California Blog: Music Medicine

7 hours after departure from Bogota I landed at LAX for the second time on my journey. This time I was going to stick around for a couple of weeks. My pal John Fitzgerald was there to greet me at the airport and shuttle me back to his place where I got to reconnect with my old friend and drum sister Kumi Masunaga who runs Drum Jam Hong Kong and is originally from Tokyo, Japan. We went to eat at a lovely outdoor restaurant and I got a great night’s sleep in John’s drum room (I know!!!!!)

The next morning we went to visit the Remo factory courtesy of John, as Kumi had ordered a pile of stuff and after the tour we got to hang in the Recreation centre and jam a little.

John had invited a bunch of folks over to his place for a Rhythm Potluck and we spent the evening deep in conversation, human and rhythmical. The night was filled with beautiful moments ( I was so present not one photo was taken) and it was 4 am when the drum room was empty…time for some sleep before John kindly drove us out to the Joshua Tree retreat centre for our Music Medicine program.

I have hosted Christine Steven’s Music Medicine retreats twice in Scotland and we will co-facilitate this year in May at Wiston Lodge. I was so excited to be in a new place to experience this amazing work. I’ve known Christine since 2001 and the Hawaii Playshops with Arthur Hull. I love her work and am on my way towards becoming a Music Medicine Trainer this year. So many Blessings.


The Joshua Tree retreat centre is right in the heart of the national park and is breathtaking. Part of the program was solo time in nature and we went deeper into the desert for this session. It is another world.

The retreat was an incredible experience. So many beautiful souls walking a path of beauty and bringing this powerful medicine to the world. My global family continues to grow with many new and deep connections made. I am so Blessed to be doing this work. So Blessed.

Music Medicine is a truly transformational experience. I highly recommend you step into this powerful modality. Post retreat is always a time of deep reflection and re-entry to the ‘normal’ world can be challenging.

We ( myself, Kumi, Christine, Matthew and Mary) were able to stay in the park area for an extra night at the most incredible air bnb, owned by one of Christine’s oldest and dearest friends Luana. Her land is one giant prayer. Alters everywhere. Everywhere. It is a song to the earth, a prayer to Amma and just the most peaceful space to be. Stunning is not a descriptive enough word.

The desert was in full bloom…in fact it was a super bloom…not seen like this since 100 years…More Blessings.

This was the perfect place to begin decompression and Luana was the perfect hostess.

Take a moment out of your day, make a nice cuppa something and bathe in this beautiful Gallery from Amma’s Garden.

Christine had to return to Encinitas, her home town, the next day, to film a slot for her ‘Awakening Your Rhythm’ series with the Shift Network so we were once more on the road after a morning of conversation, walks and lunch. Goodbye’s were said, hugs given and off we went, Kumi, Myself and Christine.


Occasional stops to look at the Super Bloom and eat food brought us to the edge of LA when Christine suddenly exclaimed ‘We’re near Uncle Mani’s place. Let me call him’

Uncle Mani is Christine’s Teacher and adopted relative. He carries many many songs and we were honoured to meet with him. He sang with Christine and then I sang an Irish song for him. He remarked on the T-Shirt I was wearing ( see photo above) It had been designed to support the water protest at Standing Rock, where his family were heavily involved. I saw a glint in his eye. ‘Do you want it?’ I asked. He offered his hand and I took it. That was the deal done. in native culture you can let someone know you would like with the words and a hand. I took my shirt off and gave it to him. I left Mani’s  shirtless but happy 😉

Kumi and I stayed in a hotel by the ocean so Christine and Matthew could prep and deliver the Shift session. In the morning we took a stroll around Encinitas, which is a very cool somewhat Bohemian place. We were headed for the SRF ( Self Realisation Fellowship) centre, the place where Paramahansa Yogananda wrote the acclaimed ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’

Here we found beautiful gardens overlooking the ocean where we played some music and sat in meditation before heading for the shop to buy singing bells of all kinds. Here’s a gallery of the gardens and a bit of Encinitas including a shot of my dream car ( wrong colour or else I’d have bought it ;))

We ate breakfast at Swami’s cafe, opposite Swami’s beach and just revelled in the chilled vibes. A bit of retro shopping at Flashbacks and we met up with Christine once more. Kumi had to say her goodbye now and head into LA to begin her journey home.

I stayed at Christine’s whilst she went to be with her pal for the next 48 hours and we met up for food, music and sunsets and a Turban-Tastic evening with friends of hers.

I’m sat here right now typing and Christine is outside at another desk doing the same, before we head to LA this evening for a conference for Expressive Arts.


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