Flute Quest is a festival celebrating the Native American style flute held in August at Saltwater State Park on Puget Sound. I got my first flute just over a year ago and still consider myself a beginner, but I loved the festival last year and have been looking forward to this one for months. It’s the only flute festival in my area, if you can call the over-three-hour drive my area!
A couple of months ago, my granddaughter Bridghid and I visited Cedar Mountain Drums here in Portland. Cedar Mountain also sells flutes, and they had the most gorgeous flute I have ever seen, a huge, purpleheart low-C by Brent Haines. I was beside myself wanting that flute, although there is no way I could even reach the holes with my short arms and fingers. Nevertheless, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. A friend told me that purpleheart is a heavy, dense hardword with a much brighter tone than most Native American style flutes; he suggested I try some out to see whether I really wanted one, so I went to Flute Quest with a mission–to try out any purpleheart flutes I could find.
Butch Hall had a very nice purpleheart in low E, but the reach was too difficult for my short fingers. My first flute was from Butch and I now have five Butch Hall flutes in A, G, and F#. They’re solid-bore flutes, not split and glued back together, and simple in style, not fragile. They’re perfect for sticking into a backpack when I go on some of my long hikes.
I did find a wonderful purpleheart F# flute at Marty Lisonbee’s Native Echo Flutes booth. I hiked up a trial to a secluded spot where I sat on a mossy log and got acquainted with my new flute. It was a transcendent moment. Purpleheart has a clear, vibrant sound.
The festival was right next to a driftwood-strewn beach on the Puget Sound and evoked fond memories of my years in Seattle. I thought of the times we used to take the ferry to Vashon Island, which is right across the water from Saltwater State Park.
It was a wonderful day. On the way home, I had to drive in first and second gear from the outskirts of Tacoma to the freeway past Olympia, but I couldn’t get too uptight because I knew my car was one of the ones cluttering up the freeway–I felt bad for the people who have to make that commute every day and am so thankful I don’t have to do that.