white jewel in the crown of southern New Mexico. There may be no more ethereal, otherwordly sight than the slow ascent of a full summer moon over the rolling, wave-like white gypsum dunes.

To complement this singular, southern New Mexico splendor, beginning at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 14, and returning monthly to coincide with the lunar cycle, White Sands National Monument presents its annual Full Moon Nights, a series of educational and entertaining programs taking place at the park’s amphitheater on its most beautiful nights of the year, timed to take place with the rising of the moon.

White Sands National Monument visual information specialist Tara Cuvelier said the Full Moon Nights program began as, simply, “a way to get people out to experience the dunes, especially during the full moon.”

The monthly program, which Cuvelier said is balanced between three music and entertainment nights and three educational nights, provides a fantastic reason to get the
 whole family together for an evening in one of southern New Mexico’s most enchanting places.

This year, the program kicks off Wednesday, May 14, with “Skins, Skulls & Scat: The Past and Present Animals of White Sands.” Ranger Robin Milne will lead the interactive presentation diving deep into the secret lives of those creatures who’ve called the endless gypsum dunes home, both past and present. Pelts and skull replicas will provide an up-close look at the elusive fauna that has populated the region dating back thousands of years.

At 8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 12, Shock Action, the 1st Armored Division’s Band, will bring to the amphitheater stage its unique blend of music ranging from classic and alternative rock, hip-hop, R&B and country. The band has performed throughout southern New Mexico and southwest Texas extensively, as well as performing for its fellow brothers in arms abroad during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“The happiest mariachi in the Southwest,” Mariachi Fuego del Sol, will perform at this year’s third Full Moon Night, at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, July 12. The nine-person band was formed last year, and in its short existence has garnered awards from Western New Mexico University and the League of United Latin
 American Citizens Counsel.

On Sunday, Aug. 10, Native American flutist Randy Granger will bring his unique blend of traditional instruments and melodies to the moonlit night.

Returning this year for his fourth Full Moon Nights performance, Granger said he’s looking forward to this year’s event, on the heels of his third, successful show at the White Sands amphitheater last year – and two previous complicated by forces of nature.

His first, he said, near the close of the season several years ago, was beset by unseasonably cold and windy weather, but still he played on, performing in the parking lot for those huddled in blankets and parkas, from atop a stack of wooden pallets – “classic New Mexico,” he said.

His second, the following year, this time in the middle of summer, Granger was three songs in to his set when a bolt of lightning struck just two dunes over. Undaunted, he played unplugged and acoustic in the visitors center, continuing on through a power outage that darkened the building.

Both, Granger said, turned out to be unique and intimate shows, despite the weather.

For Granger, the third time turned out to be the charm. With more than 1,500 in attendance, Granger began his set, pausing briefly to glance up at the horizon and the rising full moon.

“At one point, I looked up and saw the moon coming up over the dunes, huge and orange and giant,” he said. “Then, I looked out and saw the silhouette of people dancing, and it does not get better than that. It was just magical; thank you wind gods, thank you rain gods. For those two hours, it all kind of clicked and came together.”

Blending the entertaining with the educational, the Monday, Sept. 8, Full Moon Nights program will welcome New Mexican flute player, musician and storyteller Ernie Dogwolf Lovato to the open-air amphitheater. Lovato, who comes from an Apache and Spanish-European lineage, will share with young and old alike a night full of enchanting stories, songs and music.

The 2014 Full Moon Nights series closes Wednesday, Oct. 8, with “RarAmuri: The Foot Runners of the Sierra Madre,” presented by Diana Molina. RarAmuri, the Uto-Aztecan word for Tarahumara, are widely regarded as among the best runners in the world, their skills honed traveling the canyon walls and mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental, located in the northern part of the state.

Made possible through a partnership with the New Mexico Humanities Council, Molina will complement her personal narrative with anthropological, ethnographic and scientific research, discussing the impact of modern society on the RarAmuri lifestyle and displaying stunning photographs of their canyon environment.

White Sands National Park’s Full Moon Nights programs are open to the public and are free with standard monument fee of $3 per person age 16 and older. Events are weather­permitting, and will not be rescheduled in the case of inclement weather. For more information, visit www.nps.gov.whsa or call

Hear an interview with Algernon D'Ammassa and Randy Granger on KTEP-FM El Paso NPR station. It's about out upcoming production of An Iliad at the Glasbox Theater next weekend in El Paso.  Enjoy and as always, feel free to share any of my links. Thx. https://soundcloud.com/randy-granger/interview-with-randy-granger 

A Place Called Peace

Native American flute player and percussionist Randy Granger displays his versatility on A Place Called Peace, an album kicked off by the title vocal track (Za Zee Za Zu Zing) exploding with cheerfulness and energy, buoyed by thoughtful lyrics. Besides playing flute and singing, Granger also displays a strong hand on the hang drum (an instrument which continues to gain in popularity). Talk about firing up a CD n the first song! It's not often (as primarily a reviewer of instrumental music) that I hear a vocal which makes me think "Boy, I hope the artist sings another one" but that was my reaction here. After this opening cut, the remaining seven tracks are all instrumental, encompassing a variety of tempos and moods.

The Dog Star is a plaintive and haunting solo flute number, and, I would suspect, perfect for star-gazing in the clear desert sky. Granger has excellent technique on the lower register flute which he plays on this piece. Chaco Moon Meditation veers from its title's evocation by virtue of its fast tempo hang drum rhythm and the relatively uptempo nature of the flute. However, Granger's flute work here is still haunting enough to perfectly capture the image of a moon being "chased" by wispy clouds. Ghost Dancers evokes a strong Native American influence with tribal drums and traditionally-pitched wooden flute. There is an inherent sadness at work here, as well, and over-dubbing Granger's flute with accompaniment on other flutes only lends more power to the song. The higher pitched flute solo in the track's midsection might send chills down your spine!

The soothing yet plaintive Grande Lullaby made me long for more like it. The cut reminds me of Coyote Oldman's recordings, which is meant as a huge compliment. Apache Tears once again combines tribal drums (as well as shakers) with Granger's flute once again illustrating a notable Native influence. The music flows along on currents of sadness and regret as well as bearing the majestic beauty which this wooden instrument alone seems to be able to covey. Double-Barrel Train Wreck has to be heard to be believed...Granger plays as if he has a third lung! I got tired just listening to this astounding display of breath control and musicianship! Closing out the CD is Ancestor's Ocean Voyage, the most energetic and highly charged song on the album, featuring not just flute and drums but also didgeridoo. Propelled by energy and passion, the cut sandwiches its vitality between opening and closing passages featuring what the liner notes refer to as "ocean drum."

Randy Granger's name deserves to be listed with other renowned Native American flute players, both Native and Anglo, because he obviously has both the chops and the artistry to warrant it. A Place Called Peace illustrates that he is not just a gifted multi-instrumentalist but that he "feels" the music with a sincerity and emotional honesty which can't be faked. I solidly recommend the CD and I'd encourage the artist to continue exploring the incorporation of vocals among his strong instrumental work. That first song out of the chute really caught my attention!

Rating: Good + Good +

- reviewed by Bill Binkelman on 7/21/2009

"An Iliad" at Black Box Theatre showcases local talents

'An Iliad' showcases local talents through song, theater

By S. Derrickson Moore

dmoore@lcsun-news.com @DerricksonMoore on Twitter

POSTED:   02/21/2014 12:21:28 AM MST


LAS CRUCES >> Two well-known, regionally-based performers are joining to present a new, contemporary take on ancient tales.

In an Obie-Award-winning adaptation of Homer's "Iliad," veteran actor Algernon D'Ammassa plays the role of the Poet and nationally-renowned musician Randy Granger offers improvised accompaniment on a variety of instruments.

"An Iliad" opens at 8 p.m. today with performances at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Black Box Theatre, launching a tour that D'Ammassa and Granger say they hope will take the production to venues in El Paso and throughout New Mexico.

"Traditionally, the bards would recite the 'Iliad' from memory and accompany themselves on musical instruments. In this case an actor, me, will be in the space retelling Homer's 'Iliad' and Randy will be improvising music, following the storyline on stage," said D'Ammassa.

"I knew I wanted to do this piece a year ago and I wanted to find the right musician. Randy is an amazingly inventive musician. He also adapts to many styles and modes of music. We just sort of connected on where we were on many levels. We were spiritually close enough that it felt right," D'Ammassa said.

"I just play along, adding some texture. In some ways, it feels like I'm composing a movie soundtrack. I play wood and metal drums, the bansuri flute — one of the oldest flutes known — and different percussion things. The way we're doing it, I'm really going to be like a busker in a park and he shows up and starts delivering lines like a street performer. We're rehearsing it, but we really want it to have a spontaneous feel. Algernon has the hard job in this. He's very, very talented," Granger said.

"Based on Robert Fagles's translation of Homer's epic, this modern play retells the ancient tale of gods, goddesses, warriors and their families, and the endless battles of human history with a gripping, modern voice. The play opens on an empty stage with the entrance of a strange, apparently homeless man with a beat-up suitcase. He begins to sing in ancient Greek, a song seemingly as old as humanity, and a song he has been singing for a very long time. He has difficulty remembering all of the words now, but the stories possess him and we see it is his destiny to tell this tale – and ours, to live it, generation after generation," according to a synopsis provided by the Black Box Theatre.

"When you read the script, it really blends the old Greek version with modern references like tequila bottles worked in and puts it through a really cool filter that makes it accessible," Granger said.

D'Ammassa, whose background included performances on stage as well as on film and television, trained at the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, R.I., and has toured throughout the United States and Europe as a performer and teacher. In 2006, he founded Theatre Dojo in Los Angeles, as a multi-disciplinary community combining yoga, meditation and martial arts with the performing arts. Since 2011, he has worked regularly with No Strings Theatre Company of Las Cruces. He teaches at the Creative Media Institute at New Mexico State University.

Granger, a native New Mexican, is an award-winning recording artist, singer, songwriter, composer and musician who plays several instruments and tours the United States as a solo performer and teacher.

