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.)