Sierra Hull in Chuuk

Sierra Hull and her talented band are in the middle of a two week world tour that will take them pretty much around the globe. While they are traveling, Sierra promises to send reports and photos as often as she can. Here’s second first report, from Chuuk.

Jacob Eller, Sierra Hull and Clark at the Akoyikoyi School in Chuuk“Ran Annium!” – Hello in Chuukese

So I finally have Internet on a flight from Hong Kong to Istanbul en route to Tel Iviv. We left Chuuk (the state we visited in Micronesia), flew back to Guam and then on to Hong Kong where I boarded the flight I’m currently on. Talk about another long stretch of travel! About 28 hours total by the time we get there (if all goes well).

Forgive me if my grammar and iPhone texting skills suffer from the jet lag!

Chuuk was nothing short of amazing! Some of the sweetest people I have met to date. We received the most warm welcome that anyone could expect. They have never had bluegrass on the island before and they were so excited you would have thought Beyonce was in town! People met us at the airport and lined the streets to wave as we drove by.

Jacob Eller with the Sierra Hull Band in ChuukWhile we were there we visited 4 local schools to do workshops, and on our last night there e played a free performance for the folks on the island where we were joined by some students we had met and a couple local musicians. Lots of talented people!

The schools we visited were the most rewarding part of the stay for me. The island only has guitars, keyboards and ukes. Because Internet is little to none and cell phone coverage isn’t that good, the Chuukese don’t have access to YouTube either – something we easily take for granted.

Sierra Hull with her band at the Koyikoyi School in Chuuk with the leis the children made for themFor most of them it was the first time EVER seeing a mandolin, banjo, fiddle and upright bass, as well as hearing guitar played in a bluegrass style. Their reaction to the sound of these instruments was overwhelming! To see these students light up with amazement and joy at the sound of the banjo and fiddle was pretty unbelievable. They loved it! I’ve never seen anything quite like that from young students at home. I think we have so much available to us as Americans that it’s easy to forget how special these instruments are – how special Bluegrass music itself is. I was fully humbled and reminded of that. Music is indeed the most universal language!

Chuuk is a very poor state – people don’t appear to have a whole lot. The roads are terribly bad. It takes about 45 minutes to drive 6 miles. They mostly live off the land – there’s an abundant amount of food from fresh coconut ready to crack open and drink to bread fruit and banana trees at every turn – fresh fish.

Justin Moses, X and Cory Walker in Chuuk with Sierra HullI learned the true meaning of “island time” on my visit there. No one seems to be in a hurry and time is certainly relative. I’m usually very punctual, so that really took some adjusting for me! However, I was just staring to get the hang of it! This past morning (or at least I think -my days are badly confused) we went snorkeling in some of the most beautiful blue water I’ve ever seen. The fish and coral there are surreal!

It’s also VERY humid and hot. The action on my mandolin is so high that I’m definitely building some extra left hand muscle! I am hoping Jerusalem will dry it up a little, otherwise, I must try to do a little set up adjustment!!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.