"I combine Native American flute with musical traditions encompassing rock, jazz, mariachi and more," said Granger, whose latest album "Strong Medicine," was released in 2012.

Tickets for "An Iliad" are $12 and $10 for students and seniors. For reservations, call the Black Box Theatre at 575- 523-1223 or visit no-strings.org. For more information on the tour, and future performances, visit facebook.com/algernoniliad.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450.


In 2005, New York actor Denis O’Hare (probably best known for his role as King Russell Edgington on the hit HBO series True Blood) began an unlikely collaboration with fellow thespian Lisa Peterson who, up until that point, had been his director in a handful of successful, low key theatrical productions.


The result was a 90-minute distillation of Homer’s epic poem, The Iliad, in which the late 20th century translation by Robert Fagles served as the launching point for a contemporary production, combining his formal text with snatches of ancient Greek from the original, then tossed in conversational colloquialisms to bring it into the present and lend it accessibility. Completed and produced for the first time in 2012, the play won an Obie Award.


Fast forward to the present, where two local artists, actor/director Algernon D’Ammassa and musician Randy Granger have formed another unlikely alliance to bring O’Hare and Peterson’s award-winning script to life in a southwest premiere at the Black Box Theatre in Las Cruces. Or, perhaps unlikely isn’t the proper term, considering each is highly regarded and respected for his professionalism when it comes to his craft. And, really, there isn’t a huge difference between acting and performing music, especially in the classical sense.


Actor/director Algernon D’Ammassa embodies the immortal bard in a modernized update of An Iliad.

“There’s actually a score for this piece, from when it premiered in New York,” D’Ammassa says of the not-so-chance encounter between the two artists. “The score is for cello, but I thought it might be interesting to do something really new with different instruments. A good friend of mine said ‘well, you’ve got to talk to Randy Granger, because he plays everything and is very inventive.’ So, I emailed Randy and we met for coffee. After about an hour, it was very clear we felt comfortable collaborating on this.”


The resulting exercise has taken O’Hare and Peterson’s revisionist stageplay and turned it into an improvisational duet which is never the same twice. Both D’Ammassa and Granger make it clear that this project is far more than a simple retelling of an ancient epic. For both, it’s more a launching pad for experimentation and self-discovery. So excited are they by this piece, they tend to feed off each other’s energy when talking about it.


“The play revolves around two people, one a musician, the other a poet,” D’Ammassa explains. “The text conveys a clear idea that these guys were around for the Trojan War. They witnessed it. So, they’re trying to sing the Iliad, but they’re old and the memory is not so good. They end up talking directly to the audience and paraphrasing and explaining it to them, relating the events to modern things, so that people can really identify with the characters.”


“We’re trying to goad each other into remembering how Troy was, how the times were,” Granger adds. “We’re trying to communicate to the audience, as much as possible, what it was really like, so when he can’t quite remember something, I play a little piece of music to jog his memory a bit. We’re both storytellers, but in different ways.”


“It has been a sensation, because it takes this ancient work, but it retells it in a really vital way,” D’Ammassa says. “It not only opens up the Iliad for a modern audience, it’s also an incredibly powerful statement about live theatre and what you can do with an actor and a musician in a room. It’s a very powerful testimony to this very ancient tradition of live theatre. The really cool part is, there are no stage directions in the script, so it’s very open to interpretation.”


Multi-instrumentalist Randy Granger plays musical counterpoint to D’Ammassa’s poet.

For his part, Granger was drawn to this aspect of the work. No stranger to improvising music to accompany the spoken word, he has had successful collaborations in the past with the late poet Wayne Crawford and, more recently, with naturalist and author Craig Childs.


“The way I look at my role in this collaboration is to be a supportive role in the story that Algernon is telling,” Granger says. “I will be playing some old flutes; some Native American flutes and some East Indian flutes, plus some weird percussion type of instruments, so I’m really painting a soundscape as we go along, for each story he tells. We wanted to keep the energy fresh and improvisational. At least for me, that makes it exciting, because the audience is going to witness some actual music that is being created right there in the moment.”


“Randy is literally improvising the music, because the Iliad is a song and whereas bards used to accompany themselves on a lyre, here we have two bards. One is expressing the story through music and the other is expressing it through words,” D’Ammassa adds. “I really like that the music has an existence and a life of its own, that it has its own expression. There is so much in this piece about poetry and music, different ways that the breath expresses itself.”


Granger nods in agreement. “There are a lot of places in the script where he talks about breath, which makes me think of the breathiness of a bamboo flute,” he says, then stops to think about it. “This is actually more freeing for me than what I do as a musician, because, when I’m on tour and performing, I need to do stuff from my cds in order to move merchandise, but with this, I’m using my repertoire of skills and life experiences. I’m drawing upon a full life as a musician. That’s challenging.”


The tale of warriors Achilles and Patrocles, brought to life in Homer’s Iliad, becomes a focal point in the revisionist stageplay.

As for the text of play, D’Ammassa has saddled himself with a tremendous responsibility. That of relaying a monologue made up of three different modes of language and a multitude of different character types. Though he admits that it is a challenge, he’s more concerned with presenting a theatrical piece that has resonance.


“One of the things that I’ve been trying to do theatrically in the community is to introduce harder works, where there actually is a risk of failure, but you work hard and you prepare and minimize the risk of failure. Try to give people the opportunity to see work that is exhilarating and kind of illuminates this moment in time that we’re alive,” he says.


Once again, Granger is in complete agreement.


“Live theater that happens at this level is very exciting, because it forces the audience, in some ways, to be engaged,” he says. “It’s a very engaging script. Algernon tells so many stories and has so many different voices and has so many different ways of delivering it. It’s like he’s a trained musician pulling out a lot of different tools to express himself. I can relate to that. There are very few props, so the interaction and the story and the script and the energy is really what it’s about.”


“What you’ll be watching is two people being changed by the act of performing,” D’Ammassa says. “It’s an incredibly exhausting and risky performance for the actor, as well as for the musician. To really see that and be in the room where that’s happening, is vital. I’m really happy to get a chance to do that and to let music be an integral part of the event. The story and the music each have an independent existence, but they also interact. I’ll be interacting with Randy. We’re very much performing the same thing, but we’re also having our individual expressions.”


An Iliad, written by New York thespians Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare, won an Obie Award in 2012.

“I think if you’re an artist you’re always wanting to push your own boundaries, do something that you’ve never done and work with somebody that’s going to make you a little uncomfortable, a little insecure, a little self-conscious,” Granger says. “I think that’s when you grow as an artist and that’s what we’re doing here.”


An Iliad makes its southwest premiere at the Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St., at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21 and 22; 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23. Tickets are $12 general admission, $10 students and seniors. For more information, or to make reservations, call 523-1223.

Blood, guts and theater

How does one take a tale older than time and freshen it up for a modern audience? Especially a tale that, under the right circumstances, can resonate just as fiercely in the 21st century as it did when it was first uttered over 3,000 years ago. Put simply, by performing it in a modern context, peppering it with modern vernacular and reminding the audience that some things, particularly the brutalities of war, never really change.

Written by a couple of New York thespians and winning an Obie for its electrifying debut in 2012,An Iliad hit the Black Box Theatre over the weekend of February 21 – 23, 2014 with the force of a nuclear blast. In the skillful hands of actor/director Algernon D’Ammassa the tale of heroes fighting amongst common men came vividly to life, helped along in no small measure by the equally skillful artistry of musician Randy Granger.

As the poet who has seen it all and is exhausted by the never-ending parade of human folly, D’Ammassa embodies his role expertly, spilling his guts onto the stage with an earnest devotion to his craft. Occasionally unclear on the particulars, he grasps for memories grown dim over time. At other moments he becomes so caught up in the spectacle that he rages across the stage, like a ship in a tempest, desperately trying to stay afloat. Through it all, he finds solace in the “spirits” he keeps locked away in his battered suitcase, the “old gods” who mute the flaming echoes of horror and burnish the recollections of nobility crowding his mind’s eye.

Notable precedents – in which he describes the horrors of battle, with its sinews shredding, bones cracking and hot blood staining the ground, countered by a jaw-dropping litany of every major battle fought within the last 3,000 years – are riveting affidavits of his mosaic fealty, raising the small hairs on the back of the neck and shortening breath like a master fabulist. It is a tour-de-force performance the likes of which are rarely seen in these parts.

Granger’s artistry with musical instruments has become near legendary in local circles and his growing fanbase across the country bears witness to his euphonious appeal. Playing a variety of his trademark flutes, along with various stringed and percussive instruments, his evocative stylings provide a moving soundtrack to carry the horrific visions woven by D’Ammassa along with a gentle mastery, like a cool evening breeze rustling a sea of bodies strewn across a blood drenched battlefield.

This is theater as it was originally conceived. Storytelling with conviction, brought about by an empathetic attention to detail and an immersion in the shifting personalities of each character played. Written with a cello score accompaniment, D’Ammassa’s decision to bring in a multi-instrumentalist of Granger’s caliber was inspired. Allowing him to improvise the backdrop with the deftness of a virtuoso muralist, only serves to deepen the impact of the cautionary tale.

Clocking in at an astounding one hour and forty-five minutes, without intermission, An Iliad has to be one of the longest and most cathartic monologues ever written for the stage. The fact that those almost two hours flew by unnoticed is a testament both to the writing and the skill of the performers. Bravo to all for creating a memorable evening that reminds those of us addicted to fine storytelling that sometimes the oldest tales can still possess prodigious urgency.

Read more at http://mythcreant.wordpress.com/


Shop Yoga Studio will present a night of healing and spiritual flute music

Randy Granger to hold workshop, concert


Click photo to enlarge
Native American flutist, Southwest world-instrumentalist and songwriter Randy Granger will appear at the Shop Yoga Studio, 1167 Woodside Ave., on Sunday, Sept. 14, as part of a Utah tour..

In addition to performing an array of music on his flute, and hang drum (a convex steel percussion instrument), and singing songs, Granger will also host a seminar.

