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Jeffrey Lidke, tabla, at Chantlanta by TheBhaktiBeat.comWatch these Wallahs…

One of the things we love about this “mantra revolution” is how many largely unsung local bands are out there doing their thing, bringing the bhav to their communities, just waiting for people to wake up to this thing called kirtan. The Unknown Bhakti Band. Of course, they’re not unknown to those in the know…but there must be thousands of them, right? Under-the-radar ensembles and Monday night quartets, each with their own unique expression of bhakti, quietly offering music and mantras for anyone who will come out and chant with them?

Chantlanta grew out of this kind of community in Atlanta and beyond.  Seven local and regional bands ended up on the “free” part of Chantlanta’s two-day line-up in the sanctuary of the Druid Hills Baptist Church, representing kirtan in a broad range of incarnations. From traditional Sufi chants to Hebrew Shabbath prayers, from Hindu scripture to contemporary Gospel, and from Paul Simon to the Beatles, Chantlanta embraced it all. 

We’re putting each one of these bands on our “Wallahs to Watch” list.  You might want to too.  Just sayin’.

This is Part 1 of 2, because…well, there were seven of them, and they each deserve attention.  And blogs aren’t supposed to be 1,600 words long. 

First up, Friday night’s line-up of Mantra Ma, Wynne Paris and Chaitanya.  Don’t miss Part 2, with Kirtan Bandits, Sunmoon Pie, Phil McWilliams and Blue Spirit Wheel. Video highlights from each artist, some still uploading…(hello, wifi?)

Mantra Ma at Chantlanta by TheBhaktiBeat.com

Mantra Ma

Mantra Ma

Mantra Ma, aka singing moms Jocelyn Rose and Shonali Banerjee from Atlanta, opened us up softly with a long, layered Ganesha chant, then graced us with Gayatri, the mother of all mantras. With Crystal Stafford on acoustic guitar and Rose on harmonium, the mood was meditative, soft and earthy, reverent and reassuring…

Chantlanta Day 1 by TheBhaktiBeat.comAt one point Banerjee invited everyone to open their palms to the sky and repeat “I am open to receive all of life’s blessings.” Communal abundance prayer…we swear it sent a ripple of energy right down our collective spine.

Chaitanya at Chantlanta Day 1 by TheBhaktiBeat.com

They closed with Asato Ma Sadgamaya in a slow build (watch it here).  This is a Sanskrit prayer from the Upanishads (Hindu scriptures) which translates to: “Lead me from the unreal to the real/Lead from the darkness to the light/Lead me from death to immortality/Let there be peace peace and peacefulness.”  It was the perfect punctuation mark to a powerful set of mantras, delivered with vocal finesse and a mother’s grace. (And we loved how Banerjee’s two young children raced to the stage at the end to give their mom a group hug.)

Wynne Paris

Wynne Paris at Chantlanta, by TheBhaktiBeat.com

Wynne Paris

Worldbeat troubadour Wynne Paris from Florida can hardly be considered unknown — more like a musician’s musician.  He’s played with, well just about everybody (quite a few of them made it onto Groovananda, his latest CD).  He had his own set on the main stage at Bhakti Fest last year.  (What? You missed that 4 a.m. set?) We were there, and it was worth staying up for the sarod serenade alone. 

He brought his sarod to Chantlanta, thankfully, playing a couple of songs on it before switching to harmonium, then guitar.  The set started traditionally with an invocation to Ganesh, then rollicked right into He Ma Durga with the crowd clapping along.  A detour to the 1960’s with a Beatles-inspired Krishna love medley was followed by a full-on gospel jam-dance in the contemporary “sacred steel” tradition popularized by the Lee Brothers and Florida’s House of God church.  This little roof-raiser had everyone jumping and hollering like…well, like we were at a Baptist church in the South…  Even Druid Hills Pastor Mimi Walker joined the joy parade on the altar-turned-stage.  Watch it here.

Wynne Paris gospel jam at Chantlanta by TheBhaktiBeat.com

Everyone joined the jam, including the pastor!

