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A Mighty Rushingwind:An Interview with Duo Rushingwind and Mucklow

Posted By PowWows.com October 9th, 2013 Last Updated on: October 9th, 2013

Rushingwind & Mucklow have distinguished themselves with several awards this year including:

2013 ISMA Awards – Best Instrumental & Best Spiritual Songs
2013 NMMA Award – Best World Beat Song
2013 NAMMY – Best New Age Recording

Q) Everything seems to be coming together for you lately! Awards,CDs, Concerts…What's the latest?

A)

Steve: Well the latest is that just 8 weeks ago I got married to my soulmate, my Band Manager, and best friend Susan. She travels with us at our gigs, she is a huge help with CD sales and even setting up the gear.  She is my support system and my rock~ ( recently awarded 2 awards in Milwaukee, new album coming out October 1, Strong Horse)

Michael: We have our new CD Strong Horse coming out on October 1st. This album is about finding again the

Creator’s strength within and drawing upon that to remain the people He created.
Our most recent awards are from ISMA, Best Contemporary Instrumental Song and Best Spiritual Song
for our ‘Bridge’ album. One award that is really special to me is the Silver Arrow Award for Outstanding Contributions to the the Native American Music Industry. I am truly honored to have received this and honestly cannot come up with the words to express how deeply I am affected in my spirit by this recognition of contribution.

Q) You've had an exciting career so far! What are some of the highlights?

A)

Steve: Well the feeling I had when Michael & I won our very first award from the New Mexico Music Awards.  It was total exhilaration, it was wonderful to be recognized on our first album together. The Nammy awarded to us this last May followed by our ISMA wins in September have put us in a bit of a dream world.  I kept pinching myself after the Nammy win to make sure I wasn't dreaming. However the most memorable and humbling experience I had was receiving an email from a lady from Mexico who had an absolute horrible day. She was contemplating a swim in the ocean, never to return, she put on my CD, Cloud Runner, and her spirits were lifted. The thoughts vanished from her. That's what it's about, the message and comfort  you can bring to people.

Michael: Winning a NAMMY was pretty special! It almost seems unreal when you hear your name announced as the recipient of the award. I turned to Steve and said I’d like to hear it again because I wanted to be sure our name really was called.

Being performers at the New Mexico Music Awards and ISMA’s are definitely highlights.
We’ve been getting really good initial feedback on our new album (Strong Horse), and that’s a highlight for me because I mix and produce our records. I always hope at the end of an album project that I have
done right by the music, and receiving positive feedback gives the final “good job”.

Q) What does your Native background mean to you? How does it influence your music?

A)

Steve: Being born in the late 50's my father who is Cahuilla & Opata told us how unpopular it is to be Indian. We didn't talk about it at school. However being the only brown boy in school I was the token Indian and being half Mexican, I was the Cinco de Mayo clown of the school. It's all cool now, I can take a joke now & then. When I got older, that was when my Dad instilled pride back into our family. In the early 70's he told us more about what he knew about our heritage and passed on family stories. Since my Dad was born in 1915,  he had different values than people born later in the century, so I took it to heart what he told me, which was to be proud of who we are. This question also brings to mind my  name Rushingwind, it was given to me by my father when I first learned how to talk, which was quite a lot! I never stopped talking, so Rushingwind was born “One who talks too much” // part b: my musical influence from all this predominately  the pride I feel as a Native American performer, representing my culture and heritage.

Michael: I’m a non-native so I cannot speak of a background in that regard. To be considered a “brother” by Steve means a lot; knowing there are no boundaries between us. And becoming a music artist within the Native

American music genres has come to mean more to me than most all past accomplishments.
With regard to influence: steadily learning about Native American cultures, how the people acknowledged the Creator for their existence and a spiritually healthy respect for all He created, speaks to my heart and allows the Inspiration within to come to fruition in the music which I hope returns to the people with strength, peace and healing.
Q) Did you always want to perform music? How did you know that this was the direction in which you want your life to go?

