I had the pleasure of meeting Ekim Beau in the strange little place called Helen, Georgia. I was there at the Unicoi State Park for the NGFDA dulcimer festival, and managed to slip away from all the dulcimer madness with my friend Lynn. Ekim Beau plays a wild “Cross Beau Zither”– an instrument he invented himself decades ago. He appeared to me like the quintessential American gypsy. His street performing setup was perfect, his attitude was perfectly confident and laid back.
I found it fascinating to watch how he plucks a note or series of notes with one hand, and then follows right behind with his other hand, damping the notes he just played. It’s a technique somewhat like the gamelan players use in Indonesia; they play a pattern of notes with one hand, and move through the same pattern with the other hand, damping, exactly one step behind the first hand. And actually, now that I think about it, Belorussian tsimbaly players use a similar technique.
Anyway, it’s great to see something different, and to meet such kind and interesting characters along the way.