In the end, Paris went back to his sarod to close the set with a hypnotic Om Namah Shivaya he learned from Bhagavan Das. Lori Michele Love and Dorianne Aillery sang back-up; Jeffrey Lidke and Rishi Waterman on percussion.

See www.wynneparis.com, and do check out Groovananda, a personal favorite driving CD.  But be careful…


Chaitanya at Chantlanta by TheBhaktiBeat.com

Silvia Riverwind & Koriander of Chaitanya, with Laurie Fisher on fiddle.

Chaitanya took the Friday night bhav to the next level with a high-energy set of traditional mantras swept along on a jam-band medley of rhythm and strings.  It was clear these Asheville, N.C. bhaktas weren’t going to let the night end without a shaktified dance jam.  Jai Jagadambe fit the bill nicely. Watch the video here

This band has been a perennial favorite at Chantlanta for four years running, so we’ve heard.  Now we know why.

Rishi Waterman of Chaitanya, at Chantlanta Day 1 by TheBhaktiBeat.com

Rishi Waterman of Chaitanya

Sylvia Riverwind shared lead vocals with Koriander, whose harmonium was the bloodline of the band (though she switched it up for an acoustic guitar occasionally).  Overlayed with some serious fiddling by Laurie Fisher, Rishi Waterman on percussion and Tom Aldrich on bass, it was hard NOT to move. 

Chaitanya’s debut album, Ark of Love, is available now on CD Baby; a CD release party is set for June 1 in Asheville.  www.chaitanyakirtan.com

Chaitanya at Chantlanta Day 1 by TheBhaktiBeat.com

Last-jam dance party with Chaitanya & the Chantlanta chanters

Don’t miss Part 2 for the rest of the Chantlanta line-up — Kirtan Bandits, Sunmoon Pie, Phil McWilliams and Blue Spirit Wheel

See also:
Part 2: Chantlanta’s ‘Unknown’ Bhakti Bands Reveal Depth & Diversity of Southern Bhav (Videos)
Fresh from The Grammys, Krishna Das Shines at Chantlanta, With Band of One
Southern Bhav Rising: Chantlanta Demonstrates How To Do a Regional Chant Fest
Chantlanta Photo Journal (on The Bhakti Beat facebook page)
Krishna Das at Chantlanta Photo Journal (on The Bhakti Beat facebook page)
Chantlanta Playlist on The Bhakti Beat YouTube Channel (new videos being added)
www.swahaproductions.com (produces kirtan events in the South)

Chantlanta at Druid Hills Baptist Church, by TheBhaktiBeat.com

Ahhh Chantlanta. How we love thee.  Let us count the ways…

  1. Your goal is to spread the bhav.
  2. You put on a two-day festival with seven great regional bands, all for FREE.
  3. You topped it off with KRISHNA DAS on the schedule, concert + workshop.  Nice.
  4. You raised more than $3,000 to send an impoverished young woman in India to college.
  5. You brought the community together and opened up kirtan to people who would otherwise be clueless.
  6. You did it all in a Baptist Church that practically donated its space.
  7. You came up with a killer name to boot.

Thank you.

We finally got to Chantlanta this year, its fourth year running.  It was worth the trip.  In fact, we’d say it’s officially a “destination kirtan” — can we use that term?  As in, not just for the locals.  Maybe you won’t fly in from California — yet — but if you’re East Coast or Midwest, hey, Atlanta’s a hub airport…

Kirtan Bandits at Chantlanta by TheBhaktiBeat.com

Kirtan Bandits, “unknowns” from Rome, Ga., stole hearts.

This year, Krishna Das was the headliner at Chantlanta, and he showed up fully. (Read that story here.) That said, it was Chantlanta’s line-up of regional bands that really got us excited.  That, and the Chantlanta organizers’ formula for eking out success from a notoriously unprofitable venture like a regional chant fest.  Did we mention that there were 12 hours of great kirtan from seven regional bands, all for free?  Topped off by Krishna Das, in concert and workshop?  And that Chantlanta still managed to raise over 3 grand for a small charity in India (The Learning Tea)?

Chantlanta proved that you can have your bhav and serve too.

