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Welcome to Handpan Camp!

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Handpan Camp is a 5-day campout in the Pacific Northwest. Tune in to our group conversation as we revisit its inception, share highlights and anecdotes, and get a feel for the special energy that happens at a small handpan gathering. More at

Handpan Camp Highlights:

Documentary about Dan Price's Home:

Password: pictures

Podcast Transcription:

Sylvain: Hey, it's Sylvain and this is the Handpan Podcast. This episode was recorded at handpan camp, a five-day camp out in the Pacific Northwest, and one of the most beautiful places I've ever experienced. And I'm not the only one who thinks so. There've been multiple high-production documentaries made about this place and its caretaker: my good friend, Dan price, also known by some as Hobo Artist. Remember Dan from an earlier episode of the podcast, he lives in a Hobbit hole. Yep. A hobbit hall. I waited until late afternoon of day four, our last full day at Handpan camp, to record this conversation with our camp host Dan, but also with Bill Davies from Arizona and Dave Jones from Idaho. I always love the energy on that last full day of a vacation. It's a beautiful tension when you're aware it's coming to an end. It's not over yet, but you're already nostalgic. And so you want to make the most of what's left. That's how it felt that afternoon. It was a fun and spontaneous chat with these guys, recorded in a slightly different way compared to my other episodes. It's more immersive. You can hear the room we're in the rain outside. It just feels like you're there. So I'm excited for you to spend a few moments with us at Handpan Camp. Hope you enjoy the episode!

Dan: It's pretty quiet in here. Isn't it?

Bill: Yeah, it's nice.

Sylvain: Let's plug in that magic light.

Dan: Okay. That magic light...

Bill: Ohhhh, atmosphere!

Sylvain: Well, here we are on day four, the last night of handpan camp, 2021. Whew, what a week, huh?

Dan: It's been fun. Yeah.

Sylvain: So, I want to go back to before this week started actually way before over a year ago, Dan and I had a vision for a really small handpan gathering at his place. Dan, what made you want to host a handpan gathering and where are we? Why is this place special

Dan: Well, um, we're sitting in just kind of, uh, a meadow in rural Oregon, and it's a little simple living place. I've lived here for a long time and lived very simply. And it's just beautiful. I've kind of make it like a park here. So when people come here, they really like it. It's very peaceful. There's a river. And um, years ago when I got into handpanning, one of the first videos I watched was, uh, Island memories is, uh, a series of YouTube videos of these guys that went somewhere. I don't know the details, but a bunch of really good players went and on an island, I guess. And they camped out and they set cameras up and they would play and there was wood shopping and activity going on behind them and tents. And I, that, that image that just wouldn't go out of my head. And I thought I'd really like to do that here. And, and I, I never thought I would. Um, for two reasons, my place is a little delicate and you know, can get trampled pretty easy, but I just had to, have had to get over that because I can water and bring grass back. And it's this, it's just the land it's durable. And also myself has been, um, very, uh, not, not into having a bunch of people here. A few family members have camped here before. And I was like, when are you going to go? You know, so I mean, it's fun, but it's just, it's kind of a place for one person. I always thought. And now that we've come up with this idea to have a, uh, a camp here and play handpans, um, I'm just totally jazzed and I've kind of done a 180 entirely and I want it, can we just like do this, like all the time in the summer? I mean, just, just people just show up and yeah, it's an ongoing camp for three months. I mean, that's how I feel today. That's ridiculous, but we're going to try and do some more or maybe even this summer. So, cause it's really easy and I've gotten over all my worries about, oh, we're trampling this place, so I'm really into it.

Sylvain: And we so appreciate you opening your, your place. I could tell when we walked in that you were very protective of it, but you've been so generous and hospitable. Um, so thank you. Yeah. So I want to turn it over to Bill and Dave. Um, what made you want to come to handpan camp? Hmm.

Bill: Uh, handpans. Camping. Sure.

Dan: That's a good combination.

