I had the pleasure of chatting with Dale “Racchi” Murray at the Brethren Days Festival in Brethren, Michigan this past weekend. Racchi makes beautiful drums and other instruments with an attention to detail, pattern, and a love for his work as well as a love for the natural wood tones and grains. Unlike some wood workers, he doesn’t bleach the wood and then dye it to an even tone, but rather he uses the natural grains and tones, matching them together or patterning them in opposition for contrast. His over two decades of experience and love for the art and music shine through the instruments as they sit on display or are played by himself or others.
John Collins (JC): Thanks for letting me disrupt things and take pics of you and your drums and for agreeing to answer a few questions about your wonderful, hand crafted, wooden drums.
Dale “RACCHI” Murray (DM): A mutual pleasure…
(JC): How long have you been making drums and other instruments and how did you learn to make them?
(DM): I made my first drum in 1991, a flat drum of birch bark. It’s now my Spirit drum. I started making ashikos about five years later, after working with a drum maker named Morgan Anderson, in Madison, Wisconsin.
(JC): What woods do you use?
(DM): The woods I use are all Michigan hardwoods: cherry, ash, maple, black walnut and hickory.
(JC): What other wood working do you do?
(DM): I have done general carpentry, also cabinetry, spiral staircases, and display cases for businesses and for a lighthouse museum. I recently restored the 87 windows in the (former) Masonic Temple in Manistee.
(JC): Where can folks see your drums? (Online, in person, next festival or other event you will be displaying your drums?)
(DM): I plan to be at the Festival of the Pines in Lake City, Sept. 20-21, and Hops and Props on Manistee on Sept 14. I always do Hiawatha Music Festival in Marquette, and Spirit of the Woods in Brethren. I’m trying new-to-me events in my local area. I can also be contacted directly. (If you want to contact him about his drums, Racchi’s Yahoo email address is racchimuskillingum at Yahoo dot com, of course!)
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