Chantlanta at Druid Hills Baptist Church, by TheBhaktiBeat.com

Stan Holt (L) and Ian Boccio, Chantlanta co-organizers

Not that it came easy.  Chantlanta founder Ian Boccio, who started the fest in 2010 to “raise the profile of kirtan in Atlanta,” freely admits that he and the all-volunteer team that pull this thing together are learning as they go.  The first two years were all local bands, all offering their music to the community for free.  About 250 people showed up the first time — more than they dreamed — and the numbers have grown consistently. Last year, Chantlanta brought in three “national” kirtan artists — David Newman, Wah!, and Sean Johnson and The Wild Lotus Band — to sweeten the pot and boost attendance.  This year, Boccio aimed even higher, successfully bringing Krishna Das back to Atlanta for the first time in at least four years.

The results, Boccio said, “exceeded my expectations in every way.”  We don’t think he was just blowing smoke.

The catch 22 of any chant festival, large or small, is that the “big names” that bring in more people also increase the expenses, making it more challenging to break even, never mind have some left over for charity, or (gasp!) a little profit for the folks who are making these things happen.  The key for Chantlanta, Boccio said, has been to line up sponsors — local yoga studios, merchants, artists, and natural-living businesses — who buy space in the festival program and in the “merch hall” at the festival.  This year, sponsorships effectively covered the overhead for the event.

Chantlanta volunteers, byt TheBhaktiBeat.com

Volunteer Team

Volunteers do the bulk of the work, people like yogi-musician Stephanie Kohler (co-leader, with Boccio, of Blue Spirit Wheel) and yoga teacher Karen Dorfman — both of whom have taken lead organizational roles since the first Chantlanta.  And like Stan Holt of Swaha Productions, a co-sponsor of the weekend fest and host of the post-fest workshop with Krishna Das.

This formula enables organizers to offer the bulk of the festival at no charge (this year, everything but the KD events were free), and donate any at-the-door donations to the chosen charity.  It builds the community and turns new people on to chanting by not giving anyone an excuse NOT to come — it’s free!  The “Big Headliner” draws the crowd (Krishna Das packed the place), and everyone else — all those “unknown” local bands who are putting out great kirtan regularly for those in the know — tags along on the coattails of the Rock Star, playing for bigger crowds than they might normally get and opening up new audiences to their devotional art.  What’s not to love?

Chaitanya at Chantlanta by TheBhaktiBeat.com

Chaitanya, from Asheville, NC, whips up the bhav.

More than anything else, Chantlanta proved just how many great local bhakti bands are out there doing their thing and spreading the bhav in their own little (or not-so-little) communities, just kinda’ waiting for people to wake up to this thing called kirtan.

Stay tuned to this site for more about Chantlanta’s “unknown” bands.

Chantlanta by TheBhaktiBeat.comNo doubt there’s a Chantlanta waiting to happen in every nook of the nation, drawing together all the locals, maybe bringing in a big name or two, and growing the bhakti community in their little — or not-so-little — corner of the world.  It’s already happening, of course, in Denver, in Houston, in Minneapolis and Montreal, in Oregon and Ojai…hell, even in Vermont.  We can only hope it continues.

Bravo, Chantlanta, for showing how it’s done.

 See also:
Fresh from The Grammys, Krishna Das Shines at Chantlanta, With Band of One
Chantlanta’s ‘Unknown’ Bhakti Bands Reveal Depth & Diversity of Southern Bhav
Chantlanta Photo Journal (on The Bhakti Beat facebook page)
Krishna Das at Chantlanta Photo Journal (on The Bhakti Beat facebook page)
Chantlanta Playlist on The Bhakti Beat YouTube Channel (new videos being added)
www.swahaproductions.com (produces kirtan events in the South)



Where’s the Bhav This Weekend? Feb. 10-12


What’s in store: rocking buttes in Colorado with Dave Stringer, bhaktas band up in Brooklyn, Deva does Down Under, and Gurunam Singh sings for peace.  Plus Irene Solea, Jai Uttal, Girish, David Newman, Wynne Paris, Satya Franche, and regional kirtaniyas to watch!


