Carmen and I are always moaning about the size and weight of our backpacks. Just like Goldilocks cadging hot porridge from the Three Bears, we continuously search for a combination that’s just right.
But I met a bloke the other day who’s backpacking arrangements go far beyond anything I’d haul around. Just imagine lugging this thing around South America:
Meet Sam Maher, a musician, writer and traveller from our home town of Perth, Western Australia who’s just travelled the length and breadth of Central and South America with his girlfriend. And he hauled this unique instrument around, as well as a backpack, for entire adventure.
The object he’s holding is most commonly called a Hand Pan. This fascinating shape is one of the newest instruments being played in the world today.
The Hand Pan is an evolution of the Hang, an idiophone style instrument created by Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer in Switzerland through their company PANArt Hangbau AG. Each one is unique and highly sought after.
The Hand Pan is a precision instrument, designed mathematically and drawing on years of research into other kinds of musical devices from all around the world to create a new sound and playing style.
When Sam first saw and heard one being played he knew he had to have one. He drew on his experience as a drummer and taught himself to play the Hand Pan through trial and error, eventually developing his own style of playing and interaction with the instrument.
And when it came time to hit the road, he thought he might as well take it along. This decision allowed him to access a level of travel that most of us have no idea about.Wherever he played, local people would reach out and welcome him into their lives. Sam’s Hand Pan became a key that turned the locks for some truly remarkable experiences.
If you’d like to hear the music and the stories behind it, check out the video above – Sam plays an amazing tune for you and spins a few yarns from his adventures busking across the Americas. You can check out some of his travel tales here as well.