A wonderful craftsman, friend and fellow craft show artist, Paul Namkung passed away this October at 82.
I first met Paul in the early 90’s at the New Mexico Arts and Crafts Fair. He made box drums called cajons (Spanish for crate or bin) with beautiful woods and amazing craftsmanship. Their tone was amazing and Paul’s playing made them sing. Over the years, we often found our craft show booths near each other’s and I spent a lot of time playing those drums. It was soooo much fun drumming with him. Paul taught me how to play and produce all sorts of wonderful sound from the drums he made.
A few years after Joan and I stopped doing craft shows, I was finally able to buy my own drum when I visited Paul at the Rio Grande Arts Festival in Albuquerque. I think we spent the afternoon playing a variety of drums before I could decide on the ONE… one of his Big Butt Series drums. And that’s another reason why I loved Paul, his sense of humor. Doing craft shows could be a slog. Hard work setting up and taking down and long hours of waiting for a sale. If he was at a show, Paul made it fun.
I can’t relate all of his stories in one blog post (his partner Chris Spanovich says that half of it is BS… which is even funnier), but there was so much that made us laugh when he was working the crowd. For example… if a group of older ladies passed by, he would ask them to do “the dance”. They would stop and ask, “What dance?” and he answered, “the dance that drives men wild”! They would laugh and that was his gift. He brought the joy of music and conversation to the craft shows he did and that spread to all those of us who met him.
I will always make it a point to play with my Big Butt.
In honor of Paul.