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Where’s the Bhav This Weekend? 3/30-4/1


What’s ahead: Mike Cohen with Brenda McMorrow in Toronto; Wah! and Deepak & Breath of Life Tribe in Santa Monica; SRI Kirtan rocks the Bhajan Belt; GuruGanesha, Girish and the Kirtaniyas converge on the Bay area, and David Newman hits the Midwest.

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Five for the Bhav

Toronto Melds Kirtan with Yoga

Photo by The Bhakti Beat, Bhakti Fest '11

We have a personal beef about how some yoga conferences eschew kirtan concerts altogether, so we rejoice whenever chanting gets featured billing at a yoga gathering.  Like the Toronto Yoga Conference, where MIKE COHEN will be joined by a high-powered chorus of musicians that includes BRENDA MCMORROW, LEA LONGO, LANA SUGARMAN, KEVAN McKENZIE (drum kit) and CHRIS GARTNER (electric bass) for the weekend’s main event on Friday night 3/30.  Also at the conference, Cohen is leading a workshop on integrating kirtan into yoga practice and teaching on Saturday 3/31, which promises to “demystify” kirtan for yogis interested in expanding their repertoire.

Cohen has just announced his latest CD, Soul Contact (officially available April 2), which he says was “profoundly influenced” by his travels to holy sites in South Indian and was crafted during a two-year kirtan tour across North America.  With guest vocalists JONI ALLEN and ALLIE STRINGER (that would be DAVE STRINGER’S niece), he describes the disc as “an invitation to sing, dance, clap and play with Divine Energy within a contemporary Western context.” Here’s a sample track from it, a sublime version of the Gayatri mantra featuring Allie Stringer’s vocal magic.

by The Bhakti Beat

From Toronto, BRENDA McMORROW heads to Buffalo, NY for a concert Saturday 3/31, kicking off a new Northeast tour for the Guelph, Ontario artist, who is literally taking off as a world-class chantress.  She will hit New York, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Indiana and Ohio before heading back to her home province.  Northeast tour details here.

Double-Dose at the Shala

Santa Monica’s kirtan temple strikes again this weekend .  WAH! brings her bhav to Bhakti Yoga Shala on Friday 3/30 before heading to Encinitas for a concert Saturday 3/31 and afternoon workshop on Sunday 4/1 at Jyoti Mandir. (Wah! schedule here.)  On Saturday night the Shala hosts DEEPAK RAMAPRIYAN and BREATH OF LIFE TRIBE for what is sure to be a bhakti-rocking night.  Both events are part of the pre-Bhakti Fest build-up.  Need more?  There’s more.  GOVIND DAS, Bhakti Yoga Shala’s co-founder and head bhakta, will be leading a brand new Monday Night Community Kirtan on, yeah, Monday night.  The Shala’s website has the deets for the whole weekend, and don’t forget to check out what’s coming up.

Bhakti Rock in the Bhajan Belt

Photo by Ganagaram (Patrick Finn)

Back East in the Hudson Valley’s Bhajan Belt, SRI KIRTAN (aka SRUTI RAM and ISHWARI) are back from India and at their home ‘hood studio of Euphoria Yoga in Woodstock on Saturday 3/31, rocking the local bhaktas with their inimitable blend of genre-bending bhajans.  KC SOLARIS will join on tabla.  In India, this dynamic duo opened the evening chants at the annual Festival of Flowers at RADHANATH SWAMI’s Radhagopinath temple in Mumbai, and got covered in a few million loose flower petals that rained down from the heavens.  After reading their blog post recounting the story, we’re adding the Festival of Flowers to our bucket list.  Wow.

Bhav Around the Bay

Northern California’s Bay Area gets a triple-shot of bhakti love this weekend: GURUGANESHA BAND (with special guest JAI UTTAL!), THE KIRTANIYAS and GIRISH all have gigs this weekend in Berkeley and San Francisco.

GURUGANESHA SINGH and his band of troubadours (including HANS CHRISTIAN, MICHELLE HURTADO, DANIEL PAUL, SAT KATAR SINGH and GURUSANGHAT SINGH) hit the Rudramandir Temple in Berkeley Friday night for one last California gig — and word is that JAI UTTAL will be joining the fun.  (Do you think he’ll have gotten the day-glo colors out of his hair yet, after last weekend’s Holi Fest?) The GGB has collaborated its way up the coast of Cali, playing along the way with KARNAMRITA DASI, THOMAS BARQUEE, clarinetist RAM DASS KHALSA, and more.  Saturday the band heads north for a string of concerts in Oregon and British Columbia before the West Coast leg of this national tour culminates in SAT NAM FEST in Joshua Tree April 12-14.  East Coasters will get their chance soon enough: that leg begins in Virginia May 18.  See the full tour here.