Colorado Rocks Its Butte

DAVE STRINGER will be rockin’ the bhav in Colorado this weekend, finishing out the “Dave-Joni-Patrick Utah-Colorado Kirtan Tour” with long-time accompanist JONI ALLEN on vocals and guitar and PATRICK RICHEY performing his percussion magic.  Next stop: Friday Night Yoga Club in Denver, Friday, 2/10, where the Dave Trio will be joined by local musicians Dakini Ma, Kate Drazner & Kendall Perry.  Live-music yoga at 6 p.m.; concert at 8.

Then, on to YOGA ROCKS THE BUTTE, a “snowga” and music fest in Crested Butte, Colo. with the requisite line-up of big-name yogis (including SHIVA REA, SARA IVANHOE and MICHELINE BERRY, among others).  STRINGER headlines Saturday night, 2/11.  GOVINDAS AND RADHA, JOEY LUGASSY, DJ DREZ, and STEVE GOLD will round out the bhakti love on the butte with performances throughout the weekend.

Brooklyn Bhaktas Band Up for BYS

JEREMY FRINDEL and LILY CUSHMAN FRINDEL have made the Brooklyn Yoga School, which they co-founded, a regular destination for Brooklyn bhaktas with their ongoing Friday night kirtans (this Friday’s features SATYA FRANCHE and friends).  On Saturday, 2/11, Brooklyn bhaktas give back with a 4-hour kirtan with everyone from the Friday night series taking a turn at the call.  That includes NINA RAO, DEVADAS, ANJULA PRASAD, SHYAMA CHAPIN, AMBIKA COOPER, TERRENCE POMPEY, AND SUNDAR DAS along with JEREMY & LILY.  Whew! The whole thing will be recorded and edited into a CD to raise funds for BYS programs, so you can get your Brooklyn bhav on no matter where you are.

Deva & Miten Dive In Down Under

Photo Credit: Deva Premal & Miten

Have you noticed that Australia is the new hot destination for kirtan wallahs?  DAVE STRINGER was there last fall, JAI UTTAL is heading there soon, KRISHNA DAS will be there in April…  Right now, DEVA PREMAL, MITEN and MANOSE are gracing the Aussies at the Ecstatic Chant Retreat in Byron Bay.  Retreatants got a special treat on night 2 when the GYUTO MONKS OF TIBET stopped by to offer puja (sacred ceremony) and in return, were serenaded with Om Tare Tuttare, the beautiful Tibetan mantra invoking compassion and liberation.  The retreat was sold out, but the trio’s tour Down Under continues, culminating with the Bodhi Festival Feb. 25, which also features JAI UTTAL and DAVE STRINGER.

Gurunam Singh Sings for Peace

In Boston, a workshop to invoke power, peace and prosperity will feature the divine melodies of GURUNAM SINGH.  The Friday evening session begins with a 75-minute live-music-powered vinyasa class, then a meditation to dissolve energetic blocks in order to live with prosperity, followed by kirtan to enter into a place of peace.  Sounds perfect to us: Gurunam’s 2008 CD The Journey Home is a favorite, especially Dukh Par Har, a chant subtitled From Pain to Peace.  Works every time.


Boston Metro Leads

Tons of bhav flowing inside and outside of Boston.  In Byfield to the north, IRENE SOLEA is at Roots to Wings Yoga on Saturday, 2/11 for a kirtan concert with her rockin’ band, EZRA LANDIS (guitar), OWEN LANDIS (drums/percussion) and DANNY SOLOMON (keyboards/bass).  We’re in love with Irene’s rich harmonies and soulful expressiveness — a joy to chant with.  On Sunday 2/12 Irene plays for morning yoga in John Calabria’s class at Yoga & Nia for Life in West Concord, Mass.

In Malden, Mass., the place to be Friday 2/11 is the Grand Opening for the new Hridaya Hermitage Kaya Kulpa and Yogic Healing Center.  The benefit kirtan starts at 8 p.m., and we know it’s going to be good, promising “lots of full volume-kirtan” and dancing with the SHIVA LILA BAND, TOM LENA and others.

