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
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.
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
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 4/1. Details 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 Fest. TULSI 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?
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