There might be some residual Holi Fest colors found at Purusha in San Francisco Friday night as well, when the KIRTANIYAS bring their Krishna love back from Utah to rock Bay bhaktas.  The Kirtaniyas — VIJAY KRSNA, SARASVATI NUGENT, RASIKA COVIN, NITAI PREMO — will be joined by Jai Uttal’s long-time vocal accompanist, PRAJNA VIEIRA (whose debut CD will be out later this Spring).  They all head to San Raphael Saturday 3/31 and Los Gatos on Sunday 4/1Details for all three shows here.

Also on Friday, GIRISH is back in NoCal and playing for yoga with ANNIKA WILLIAMS at Yoga Tree Mission in San Francisco.  We stumbled upon a yoga class at BHAKTI FEST where Girish, YVETTE OM and ALVIN YOUNG  (of the WILD LOTUS BAND) were jamming, so we understand why so many people want Girish playing at their yoga class.  (In fact you can get three days of Girish-infused yoga next weekend, 4/5-7 at the Breathe Yoga Retreat, happening at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center aka the home of Bhakti Fest and Sat Nam Fest 2012.)  On Saturday 3/31, Girish heads south for concerts in Santa Barbara, followed by Avila Beach Sunday 4/1, continuing a breathless North American Diamonds in the Sun tour.  We hope he gets to breathe at the Breathe retreat… Tour details here.

Mantras in the Midwest

More wanderlust from DAVID NEWMAN aka DURGA DAS, who is in the midwest this weekend with concerts in Chicago Friday 3/30 and Oshkosh, Wisc. Saturday 3/31. On Sunday 4/1 Newman pulls double-shift at Inner Sun Yoga in Oshkosh, presenting his Inner Fire workshop from 10-noon plus a live-music yoga jam later in the afternoon.  All details here.

And because everyone knows Midwesterners can’t get enough kirtan, three local bhakta bands in the Minnepolis area are joining forces for a mini-encore of the recent Milwaukee Kirtan FestTULSI DAS, PASCALE LAPOINT and OM BOLO reconvene the kirtan on Saturday 3/31 from noon to 4 p.m.  Details here.

Those are our top five spots for the bhav this weekend.  Where will you be chanting?

Don’t forget to post your events to The Bhakti Beat’s facebook page or tweet us with them.  Thanks!




Where’s the Bhav This Weekend? Mar. 23-25


What’s ahead: Covered in colors in the Utah desert with Jai Uttal, Larisa Stow, Mayapuris and Kirtaniyas (!), bhav in the Bayou with Sean Johnson & the Wild Lotus Band, the GuruGanesha Band takes off, Girish takes his bhav to the Northeast and the Kirtaniyas take theirs coast-to-coast.

If you like the weekend bhav blog, please share it with your peeps.  We love you for it!

Five for the Bhav: Weekend Picks

Wallahs Gone Wild?

Photo from www.larisastow.com

We dream of being covered in colors and bathed in the bhav at the Holi Festival of Colors.  At the Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah, they put on the biggest Holi splash in North American — an estimated 60,000 people went to last year’s fest!  Seriously, this is on our bucket list, and we’re trying not to whine too much about not being there right now.  (whimper)  Just look at the headliner line-up this year:  LARISA STOW & SHAKTI TRIBE (returning for the second year, with KIMO ESTORES, RICHARD HARDY and BENJ CLARK); JAI UTTAL, who will be joined by MARK GORMAN, BEN LEINBACH, RICHARD HARDY and others; the MAYAPURIS (VISVAMBHAR SHETH, VRINDA DEVI SHETH, BALI RICO and KRISHNA KISHORE), and, fresh from a European tour, the KIRTANIYAS (VIJAY KRISNHA, SARASVATI NUGENT, RASIKA COVIN, and NITAI PREM).  If someone said, pick your dream team of wallahs who won’t fail to shake the shakti of 50,000+ blissed-out bhaktas (or bhaktas for the day at least) drenched in brilliant chalk dust and singing praise to Krishna in the Utah desert, these four would be on the list, wouldn’t you agree?  Holi Fest is all day Saturday and Sunday; also on the schedule are TK AND NAM RAK, JAI KRISHNA and ANANDA GROOVE.  Click here for the full schedule and details on the event.  And check out this rockin’ video from Shakti Tribe at last year’s fest.

Bhav in the Bayou

From the desert to the bayou, sacred music takes over the City of Jazz this weekend with the first New Orleans Sacred Music Festival, happening Saturday and Sunday at the New Orleans Healing Center.  Hometown heroes SEAN JOHNSON & THE WILD LOTUS BAND (aka GWENDOLYN COLMAN and ALVIN YOUNG) will be bringing the bhav to this party, which is cosponsored by The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation and the Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival and features music from a wide range of devotional traditions.   Sean & the Band are celebrating the release of a brand new music video featuring their latest original song, Unity, which seamlessly blends Rumi poetry, the ancient Sanskrit chant Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu and Sean’s original lyrics around the “unity” theme.  Check out the exclusive premiere of the video on YogaJournal here, which accompanies an article Sean wrote for the magazine’s next print issue on yoga and creativity.  Looking forward to that one!