In Cambridge, JAISHREE & PREMA BHAKTI will be chanting at Dazza’s Urban Ashram on Friday 2/10.  On Saturday 2/11, the band heads to S. Portland, Me., for a kirtan at Sadhana.  Check out their sound here.  Me like.

And, in Brookline, Hebrew chants with Boston’s HEBREW KIRTAN BAND, who will open the festivities at Dance Friday (1615 Beacon St.) Kirtan from 7:45 p.m. to 9:15 p.m., followed by DJ dance party.

California Calling

In Oakland, a special treat when JAI UTTAL teams up with his beloved NUBIA TEIXEIRA for “The Alchemy of Yoga and Kirtan,” a workshop described as a “heart-opening adventure through breath, movement and sacred sound, blending those traditions in a deep and playful way.”  Namaste Grand Lake hosts the three-hour afternoon workshop and kirtan Saturday 2/11.  Deets here.

In Sherman Oaks, DANIEL STEWART & FRIENDS present ecstatic kirtan at his studio, Rising Lotus Yoga, Friday 2/10; 8:30 p.m.

GIRISH’S tour schedule shows no signs of slowing anytime soon.  This weekend he plays in Corono Saturday 2/11, at the Yoga Den Health Spa, then heads to Santa Monica to chant with the kirtan junkies at Bhakti Yoga Shala, Sunday 2/12.  Next up for Girish:  Pittsburgh.

L.A. take note: The KIRTAN WALLAH’S (aka ARJUNA O’NEAL & FRIENDS) and BHAKTI DANCE are having a kirtan LOVE FEAST, and you don’t want to miss a single course.  At Core Power Yoga on Wilshire.

Southern Kartals

Two events to note:  WYNNE PARIS is leading kirtan in Alachua, Fla., Friday 2/10 at the Ayurveda Health Retreat, with VISVAMBHAR SHETH of the MAYAPURIS joining in!  Wynne never fails to bring it; have you heard his masterful collaborative CD, Om Spun by Groovananda?  Good stuff.  And rumor has it he’s working on a new live kirtan CD.

And, a Georgia band that just came into my consciousness, RAHASYA, is spreading the bhakti love throughout the Southeast.  This weekend they’re chanting at the Yoga Room Healing Arts Cooperative in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Friday 2/10 and at Open Heart Yoga School in Carrboro, N.C., Saturday 2/11.  Check out their music here, and catch them live if you can.  They are going to be at Chantlanta, the sacred music festival in Atlanta March 9-10 that features WAH!, DAVID NEWMAN and SEAN JOHNSON AND THE WILD LOTUS BAND.

Northeast Notes

Speaking of DAVID NEWMAN, he’s back east after a mini-California tour, playing in Westmont, N.J., Friday 2/10 at a concert at Anjali Power Yoga to benefit Africa Yoga Project.  On Saturday 2/11, he’s chanting back in Pennsylvania at the Shri Yoga and Wellness Center in Reading, Penn.

In New York City, DREAM TIME is back!  The event that was born on New Year’s Eve lives on, and has now morphed into a two-day conscious-living extravaganza that includes (among LOTS of offerings) ecstatic kirtan, dance-party kirtan with SRIKALOGY, contact improv with JESSE JOHNSON, a tantra workshop with RAN BARON, and tons more.  Friday 2/11 starting at 8 p.m.; Saturday 2/12 Noon to 6 a.m. Sunday.

Maine Kirtan Soars

PREMA BHAKTI is in S. Portland at Sadhana Meditation Center for kirtan Saturday 2/11, preceded by a Chakra Shakti Yoga class with JAISHREE.

In Portland studio Bhakti in Motion, TODD GLACY and KALEE COOMBS weave sacred tones of gongs, singing bowls, flute, voice and other sound remedies in a feast of sound at the Be-Loved Valentines Concert Saturday 2/11.  Best thing about it?  You don’t need to be a couple.