Bill: Yeah, I think so. Yeah. Plus I respect everybody. You, I didn't know you, Dave, we've met, you know, we, you know, I do, I developed, you know, a respect. I mean, I consider you a friend now in the handpan world and stuff, but, uh, I, and I didn't know Dan personally, but I've heard of you, you know, and I knew Sylvain, so I just thought, you know, yeah, sure. Why not? You know, I mean, handpan gatherings were great, but smaller is better, you know, it's intimate, it's more, you really do get to know people better. So yeah, I was totally up for It.

Dan: I really agree with Bill, you know, when you're in a room with 120 people, it's hard to, you can talk to this little group and that little group, and it gets really confusing where I think that we've made a really cool friendship with us here and I never felt overwhelmed or thinking, well, I, you know, I've talked to this group enough, I'm seeing some guy over there, you know, that, that anxiety of trying to get around and talk to everybody that's not present here.

Sylvain: Right.

Dave: Yeah. And see, that's a little far I'm new enough that my first, uh, campaign gathering would have been the year that COVID was, came upon us. So whenever that was, feels longer than it was, but.

Sylvain: So this is your first gathering?

Dave: Yeah. So this is my first gathering.

Sylvain: It's the best one.

Dave: So I think for me, I mourned the missing Pantasia last year. I mourned this year that we didn't have it live. And because I had felt like I had done so much virtual stuff and being on screens is already not super fun for my brain. So I think the chance to just be with other people, this was a nice entry for me. You know, it was, I know you guys, that Bill, we just met, but you, I guess there's, there's a pretty common connection with, but people love this instrument and then I'll just play it, but they love it. And I knew that would be true of all of you. So I think the setting, I mean, frankly, yeah. You know, Dan, we met whenever we met, I've owned two of your handpans through Sylvain and Sylvain introduced me to you. And I think having gotten to know your story a little bit, and then, you know, we saw each other in Boise not long ago. And it was just felt like, wow, this, this is, like brothers, right? Like so many times, our paths are crossing and here's more, one more chance. And it really worked in with our summer plans with my family. And it's not that far from my house.

Dan: So would you come again? Or is this the only time you'll come here?

Dave: My family is on their way. We're actually going to live in the meadow, for the next three months. It was nice to hear you saying that, that you were hoping for that. So,

Dan: Okay. Well, we'll see how that goes.

Sylvain: Um, we all came from different parts of the country. Um, I woke up at 2:00 AM on Monday. My flight was a little early, smooth sailing. Not all of us had that privilege. Uh, something really unfortunate happened, Bill, what happened? Well,

Bill: My flight was delayed. Oh, also, my handpan never made it to the destination.

Sylvain: No!

Dan: The worst.

Bill: I'm still, I haven't heard from the airlines yet. I don't think they found it, I'm kind of thinking. I'm thinking the worst at this point, but when I get back to the airport on, uh, tomorrow, I'll talk to the airlines and see, you know, where we go from here. So Yeah.

Dan: Yeah. Sorry about that. That's, that's a tragedy for handpanners really, especially if it's a pan that you were like really special or very expensive. I mean, like I said the other day, I don't think I'd ever put a handpan of any kind in luggage. I just wouldn't do it. When I went to Europe, I just said, no, I had a big fat Makai and I figured out how to stuff it in the overhead. And guess what? I went in the air repair. So I'm hiding it at the baggage ticket, the ticket there, if I'm hiding and say, no, this is all I got, I got the handpan down here and I ran in there and I went on the plane and it wouldn't fit in the Evatek above the seats. It's like, oh shit. And so I unzipped it and got the pan out and it fit in there. And I'm standing there with the Evatek case and the stores as well. Do you want us to hold this over on the back of the plane and go, thank you. So it worked, but I just would never put a hand pan in and in the luggage I wouldn't.

Bill: I won't, anymore. It was in a Panji bag. I mean, it was in a good case, you know? So it wasn't just an Evatek case, but, but, you know, I agree

Dan: But the Panji case is really expensive.