"Essentially, these will be what I normally do when I'm on the road," Granger said during a phone call to The Park Record from his home in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

"There will be a two-hour concert and a Native American flute-playing workshop, which I always try to fit in somewhere."

The workshop will be about the history of the flute and how to play.

"I will address specific techniques that are exclusive to the Native American flute, and I will also address how to play the flute with world percussion, guitar and voice."

Granger, a trained musician who has taught percussion and guitar, discovered the Native American flute in 2004.

"I worked with the All Indian Pueblo Council and had been touring the pueblos of Northern New Mexico to help the communities set up health programs," Granger said. "I would hear all this great flute music coming out of there and it immediately struck me as how peaceful it made me feel."

Granger decided to explore the flute because of that peacefulness, but also because of the innate spirituality to it.


Prior to getting the flute, Granger had never played a woodwind or reed instrument, but after playing for 10 years, he has released seven Native flute albums and has performed with Grammy winner R. Carlos Nakai and also with Coyote Oldman, which is comprised of Barry Stramp and Michael Graham Allen.

But all that came in time.

"I learned first off, that it was easy to get a nice sound, but I also found if you wanted to expand and create more melodies, you had to learn the craft," Granger said. "That's where being a trained musician helped me out. I know what it takes to be a musician. I know how much discipline it took."

However, being a musician was also a curse.

"I didn't feel I was good enough to play in front of an audience," he said. "I would work at it and work at it, but still was so terrible at it that I would hide in my bathroom playing because I didn't want my roommates to hear. When I would come out they would say, 'You are getting better.'"

Sometimes Granger would get brave and venture to the local farmers' market and play.

"But I was so shy that I would kind of hide in doorways," he said.

The hard work eventually paid off.

"I started to get better, and at the same time that was happening, I was asked by a woman who worked at a hospice to perform at a memorial service," Granger said. "So, for the past nine years I have been a volunteer at hospice playing flute and the other instruments I play. This has been a very enriching and rewarding experience and this has been a real magical journey."

Along the road, Granger has done his best to clear up some confusion about the Native American flute.

The number one question he is asked is if he makes his own flutes.

"There is a misconception that somehow all of us flute players have to make our own flutes and that we sit around whittling every day," Granger said, laughing. "That may be because people will look at the flute and think it's a pretty simple instrument to make — just cut a tree branch and drill some holes in it."

But that's not true.

"In the beginning, Native flutes were made to fit the player," Granger explained. "They were very personal and fit the hands and mouth. Now they are made by professional, master flute makers who work with wood."

Another myth he had heard was that every tribe had its own traditions with the flute.

"That is simply not the case either, because not every tribe played flutes," Granger said. "Some were Comanche. Some were Sioux and some were Pueblo. In the past 30 to 35 years, there has been a resurgence of Native flute popularity, spurred on by R. Carlos Nakai and other traditional players."

Granger is a mix of Apache and Athabaskan, and has a string of Mayan, specifically Choltan, blood running through his veins.

However, he didn't learn this until he was an adult.

"When I was growing up in Southern New Mexico, my parents were a first-generation couple from Mexico, and I grew up in the Hispanic culture," Granger said. "They weren't raised to be proud of their Native heritage and didn't tell us kids any stories about our ancestry."

Even when Granger and some of the younger family members did ask about their heritage, the adults told stories that didn't coincide with each other's tales. So, Granger took it upon himself to find out what his Native ancestry was.

"Since I play at many Native American festivals, and the only way to do that was to prove I was Native American," he said. "So what I had to do was undergo a series of DNA tests.

"What was fascinating about these DNA tests was that I was able to trace my line back even to Mongolia and the Middle East," he said. "It was so fascinating to me, and I feel like I have a real spiritual link to my identity and that has allowed me to embrace my ancestry."

The Shop Yoga Studio, 1167 Woodside Ave., will welcome Native American flutist Randy Granger on Sunday, Sept. 14, from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. Tickets are $16.73 each and can be purchased by visiting laudantium-72181.ticketbud.com/randy-granger-at-the-shop-yoga-studio.




Randy Granger had a wonderful day shooting a music video at City of Rocks State Park.

“It was super windy, though,” he says. “It was southern New Mexico in the spring.”

Granger is a New Mexico musician who specializes in the Native American flute. He will be performing at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 25, on Stage 49 at the Gathering of Nations.

Granger will be playing material from his latest album, “Ancient Grace.” In fact, for the past few months, Granger has been heavily promoting the album.

“Getting the songs out to radio stations, it takes a lot of time,” he says. “Marketing it out to the world takes a lot of my time.”

New Mexico musician Randy Granger will perform at the Gathering of Nations.

New Mexico musician Randy Granger will perform at the Gathering of Nations.

Granger worked on the album for about four months. He shifted the way he works to accommodate working on the album while on the road.

“The album was influenced by the flute,” he says. “It’s a complete album of solo Native American flute.”

Granger began to play the flute in 2004 while he was traveling to all the northern pueblos.

“I was doing health education up there and I would often hear this sound in music,” he says. “I found out what type of flute it was and immediately felt drawn to it.”

It’s been about six years since Granger performed at the Gathering of Nations. He’s looking forward to performing for a big audience.

“The atmosphere is amazing,” he says. “This is one place where Native American culture can be celebrated with a huge crowd.”

Randy Granger To Perform At Vic’s Saturday

2012 PBS Station KRWG-TV

chose him as their first subject

to launch a new program

called “Music Spotlight” featuring

half-hour programs of

selected area musicians and


A natural and engaging

entertainer Granger weaves

story telling, humor, insight

and always authenticity into

each performance.

Many Sierra County residents

will remember Randy

Granger from his recent performance

in Hillsboro just a

couple of weeks ago, and will

want to see him again during a

free performance at Vic’s

Broadwaynewmexico in

downtown Truth or Consequences

this weekend.

Granger is slated to be

doing the informal presentation

on Saturday, May 9 from

6 to 9 p.m. during the monthly

Art Hop.

A multi-instrumentalist,

composer, recording artist

and singer-songwriter,

Granger blends elements of

southwest music like Native

American flutes with world

percussion, distinctive vocals

and other worldly HandPan

instruments like the halo, the

Panart Hang and Moyo, Zen


“I hope everyone will stop

by during the evening and

take a listen to the wide variety

of music that Randy plays,”

said Victor Tafoya, owner of

Vic’s Broadwaynewmexico.

“It’s very unique and refreshing.

I’m glad we could get

someone with such talent to

come to our store and make

themselves available for chatting

with people as well as

presenting their music.”

Granger is a native of New

Mexico whose researched

DNA ancestry includes Mayan

(Choltan) and Apache among

other tribes. A life-long musician,

he’s toured as a solo

artist but also with jazz and

rock groups as a percussionist.

He’s professionally performed

lead in several operas

and musicals, been a hired

choral member, taught drums

and guitar for 15 plus years,

mastered Mariachi music,

Cowboy music and worked as

a jazz solo artist for parties

and receptions. He’s worked

as a session musician, composer,

arranger, songwriter

and pick-up musician.

The NM Music Commission

produced a short film about

Granger and his music that

aired on KOAT-TV in

Albuquerque, and on all of the

states PBS stations that continue

to show regularly

around the area. Their program,

“Southwest Sounds” is

uploaded to the music commission

YouTube page. In 

 2012 PBS Station KRWG-TV

chose him as their first subject

to launch a new program

called “Music Spotlight” featuring

half-hour programs of

selected area musicians and


A natural and engaging

entertainer Granger weaves

story telling, humor, insight

and always authenticity into

each performance.

Pulse: Local artists recognized by the New Mexico Music Awards
By David Salcido

For Pulse

POSTED: 05/27/2015 02:23:30 PM MDT

Randy Granger is a multiple New Mexico Music Award nominee and winner. This year he is nominated in the Native American category for his song
Randy Granger is a multiple New Mexico Music Award nominee and winner. This year he is nominated in the Native American category for his song "Ancestor's Lament." (Courtesy photo — Randy Granger)
It has long been maintained that the talent pool in southern New Mexico is deep, strong and, for the most part, virtually untapped outside our market. One organization in particular has been taking notice for years and honoring the musical artists in our midst. This year, they are honoring seven local artists with nominations for the 2015 New Mexico Music Awards.

Randy Granger, a multiple NMMA nominee and winner, is one of those musicians being honored in the Native American category for his song "Ancestor's Lament," from his seventh commercial release "Ancient Grace." As a veteran of the system (he won his first NMMA award in 2004, then again in 2010 and 2011), he understands the importance of such recognition for musicians living in Las Cruces.

"The New Mexico Music Awards is organized and run by studio owners and producers," he said. "They're really big on quality, clarity and emotional content. They have studio ears, so they're listening from a quality standpoint first. I believe that being the second largest city in the state, we are severely underrepresented. That's why these awards are so important, because they help us get more gigs and better exposure. I'm always honored when somebody recognizes the work that I put into my music. Particularly industry people."

Order Ancient Grace album on iTunes or http://www.randygranger.net/store 

photo by Mike Smith  http://photographic-services-international.com/


Randy Granger performs at a past, and this year's Franciscan Festival of Fine Arts 

visit www. franciscanfestival.org and www.holycrossretreat.org.


FALL FESTIVAL coming to Hooker, Okla. PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 13 October 2015 10:28




• Leader & Times


Fall officially began in late September, and this weekend, the community of Hooker, Okla., is welcoming the season with open arms with its first ever Fall Festival.

Coordinator Buddy Holbert said the fun begins Friday evening and runs through most of Saturday.

“We have a barbecue contest starting Friday evening, and it’ll run through Saturday,” he said. “We’ll also have a kids’ barbecue contest Friday night. We have Randy Granger, who is a Native American flutist, playing Friday evening and Kaitlin Butts, a country singer, playing Friday evening. We have a free hamburger and hot dog feed all Friday evening starting around 5.”

Miss Kansas 2015 and Miss Oklahoma Latina will also be in town for some of the festivities.

