Didgeridoo down under

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 7, 2008

DEMOPOLIS &8212; It started with a few funny sounds. It continued with a loud bellowing, reverberating noise that filled the Theo Ratliff Activity Center. The sound was Lindsey Allen Dank playing the didgeridoo.

For the 50 or so children packed into the center, it was perhaps the first time they had heard the instrument. As part of Dank&8217;s educational presentation, children from the audience were invited to learn how to play the long, tubular instrument called &8220;the didge&8221; for short.

The program was part of a partnership with the Theo Ratliff Center and the Demopolis Public Library&8217;s summer reading program. This was the second year Dank performed in Demopolis, bringing with him his unusual instrument and a wealth of knowledge about the land down under.

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Dank told the crowd how the instrument was part of traditional Aboriginal culture, which became part of Australia 50,000 years ago. The instrument is made in nature by termites hollowing out the center of trees, but didgeridoos can also be made by hand.

In addition to a musical lesson, Dank taught the crowd about Aboriginal culture and native Australian animals.

Dank is part of a traveling group of didge players known as the Didgeridoo Down Under. He has been playing the instrument since 2000, after hearing it on a public radio program about the Australian Aboriginal people. He is also one of the founders of both Dragon Fly Rhythms and Didg Revolution, both groups who play music and teach lessons about Australia and its unique instrument.

Friday&8217;s program marked the beginning of the summer season for both the Theo Ratliff Activity Center and the Demopolis Public Library. Children&8217;s Librarian Kelley Tarpley said it was the one thing she was looking forward to the most.