Bill: Oh yeah. Yeah. So, the case, the Panji case and the pan right now are, are AWOL. So, uh,

Sylvain: Yeah. And that's really interesting to me. I mean, it's so unfortunate. I'm so sorry this happened bill, but we all came out to this event with different experiences. Um, and you know, cause we, we flew from our own respective homes or drove and um,

Dan: Yeah. So Dave picked you guys up at the airport, which was unique. Usually people would be driving in from everywhere, but you all flew into Boise and there Dave is in Boise. So he brought you here, which is really a cool thing to have set up.

Dave: Yeah. I mean, it, wasn't interesting. My kids got out of school and you know, may something twenty-something and we've, I think we've been in our house like five days since then, different reunions and camping trips and family outings. And so I got back on Saturday afternoon from a seven-day camping trip with extended family. And then, yeah. So I think I had, I had a lot of energy for this and it was fun making a list of things to bring and cause I'm close enough, you know, it's four hours and I have a vehicle where we can put a lot of stuff. It was, I love that part of it. I love the like kind of the prep and packing and planning. And it's, for me, it's like this dream stage, you know, I'm kind of fantasizing about what this is going to be like. And, and that included all the sort of fears of like, oh man, what if I'm not a good enough player? I mean, I'm getting started with this thing. And what if, I don't know how to, you know, fit in.

Dan: You've just been in it two years?

Dave: Yeah. So two and a half. Yeah.

Dan: So we can all attest to you being an amazing player after two and a half years. You're amazing.

Dave: I was fishing for that compliment. You got it. I mean, authentically like thank you for saying that. That's really kind, but also like I haven't played around people, very, I played for people in front of audiences, but most of them have never heard the handpan and there's something about a unique instrument and there's a lot of, you know, you don't know what it's supposed to sound like. And so I think just feeling comfortable to say, oh, I'm going to step into this. And that's been kind of a gradual process since I got here. It was like stepping into the relationships deeper and also like deeper into the experience when we jam and how to listen better. I think that's been maybe the most enjoyable part of this for me is like learning how to listen to people playing and, and no, it kind of thing. What part do I get that? If any, and sometimes I don't need to add any.

Dan: That's great because if you've only played by yourself, that's where I was. I always played by myself. You go to a gathering and you just sit down with people and you know, you just bang out your stuff. You're not, you're not even listening to what was going on around you. So that's a good thing to learn. It's hard to learn. Yeah.

Sylvain: It's good. Yeah. So now we're here. I'm gonna make your brains work a little bit. We've been here for four days. What are some of the highlights, um, that you can think of?

Dan: I think the Ding joke was a highlight, but we don't need to say what it was.

Dave: Yeah. It's not what you might think. If you're listening.

Dan: But yeah. We got to hike. We got to play pans in a teepee, the teepee is kind of the centerpiece here. And the reason that is, is because, you know, three decades ago when I found this place, the first thing I lived in was a teepee here for three or four years. And I haven't had, and I got kind of burned out on living in a teepee, went to all kinds of other simple living structures. And I haven't had a teepee in this meadow since. And so I went, I had spent quite a bit of time trying to find a teepee before this. And he just couldn't because of COVID there was you couldn't get one built fast enough. So a friend loaned me this little teepee and to set it up here was his, this was magical. And every time I look on it, it's really cool because know I have all these old pictures of, of when the, when the first teepee was here and it's so cool to have it there again. And so it's kind of the heart center, you know, the focus center of, of the camp as a teepee. It's really neat rather than a building, you know.

Bill: It's the center on the t-shirt design too. Yeah.

Dan: Got it on the t-shirt. So, it's, it's very meaningful to me to have the teepee there and then just a great meeting place. It's round. We can open it up, get lots of air. We hung a light in it last night and played really late, just really special times, you know? Yeah.