“Saturday, Miss Kansas will be here for a few hours,” Holbert said. “She will be at the high school about 11 o’clock in the morning in the auditorium. She will be at Lindsey’s Boutique for a couple of hours. We have Miss Oklahoma Latina.”

Holbert said Miss Oklahoma Latina will have a similar schedule to Miss Oklahoma, with one exception.

“She will be at Mills Ideal, which is where she’s going to be most of the time,” he said. “We’ll have the De Maria dancers from Hooker and the Folklorica dancers from Guymon. Randy Granger will be playing again on that Saturday.”

For those with an appetite, the Fall Festival also has the “Smokin’ Hot BBQ Championship,” which starts at 5 p.m. Friday and is opened to anyone.

“The International Barbecue Association cookoff rules apply, and they’re online at hookeroklahoma.net,” Holbert said. “Anybody can enter it. There’s $4,000 in prize money in a total of four categories, which is beef brisket, chicken, pulled pork and ribs. There’ll be prizes for each. Judging will start about noon on Saturday and run till 3 o’clock, and by 4 o’clock, we should have a winner.”

The fun does not stop there, though. Also joining the Fall Festival is a square dance group from Perryton, Texas, giving demonstrations and interacting with the crowd.

Holbert said this and more will make coming to Hooker this weekend well worth the trip.

“We have country music,” he said. “We have different styles of music. We have classic rock. We will also be doing a jalapeno eating contest. It’s $150 to the winner. We also have vendors from all over the Five State are that will be here at an arts and craft show selling their goods.”

Holbert said though this is the first year of the Fall Festival, expectations are still high, giving organizers hopes for even bigger future editions of the event.

“We’re hoping to draw people from the Five State area to come and see what Hooker has to offer and join in some of our activities and just have a good time and promote the cookoff and our local businesses,” he said.


‘An Iliad’ returns, ‘Killing Buddha’ debuts at Black Box Theatre

By Zak Hansen

Las Cruces Bulletin

In 2014, actor/director Algernon D’Ammassa set out to bring to the stage of the Black Box Theatre the Obie Award-winning “An Iliad,” an adaptation of Homer’s famed epic “The Iliad.”

Written by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare and based on Robert Fagles’ translation of the ancient poem, “An Iliad” is a modern retelling of the Trojan War, “of the gods, warriors, families and endless battles of human history updated with an enthralling contemporary voice,” presented to the audience by two vagabond troubadours.

Debuting in Las Cruces at the Black Box Theatre 2014, “An Iliad” was a hit, garnering critical acclaim and sold-out performances, before touring throughout New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and North Carolina – then returning in 2015 for another string of stellar shows.

In her review of last year’s production, Bulletin reviewer Marissa Bond said, “I like this play so much that it sounds like I’m lying.”

Bond’s piece closed, “‘An Iliad’ will leave you raw, present and gone, all of these things – perhaps, even as I was, mouth slack, stunned and unmoving in the theater dark, keening some internal, thunderous, minor-chord yawp for what creatures we are – the beauty and brutality of our past and present and the fine, deliberate art that can make us know and feel so much more about ourselves as a people than only living will sometimes illuminate.”

D’Ammassa and Granger will return to the Black Box stage Friday, Feb. 12, for one performance of “An Iliad,” in advance of the premiere of the duo’s first original collaboration and “unofficial sequel,” “Killing Buddha,” opening the next day, Saturday, Feb. 13.

Of his decision to follow up Peterson’s and O’Hare’s challenging, rewarding production, D’Ammassa said, “Randy and I have so much fun doing ‘An Iliad,’ but we are also bound to a script and wanted to explore the characters we were playing and interact more,” giving the duo to further test the bounds of the characters they’ve evolved with over productions of the piece.

“In our interpretation of the script (for ‘An Iliad’), Randy and I are homeless wanderers who are, you get the impression, thousands of years old. They were alive when Troy fell. So we wondered what was possible if we saw the same guys on a different night and they told a different story.

“Killing Buddha” is the result.

“It’s based on a very old Buddhist fable about the Buddha’s encounter with a murderer (Angulimala) who wants to atone,” D’Ammassa said. “Like the Iliad, it speaks to many questions that still torment us about violence, criminality, the limits of forgiveness, the purposes of punishment (including capital punishment). So we went with it.”

The duo’s creative process in creating “Killing Buddha” was fittingly unconventional.

“I wrote a script. Randy read the pages and listened to recordings of me reading from the script and improvising, wrote some new music and incorporated one of his extant songs. The first time we went through the whole thing together, it was in front of an audience!”

That audience was a 20some member crowd at the August 2015 Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival, held annually in Utah.

“It’s a week packed solid with theatre, music, dance, visual art, scattered across several venues in the ‘sugarhouse’ neighborhood of Salt Lake City,” D’Ammassa said. “It’s a blast. Las Cruces should start one.”

D’Ammassa said he “applied on a lark.” “Randy was touring the western states anyway, and it gave me a useful deadline for getting a new play written. It was terrifying because we did not get a chance to rehearse together until our two-hour light check the day before the festival. Like I said, the first time we ran throughthe piece together was in front of our first audience, about 20 people.”

First-run jitters notwithstanding, “Killing Buddha” generated quick buzz and, by the close of the festival, had taken home honors.

“Word spread and by the next day, we were filling the space and on the last night of the festival they announced we had won the ‘Fringe Pick’ award, which is chosen by the festival’s board and staff. That means an automatic invitation to come back this year, which we plan to accept. We had a blast up there – and in the end, we made enough money that the trip paid for itself and perhaps an ale or two.”

While “Killing Buddha” has a finished script, it, like “An Iliad” by design is very much a work-in-progress play.

“There is a written script, but I’m still altering it on my feet,” D’Ammassa said. “I would take a little recorder and go outside, just start riffing on the story in Spring Canyon and Rockhound Park in Deming. I began typing some of it out and had a script about a week before the festival, right before I started driving to Salt Lake City.”

Taking D’Ammassa’s written script and recordings, Granger listened through, coming up with “ideas about instruments, moods, colors … But mainly what he does is set up various instruments around the space – flutes, percussion, strings – and plays whatever he feels in the moment,” D’Ammassa said.

This improvisational take is key to the work’s success.

“Like I said: I never expect the music to illustrate what the words say, I just wanted his breath and his music to flow as they will,” D’Ammassa said. “I think it keeps the event fresh. I’m beginning to feel hemmed in having a script at all. Someday we’ll do a show with no script. Just set up instruments and a few props, say hello to the audience, and let something unfold.” Though thematically linked, “Killing Buddha” jumps from ancient Greek history to Asian folklore – quite a leap, but not, perhaps, as much as one would expect.

“The great thing ‘An Iliad’ pulls off is to scaffold a story across time and culture,” D’Ammassa said. “That’s what the storyteller does.

“Achilles and Hector are like people we know. So is Andromache. Agamemnon. Helen. Even the gods function in ways that seem familiar, like world leaders whose vagaries affect our lives from afar. The Greeks in their ships heading to Troy under the command of Odysseus or Nestor are very much like the boys from Clovis or El Paso who get sent to Afghanistan or Iraq, my grandfather on a battleship, my father in Viet Nam.”

Though D’Ammassa recognizes Eastern modes of thinking may seem distinctly foreign to some, he feels otherwise.

“If anything, I guess Buddhism and its stories are even more alien to some Americans, but for me Buddhism has always been very American,” he said. “My teachers and brothers and sisters on the path have mostly been American or European. So I’m used to hearing and telling Buddhist stories in ways that bridge the cultural gap. In some sense, the story of Achilles and Hector, or the story of Buddha and this murderer and a very puzzled king, have to become your story. That’s what this project is about.”

In that sense, “Killing Buddha” is less a sequel and more a companion piece to “An Iliad,” complementing and critiquing one another in surprising ways.

In D’Ammassa’s words, “‘An Iliad’ focuses on rage and organized violence, war. “Killing Buddha’ talks about personal violence, terrorism, and asks how much we really believe in rehabilitation or atonement. ‘An Iliad’ ends with an elegy, and I think ‘Killing Buddha’ ends on a note of redemption.”

“An Iliad” has one performance at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12. Performances of “Killing Buddha” are 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13 and 20, and Friday, Feb. 19, as well as a 2:30 p.m. matinee Sunday, Feb. 21. Tickets for all shows are $12 adults and $10 seniors and students.

For tickets, to make reservations or for more information, call 523-1223 or visithttp://no-strings.org.

For more information on Theatre Dojo including upcoming productions, visitwww.facebook.com/algernoniliad.

Zak Hansen can be reached at zak@lascrucesbulletin. com.

Musician Randy Granger and actor/director Algernon D’Ammassa bring their acclaimed “An Iliad” to the stage of the Black Box Theatre for one show Friday, Feb. 12, in advance of the debut of the duo’s new original work, “Killing Buddha,” which premieres Saturday, Feb. 13.

LAS CRUCES – A creative collaboration continues with an original play and an encore presentation this weekend from the music and storytelling duo of actor Algernon D'Ammassa and musician Randy Granger. The No Strings Theatre Company in association with Theatre Dojo will present “An Illiad” today and the award-winning “Killing Buddha” Saturday and Sunday at the Black Box Theatre.

"An Iliad," written by Lisa Peterson and Denis O'Hare, based on Robert Fagle’s translation of Homer's epic poem, is described as “a modern retelling of the Trojan War, including gods, warriors, their families, and the endless battles of human history with a gripping, contemporary voice. D'Ammassa and Granger play mysterious, homeless storytellers who create the ancient world for an audience using storytelling, a few simple props, and an improvised musical accompaniment on a variety of instruments. Theatre Dojo's production debuted at the Black  Box Theatre in 2014 and has toured cities throughout New Mexico,  Texas, Arizona, and North Carolina.

"Killing Buddha," an original work written by D'Ammassa, with music by Granger. is intended as a unofficial sequel to Peterson and O'Hare's award-winning “An Illiad.”