GuruGanesha Takes Off

Photo from GuruGanesha on Facebook

It’s been all the buzz for months and the raves are pouring in from the GURUGANESHA BAND’s debut-tour openers in SoCal last weekend.  This weekend the band heads north for two shows in Santa Rosa (Friday and Saturday) with KARNAMRITA DASI joining in, and San Francisco on Sunday.  Then it’s on to Santa Cruz 3/28), Berkeley (3/30) and several dates in Oregon and British Columbia before the West Coast leg of this national tour culminates at SAT NAM FEST April 12-14 in Joshua Tree, Calif.  East Coast dates have just been announced; see the full schedule here.  The GuruGanesha Band, the latest project of GuruGanesha Singh, the prolific producer, guitarist, singer/songwriter and founder of Spirit Voyage Records, represents “something new, in that it’s bringing a guitar band sound into the world devotional music arena,” GuruGanesha says on his Web site.  The band includes DANIEL PAUL, MICHELLE HURTADO, HANS CHRISTIAN, SAT KARTAR SINGH and GURUSANGAT SINGH, and from what we’ve heard, they jam.  Here’s a sweet Wahe Guru/Hallelujah medley and more just posted from their show at Naam Yoga, Santa Monica last weekend, where TINA MALIA, ASH RUIZ and THOMAS BARQUEE joined in the fun.

Kirtaniyas Take the USA

Holi Fest in Utah marks the blast-off of a coast-to-coast tour for the KIRTANIYAS, a foursome of young Krishna devotees (VIJAY KRSNA, SARASVATI NUGENT, RASIKA COVIN, NITAI PREMO) who are fresh from a European tour celebrating the release of their latest CD, Heart and Soul.  We first saw this band at Bhakti Fest 2010; they came onto the main stage at some past-midnight hour when most fest-goers had gone to bed and the rest of us were intermittently dozing on the lawn, bundled up against the chilly night.  Well believe us, when these kirtan kids took the stage, the place warmed up fast — and all napping ceased.  They rocked us out of our blankets and had everyone boogying to their bhakti beats the whole rockin’ set.  A series of California tour dates starts 3/30 in San Francisco, with special guest PRAJNA VIEIRA.  The band hits New York City in April, and more East Coast dates are expected.  Go see them live, wherever you can.

Girish Grooves the Northeast

Photo by Lauren Rutten Photography

East Coasters don’t get enough of GIRISH, the NoCal-based master musician long revered for his tabla playing alongside the likes of KRISHNA DAS, DONNA DE LORY and countless others and now firmly planted amidst the Wallahs to Watch short list.  This weekend he hits New Jersey and New York with a series of concerts and live-music yoga classes.  Fresh off the release of his latest CD, Girish Remixed (which came just over a year after the brilliant Diamonds in the Sun), Girish has been touring incessently.  He’s just back from Alaska (yes, Alaska) and is immediately heading back to California for more gigs closer to home, culminating in Shakti Fest May 11-13 in Joshua Tree.  Take a look at his whole schedule, which is booked right through November — this man is everywhere!  Go go Girish.


That’s our Five for the Bhav for this weekend.  Where will you be chanting?



Where’s the Bhav This Weekend? Mar. 16-18


There’s a hometown vibe in much of the country this weekend.  David Newman releases STARS in his home ‘hood, Jaya Lakshmi & Ananda take their Altar of Love on the road, Irene Solea gets a home-studio welcome in Boston, Devadas sings for Amma in NYC, DC showcases home-cooked community kirtan, and Saul David Raye brings the bhav to your own home with Tele-Satsangh.  Here are our highlights for the Weekend Bhav.

David Newman Stars Party; Philadelphia (3/16)

DAVID NEWMAN celebrates his newest offering, Stars, with a CD release party in his home hood of Philadelphia, at the Tin Angel Friday 3/16.  David, aka DURGA DAS, talked about the making of the CD — his first since the birth of his daughter Tulsi and the first for the White Swan label — on GARY GOLDBERG’s In The Spirit radio show Thursday, offering commentary on each track’s genesis.  The song “We Are What We Are” is one of his favorites on the disc, he said:  “It came through to me right before the 11/11 shift…Recording it was really a magical moment for me.”  There are other magic moments on this record as well, like “Tulsi’s Bliss (Maha Mantra),” where the bhakti baby herself makes her recording debut with a gurgling girl giggle at its opening (did she say Rama?).  All around, a beautiful new recording that showcases David’s lyrical poeticism and singer-songwriter prowess, seamlessly melded with ancient chants.  Get Stars here.