Bill: I thought we had some phenomenal jams, you know, I mean, they would just kind of be organic. They just went on for quite awhile. I thought there were many and they were different. They weren't just all the same, same beat or anything. You know, I thought they were all, each one was kind of different and unique, but it was really cool. And that hike that we took up on top of the, I forgot what the name of the mountain, the lake Moran. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That hike, you know, when we, all of us finally made it up there, you know, myself being the lagger, but you know, whatever, once we were up there and set it down and then we did jamming and stuff, that was probably one of my favorite, uh, jams. That just seem, so it just set the, you know, the atmosphere, the environment, it just fit everything so perfectly.

Dan: Oh, I was out, I was reluctant to kind of kick you guys in the butt to get up there. It was late in the evening, but I knew that people would say that if we, if I could get them up there, they're going to go with, thank you. Because it's just, it's just iconic up there, big lake down below you, a sunset and all the photographs that we've got up there, just, you know, stunning. Yeah. So I'm really glad you guys had the energy to get up there and do that.

Dave: And thanks for taking us, I think. Yeah. I think that's, I'm not ready for this question yet. Do you know? I think I like my heart is really full of gratitude and I think, you know, I think in answering, trying to answer your question, some of the things that do come to mind right now are just Dan. I started to like, get the idea as we were getting closer that you were putting, I feel that we're kind of getting together to be honest. And then I saw that you did like a t-shirt for us. And then I start like the day we're coming, you start sending all these photos and the day before, and I'm looking at this, I'm like, oh my gosh, this is like, Dan is really prepping, preparing, and I could sense your excitement to invite us into this and have even more appreciation now. But as Sylvain said, like just knowing like how sacred and special this place is that you have here. I think just feeling so invited in to not just the space, which is, I mean, I have, I feel like the most wonderful part of my childhood is here.

Dan: It's like a kids might not in nature with the river. You guys have been jumping in the river and holding onto rocks for five minutes and swimming. It's like right there. Yeah. 20 steps from the teepee of the river. So there's a lot of nature you can wander around that. We now walk the trail today. So you know that you could walk south and go all the way up in there and be alone. And there's places to just feel the solitude and connection with nature here. It's just a fantastic place to chill out. And maybe what the future gathering this will be about as people who are, are very stressed with the city life and their jobs and come to this camp and just not displaying handpans, but just, you know, tech go, go in the sauna, take a hike draw. We took a, we made a drawing class, you know, it just, it's just a time for people to relax. I told Daniel Waples when I met him, the dude was extremely stressed out. I could just tell. And I go, well, I've got this place up in Oregon. If you ever up there call me and you come and just hang out there for a couple of weeks and rest. I got a sauna. You can just sleep all the time. And he goes, that sounds cool. So that's, it's more than just a place to play. Handpan is this, it's a retreat, a therapeutic retreat sort of, yeah, we do yoga now in the morning. Right? I do all these stretches in the morning. So we turned it into a yoga class and it's just become a thing. Right. Got all stretched out and we should tell him about how we eat here. Go ahead. What's the food deal?

Sylvain: Bring your own food.

Dan: We got a couple of coolers, a little kitchen area, just go to the store before you show up, get all the kind of foods you like to eat. We'll put it over there and you can just, you know, a regular gathering. We got, you know, two meals, at least that are all designated people standing in the big line and waiting to see beautiful meals, but we don't need to do that. And then some people don't like the meals that were cooked out at a big gathering, maybe. So it's worked really good. We've all been well fed. We got to go out and ate last night and a restaurant and play music there and had a fantastic time. And so then, then going to eat out is a big, huge treat when you're just kind of snacking or getting your regular little foods all day. So he's just worked great. We're not going to have a cook. No, no kitchen.

Sylvain: And Dan has a bunch of plants that you can eat directly from the meadow.

Dan: I got the book up here or edible plants.

Sylvain: So that's been fun. We've been drinking from your spring. There's delicious water coming out of the ground. We've been washing ourselves in the river.

Dan: And a homemade shower if you need that. Yeah.

Sylvain: Yeah. For me, one of the highlights has definitely been nature. And the thing is I knew that coming into this, we would have extra ordinary jams that we would have so much fun creating, but there's a surfer I follow who says you need beauty you can't create.

Bill: Hmm.