“The play premiered at the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah, in August, where it was awarded the ‘Fringe Pick’ festival prize,” according to a statement from the play’s creators.

"Randy and I play the same storytellers, only this time we interact more. We eat, pray, and sing together and tell a story from a different part of the world. From Homer's  epic, we transition to the folklore of Asia, from the gods of Olympus to a very human Buddha. The play is based on a legend in which the historical Buddha encounters a serial killer in search of atonement. ‘An Iliad" is a play about war and human rage.’ ‘Killing Buddha’ picks up the theme of rage and violence, and finds its way to a story about redemption and transformation," D’Ammassa said.

Granger is an award-winning native New Mexican who expresses his indigenous ancestry in singing, songwriting and performance arts using a variety of musical instruments, such as drums and Native American flutes, with traditions that encompass rock, jazz, mariachi and original works. He has toured throughout the United States as a solo musician and teacher.

D’Ammassa is a theatrical actor with film and TV credits who has toured In the United State and Europe. In 2006, he founded Theatre Dojo in Los Angeles, Calif., as a multi-disciplinary community combining yoga, meditation and martial arts with the performing arts. He works regularly with NSTC and teaches at the Creative Media Institute at New Mexico State University.

"An Iliad" has a single performance at 8 p.m. today. "Killing Buddha" performances will be at 8 p.m. Saturdays, Feb. 13, and Feb. 20 and Friday, Feb. 19; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday Feb. 21 at Black Box Theatre, 430  N. Main St.

For tickets, at $12, or $10 for students and seniors over 65, and reservations, call 575-523-1223.


Review by Mike Cook Las Cruces Bulletin There’s an old Zen saying, “If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha.”

There’s a new Mike saying: “If you get a chance to see ‘Killing Buddha,’ take it.”

The first one doesn’t mean at all what it says, as you learn in this play. The second one is utterly sincere – just think of the laughing Buddha himself giving two enthusiastic thumbs up. “Killing Buddha,” which concludes its run this weekend at The Black Box Theatre on the downtown mall, continues the journey of the two characters recently introduced to Las Cruces audiences in “An Iliad.”

Algernon D’Ammassa, who wrote the script, is the storyteller; Randy Granger, who wrote the music, is the instrumentalist. They are a bit of Vladimir and Estragon, a dash of Penn and Teller, a pinch of Thelma and Louise. Vagabonds and travelers, worn but not weary, they have alighted briefly from their journey to share a story based on “a very old Buddhist fable about the Buddha’s encounter with a murderer who wants to atone,” D’Ammassa said in a recent interview.

D’Ammassa is the form, gliding about the stage with a water bottle, a broom handle, a scarf and a few other props to bring to life the two Buddhas, the king, the widow and other characters.

Granger is his shadow, giving color and flavor to the story with a cigar-box guitar, a double flute, bowls, bottles and many other wind and percussion instruments – and silence. Separately and together, they weave a rich tapestry that is wonder and magic for the eye, the ear and the heart. When she welcomed the audience and introduced the play, theatre owner Ceil Herman said the show would run for about an hour and 20 minutes, without an intermission. I didn’t think about time again until the stage went dark and D’Ammassa and Granger took their bows.

These are two very gifted performers whose collective gift to the audience is a step out of time and away from the world. For nearly 90 minutes, there is no Trump, no Bernie, no Hillary; there is no ISIS, no Putin, no Kim Jongun.

There is only the soft music, the sweet voice and the timeless tale. D’Ammassa “is a theatrical actor who has also appeared on film and television,” according to www.no-strings. org. “He trained professionally at the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island and has traveled all over the United States and Europe as a performer and teacher.” He has acted and directed frequently at the Black Box and Las Cruces Community Theatre. D’Ammassa teaches at the Creative Media Institute at New Mexico State University.

Granger “is a native New Mexican of indigenous ancestry,” according to the website. “He is a master of various instruments, combining Native American flute with musical traditions encompassing rock, jazz, mariachi, and more. Based in Las Cruces, he tours the U.S. as a solo musician and teacher.”

The final performances of “Killing Buddha” will be at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21. You can see the show’s “prequel,” “An Iliad,” at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20. If you can’t make it to both shows, no worries. You don’t have to see one to enjoy or understand the other. 

Review of our award-winning play Killing Buddha. We earned Pick of the Festival at the 2015 Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival. www.randygranger.net for performances info.

Admission is $12 for adults and $10 for senior citizen ages 65 and over and for students. For reservations, call the Black Box Theatre at 523-1223 or visit www. no-strings.org. The theatre is located at the north end of the downtown mall, at 430 N. Main St.

For more information www.randygranger.net 



Actor/writer/director Algernon
D’Ammassa and writer/
musician Randy Granger
perform their first original
collaborative work “Killing
Buddha,” the spiritual “sequel”
to “An Iliad,” at the
Black Box Theatre during its
local debut. “Killing Buddha”
has two performances
left, on Friday, Feb 21.



Earthy contemporary Native American musician, composer, singer songwriter, recording artist, world percussion and multi-instrumentalist Randy Granger will perform live on stage at the Leesburg Center for the Arts on Saturday, May 21 at 7pm. Granger blends elements of southwest music like native American flutes with world percussion, distinctive vocals and other worldly HandPan instruments like the Halo, the Panart Hang and Moyo, and Zen Tambour. NPR’s All Things Considered profiled Granger and the Hang in 2007 in a feature called“Like Water Over Bells.”


A natural and engaging entertainer, Granger weaves storytelling, humor, insight and always authenticity into each performance.

Multi-instrumentalist, composer, recording artist and singer-songwriter Randy Granger. - Original Credit: randygranger.net (Courtesy photo)

Multi-instrumentalist, composer, recording artist and singer-songwriter Randy Granger. - Original Credit: randygranger.net (Courtesy photo)

By Christine Cole

LEESBURG — Singer-songwriter Randy Granger wants people to put down their smartphones and consider that not everything is so important.

"Most people are overwhelmed by too much stress, too much stimulation," Granger said.

He will bring Native American flutes, world percussion instruments and storytelling from his Native American roots to the Leesburg Center for the Arts at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Granger was included in a National Public Radio profile "Like Water Over Bells" in 2007 and his albums are played on the radio program "Hearts of Space."

"The way I describe what I play is healing music," he said. "I live in the desert, which is open spaces. So I interpret that as pauses. I can evoke a canyon."

The percussion instruments he plays — the hang, the moyo and the Zen tambour — may not be familiar.

"The hang is a fairly new instrument invented in 2000," he said. "It is soft-sounding and played with the hands."

There are no "wrong" notes on a hang, two steel half-shells put together to form a cavity in which air resonates when struck.

The moyo has "tongues" cut into the top to create bell-like tones. The Zen tambour produces tranquil, hypnotic sounds.

Granger doesn't want people to dismiss the music as "New Age."

"'New Age' turns a lot of people off," he said. "They think it is electronic, without feeling. My music is all organic. And the storytelling? There's lots of humor."

Granger is associated with the Center for Spiritual Living in his hometown, Las Cruces, N.M.

Tickets for the concert are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

For more information about the concert, call 352-365-0232.

Copyright © 2016, Orlando Sentinel


By Mike Cook

Las Cruces Bulletin

Algernon D’Ammassa is an actor, director, playwright and teacher who started the Zen Buddhist Center in Deming, where he lives with his wife and two sons.

Randy Granger is a Las Cruces musician, storyteller and Native American clergyman whose ancestry includes the Maya and Apache.

Together, they are the latest incarnation of Theatre Dojo, a project founded a decade ago that has become a “community for developing interdisciplinary, collaborative theatre on social and spiritual themes.”

D’Ammassa and Granger have performed “An Iliad” by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare (co-founders of Theatre Dojo along with D’Ammassa in Los Angeles in 2006) and “Killing Buddha,” written by D’Ammassa, in Las Cruces and elsewhere in New Mexico and in five other states in the past three years.

They plan to write and begin performing a new show – “Songs of Uncreation” – this summer.

‘Path to perfect yourself’

Originally started as a way to train theater artists in “traditional western scene study techniques” with the addition of yoga, martial arts and meditation, Theatre Dojo “didn’t work out very well as a business,” D’Ammassa said. So, it has evolved into “performing and creative theatre.”

“Theatre is about more than performing and making money,” said D’Ammassa, who travels to Las Cruces almost daily to act and direct and to teach classes at New Mexico State University’s Creative Media Institute. “It’s a path to perfect yourself as a human being and also to engage in the world.”

‘We’re just able to connect’

The partnership between D’Ammassa and Granger began in 2013 when D’Ammassa wanted to perform “An Iliad” and started looking for a “musician who was inventive” to join him on stage. The two met for coffee and conversation at Spirit Winds Coffee Bar and within an hour, had decided to work together.

D’Ammassa trained at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island and was a resident member of the theater company there and at Company of Angels in Los Angeles. In 2012, he was a visiting artist and teacher with the Fiesta Theatre in Florence, Italy. D’Ammassa has appeared on stages and toured across the United States and has acted in and directed shows at NMSU, the Black Box Theatre, Las Cruces Community Theatre and Rio Grande Theatre.

Granger, a life-long musician, arranger and songwriter, has toured as a solo artist and with jazz and rock groups as a percussionist. He has performed professionally in operas, musicals and a chorus and has taught drums and guitar for 15 years. He also plays mariachi and cowboy music, along with jazz.

Granger also is master of many woodwind instruments, including the wooden flute that gives many Theatre Dojo performances a Southwestern flavor.

“Randy can play such a wide pallet of instruments,” D’Ammassa said. “If you hand it to him, he’ll play it.”

And that fits so well with “the whole ethos of Theatre Dojo,” he said. “Whatever is at hand: Can you use that to tell your story?”

Granger has no lines of dialogue in either “An Iliad” or “Killing Buddha.” But his music is “a storyteller in its own right,” D’Ammassa said. Granger will get a chance to act again in “Songs of Uncreation” when it opens this summer in Las Cruces.