Jaya Lakshmi, Altar of Love; Santa Cruz (3/16-18)

Jaya Lakshmi & Ananda (photo from JayaLakshmi.net)

All I can say about this weekend workshop series is wow!  Just look at this line-up with JAYA LAKSHMI and ANANDA:  Sacred Music Kirtan Friday night; Kirtronica Ecstatic Dance Saturday night, plus workshops on Couples Yoga, Bhakti Yoga/Kirtan, Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, and a Cacao Ceremony.  Yes, cacao, but not just any chocolate, mind you.  This will involve “a very special type that a cacao shaman selected personally for its energetic qualities.”  Jaya has been a pioneer in the fusion of live Sanskrit chanting with electronica dance beats, a musical hybrid that is growing coast to coast beyond its roots in conscious dance parties for urban hipsters.  She’s taking her brand of kirtronica on the road for the next two months, leading up to a Friday night set at BHAKTI FEST, right after JAI UTTAL plays.   Check out the description on the Altar of Love Weekend Immersion (even if you can’t get to Santa Cruz). At DiviniTree Yoga & Arts Studio and the Pacific Cultural Center in Santa Cruz.

Irene Solea, Boston (3/16)

If you’re anywhere near Boston, the place to be Friday night is with IRENE SOLEA at her “kirtan homebase,” South Boston Yoga.  Boston bhaktas are stoked.  Irene will be joined by EZRA LANDIS (guitar), OWEN LANDIS (drums), DANNY SOLOMON (keys/bass), McKENNA LONGACRE (cello), special guests KULA KULA, plus “another surprise guest or two,” Irene says in her invite with a 🙂  hmmmm…

Devadas, Integral Yoga Institute, NYC (3/17)

Devadas (photo from Nina Rao Chant)

NYC’s DEVADAS has been busy!  Prepping for a West Coast mini-tour next weekend, producing NINA RAO’s upcoming debut CD, recording with the Brooklyn Yoga School’s upcoming live CD, and planning a “duo tour” with ANJULA PRASAD.  Amidst all that (plus a night job as a graphic designer and a young daughter, btw), he manages to still keep the devi bhava flowing in his regular hometown chanting spots in Brooklyn and Manhattan.  How does he do all that?  “I don’t sleep much,” he told us in an interview recently.  A devotee of Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi), Devadas offers up his heart to his beloved guru with every song.  He’ll be at Integral Yoga Friday 3/16 , joined by TERRENCE POMPEY on dholak and SUNDAR DAS on bansuri flutes.

DC Region Community Kirtan (3/17)

Let’s hear it for community kirtan in the country’s capital region — we could use all the good vibes we can get flowing down there, right?  Thankfully, the bhakti love vibrations are plentiful, including a double-dose of home-cooked kirtan this Saturday 3/17.  First, there’s KIRTAN CIRCLE at Sun & Moon Yoga in Arlington, Va., with RAIMA LARTER & friends leading BYOI kirtan (Bring-Your-Own-Instrument).  Then, DC SUPERSONIC KIRTAN takes off at Pure Prana Yoga in Alexandria, Va., described as “transcendental kirtan party that’ll rock your socks off!”  Who could resist that?  Socks optional, I think.

Saul David Raye, Tele-Satsangh (3/19)

Available right from your own hOMe, the next best thing to being live with SAUL DAVID RAYE is the Spring Equinox 2012 Soul Family Tele-Satsangh, the latest in a series of worldwide teleconferences with one of yoga’s most beloved bhaktas.  On Monday 3/19, the eve of the Spring equinox, Saul and special guest Astrologer DIVINE HARMONY offer wisdom, meditation, sacred chants and astrological insight amidst the healing, connecting power of sangha.  This donation-based event is open to all; find out how to join here.


Photo from Saul David Raye


More Hometown Bhav

Cali Callers

In the Bay area of Northern California, BHAKTI RASA KIRTAN, Pleasanton, Calif.’s “very own original home-grown kirtan band,” will be in residence at Downtown Yoga Saturday 3/17 for the studio’s 10-year birthday bash, an open house that includes food, raffles, prizes, demonstrations, and meet-the-teacher opps.  Bhakti Rasa Kirtan is ANDY & MARIA ALLEN, JIM COUGHLIN, SANDY CARMELLINI, plus “a special guest tabla player.”

Down the California coast in Santa Monica, another birthday bash: this one for GOVINDAS, one half of GOVINDAS & RADHE, in the studio he co-founded, Bhakti Yoga Shala, aka Ground Zero for SoCal bhav.  This event was just announced publicly, but we have a feeling the word is out and the bhakti brothers and sisters will be out in force to sing “appearance-day” praises to the much-loved yogi on his 41st birthday.  The Shala-shaking starts at 9.

Northeast Notes

Back East, Boston welcomes New York-based BHAKTI BAND to the MIT Center in Cambridge Saturday 3/17, reportedly the first time the group is playing in Beantown. Bhakti Band musicians “fuse their diverse backgrounds in rock, soul, world and jazz music with their love for meditation and yoga to bring expression to this beautiful form of meditative singing” and have played at New York City’s Town Hall and Lincoln Center, the United Nations, and Jakkur Airfield in Bangalore, India, in front of a crowd of millions.  Sounds like a can’t-miss to us.