Dan: Yeah. I hear you. We know we have deer and baby deer running around us and you know, David's seeing birds, he's trying to identify. And there's a lot of nature here.

Sylvain: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And I, so this morning when I wake up in my tent with no cover, we've had great weather. I mean, it's raining right now, but we've had fantastic weather. So you could sleep just with the net. And so you see through the canopy and the, the stars at night. So I wake up this morning and it's just so amazing just to look around through the see-through net. So I pull my phone and I just start filming a Panorama and I go around and it's so fun. And I see Dave on sleeping on his cot and I see the teepee and I keep turning in, I'm turning around and right here, three feet from me is a deer eating grass. I had no idea well, and, uh, you know, I tried to shuffle as quietly as I could to zoom in. But yeah, that's a special moment. We've seen them a dozen times. Uh, I saw a raccoon galop towards me. This was a wonderful encounter. Um, so yeah, lots, lots of highlights. And tonight is the last night of the event and we are, we have a gig!

Dan: Yeah. At the local brewery, I call them. And so we did get an outhouse. My, my little composting toilet gets overwhelmed very easily with more than a few people. So I rent a porta-potty put up on the hill, it's kind of expensive. It's like 120 bucks a weekend or whatever. And then I call to set us up to play at the local brewery. And she goes, sure, you can, you know, the last night of your thing, come down and play on the stage for the people. And is a $150 Okay? I go, what? I just thought it was an open mic. So, you know, basically the handpan camp paid for. And it's pretty cool. So now we're walking today down a trail talking about the future events and we kind of made a decision that we're going to make this a free camp. You don't have to pay hundreds of dollars to come to this. We don't have to pay a cook. You know, it cost people a lot of money to get here. So bring your handpans and come. And there's not going to be an admission fee, which is unique, I think, but that's in the spirit of the whole place I live on this land basically free. So I'm not going to charge people to come here. It wouldn't be right. You know? Hmm. So did you guys pay yet?

Sylvain: Hahaha.

Dan: I haven't got a check from you or you.

Sylvain: So that's so good.

Sylvain: All right. The main question is, are we bringing the didgeridoo tonight?

Dan: Well, I'm going to insist, that thing has such an amazing bass. And the people will be blown away.

Dave: Literally.

Dan: My grandkids especially are just going to go...

Dave: Uh, that's cool.

Dan: My grandkids will be at the table in front of us. The cutest little kids

Bill: Easily identifiable.

Dan: Little blonde kids

Sylvain: While we there to figure out which pans we're bringing. Yeah. Thanks for sitting down and recording this.

Dan: Yeah. Thank you.

Sylvain: Alright, before I wrap up, I should give you an update on Bill’s missing handpan. After about 10 days, the airline company finally found it and delivered it back to Bill in one piece. The Panji Bag it was in took a nasty hit but the pan was okay, thankfully. In our group text after handpan camp, both Dave, Dan and I were all saying how inspired we were how of how Bill dealt with this whole drama. How he didn’t let it set the tone for the event. Cuz, man, traveling with a handpan can be really stressful. I’ve got a couple stories myself but I’ll keep those for another episode. Well, I’ve gotta tell you, spending five days in the wild with these guys playing music, enjoying nature and going on adventures daily is something I truly will never forget. Part of it is, Nature can be pretty hostile but Dan has found a sort of Eden there. A gentle and welcoming home, and a never-ending source of inspiration and wonder. So, you know for us, we just spent a week there — but for Dan, this is not a place he visits. It’s his home. And to me, that’s absolutely remarkable, and I want to go back. Ok, lastly, I want to give a special shout-out to Jens who randomly ran into us during handpan camp. We were playing on the patio of a restaurant on Thursday night and I hear ”Sylvain, Sylvain”. I turn around and these nice people are smiling and waving at me. Jens introduces himself and goes on explaining he listens to the podcast and plays handpan too. First time I’m recognized in public, so that was really fun. So thanks for saying hello, Jens. Hope you enjoyed this episode. Thanks for listening to the podcast. And I'll talk to you in the next one.

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