Elsewhere in Maine, ANANDA BHAKTI is playing at the new 6-S Yoga in Manchester, Me. (near Augusta) on Saturday 2/11; and ShivaShakti School of Yoga in Rockland, Me. hosts kirtan with AIYANA & KRISHNA on Sunday 2/12.

Maine kirtonaholics have a great Facebook page: Maine Kirtan.  Subscribe to it to stay on top of the Pine Street State’s bhakti flow there.

Where do you find out about kirtan or yoga in your community?  The Bhakti Beat wants to know…


Tell us where you’ll be chanting.  Email us, post links on our Facebook page, or Tweet us.




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Five for the Ride: Car Kirtan (Use with Caution)


Who shall we take along on the ride today?

You know when you’ve got one of those seemingly endless drives ahead of you?  Four, five, six hours in the car with nothing to do but drive drive drive?  Well, silence may be golden, but throw in a couple bhakti-rockin’ CD’s and the miles will just flyyyy by.  Trust us.

Having just endured a 6-hour drive home from Cape Cod, we know this.  I was about to crawl out of my skin from sheer boredom when I discovered Om Spun (the latest release from Wynne Paris’ all-star band Groovananda) in a crevice of my car and popped it into the CD player.  Immediately I started bopping and singing along with the gospel-infused chants and multi-layered instrumentalism.  I was grooving to Groovananda and loving life.  And apparently, driving faster.

Suddenly, there were blue lights flashing in my rear-view.  Talk about a buzz-kill.

“Is there any particular reason you were speeding, Ma’am?” the baby-faced rookie officer asked me in that official, you’re-busted tone.  Me: “um, uh….”  I thought about taking out the CD and handing it to him, but didn’t know how that would go over.  Plus, I still had three hours to go — I needed that CD!

I’m thinking that there are a lot of kirtan CD’s that need to come with a warning label like this one from Krishna Das’s Chants of a Lifetime CD:

Caution: This CD features chants that render it inappropriate for use while driving or operating heavy machinery.

Warning label or not, here are a few of our favorites for car kirtan.  Please use with caution.

Five for the Ride

1. Om Spun, by Groovananda.  This is “raga rock kirtan,” brilliantly fusing world beat, jam-band, rock, jazz, kirtan, folk, Indian, trance and gospel. Whew!  Featuring Wynne Paris on vocals and sarod, Rick Allen on drums, JT John Thomas on organ and Doug Derryberry (Bruce Hornsby band) on mandalin, plus Mark Karan, Krishna Das, Badal Roy, Perry Robinson, Girish Cruden, Dave Stringer, Kim Waters (Rasa), Ramesh Kannan and many others. (2011) Get it here.

2. This IS Soul Kirtan, by C.C. White.  By now everyone’s got this on their playlist, right? C.C. White’s debut solo album is a sweet, rollicking joy ride of classic chants reinvented with a Southern Gospel and soul-shaking exuberance.  I’m in love with the reggae-style Hare Krishna maha mantra punctuated by a deep, thunderous — and alltogether too brief! — Krishna rap by Bob Wisdom.  Chills.  Every time.  Co-produced with Matt Pszonak, with Patrick Richey, Denise Kaufman, Cooper Madison, Steve Postell, Richard Hardy, Michael Jerome Moore, Jeff Young, Arjuna O’Neal, Vasu Dudakia, more special guests and the Soul Kirtan Choir. (2011) Listen & buy here

3. Thunder Love, by Jai Uttal.  Queen of Hearts, Jai’s reggae-kirtan CD released last fall, would easily fit the bill here too.  But Thunder Love, released in 2008, has occupied one of the slots on my car CD changer since I bought the disc.  Jai’s trademark heart-soaring vocals will make you forget you’re stuck in a car and take you right with him into the inner chambers of the heart.  Please, put it on cruise control before Bolo Ram (Track 2) comes on…Produced by Jai Uttal and Ben Leinbach for Nutone Records.  Get it here.