In Portland, Maine, we can’t not mention this little band of bhaktas who are making some big noise in New England kirtan circles.  The SHIVA LILA BAND is back in its home ‘hood (back to that theme) with what is certain to be a high-vibe, raise-the-roof kirtan at Sadhana Meditation Center in S. Portland.

And in Framingham, Mass., there’s Home Kirtan with JAISHREE & THE PREMA BHAKTI BAND on Sunday 3/18, hosted by Alan Krentzel.  Vegan Potluck dinner follows chanting; RSVP’s are requested.

In Mount Kisco, NY, SATYA FRANCHE returns for her monthly chant night at the U.U. Coffee House on Saturday 3/17 for an evening of MA KIRTAN and “maybe even some green prasad, and Gaelic sounds” in honor of St. Patrick.


Where’s your bhav this weekend?




Where’s the Bhav This Weekend? Mar. 9-11


Saul David Raye ignites hearts in Colorado, Jai Uttal awakens bhakti in Sedona, and Gaura Vani teaches harmonium in NY.  The Twin Cities Kirtan Fest lines up SIX local bands, and ChantLanta unites Wah!, David Newman and Sean Johnson & the Wild Lotus Band with EIGHT local bands.  Plus Benjy Wertheimer and Steve Gorn in Portland, Cooper Madison and Daniel Stewart in SoCal, Bhakti Sessions and Goddesses in NY.  The bhav is everywhere.

Top Five Weekend Bhav

Saul David Raye Kirtan/Workshops; Denver (3/9-11)

Photo from Saul David Raye

SAUL DAVID RAYE has a reputation for creating transformative experiences in yoga and chant, and this weekend”s Inner Alchemy retreat at Karma Yoga Center in Denver will be no exception.  Between Friday night and Sunday afternoon, the master yogi, beloved bhakta and co-founder of Exhale Venice presents six  integrated sessions focused on “strengthening and activating the spiritual heart and doing inner transformation through the 7 levels of energy within.”  Come for one session or all six, but DON’T miss Saturday night’s ANANDA COSMIC KIRTAN, described as “a moving, ecstatic, expansive and raw experience that dives deep into the nectar of the heart.”  Saul will be joined by local musicians JIM BECKWITH (guitar/vocals) and DAMON THE ZEN DRUMMER (djembe drums/percussion).

Jai Uttal Kirtan/Workshop, Sedona (3/9-10)

JAI UTTAL is back from Bodhi Fest in Australia and heading straight to Sedona, Ariz. for kirtan Friday night and a mid-day workshop Saturday called “Awakening Bhakti: A Celebration of Divine and Human Love.”  In it, Jai promises to “demystify” bhakti yoga.  His message: “With just a little understanding of music and rhythm and a lot of self acceptance, we all can sing and lead and share our hearts with others.”  Bhakti Tribe Sedona is hosting the program, Jai’s first trip to the city in four years.  DANIEL PAUL will be on tabla.  Sedona is pumped.

Gaura Vani: Workshops, NYC (3/9-11; 3/15)

Photo by The Bhakti Beat

GAURA VANI is back by popular demand for Level 2 of his harmonium workshop series at Yogamaya in NY Friday through Sunday.   This is a “hands-on, voice-on, full-on intensive” designed to help participants build on basic skills, lead group chanting and chant with the group, get comfortable reading music, and delve deeply into the practice of kirtan.  Open to anyone who has “ever had your hands on a harmonium and wanted to get better,” whether you took the Level 1 or not.

On Thursday 3/15, Gaura Vani presents SoundBody, SoundMind at Om Factory NYC, in collaboration with yogi KIRTAN SMITH.  This innovative program is described as “a multimedia, multi-sensory exploration of asana, music and mantra” centered around a series of postures evocative of the “scope and evolution of the universe.”

Twin Cities Kirtan Festival, Minneapolis (3/10)

Here’s a beautiful example of a kirtan community coming together as one:  six local bands, each with its own unique sound, chanting for six hours straight over the course of a Saturday.  No “national acts.”  No superstar yogis or simultaneous workshops going on.  Just good, pour-out-your-heart hometown kirtan with 150 or so of your closest friends.  That’s the 3rd annual Twin Cities Kirtan Festival.

Let me see if I can get this line-up right.  TULSI DAS (aka JOSH POLICH) starts it off at 4 p.m.; then KIRTAN COLLECTIVEOM BOLO (MELISSA FOSSUM, ANDREA SULLIVAN, BRYCE KASTNING, ALEXANDRA THIEM); and WILD MOON BHAKTAS.  Next up: SITARA & KALYANI and PAVAN KUMAR (who will soon be playing at Bhakti Fest Midwest), with PABLO CHARIS and WILL KEMPERMAN.  Finally, KIRTAN PATH (PASCALE , NANCY, MARK and GANGAMANTRI DAS) takes the closing set.  All for 20 bucks.  (And door prizes too — including a ticket to Bhakti Fest Midwest in June.)  What’s not to love?