In addition to living 60 miles apart, D’Ammassa and Granger are both busy with their own work, so they don’t get a chance to rehearse together often. “We’re just able to connect,” D’Ammassa said.

‘Keep the energy level pure’

The two also bring their personal faiths and philosophies to their collaborations. “Like any good artists, who we are finds its way into our work,” Granger said.

“I have a reverence for all nature, for all things for your ancestors,” he said.

There is an “intimate bond between my religion and my art,” D’Ammassa said.

As a result, no two of their performances of any show are the same. Very comfortable with each other, the two “improvise a whole lot” on stage, Granger said.

“It’s what you do in the moment,” D’Ammassa said. “You take a breath in and breathe out and the work does itself.”

“I know how music affects people,” said Granger, who has played as a volunteer for Mesilla Valley Hospice for 11 years. “You have to dig deep for the stuff we’re doing. You have to keep the energy level pure,” he said.

‘It’s just us’

Their stories are “time capsules, packets of wisdom,” D’Ammassa said. They are “letters from our ancestors … warning us about pride, waste, rage,” he said.

“We’ve told stories more than we’ve written stories as a species,” Granger said. Our ancestors “gathered around the campfire; they looked at the stars and they made up even more stories.”

On stage, D’Ammassa and Granger are homeless storytellers. They use rags for costumes, broom handles for props and Home Depot buckets and tequila bottles for instruments. “There’s no flash, no sets. It’s just us,” Granger said.

“We show up anywhere,” D’Ammassa said. “We can move some tables and chairs and do story lore. We are trying to create an experience as opposed to just putting on a show.”

Audience response to all their performances “shows there is a strong hunger for this kind of theatre,” D’Ammassa said. “When we change people and make them more creative, that’s the magic,” he said.

Losing “that sense of time and space, that’s what’s cool,” Granger said. “We can do it along with the audience.”

For more information, visit http://www.theatre-dojo.org/

and find them on Facebook.

Musical guests coming to First Christian
Bulletin report
First Christian Church, 1809 El Paseo Road, announces two special guests at Sunday services in June. At 10:15 a.m. on Sunday, June 19, Rev. Randy Granger will be speaking and sharing his musical talent. Granger is a nationally famous multi-instrumentalist, composer, recording artist and singer- songwriter. The unique sound and energy of Granger’s live performances have earned him headline status at many Native American, U.S. and World festivals. In September of 2012, he attracted an audience of over 2000 people at the White Sands National Monument during the Full-Moon concert series.

Faeries, elves, woodland creatures and mere mortals are invited to the 12th annual World of Faeries Festival.

Themed "Season of the Faerie," the festival runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Vasa Park in South Elgin. The festival is organized by Gloria Yaeger.

Back again is the popular scavenger hunt-style quest, she said.

"It's always a lot of fun for the families to hang around the park and find the clues, and there's always a little gift for them at the end," she said. "We always think of a new quest. One year we didn't have it, and people were outraged."

There will be a puppet show from Sandy Silver this year as well.

"She travels all over the United States. She's a ventriloquist and a storyteller, so that should be fun."

Also returning is Geoff Akins-Hannah's popular Bubble Wonder Show both days of the festival.

Musicians include dulcimer player Andy Young, multiinstrumentalist Randy Granger from New Mexico, acoustic duo Patchouli and Ho Etsu, the Taiko drummers.

"We're really pleased to be in our 12th year. I can't believe it's been 12 years," Yaeger said.

She thinks the key to the fest's success is that it's a family-friendly, alcohol-free event.

The admission price hasn't gone up in years, either.

"It's a fun day. You can play games, and it's centrally located," she said. "Everything is safe, everything is close. One mom told me last year she liked that she was able to sit and listen to the music while her daughter was at the tea party. It's something different. Once a year, this fantasy event happens. People come dressed up; you never know what you're going to see. It's fun to people watch, too."

There will also be crafts, games, tea parties and two live mermaids, she said.

"It's like a happy picnic. Our motto is, 'This is the place where happiness grows.' You leave your adult behind and for one weekend you come and relax and enjoy yourself," she said.

On average, there are about 500 kids who come each year, she said.

The venue is beautiful, next to the river with old oak trees and a new gazebo, she said.

Concessions include hot dogs, brats and Italian specialties.

Some of the vendors' items include fairy houses, fairy gardens, fairy wings and tiaras, crystals, jewelry, handmade costumes, glassware and herbal toiletries.

"I love finding these vendors because I love to have something different," she said. "I think the people appreciate it, too."

Annie Alleman is a freelance writer.


South Elgin World of Faeries Festival


When: Saturday-Sunday

Where: Vasa Park, 35 W 217 Route 31, South Elgin

Tickets: $8-$11; children 12 and under free

Information: 815-788-1630; theworldoffaeries.com

Copyright © 2016, Elgin Courier-News



New Mexico musician nominated for two NAMMY’S. Voting open to public.


August 16, 2016– New York, NY. Nominations for the 16th Annual Native American Music Awards (NAMA) have been announced today by The Native American Music Association. Nominations reflect the highest quality of recordings by music makers throughout Indian Country and were selected by the combined votes of the NAMA Advisory Board Membership.

Both new and established artists share the list of nominations throughout a diverse array of 25 music categories. Some of this year's featured nominees include: America's Got Talent finalists, Lil Mike and Funny Boneand GRAMMY Award winners, Primeaux & Mike.  Multiple nominations went to flutists; Gareth Laffely, Randy Granger, Rona Yellow Robe and the drum group Cree Confederation who all released several recordings within the eligibility period.  

New Mexico Native, Randy Granger, currently of Las Cruces, is nominated in two categories: “Flutist of the Year” for his album Ancient Grace and “Best Male Vocalist” for his EP Desert Dreaming. The NAMA’s, aka NAMMY’s are a public voting award in the second stage of judging and the public is invited and encouraged for vote for their favorite artists. To cast your vote simply go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VOTENAMA16  and register. After registering you will be able to hear song clips and vote. Randy also has the link on his website http://www.randygranger.net.

The Native American Music Awards & Association is the world's largest professional membership-based organization committed to honoring contemporary and traditional Native American music initiatives. More at http://www.NAMALIVE.com.

Winners will be announced live at the 16th Annual Native American Music Awards which will be held on Saturday September 17th at the Seneca Allegany Entertainment Center in the Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel in Salamanca, New York located South of Buffalo, New York on Seneca Nation territory.




Las Cruces Sun-News

Crafts draw crowds to Franciscan Festival of Arts
S. Derrickson Moore, Las Cruces Sun-News 6:17 p.m. MDT September 3, 2016

MESILLA PARK – On a holiday weekend crowded with fiesta opportunities, there’s something distinctly different about the Franciscan Festival of Fine Arts at Holy Cross Retreat.

“It’s so peaceful here, and I love the creative crafts,” said Joanne Smith of Las Cruces, shopping at booths in the retreat’s courtyard and surround air-conditioned rooms.

“I like the art, and the surroundings. I’ve been coming her for many years and I’m always seeing new things,” said Cindy Weeks of Las Cruces.

The popular festival began early Saturday morning with Father Tom Smith making the rounds of the verdant grounds, offering to bless each booth and its art and artists.

“We’ve moved things around a little this year, and a lot more of our artists are inside in retreat rooms, so it’s a lot cooler to see the art and the silent auction,” Smith said.

“We have 90 artists and several are new this year. We have beer and wine gardens and most of our most popular food venders are back. We’ll have burgers, hand-tossed pizza, enchiladas, flautas, combination plates, kettle corn and lots of other good things,” said Donna Hollis.

As the first visitors arrived, volunteers were preparing one of the festival’s most popular traditional treats, a giant pan of spicy paella.

“We’ve got the rice and the onions and the sausage and spices going, Pretty soon, we’ll add the chicken and then at the end, the prawns and clams. It should be ready for lunch by about 12:30 both days,” said Carl McGrew, a paella maestro now in his fourth year at the festival, cooking up the savory treat with his seasoned volunteer compadres, Mark Trujillo and Ed Gamboa.

In the retreat’s shady courtyard, entertainers perform in a vine-covered gazebo. The roster includes Native American flutist, drummer and singer-songwriter Randy Granger, Ray Duran with Gipsy Gitano and Mariachi Jalisciense.

The fair is a favorite with artists, too, who come from throughout New Mexico, Texas and the Southwest to offer their wares at what has become the Labor Day weekend’s largest regional arts and crafts fair.

“There’s a great turn out. It’s a great place to sell,” said Ali Pagel of Las Cruces, whose “Bag-Ettes” are created from handmade and recycled materials.

“I love the place. The people here are wonderful. It’s a very spiritual place,” said Corina Gabaldon of Las Cruces, who described her creations as “sacred art with lots of symbolism, incorporating what happens in my life and cultures.”

“I’ve been doing this for 8 years and I think I’ll keep doing it. I like the place, the horses, the trees and the people,” said Margaret Garcia of Las Cruces, who creates whimsical gourd animals and other items inspired by American Indian art.

“It’s friendly. I love how easy it is here,” said internationally-renowned painter Rosemary McLoughlin of Mesilla, offering original paintings, prints and cards, including a series based on her recent travels to Ireland.

Indoors and out, the retreat’s friendly, prosperous-looking cats ambled through art exhibits, indoors and outside the scenic retreat, curling around visitors’ ankles in purring rivulets, or pausing to invite an ear scratch or two.

The festival continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Holy Cross Retreat Center, 600 Holy Cross Road off South Main Street. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450, dmoore@lcsun-news.com or @derricksonmoore on Twitter.