4. Love Holding Love, by Wah!  Of all the Wah! albums I love, I love this one the most.  (Of course, I haven’t heard Loops and Grooves yet, which is due out any day now.)  Maybe it’s the chill, almost trancey lounge feel, or the heart-pumping electronica beats, or the soft-rap riffs of love-centric lyrics that never fail to remind me that it’s all love baby, even if you’re stuck in the worst traffic this side of the 405.  It holds a near-permanent slot in the Baja’s player.  A two-year collaboration with Paul Hollman, with guest artists that include Elijah Tucker (drums), Katisse Buckingham (vocal percussion, flute), Ryan Pate (drums), produced for Nutone. (2008)  Get it here.

5. Live Your Love, by SRI Kirtan.  Make sure you’re buckled in when this one cues up; it sweeps you up in Track 1 with a hard-rocking Govinda/Hare Krishna medley and carries you on that current of bhakti love right through the duo’s signature Rock the Bhakti and on to the final track, a joyous tribute to the sacred Ganges River.  SRI Kirtan is the fusion of Sruti Ram and Ishwari, whose collective musical background spans punk, opera, Gregorian chant, electronica and doo-wop.  It shows.  With Steve Gorn on bansuri flute, Visvamhar from the Mayapuris on mrdanga, the sacred-rap genius of SriKala Kerel Roach , Charlie “Govind” Burnham on violin, Noah Hoffeld on cello, Kyle Esposito on bass and electiric guitar, and Curtis Bahn on dilruba and sitar. Co-produced with Julie Last for Mantrology/Ishwari Music. (2010)  More info here.

That’s our Five for the Ride today.  What’s playing in your car?

(Oh, and the baby-faced rookie cop?  He let me off with a warning.  Maybe it was the music…)


Where’s the Bhav This Weekend? Jan. 20-22


Bhakti Benefits Bonobos, Saturday in Santa Monica

KD’s in TX; Jai’s back from the beach in Brazil while David Newman hits the beach in Bermuda, and endangered bonobos in Africa will benefit from a bhakti bash in Santa Monica.

Best of the Weekend Bhav

First, the bonobos.  Southern Cali bhaktas will be going ape over the line-up at this benefit concert Saturday night in Santa Monica, the dreamchild of Wynne Paris, an East Coast kirtaniya who’s played with just about everybody and has recently released his own CD, Groovananda (a jazz-rock-gospel-kirtan fusion that is definitely worth the download).  On the ticket are JT Thomas (organist for the Bruce Hornsby Band), Meena Makhijani, Cooper Madison Ladnier, Krishna’s Kirtan (Jason & Pia Rotman), Shivani and friends from Las Vegas, and Govindas, co-owner of the Bhakti Yoga Shala where it’s all happening.  The event raises money for the D.C.-based Bonobo Conservation Initiative, which works to protect this rare primate species, said to be the closest evolutionary relative to homo sapiens (that’s us).  Jai Bonobo!

Krishna Das and Arjun Bruggeman setting up for live chanting on radio station KUT, Austin, TX. (Photo by Archit Dave for Krishna Das)


Krishna Das is deep in the heart of Texas with a sold-out show Friday night and a Saturday workshop (still open), both at the Central Presbyterian Church in Austin.  The chant master made a live appearance on an Austin radio station Friday morning, answering questions his Guru, his musical journey from rock and roll to kirtan, and how his latest CD, Heart as Wide as the World, “aimed for more of a rock-and-roll sound.”  He even sang a few chants — including the “fastest Sita Ram in three decades of chanting,” KD joked.

Jai Uttal has been basking in Brazil for the past few weeks, but he’s baaaaack!  No wonder his show Sunday night in Los Altos (South San Francisco Bay area) is sold out; California Jai junkies have been chomping at the bit.  Sunday’s show features long-time back-up singer Prajna Vieira and Ramesh Kannan on tablas/percussion.

Meanwhile, David Newman aka Durga Das is off to the beach — in Bermuda.  But with a Saturday workshop, Saturday night kirtan, and Sunday afternoon family kirtan (all at the Spirithouse in Devonshire), he, Mira and baby Tulsi will be bathing in bhakti along with that Caribbean-blue sea.