ChantLanta Sacred Music Festival, Atlanta (3/9-10)

Speaking of regional kirtan fests we love everything about, there’s ChantLanta, whose theme is Peace, Love & Kirtan in the South.  And with WAH!, DAVID NEWMAN & MIRA, SEAN JOHNSON & THE WILD LOTUS BAND plus EIGHT (yeah, eight) local/regional bands playing, there’s going to be a lot of peace, love and kirtan going on Friday night and morning-to-midnight Saturday at the magnificent Druid Hills Baptist Church.  For the full story behind ChantLanta and a full list of the local bands, please read Get the Bhav: ChantLanta.


More Kirtan Coast-to-Coast

Portland Pair-Up

This is not just any pairing; this is Indian classical music with master multi-instrumentalist BENJY WERTHEIMER (of SHANTALA) and bansuri flute master STEVE GORN.  Enough said?  I thought so.  They will be moving souls at the Movement Center in Portland, Ore. on Friday 3/9.

Big Apple Bhav

Bhakti Sessions, the brainchild of SRIKALA KEREL ROACH and JESSE JOHNSON, kicks off this Friday 3/9 at City Life Wellness in Brooklyn.  With eight evenings scheduled for the month of March, these gatherings promise to “go deep into the land of transcendental sound vibration,” with an acoustic approach to kirtan weaved with poetry, affirmations and stories.  Srikala’s brilliant new CD, Srikalogy Kirtan Sessions Volume 1, which weaves hip-hop and reggae sounds into traditional chants, is now available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.

Kundalini yogini, Sikh minister and Yogi Bhajan disciple SATKIRIN KAUR KHALSA brings her sacred chanting to Integral Yoga NY for “Joyful Sounds of Kirtan” on Friday 3/9, accompanied by TRIPP DUDLEY on percussion and BRANDON TERZIC on oud and guitar.  Sure to be a transformative experience.

Sanskrit & Samosas in SoCal

(Photo from Cooper Madison)

COOPER MADISON is back at Bhakti Yoga Shala in Santa Monica this Friday 3/9 for a night of sacred names, mantra, meditation and ecstatic singing.  He’ll be surrounded by friends, including SAPPHRON OBOIS (sax), VIVEK VIRANI (tabla), DEEPAK RAMAPRIYAN (vocals, violin) and EDDIE YOUNG (bass, cello, flute).  To celebrate Cooper’s debut CD (coming soon), everyone will get a pre-release song from it for free, just for showing up.  (And if that’s not enough there are free samosas.  But get there early if you want some.)

PSALM ISADORA is back too, and reconvening Shakti Church at the Shiatsu Massage School in Santa Monica this Sunday 3/11.  The event supports a documentary in gestation called “Shakti: The Power of Women.” The service at “Church” will include 108 sun saltuations, kundalini tantra breathwork, chanting with Mother Medicine Kirtan, ecstatic dance and drum circle.  Jai Shakti Ma!

Up the 405 in Sherman Oaks, Calif., DANIEL STEWART and friends are gathering for their monthly community kirtan jam fest at Rising Lotus Yoga.  Joining Daniel Friday 3/9 are ARIELLE SILVER (vocals and tambourine), CATHY CAVADINI (vocals), SHANNON BAKER (vocals and kartals), JEFF HARRIS (guitar), DARBY ORR (bass), and GREG KLIMUCK (cajon and percussion).  Expect ecstatic-ness.

(Photo from Sahaja)

Goddesses in Woodstock

The 7th Annual Woodstock Goddess Festival is here. Billed as a music/art/dance celebration, the popular event benefits the Ulster County battered women’s shelter. This year’s festival runs Friday 3/9 to Sunday 3/11, at the Colony Café in Woodstock, N.Y., and includes all female-fronted live music with artists such as UBAKA HILL, bellydancing with THE WILD ROSES, a Goddess/Women’s art exhibition at Varga Art Gallery in Woodstock, a Goddess Poetry Festival, and, yes, chanting, with SAHAJA KIRTAN (7 p.m. Satuday 3/10), a local artist who is a regular at Kripalu and at Omega staff kirtans. Sahaja is also teaching drop-in harmonium classes at Euphoria Yoga in Woodstock every Friday in March.

New England’s Got Heart and…UFO’s?

Maine kirtaniyas band together this Saturday 3/10 to raise funds for Sadhana, a South Portland meditation center that often hosts chant events. The event, dubbed Anahata (for heart), features bhaktas from western, eastern and southern Maine: ANANDA BHAKTI, FULL HEART COMMUNITY KIRTAN and KIRTONIUM, who will play as one ensemble beginning at 7:00 P.M. Gong Meditation and healing circle with TODD GLACY, SUZANNE SILVERMOON and KATHY MOORE starts at 4:30, with pot-luck dinner in between.

