John Medeski (keyboardist of Medeski, Martin & Wood) and Debi Medeski will host a benefit concert for the Secoyas people of the Ecuadorian rainforest this Sunday October 9, at the Falcon in Marlboro, N.Y. The show begins at 7 p.m. and, in addition to Medeski, will also feature Billy Martin of MMW on drums, plus Bill Evans on saxophone, Mike Rivard on bass and sintir, Philippe Pascal Garnier on crystal singing bowls and Steven Bachmann on didgeridoo.
According to a press release, “John and Debi Medeski have finally realized a two-year long goal of bringing these very special representatives of a disappearing culture all the way from the rainforest of Ecuador to the mountains of upstate New York. We are blessed by the presence of three elders and healers and their guide who has been living amongst and studying with them for many years. The evening will feature a very special night of music featuring five acclaimed musicians and a rare performance of indigenous music by the Secoya elders, as well as a presentation about the Secoyas and their land and a silent auction of goods and services offered by a variety of local businesses. The Secoya elders will be there to visit with people and answer any questions.”
The suggested donation is $30. All proceeds from admission and the silent auction will go to the Secoya people and their community to protect their land and preserve their culture.
The Falcon is located at 1348 Rte 9w, Marlboro, New York 12542. For more information phone 845-236-7970 or visit Live at the Falcon.
The Secoya People
The Secoyas are an ethnic minority of the Upper Napo Region of the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest, numbering approximately 350 people in Ecuador and 350 in Perú. Their name, Secoya, means “People from the Multi-Colored River,” and in some cases, they are referred to as the “People of a Thousand Colors.” While no one truly knows how far back their lineage dates, their fading population is estimated to have been 16,000 at the time of European contact, so it’s safe to say these wise sages are of true native ancestral lineage.
Secoya traditional elders and healers are the time-honored maestros, the “magicians of the forest,” who use over 350 species of medicinal plants. Over 100 of these are found only in cultivation in family gardens and are regarded as family treasures. The Secoya traditional elders refer to their plant lore as an umbilical cord that connects them to their past.
The Secoya religion is animistic; the natural order is explained without recourse to concepts of good and evil. They believe in a multitude of spirits that inhabit natural phenomena such as animals, trees, rivers, and stars. The Secoya believe in a tiered universe, with an underworld, the earth, and multiple celestial realms.
These beliefs become evermore evident through their music-musical instruments include the one-stringed bow and vertical flutes of bamboo. Small drums are also played, and large ceramic trumpets are used for signaling. Men’s songs are of the shamanic genre, whereas women sing of domestic life and its problems. Their songs, profoundly and uniquely cherished, are a guide to the journeys between the universes tiers, a sacred connection to the earth and a calling to all of life’s energies.
According to well-known author, Daniel Pinchbeck, who had the rare opportunity to visit with the Secoya almost a decade ago: “The Secoya shamans, elders in their 60s and 70s…are wise, giggling jungle wizards, and true maestros.”