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
SHANTALA in PORTLAND (3/3), SEATTLE (3/4), VANCOUVER (3/5)
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.
WAH! AT INTEGRAL YOGA, NYC (3/3)
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.
KRISHNA DAS RETREAT (3/3-5) AND CONCERTS (3/4 & 3/5), ORLANDO, FLA.
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!
RAGANI FIRST FRIDAY KIRTAN (3/2), MILWAUKEE, WISC.
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.
C.C. WHITE AT BHAKTI YOGA SHALA, SANTA MONICA, CALIF. (3/5)
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.
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