Dave Russell says, "Kirtan attracts all types." LOL

DAVE RUSSELL takes up root and spreads his wings at Roots to Wings Yoga in greater Newbury, Mass., for an evening of devotional chant Saturday 3/10, where he’ll be joined by HOLLY HARTMAN (vocals), CHARLIE BRAUN (guitar & vocals ), and CHARLIE SHEW (percussion) — and maybe a UFO?  Dave’s second CD will be released this Spring.

Don’t forget to send events to bpatoine@aol.com, post them to The Bhakti Beat’s Facebook page., or Tweet us!

THANK YOU for sharing THE BHAKTI BEAT with your bhakta friends!




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Get the Bhav: ChantLanta (March 9-10, Atlanta)


This is the first of a new series, “Get the Bhav,” which covers kirtan festivals and retreats.  Please contact bpatoine@aol.com with information about upcoming events.

ChantLanta. Where the Bhav Is

Move over “HotLanta.”  After this weekend, the Big Peach, the City of Peace and of Trees may well have a brand new nickname: ChantLanta.

Now in its third year and bigger than ever, ChantLanta marries three big artists — WAH!, DAVID NEWMAN & MIRA, and SEAN JOHNSON & THE WILD LOTUS BAND — with EIGHT regional bhakti bands for two rockin’ days of call-and-response chanting plus yoga, sound and movement workshops throughout the day Saturday.

The music starts Friday night with three great local bands, BHAKTI MESSENGER, RAHASYA, and DHVANI, all for free.  These three alone would be enough to get us to ChantLanta, even if they may be new names to many.  BHAKTI MESSENGER, formed in 2009 by IAN BOCCIO, PHIL McWILLIAMS, BRIHASPATI and AMANDA FEINSTEIN, are Wallahs to Watch: they have opened for WAH! and SHYAMDAS, have played with other “big names” in kirtan, and have been invited to play at Bhakti Fest in September.  Check out their music and new CD, “Now,” and hear for yourself why they are on the rise.

RAHASYA, based in Athens, Ga., is another band to remember — and hear.  Comprised of SURDAS and VAJRA YOGINI plus keyboardist GERSHON, the group weaves Sanskrit mantras and Hebrew chants infused with southern gospel improv and heart-opening poeticism.  They have been touring throughout the Southeast in celebration of their second CD, “Covered in Song,” which released just last month.

All day Saturday 3/10, bhakti love flows from five more local bands:  FLYING MYSTICS, WOVEN TONGUES, KIRTAN BANDITS, SUNMOON PIE, and CHAITANYA KIRTAN.  In addition to nonstop chanting, workshops throughout the day cover topics such as Sufi meditation, Five Rhythms Dance, mantra chanting, and breathwork.  By the time Saturday night rolls around for the “big acts,” the energy at the Druid Hills Baptist Church, where ChantLanta unfolds, is likely be higher than…Sunday service at a Southern Baptist church??  The Saturday night line-up is the only part of the weekend that costs anything, and at $50 for three top performers, we think it’s a bargain.  UPDATE:  ChantLanta has graciously extended the discount ticket price of $35 to ALL until the day of the event, thanks to our article! 

Putting HotLanta on the Chant Map

Birthing credit for ChantLanta goes to BHAKTI MESSENGER, whose co-founder Ian Boccio said in an email that the band “threw together” the first fest in March 2010 “as a way to increase awareness of kirtan and bhakti practices” and build a kirtan community in greater Atlanta and beyond.  The strategy seems to be working:  Ian says attendance at BHAKTI MESSENGER’s kirtans has “exploded,” new bands (including DHVANI) have formed, other bands (like RAHASYA) now play regularly in Atlanta, and the city is becoming a destination for touring national artists.  “2012 looks to be a banner year for us, with WADE IMRE MORISSETTE, BHAGAVAN DAS, SHYAMDAS, and GIRISH all visiting our city in the first several months,” Ian said.

Omega Institute’s Ecstatic Chant weekends inspired him, Ian says.  “That was the first time I got the idea of what it would be like to do kirtan for days on end.”  He also found inspiration in the “Chant, Chai and Charity” events organized in Philadelphia by Steve Groff (Mira Newman’s father), and has used that as a model.  Last year’s ChantLanta festival raised $6,000 for charity, even without charging attendees a penny!  (The money came through sponsorships.)  This year, the organizers are hoping for 1,000 attendees, and proceeds benefit two local charities: 50 Cents Period and AiJalon.

Ian Boccio (Photo from ChantLanta)

These bhaktas have big plans for ChantLanta, hoping to make it “the largest and most visible kirtan event in the South.”  (They are not without competition: Sarasota, Fla.’s Rock the Bhakti weekend in January brought in SHANTALA and WAH! to join local groups PALMS TOGETHER and others, and in Houston, the Texas Yoga Conference last month hosted SEAN JOHNSON & THE WILD LOTUS BAND, DAVID NEWMAN & MIRA, SUZANNE STERLING, THE DESERT DWELLERS and Texas favorites THE BHAKTI HOUSE BAND.)

Somehow we think the South is big enough to handle all these festivals and more.  As Ian says: “We believe that if more people are chanting, there will be more peace and harmony in the world!”  Hear Hear.