If you go

What: Franciscan Festival of the Arts

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Holy Cross Retreat Center, 600 Holy Cross Road

How much: Admission free, donations accepted

Info: 575-524-3688

Local musician Randy Granger provided some live entertainmentBuy Photo
Local musician Randy Granger provided some live entertainment at this weekend's Franciscan Festival of the Arts. Photo taken 9/3/16. (Photo: Jaime Guzman/For the Sun-News) 


Las Cruces Sun-News

Franciscan Fest features unique finds, benefits retreat center
Isabel A. Rodriguez, For Pulse 12 p.m. MDT September 1, 2016

On most days, Holy Cross Retreat Center is a quiet, serene place: a prime location to pray, meditate and reflect. This weekend, however, it will be bustling with activity, as thousands of people flock to the annual Franciscan Festival of Fine Arts. And it’s all for a great cause: proceeds benefit the retreat center, which welcomes thousands of people, from across many faith-based groups and organizations each year.

“A lot of people attend our Franciscan Festival of Fine Arts because they like the pleasant atmosphere,” said Rev. Tom Smith, director of the retreat center. “We have a courtyard, grass, pecan trees and fountains. And it’s a family event.”

The festival is an indoor/outdoor events that attracts almost 100 artists (most from New Mexico and Texas). No items are allowed to be mass produced, so visitors are guaranteed to find one-of-a-kind creations of all varieties, including gourd art, photography, jewelry and more.

There’s also live music on two stages (entertainers this year include Randy Granger, David Valenzuela and Gipsy Gitano), a beer and wine garden, an enchilada dinner, plus additional food vendors will be on site.

“Our event is the same weekend as another wine festival, which can get kind of rowdy,” Smith added. “We don’t have that here; it’s a nice setting.”

There will also be a silent auction and a raffle for a cash prize.

Two of this year’s attractions are pottery making by Russell Mott and “Cantastic,” an art display made of tin cans by Zach Vantongeren.

Proceeds from the two-day festival help support Holy Cross Retreat Center, which has hosted more than 5,000 visitors the last couple of years.

Groups can use the facilities to host meetings and conference, but the center also hosts individuals on spiritual retreats. The center even provides assistance to those in need.

“Right now we have a family here from Baton Rouge whose home got flooded,” Smith said, adding that the retreat center can accommodate about 120 at a time. “We have a new chapel that was recently built, and we have a dining area and conference rooms. We just put a roof on an adobe structure here that serves as an office. Our small, older chapel seats about 30 people.”

The retreat center will celebrate its 60-year anniversary next year. The next major project will be renovations to guest bedrooms and bathrooms.

Having a calm, quiet place can be valuable to individuals, both Catholic and non-Catholic, Smith said.

“A lot of people find themselves going in different directions, but there’s a real value to reflecting on where their lives are going,” he said. “We give people that space to reflect on questions like how do we give back to others, what is important to me, how is God a part of it. We promote a sense of service.”

Isabel A. Rodriguez is a freelance writer and may be reached at iwalters915@gmail.com.


What: Franciscan Festival of Fine Arts

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Holy Cross Retreat Center, 600 Holy Cross Road, in Mesilla Park

Cost: Donation



White Sands to Celebrate the National Park Service Centennial with Full Moon Night Concert


  Alamogordo, NM – White Sands National Monument will continue the year-long celebration of the National Park Service Centennial with a full moon night concert featuring Native American flutist Randy Granger on September 15 at 7 pm. In addition to the concert, the new White Sands Girl Scout patch will be unveiled in partnership with the Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest Council.  

The National Park Service Centennial kicks off a second century of stewardship of America's national parks. One goal of the centennial is to engage youth in national parks. “We are excited to work together with the Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest Council to create an opportunity for girls to enjoy, explore, and learn about White Sands National Monument and their national parks. We hope as girls work to earn the White Sands patch, they along with their friends and families will create positive memories that last a lifetime,” stated Superintendent Marie Frías Sauter. 

White Sands is hosting a variety of special events this year in celebration of the centennial including full moon nights and Step into the Past programs. The final full moon night for 2016 will feature the Chance Ensemble presenting John Muir University of the Wilderness on October 16 at 6:30 pm.  Relief, Recovery, and Reform: The New Deal and White Sands National Monument on Saturday, November 5th at 1 pm will wrap up the special events for 2016. For more information about these programs, visitwww.nps.gov/whsa.


Family jams: Folk fest appeals to all ages with diverse entertainment

By Rozanna M. Martinez / Journal Staff Writer
Friday, June 2nd, 2017 at 12:02am

The Albuquerque Folk Festival brings musicians of various backgrounds together to entertain, teach and inspire the young and the young at heart.

 The festival, on Saturday, June 3, at the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, features three stages, jam sessions, dance, storytelling and an abundance of workshops.

“The thing that is so wonderful about the folk festival is that you have so many different types of music and they’re all kind of accessible music and people can really feel a part of it,” said Albuquerque Folk Festival publicity director Rose Day. “They can actually get involved in playing in workshops and singing.”

Eventgoers can also participate and enjoy various types of dance inside the museum. Dances includes Argentine tango, clogging, contra dance, international folk dance, Irish step dance and more.

There will be a number of musical acts of various genres on three stages: Jemez, Sandia and the (Nearly) Unplugged Outlet, which showcases mostly unplugged performances, including the Special Orchestra. The orchestra is a nonprofit organization with the mission to help people with developmental disabilities share in the joy of making music, according to Day.

“We have a really diverse thing culturally,” Day said. “We’ve got gypsy blues and folk jazz. We’ve got bluegrass. We’ve got Americana and Chicana. We’ve got an Irish and Appalachian duo, Púca. (We have) a Native American, who plays flute and is a singer-songwriter and a storyteller, I think that will be really interesting. (His name is) Randy Granger. He’s from Las Cruces. The Adobe Brothers, who are perennial favorites. The Adobe Brothers, I think most people locally know them. They do a variety bluegrass, folk, old-time, fiddle, Western swing, Celtic. They’re really good musicians, and they’re a lot of fun.”

Other performers include Bayou Seco, which performs Cajun and cowboy music, and an all-female honky-tonk group called the Merlettes, who are inspired by the music of country legend Merle Haggard.

Children try out instruments at the 2016 Albuquerque Folk Festival. (Courtesy of Dave Straub)

There are also a number of activities for children, including drum playing and “Song Spiral,” which involves rhyming, giggling, wiggling, laughing and goofing.

“It’s a good family event, because there are things that kids can do,” Day said. “It’s very much all-ages, from the little ones to the gray-haired folks.”

Randy Granger

Randy Granger will perform Saturday at Unity of Joplin. 

Courtesy | Mike Smith

Randy Granger tries to keep the tech to a minimum. 

When in the studio, Granger plays multiple instruments and sings, using multitrack recording to produce full songs such as “Dancing Skin,” “Strong Medicine” and “I Am the Mountain Within.” Playing all those instruments live takes some digital help, however. 

“What I mostly do is use a looper, and that re-creates close to what you’re hearing on the records,” Granger said. “I’ve seen artists who are really good at looping, but I don’t want the tech to get in the way too much of the human experience of actually hearing the music.”

The multi-instrumentalist from New Mexico will be featured Saturday in a concert at Unity of Joplin Church, located at 204 N. Jackson Ave. He will also lead a flute workshop, where he will teach basics of playing Native American and other wooden flutes. 

Granger plays everything from hang drums to Native American flutes in his music, which features a style of music he calls “Southwest World.” He infuses jazz sensibilities into ambient and rhythmic backgrounds using a wide variety of drums from several cultures, and sings lyrics that deal with issues from world awareness to simple heartbreak. 

His music has been featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and “Hearts of Space.” He has played at festivals and events across the country. 

Granger’s main background is in percussion, but found himself gravitating toward Native American flutes after hearing them a Pueblo, New Mexico event. 

“They kept showing up, so I thought I’d try to play one, and I found I had a connection to it,” Granger said. “It is really close to the human voice. You can hear breath and mood. There’s a certain clarity in the way it mimicks human voice qualities.”

In addition to being a long-time musician, teaching has been a part of his life for almost as long. The flute workshops give him a chance to feed the teaching bug. 

“I started out teaching drums in high school, and taught private lessons, then with the Yamaha school,” Granger said. “At a lot of flute festivals I’m asked to do workshops. It’s a rewarding thing for me.”

LAS CRUCES - Humming and strumming his ukulele, Randy Granger sang of an enchanted hideaway where troubles melt like lemon drops in a land found over the rainbow.

Granger said that Holy Cross Retreat House, where he performed Saturday, was a similar hideaway for his mother and why he participates in the Franciscan Art Festival benefiting the center every year.

“My mom was orphaned when she was about 2 years old and lived here when it was an orphanage. So coming out here today is personal,” Granger said. “For me, it represents that lineage that began with my mom.”

Now in its 60th year, the retreat house relies on the art festival as its major fundraising event. It features hundreds of artisans and food vendors and hosts a silent auction as well. It continues Sunday.

“I always feel really good when I come out here because it reminds me of my mom. And besides, all the art is amazing. So being here, it’s all a no-brainer,” Granger said.

Father Tom Smith, director of the Holy Cross RetreatBuy Photo

Father Tom Smith, director of the Holy Cross Retreat House, is seen greeting visitors Theresa Daviet, center and her mother, Marilyn Kerschen, left. (Photo: Beth Water/For the Sun-News)

Father Tom Smith, a Franciscan, is director of the Holy Cross Retreat House and described the special nature of spiritual retreats.

“Coming to a retreat offers the chance to just be quiet and to reflect on our lives and lives of faith,” Father Tom said, as he greeted visitors entering the grounds for the festival.

“For a lot of us, we're going in too many different directions at the same time. So whether in large or small retreat groups, people get a sense of peace here.”

Entering its sixth decade, Father Tom said activity at the retreat house is not slowing down.

“This 60th anniversary is a time of new life. Although some of us, as we get older, are slowing down, not this place,” he said, noting that the center had more than 9,000 people attend a retreat last year.

Opened for its first retreat on September 17, 1957, Holy Cross Retreat Center hosted 3,500 people in its first year, according to Debbie Moore, business manager. In 1980, the center was transferred to the custody of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Growth and interest in the center has mirrored growth and interest in the art-fest fundraiser, Moore said.

“This year we have over 103 booths, representing 110 artists, and that doesn't include all the food vendors. Every vendor and artisan booth was taken, we are completely full this year,” she said.

