There is something magical that happens in one of those long, succulent chants. You know, the ones that start as a low, slow prayer, then gradually build, notch by notch, every musician in sync, the crowd tuned in to the rhythm, before exploding into a frenzy of ecstatic trance/dance rhythms that make you want to jump up and whirl like a dirvish. The Bhakti Build.
Govindas & Radha are realllllly good at this! See for yourself…
They closed their set at Bhakti Fest Spring OMmersion with this tradiitonal Shiva chant, which takes you along on that roller coaster ride on the bhav. Then it winds you down ever so gently with Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu, a beautiful prayer of peace for all beings. Magical.
It’s a nice long 12+ minutes, because these chants should really be experienced in their entirety to grasp the full energy of them. But, if you’re like me and suffer from intermittent ADD (also known as multitasking), you can skip ahead to about 4 minutes in, where it starts to heat up. But I really recommend you don’t miss a minute.
Govindas & Radha’s third CD is Light Inside You: Kirtan Vibrations. Check out their Web site to sample their music and buy their CDs. They are also the brains and beauties behind Bhakti Yoga Shala, Santa Monica’s temple to kirtan love, where there is an amazing line-up of bhakti yoga, asana classes, and full-on rockin’ kirtan day and night. My dream is to have a Bhakti Yoga Shala in every city. Starting with my hometown.
Maybe we could replace every McDonald’s with a Bhakti Yoga Shala, where you’d be served lovelovelove instead of greasy fries and factory-farmed meat.
If you’ve never seen Joey Lugassy performing live, do it now! Though he’s a fixture on the SoCal kirtan scene, I had never had the pleasure of experiencing first-hand his brand of “performance as prayer,” as he calls it. (From his Web site: “Thanks to Jai Uttal, I have truly started to bridge the elusive gap between performance and prayer, leaving me with the thought that maybe all performance is actually prayer.”)
Okay, I’m hooked.
Lugassy’s set at Bhakti Fest’s spring fling was a delectable blend of traditional sanskrit call-and-response chants with original lyrics — topped off with sides of Beatles and Van Morrison! Check out the video for one example: A sweet seamless melding of an ancient Sanskrit Ganesha chant, the 60’s classic Dear Prudence, and Lugassy’s own original lyrics.
Later in the set, the band rocked out with a Radhe Govinda Maha Mantra that got even the sparse, sleepy morning crowd on its feet, then they serenaded us with a lulling cover of Morrison’s “Into the Mystic,” which Lugassy dedicated to the oceans, the Gulf, and the waters of Japan. Seriously, where else are you gonna’ get all that?
“I love the idea of sacred music being many things, including (even) our beloved pop songs that we grew up with,” Lugassy said in an email.
If you’re lucky enough to be in southern Cali, check out Lugassy’s schedule on his site. The rest of us have to settle for as much video and audio as we can…there are free downloads on Lugassy’s site. He told us he is currently in studio for the follow-up to Interim, his first release, and hopes that the yet-to-be-named album will launch at Bhakti Fest — which is where Lugassy will be September 8-11. Will you be there?
(Video shot by James Luce April 16, 2011 at Bhakti Fest Spring OMmersion.)
There was fire on the stage Saturday night of Bhakti Fest — and it wasn’t all coming from the girl twirling behind Dave Stringer, who brought Joey Lugassy to stage front for this long luscious fire-breathing Namah Shivaya. Shot April 16, 2011 at Bhakti Fest Spring OMmersion.
Joshua Tree, Calif.; April 15, 2011: Shyamdas chants the Maha Mantra as only he can in this little snippet of satsang from his set at Bhakti Fest Spring Ommersion. In his inimitable style, Shyamdas tells the sweet story of the Indian saint who got the words to the Maha Mantra (Hari Krishna, Hari Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hari Hari, Hari Rama Hari Rama, Rama Rama, Hari Hari) wrong and chanted Hari Mara (which means to destroy) instead of Hari Rama. Despite his mistake, Hari was compassionate, and the misguided kirtaniya became enlightened anyway because his heart was in the right place.
Message: the words are less important than the intention behind them. Just chant.
C.C. White has yet to release her first CD, but she was arguably the most popular performer at Bhakti Fest’s spring fling, and this video shows why. Not your typical mantra chanting — this is “soul kirtan” like you won’t hear anywhere else. C.C. pulls together a band of rockin’ musicians and then puts her heart and soul into every song. Her CD is in the works, due out in July. I for one can’t wait to add that one!
If you’ve stumbled upon our new site, WELCOME to The Bhakti Beat! We’re just getting started and are delighted that you’ve found us. This will be the place to come for all the latest news, reviews and interviews about kirtan and bhakti yoga. Oh, and lots of videos too!
On April 12, we are off to Bhakti Fest Spring OMmersion in the California desert at Joshua Tree!! We’ll be blogging and vlogging from Bhakti Fest all weekend, so please stay tuned for great videos, interviews and…well, who knows what else? Bhakti Fest always has a surprise or two in store…
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