ChantLanta Website Home Page


Where’s the Bhav This Weekend? Mar. 2-4


What’s in store:  Wah! returns East, Shantala storms the Northwest, Ragani rocks Milwaukee, KD opens hearts in Orlando and C.C. White stirs souls in Santa Monica.  Lots of great kirtan out there this weekend; here are our top five picks for weekend bhav.  Where will you be chanting?

Top Five Weekend Bhav


BENJY and HEATHER WERTHEIMER, aka SHANTALA, are barnstorming the Northwest this weekend with a CD Release Tour celebrating their latest, Jaya, which everyone has been raving about.  First up is their home ‘hood of Portland, Ore. on Friday 3/3, where they’ll be joined by bansuri flute master STEVE GORN, bass and two-string guitar virtuoso SEAN FRENETTE and vocalist LINDSEY STORMO for a kirtan benefiting Living Yoga and the Oregon Food Bank.  Saturday the gang heads north to Seattle to hook up with GINA SALA to raise money for Yoga Behind Bars with a concert at the Seattle Unity Church.  On Sunday 3/5, it’s off to Vancouver, BC for a CD release party at St. Mark’s Trinity Church.  SHANTALA live never fails to be an experience in master musicianship and deep, reverent devotion, and with this band of stellar musicians backing them, this tour is not be missed.


Fresh from the release of her newest CD, Loops N Grooves, WAH! heads back East for a concert Friday 3/2 at Integral Yoga in New York City.  The long-awaited new CD– more than two years in the making — takes the electronic grooves and dance beats we fell in love with on Love Holding Love up another notch.  Wah’s signature soaring vocals are punctuated throughout with luscious loops and live beatboxing from the amazing “human drum kit” MIKE HAZZIA.  Have you seen this guy?  Vocal percussion at its funkiest!

Next weekend Wah! heads South for CHANTLANTA, the first big two-day kirtan fest in Atlanta, where she’ll be joined by DAVID NEWMAN & MIRA and SEAN JOHNSON & THE WILD LOTUS BAND as well as regional Wallahs to Watch BHAKTI MESSENGER, RAHASYA, and lots more.


Chant Master KRISHNA DAS, just back from a long weekend retreat at the beautiful Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas, is jumping right into an urban retreat at the Hindu Temple in Orlando, Fla. Friday night 3/3 to Sunday 3/5.  As part of the retreat, NINA RAO will be leading chanting of the Hanuman Chalisa, the 40-verse prayer to the  “monkey god” who embodies grace and devotion, and GENEVIEVE WALKER, KD’s masterful violinist, will be leading asana classes daily.  Kirtan concerts Friday and Saturday nights have been opened to non-retreatants.  Retreating with KD is an opportunity to get up close and personal with a bhakti “rock star” who is still keeping it real.  KD’s new venture with SiriusXM, KRISHNA DAS YOGA RADIO, launched March 1, bringing kirtan (even if they don’t call it that by name) to a national audience of radio listeners for the first time.  You can try Sirius out for free for 30 days and support this groundbreaking new channel!

Photo by Dale Buegel


Midwest kirtan is not just alive and well, but thriving, in large part due to the charismatic chantress RAGANI, who has been leading call-and-response chanting for some 30 years.  First-Friday Kirtan with Ragani is practically an institution in Wisconsin, regularly attracting 400 or more people and counting among the largest and longest-running ongoing chant communities in the U.S.  No wonder BHAKTI FEST is setting up camp in Wisconsin this July, and no wonder they’ve signed Ragani as a headliner.  Friday night’s kirtan with Ragani is at the Unitarian Universalist Church West in Brookfield.  Ragani is a local celebrity in greater Milwaukee, and her wry humor is legendary.  Watch her pass a few right over the heads of her hosts in this segment from a local morning TV show that aired just last week (and give a really nice explanation of kirtan as well — all in under five minutes!).  For more depth (lots more) about Ragani’s world, check out her interview with Josh Polich, whose new Three Teas Podcast covers kirtan and lots more.


Photo by The Bhakti Beat

C.C. WHITE rocks the Shala (Bhakti Yoga Shala, that is) Sunday 3/5 in Santa Monica, Calif.  The Deva of Soul Kirtan is the special guest of spiritual guide HOWARD WILLS, who is leading a series of gatherings on The Art of Well-Being and Higher Consciousness” as part of a California mini-tour.  On March 16th, the pair regroup for a session at Golden Bridge Yoga in L.A.   Word is that C.C. is working on a version of My Sweet Lord, the 1970 classic recorded by GEORGE HARRISON in praise of Krishna, which blended Christian Allelujahs with the traditional Sanskrit Hare Krishna Mahamantra.  The release date has not been announced, but stay tuned to C.C.’s YouTube channel for video of the recording with her and a few close friends.

Don’t forget to send events to bpatoine@aol.com, post them to The Bhakti Beat’s Facebook page., or Tweet us!