Religious objects, for sale at the Franciscan Art Festival,Buy Photo

Religious objects, for sale at the Franciscan Art Festival, are seen in an artisan's booth. The festival continues today, (Photo: Beth Waters/For the Sun-News)

In addition to providing retreat and meeting space for various groups, the center provides free housing for medical patients who travel to Las Cruces for treatment, Moore said.

“The grounds here are very quiet and peaceful, with nooks and crannies all over where people can sit,” Moore described. “This is a quiet space, to meditate and enhance your spirituality.

“I think I’d end up spending a lot time in the labyrinthine and the rosary garden. But the other place I'd spend a lot of time in is the dining room. We have really, really good cooks,” Moore said with a grin.

Mark Trujillo participated Saturday as both a food vendor and a member of a faith-based support-organization, benefiting locations like the retreat center.

“When I was growing up, I was out here at this place for almost every function,” Trujillo said. “Any function that happened, our parents would haul all us kids out here. So we ended up playing in all the ditches or out in the pecan fields.”

Trujillo described an experience he remembers whenever he returns to the location.

“It was the time I caught a crawdad that was so big it looked like a lobster,” Trujillo reported. “So walking around here now, I see those times and it reminds me of my parents.”

Beth Waters is a Las Cruces freelance writer and photographer and can be reached at BethWatersFreelance@gmail.com.

Randy Granger performs at the Franciscan Art Festival.Randy Granger

Randy Granger performs at the Franciscan Art Festival. (Photo: Beth Water/For the Sun-News)


‘Killing Buddha’ sees ancient folk story through a modern lens

By Megan Bennett / Journal North Reporter
Published: Friday, September 8th, 2017 at 12:02am
Updated: Thursday, September 7th, 2017 at 9:43pm
'Killing Buddha' sees ancient folk story through a modern lens
"Killing Buddha" is a tale told by two ancient storytellers who present traditional folklore within a modern context. The tale is about a serial killer who is forgiven and finds redemption. (Courtesy of Randy Granger)
SANTA FE, N.M. — Two storytellers who “haven’t seen each other in 700 years” reunite to tell a modern audience the ancient tale of a serial killer who is redeemed after trying to kill the Buddha.


“Killing Buddha,” presented this weekend at Teatro Paraguas, is an award-winning production by Theater Dojo, a traveling company based in Las Cruces that focuses on retelling old-time folklore and literature in a modern context.

Randy Granger and Algernon D’Ammassa of Southern New Mexico’s Theater Dojo will bring their latest play, “Killing Buddha,” to Santa Fe this weekend at Teatro Paraguas. (Courtesy of Randy Granger)

The cast includes artistic director Algernon D’Ammassa and composer/performer Randy Granger, who play the storytellers and act out the different characters. The show has received accolades at the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival and the San Diego International Fringe Festival, and has been staged in other cities across New Mexico, Texas and Arizona.

The story follows Angulimala, a North Indian folk figure known for murder and robbery. At one point, the Buddha confronts him. Angulimala attempts to run at the Buddha, but can’t reach him. When the killer gets frustrated and asks why the Buddha why he won’t stand still, the Buddha says he is still – because he’s peaceful and kind, unlike Angulimala who can never be mentally at ease because of rage. It’s the moment of the killer’s “pivotal awakening” that leads to his enlightenment, Granger said.

D’Ammassa and Granger say the production plays off themes of anger and eventual redemption. They let the audience find parallels with everyday life within the story.

“Every time we perform, it is a little bit different,” said D’Ammassa, who is a Buddhist himself. And audience members bring to the theater their own thoughts of current events that change constantly.

The players are expecting a new set of reactions this weekend. It will be the first time they will be telling their tale after the recent protests and a killing in Charlottesville, Va.

Audience interaction is allowed throughout the performance and a group discussion is key during the scene of Angulimala’s trial. D’Ammassa first acts out characters like a prosecutor and witnesses speaking at the trial after Angulimala turns himself in to clear his conscience, then he asks the audience whether the murderer should be forgiven or punished for what he’s done.

In the past, he says, audience members who’ve spoken up include real-life judges pleading for or against the killer. Others reflect on how they view what is right or wrong through the lenses of wars they’ve experienced, like Vietnam or more recent events.

“People will get up and speak from the heart about what their impulse is: What’s justice?” said D’Ammassa.

Based on what D’Ammassa is acting out and the audience is saying, Granger is creating the show’s “live soundtrack.” When he’s not speaking himself, the musician improvises on flutes from various cultures, including Indian, Native American and Irish, as well as percussion and string instruments. He also has less conventional instruments, like tequila bottles and cigar boxes. “It’s a very organic process,” said Granger.

Because of the universal themes of anger, peace and justice, the two said this ancient story is still relatable to all people of all backgrounds, religions and walks of life today.

“We just feel like we’re in a position to lay those stories out without saying these are bad or good, this is a reflection of the ways people were back then and even still are,” said Granger.


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Music in the air

Local musicians Alison Reynolds (guitar, voice, cello) and Randy Granger (native American flute, voice, Hang drum) perform for the Art-Forms Gala celebrating the 20th anniversary of For the Love of Art Month, 7-9:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2, at Alma d’ Arte, 402 West Court Ave. Also: a catered meal, Artist of the Year announcement, short film and silent auction of artwork by Alma d’ Arte students and ArtForms artists.

Tickets are $15, available at www.artformsnm.

org/tickets, 575-520-8752 or at the door.

Randy Granger

Alison Reynolds



Celebrating culture with food, music and more LAS CRUCES


Xchelzin Peña

Special for Las Cruces Sun-News

What better way to experience a different culture than through its people and its food?

The New Mexico State University Office of International and Border Programs, along with the NMSU international community, will host the annual Las Cruces International Festival at the downtown Plaza de Las Cruces from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, during the Farmers & Crafts Market of Las Cruces.

This year, cultural displays, information and food will be offered by 12 participating countries: China, Libya, Jordan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Kuwait, Iran and, for the first time, Malawi.

Displays and entertainment at the free event will include native art, textiles, artifacts, photographs, music, dancing, games and international students dressed in their native clothing.

Rod McSherry, interim associate provost of International and Border Programs, said he expects this year’s festival to draw larger crowds than it has in the past due to its new location on the plaza, according to a news release. The festival has taken place at Pioneer Women’s Park and the Las Cruces Convention Center in previous years.

“The festival is a chance to showcase our international diversity on campus and share that with the greater Las Cruces community,” McSherry said in a news release. “We New Mexicans are fortunate to already enjoy a rich, multicultural environment. So, in many ways, this added dimension of bringing even more cultures from around the globe to downtown Las Cruces is an extension of us being naturally international.”

Several organizations will participate in the festival, including the American Civil Liberties Union.

ACLU field organizer Jorge Rodriguez said he is excited to take part in an event that recognizes the strength of diversity.

“When we celebrate our different backgrounds, instead of giving into fear, we send a powerful message that xenophobia and racism will not be tolerated,” Rodriguez said.

ACLU will have a table at the festival and will be speaking with members of the community to educate them on their civil rights and liberties.

Other participating organizations include: Aggie Cupboard, The Branigan Cultural Center, Catholic Charities Legal Aid, Charlotte’s Place, New World Drummers and Dancers, Vam@s Juntos and Weaving for Justice (Mayan Women from Chiapas).

Award-winning Native American musician Randy Granger will also participate in the fetsival. He has attended NMSU’s many diversity events throughout the years, including Native American week, but this may be his first International Festival, he said.

Granger said he supports events that bring the community together.

“I think anything that shows how diverse we are in the Las Cruces area is always a good thing,” he said.

Granger will perform at the International Festival at 10:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.

Granger said he is looking forward to the event.

“Some of my friends are in the New World Drummers and Dancers,” he said. “It’ll be nice to see them.”

NMSU groups that will attend the festival include the Office of Education Abroad, Returning Peace Corps Volunteers, NMSU’s Gospel Choir and the Rotaract Club.

Currently, NMSU has more than 1,300 international students from 80 countries on campus, according to a news release.

Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima, who will welcome attendees as part of the city’s new partnership in hosting the festival, said “it’s wonderful to have students from throughout the world enhancing their education at New Mexico State University,” according to a release.

“We welcome them to our city, and we are very happy they have chosen the Plaza de Las Cruces to have their festival,” Miyagishima said in a release.

For information about the Las Cruces International Festival, visit ibp.nmsu.edu/international-festival.


Everything you need to know about Indigenous Peoples Day
Los Angeles just became the latest city to adopt Indigenous Peoples Day in favor of Columbus Day. The holiday has been gaining support across the country

LAS CRUCES - The state will recognize Indigenous Peoples' Day for the first time Monday, Oct. 14.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill earlier this year to replace Columbus Day, the holiday honoring the Italian explorer, with a day celebrating Native Americans.
According to the Associated Press, at least five states stretching from Hawaii to Vermont have done away with Columbus Day celebrations in deference to Native Americans. However, the federal holiday that honors Columbus will still be a legal public holiday and fall on the second Monday of October.

Where to celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day
In honor of New Mexico's first Indigenous Peoples' Day, White Sands National Monument will be holding special programs Oct. 12 and 13.

Multiple award-winning musician Randy Granger from Las Cruces will be performing both days at the monument.

Granger, a native New Mexican, is of Mayan and Apache ancestry. He is a professional musician, storyteller, educator, composer and recording artist. Granger tours the U.S. as a solo artist headlining many festivals, leading workshops and teaching at Native American flute schools throughout the U.S.
Granger will perform in the visitor center courtyard from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. From 1 to 4 p.m. join rangers in the courtyard to decorate pieces of wood in patterns that represent the dunefield in your eyes. The program is free, and all ages are welcome.

From 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, join Granger for a relaxing summer evening in the amphitheater where he will fill the moonlit night with his unique blend of instruments, interpretation of traditional melodies, and heartfelt music. The program is free. monument entrance fees will apply.