A)

Steve: I have been playing music since I was 5 or as long as I can remember drums, flutes, guitar etc anything I could get my hands on, the passion was on fire early on. I am self taught, coming from a poor family I signed up every year for music at school. I wanted to play the trumpet like Louis Armstrong! However since we couldn't afford the trumpet rental, I played the recorder flute. I did that for most of my school years, driving my family crazy by playing every theme song on TV!  In the early 70's I discovered the guitar which took me to a singer songwriting way of life. That lasted for quite of few years until I was introduced to the Native flute in the early 2000's // part b:  I wanted to record a CD for myself just to say I have a CD, I never thought about doing this at this level because I was already an accomplished artist, (oil painter). That career was in full bloom. It was the producer of my first album who told me that I have to meet his friend, Michael Mucklow, who is an amazing guitarist.  He suggested we work on some music together. I said “OK”, not knowing that everything would change from that introduction. When we started on our first album, and saw and felt the magic that came from it,  I knew right there, it was now going to be a musical career for me. My painting business was put on the back burner, 4 albums later we are still going strong!

Michael: I had no musical background until I began playing guitar at 16, no one in my family was musically inclined;I think that’s why I see playing guitar and composing music as a gift. My mother did tell me that she was a 2nd or 3rd cousin of Roy Acuff, the Granddaddy of the Grand ‘Ol Opry.

Initially I wanted to be the typical “rock star”. But after a few years of maturing I knew music was in me to stay and that I wanted to do this the rest of my life regardless of not becoming a star.
Being raised “day job” traditional though my path was more nonmusic
career oriented though I most always stayed involved by being in bands and/or recording on my own. It wasn’t until 2006 when I recorded my first album as a solo artist, at age 48, that I firmly determined music would take the forefront of my life and even if I needed to maintain the “day job” for an income that would eventually be taken over by financial blessings by cause of the music.
Q) Who are some of your musical influences? What creative forces inspire you?

A)

Steve:  As a kid I loved Louis Armstrong. He was my hero.  However as I got older I was influenced by James Taylor, America, and Loggins & Messina. These guys influenced me in my composition.
For an example, Loggins & Messina would do one song that could last over 10 minutes, but it was never boring, it would start off and flow into different rhythms and would end the way it started. I was in awe of that! So when Michael and I have a few songs that carries that same feel, like the song Ancient Elements we wrote that at the studio off the cuff with that exact idea in mind, in which Ancient Elements was nominated for a Nammy a few years ago

Michael:

Neil Young, John Michael Talbot, William Ackerman, The Ventures, Scorpions, CS&N, Boyce & Hart (songwriters for The Monkees), Acoustic Alchemy, Black Sabbath. I’m inspired by nature I could stare at clouds forever, by the Spirit of the Creator.
Q) When you perform, what do you hope your listeners will sense throughout your songs? How do you insure that your message will reach your audience?

A)

Steve: Great question. When I perform, I usually close my eyes and fall into the song, no matter how many times I have played it.  I don't stand there thinking of what note to play next, so I feel my songs as I go into a world of calmness and a feeling of floating on air. Every once in a while I open my eyes to make sure I am still there where I am performing at. People have made mention to me that they can feel my journey as I play, so I feel that performing this way insures me that my audience is feeling our music.

Michael: Healing, peace, comfort and strength. I think the way the message is insured to be heard and felt by the audience is by endeavoring to hear and then express that music which is sent into our spirit by God.
Q) How can we purchase or download your music? Any upcoming concerts?

A)

Steve:

We are on all sites that sell music such as  Itunes, Rhapsody, Amazon, etc.. However you can go to our website and view, listen, and buy through our website… an easy 123 way to go~ // part b: Concerts? well Michael and I just came back from Milwaukee a few weeks ago from the Indian Summer Music Festival. It was a wonderful experience.  I will have  the honor next Tuesday night of helping Shawn Michael Perry open up at the Mint Club in Los Angeles, then the following week I will be in Carmel, Indiana to perform at the International Art/Music Festival on September 27th and 28th. When I return back home I will be performing the rest of the year locally throughout Southern California.

Michael:Our music is available at iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp, CD Baby, Rhapsody, etc. Visit our website and you’ll find all the links for purchasing our albums.
Q) You are flourishing now,so inspire us! Please tell us about some of the obstacles you have faced? How did you find the strength to persevere?

A)

Steve: Wow! Yes.. who doesn't have them right? I went through a separation with my 2nd wife in 2010 after our first album, so when Among the Ancients was being recorded I was in a funk. The day I went to record the album my Ex went to Germany with our Daughter who was 4 at the time. I had  never been away from my daughter for longer than a day. It put me in a real spin, however it made me dig deep inside, so when recording ATA thats when I came up with the song Lil Hummingbird, (Her native name). I closed my eyes and had her little face in my mind, and with one take the song was done. That album is the one that won us a Nammy.  The point is Never give up your dreams and creativity no matter what obstacles may come your way, we draw from our insides, from the heart, not the mind so follow your HEART!!

