Jai Uttal Captures the Essence of Bhakti Fest (Video, Set Review)

by Brenda Patoine on May 16, 2012

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Jai Uttal: Seeing God in the mirror…

After having canceled his East Coast tour due to pneumonia, Jai Uttal was back strong as ever for the headline spot Saturday night at Shakti Fest.

Dancing Devi: Nubia Tiexiera and Subhadra

He filled the stage with master musicians — 13 or so, by our count, plus beautiful wife Nubia Teixeira dancing with the deities in the wings – and brought the crowd to its feet for nearly three hours, an exuberant joyride that had even Bhakti Fest founder Sridhar Silberfein, who is rarely seen on stage, dancing with abandon at the back.

Daniel Paul and Mark Gorman

The set was classic Jai Uttal & the Queen of Hearts Orchestra in full-on heart-throbbing raucousness.  Long, rolling chants that built to an ecstatic frenzy were punctuated by soaring  guitar jams between Uttal, Yehoshua Brill on electric and Mark Gorman on bass, and playful call-and-response drumming between Daniel Paul on tabla and Visvambhar Sheth on mrdanga.

Yehoshua Brill. Remember the name.

It culminated in a new composition — being played for the first time ever as a group, Uttal said – that wrapped the Beatles mantra “HELP! I need somebody” inside a funky reggae-style Maha Mantra.

Interspersed through it all were the kind of down-to-earth, open-hearted “Jai-isms” that we love about this kirtan rock star.  Like his pointing out that Shakti Fest constituted he and Teixiera’s “first overnight date in seven years” without son Ezra Gopal (who declared to them just prior to the trip that he didn’t want to go, in classic 7-year-old fashion).

But the most spine-chilling moment of all for this writer, the moment that stands out not just from this set but from three days of world-class bhav-inducing kirtan – and for us captures the very essence of Bhakti Fest — is this one:


Simple, profound insight delivered in classic Jai style….unscripted, authentic, self-effacing, and straight from the heart.  Just the kind of person you want to see in the mirror…

Good to have you back singing Jai.

The band (L to R): Rasika (of Kirtaniyas), Shiva Rea, Vrinda and Visvambhar Sheth (of Mayapuris), Bob Wisdom (barely visible), Daniel Paul, Mark Gorman, Jai Uttal, Dave Allen, Prajna Vieirra, Yehoshua Brill, C.C. White, Dhanya and Bali Rico (of Mayapuris).

More Shakti Fest Coverage:

Loco for Lokah & the Bhakti Dance

Shakti Fest On-Stage Proposal A First

Bhakti Fest Seeds Planted at Woodstock in ’69

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica May 17, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Wonderful post…I loved the video! Looks like everyone had an amazing time!

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Brenda Patoine May 22, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Thanks so much Jessica — glad you enjoyed it all. It was a pretty epic night with Jai. The HELP!/Maha Mantra medley at the end just put us right over the top!

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