California Dreaming

Our personal favorite mantra-rock mover and shaker, Larisa Stow, is leading a mantra workshop Friday at the Sangha Center in Huntington Beach, a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with this edgy and adorable kirtan rocker with a heart of gold.  And save the dates for Larisa and Shakti Tribe in Santa Barbara Jan. 28 and Ventura on the 29th.

Big Apple Bhav

Cut to the East Coast.  The Bhakti Center (25 First Ave.) is holding its monthly 6-hour kirtan marathon on Saturday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.  The schedule has just posted, and includes some of the best and brightest of New York’s chanters for a full-on Krishna love party.  Across the East River in bhaktified Brooklyn, Jeremy & Lily Frendel, the husband-and-wife team behind the Brooklyn Yoga School, will be leading the bhav on Friday night as part of the studio’s weekly kirtan series.  (Next week, Devadas holds the space.)  Here’s a taste of the Frendels’ bhakti:

And if you like the Chalisa, you’ll want to head over to Dharma East (297 3rd Ave. at 23rd St.) Friday night for 11 rounds of the 40-verse prayer to Hanuman, part of a series every third Friday. The grace starts flowing at 8:45 p.m.  Dharma East also hosts occasional kirtans on the first Friday of the month.

New England: Singing Bowls; Tapping Hammers

In Northampton, Mass., Dave Russell will be pairing up with a chorus of….singing bowls! for a two-part evening of sound-healing (kirtan then crystal bowls) to benefit the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.  Dave will be joined in his set by Holly Hartmann (vocals), Charlie Braun (guitar & vocals) and Charlie Shew (percussion); Joa Agnello-Traista and Julian Traista will sing and “play” the crystal bowls.  The Food Bank supplies emergency food in four counties around Springfield; every donated dollar brings in $13 of food for the hungry.

Is it me, or is Maine becoming a little hotbed of bhakti love?  Still not many “big names” making the trek to the land of moose and mist, but community kirtan is alive and well.  Example #1:  Portland, a sweet little seacoast city where the bhav always seems to be flowing.  Stirring it up on Sunday are local wallahs Parks McKinney, David Yearwood and Todd Glacy — aka Kirtonium — at Dragonfly studio on St. John Street.  (Which just so happens to be around the corner from my new favorite Victorian B&B for under 50 bucks a night, the Inn at St. John.)

Straight up into moose country, in Lovell, Me., local charities benefit from the bhav at Full Heart Community Kirtan on Saturday at the Blue Pearl Yoga Studio, which, its website says is “above the Lovell Hardware Store”).  Love that!  Can’t you just envision the hammers and nails on the shelves below tapping and pounding in sync with the rhythm?

DC & South:  Nada Yoga Master; Wah Rocks On

Bhagavan Das, looking ethereal in his Nada Yoga Workshop in Portland, Me.

Bhagavan Das is in Baltimore (okay, Towson) Saturday for kirtan at Lifeline Power Yoga, the start of a southeastern tour that takes the Nada Yoga master to the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida in the coming weeks.  Full schedule here.  If you get a chance to do a workshop with him, take it.  I did one recently at the Bhava Yoga School in the aforementioned hotbed of bhakti, Portland, and it was sublime.  BD’s partner, Kali, lives up to her name.  That’s all I’m going to say.

Down in Georgia, Bhakti Messenger, the Atlanta-area kirtaniyas who are putting together Chantlanta, a sacred music fest slated for March 9-11, are warming up the bhav over the next several weeks, including a workshop and kirtan Saturday.  Remember this band; they’ve just been invited to Bhakti Fest and are doing great things to spread the bhav in the Southeast; check out their music here.

And last, but never, ever least, Wah! continues to make her way through the Sunshine State with a concert in Naples Friday before heading to Miami Beach Saturday for an acoustic show (presented by Synergy Yoga), then on to West Palm Beach for a Sound Workshop Sunday afternoon.  After that, back to Cali for Wah!, who just announced a forthcoming CD that’s been two and a half years in the making. Stay tuned for more details.

And there’s more…oh so much more. Where will you be getting your chant on this weekend?

Want your event listed here? email bpatoine@aol.com or post to The Bhakti Beat facebook page.  Or, Tweet us!



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