Michael: A personal obstacle was that as a person I do have value, and the gifts within me can be valuable to others. In growing up I was told I was worthless, a good-for-nothing, etc. (Note: I loved my mother and no longer fault her for doing this). It’s amazing how you carry this into adulthood and pretty much live your life as though such things said to you are true. The only way I got past this belief of myself was God, who over time showed me first that I am valuable to Him and in turn a valuable person. He did the same with the music I thought no one cared to hear what I composed whereas He said “others need to hear this”.

Other obstacles were times that I came close in the “old” days of record labels to getting a deal and becoming that “rock star”. Getting close and having things fall apart can really do a number on you and your hopes. I had to resolve that it was OK this was not my path.
I am so thankful now that the music is flourishing. I couldn’t ask for more than God to make paths for the music to travel upon, to be heard and appreciated. I never thought I’d be in my 50’s before this would happen…but I’d receive it at 60 or 70 if that was the plan.
Q) What do you wish you knew when you first started your musical career? What advice would you give aspiring performers?

A)

Steve: That there would be no money in it!! lol! just kidding sort of~ No, since I was already an artist, I knew what I was getting into. // part b:  advise to those just starting would be to put into your heads this, “Don't worry about the end results of your career, like awards, being famous, lots of money you may have long term goals that you want to accomplish right now!! Relax and enjoy the journey getting there, enjoy the people you meet along the way, enjoy the sites, because no matter what you still have to wait for, Father time ticks by. Trust me.  All these wonderful goals will come in their due time~.

Michael: I wish I knew music would be more a part of my latter years than my younger ones I would have hung out for a while and not stressed “making it”. It also would have been good to know that an Internet would be invented, and that major record labels aren’t necessarily needed any more for success in music.

Advice: Believe in your music, do what is true to you, give it your all, educate yourself in the business side of music, have fun, do it even if doesn’t become your “fulltime”gig.
Q) What's your personal playlist? What are some of your favorites among your songs?

A)

Steve: I love Into the Canyon, Unbroken Spirit from our first album Cahuilla Sunrise and lil Hummingbird from our second, Eagle Spirit & A'yoo'iinsh'ni' from our bridge album and now I have fallen in love with ” Ironwood”, “Honoring the Buffalo”, “Sunwatch”, and “We Remain” from our 4th and soon to be released album Strong Horse. My wife loves “Ironwood”.

Michael:Right now pretty much any song on Strong Horse; I’m liking the Rock flavor they have. As for previous stuff I like Into The Canyon a lot. Plains Rider is another favorite. Holy Dark, Return (To Your Glory), Among The Ancients are a few more.
Q) What's next? What do you hope the future holds for your music?

A)

Steve: Michael and I will wait for the Muse to help us for our next album, in the meantime I will be in the studios early next year doing a solo album, which will be my 3rd one // part b:  Well the future is to keep making magic with Michael.  I feel our music heals the soul, so I would love performing along with Michael, performing at concerts all over the world. We have plans to submit to the Grammys next year with “Strong Horse” and of course the Nammys, ISMA's and the NMMA's which are always a wonderful goals to have. We also want to explore the Canadian Aboriginal awards next year. That seems very cool!! No pun intended.

Michael: Most likely a fifth album in 2014. I haven’t been able to travel much this year and I’m hoping the opportunity to get out and perform will really open up in 2014, and beyond. Being on stage is “normal” and I’d like to be there a lot more often.

That our music will be heard by and get into the hands of many more people for whatever purpose God has in their lives.
Q) What else would you like for us to know about you or your music?

A)

Steve: That this music is not a technical process with specific written down notes.  All my flute parts have no tab, nor is anything  written down on paper, so in other words we play from the heart of our Souls.

Michael: Steve and I simply set out to do one album together. Neither of us planned what has come about, and I don’t think either of us thought about doing more than just that first album ‘Ancient Elements’. But each year we’ve heard another album in our spirits and so we’ve pursued that. We had to; if the music is there you’ve got to express it. We didn’t start out with an idea of what the music was going to be about but in looking back we can see a progression of themes. I think this came from God and if we had tried to do it on our own it just would have gotten messed up.

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www.rushingwind-mucklow.com

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