A Native American Flute player is set to have the biggest year of his musical career.
He has at least 150 appearances planned this summer, including as a regular performer at the Crazy Horse Memorial, and as the opening act for Brule's shows in Hill City.
But as is often the case, his sudden success, has been a lifetime in the making.
We hear his music and his story: in this edition of "A Long the Way".
32 year old Darren Thompson is a self taught Native American Flute player...growing up on the Northern Wisconsin Lac Du Flambeau Ojibwe Reservation.
But his call to music didn't come until later.
Musician Darren Thompson says, "I spent my first 18 years of my life there and after that I went to college and it hasn't been the same since."
Because it was during college, that he says he first became interested, in the instrument that would ultimately change his life.
Thompson says, "I really started to teach myself, it took a few years because prior to that I had no musical experience."
In fact he had far different plans. But then life sometimes has a plan of its own.
Thompson says, "Believe it or not I actually studied criminology and law studies and I have not explored that area whatsoever."
After college he went to work in a variety of professional settings, but kept pursuing what was becoming his passion.
Musician Darren Thompson says, "I worked very hard, never gave up"
Giving his all, becoming a premier player, of a traditional sound.
In recent years he says he's been performing every few weeks, so to say his career is now hitting a high note, is an understatement
Thompson says, "There are opportunities and experiences I could not even have dreamed of, had this instrument not come into my life."
But it has, and he has a collection of different flutes to choose from.
Musician Darren Thompson says, "They're actually made out of different woods depending on the size as well as the wood that's used, that will influence the sound."
This one is made of walnut and symbolism.
Thompson says, "it emulates the 4 sacred colors of where I come from and that's you know red, white, black, yellow um but also represents to us the 4 peoples of this earth as the 4 directions."
Some songs he's learned from others. Some songs he's created himself.
Thompson says, "I don't write songs in the way that people normally write music. I create songs in my heart and in my, in my mind, and memorize them."
He moved here to the Rapid City area in the fall of 2014.
"The wood that's used is Ponderosa Pine which is here in the Black Hills. It has a totem on the top which represents my clan, where I came from it's a bear clan," says Thompson.
And here in the hills, not far in the distance, a new opportunity to play the music he loves.
Thompson says, "It represents a portion of who we are. It voices that we are a very peaceful, we are very beautiful people."
Performing in a destination that draws tourists from one horizon to the other.
Thompson says, "Who knows what other new songs will come from this experience and how that will touch people from literally all over the world."
If you've met someone cool "A Long the Way", please e–mail or call us with your story ideas.
Thompson does have 2 albums. His first one, released in 2009 is called "The Song of the Flower".
His 2nd album has only been out a few months...that one is called "Between Earth and Sky, Native American Flute Music recorded in the Black Hills"