Native American flutist coming to Jeffers for fundraising concert

Sometimes music is healing.

Mark ThunderWolf learned this the first time he played a traditional Native American flute. It was unlike any other instrument he had ever played and connected him with his roots.

“It’s a very meditative and haunting sound,” ThunderWolf said. “It’s unlike any other flute.”

ThunderWolf was accomplished with other instruments, but it wasn’t until he began playing the traditional wood flute that he began to find what he had been seeking for years.

“I found that as I played, the peace that it gave me was something that I had been stepping all around but looking for in other places,” he said. “I feel like it all just kind of tied my loose ends back together.”

Now ThunderWolf will bring his traditional flute and music to Jeffers for a special concert to raise money for a newly established scholarship fund.

ThunderWolf and his band New Moon Rising will play a concert at the “Encampment” near the Jeffers Inn.

The concert will support the LLREF Arts and Humanities Scholarship Fund, said Leigh Fosnot, who along with her husband started the fund.

The goal in establishing the scholarship fund is to help a graduating senior from Ennis High School pay for college, Fosnot said. Ultimately, the hope is to have a fund large enough that each of Ennis’ graduating seniors will receive money for college from the fund.

Along with the concert, ThunderWolf will also hold a workshop to help teach people to play the traditional Native American flute.

ThunderWolf grew up around music. His father was a musician and as a teenager he also listened to artists like Bob Dylan and Neil Young. He always found himself competing with his father on instruments and was finally attracted to the harmonica, an instrument his father couldn’t play.

In 2001, he was working with an Apache woman at a wolf sanctuary in northern California and she gave him his first traditional Native American wood flute.

He’d tried a lot of different things in his life, from fast cars and motorcycles to expensive clothes and alcohol. But when he picked up the flute things came into a clearer focus and his found a desire and path to reconnect with his Lakota Sioux and Eastern Band Cherokee heritage.

“Before I got my first flute I had actually started dabbling in my heritage, but I liked partying too much,” ThunderWolf said. “Following the native path would have just been too disciplined and I wasn’t ready for that.”

But that changed as he learned the flute. He realized that connecting with his roots meant becoming a good example for Native Americans.

“I drank heavily, but when I first started playing flute I completely quit,” he said. “I feel like the flute in some ways kind of saved my life.”

Since he started playing the flute, ThunderWolf has released two albums, “Thru the Eyes of my Brother” and “Open Your Heart.” He’s been nominated for a Native American Music Award and toured through the U.S. and Canada.

The Native American flute has a meditative quality and often during his concerts he often sees the impact it has on people.

“I find that with the Native American flute it just brings all of those elements from the earth and the wind and puts it out there in such a way that people can just relax,” he said. “Often times when I’m in concert I’ll see people closing their eyes and meditating and going somewhere else.”

Tickets for ThunderWolf’s concert are $15 each or $20 for couples. A social hour will precede the concert and will include a silent auction. For tickets and information, call Fosnot at 682-7000.

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