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Monday, March 02, 2009

a new collective force in town

according to a wikipedia entry,

A collective is a group of people who share or are motivated by at least one common issue or interest, or work together on a specific project(s) to achieve a common objective.

and that seems to be the perfect description of the newest group to hit the LA kirtan scene: the LA kirtan collective.

with all the talented kirtan artists who perform on a regular basis around town -- in private homes, in yoga studios, in performance spaces -- it was just a matter of time before someone harnessed all this bhakti energy to raise awareness about how accessible this form of devotional yoga can actually be.

i mean, we've all practiced at one time or another to recorded music from the chant world superstars: krishna das, jai uttal, david newman, snatam kaur, and many more. but since they're all based outside our neck of the woods, we get to experience live call-and-response sessions with them only when they happen to be performing in town. which, sadly, doesn't happen very often.

enter zat baraka, who leads kirtans usually attended only by chanters who know him and his music.

he knew that there were others like him scattered about the LA area who lead kirtans and have followers of their own: joey lugassy, daniel stewart, spring, to name a few. so what if, he thought, they all joined forces for one night and invited all their friends and followers to chant along with them?

in other words, if he built it, would they come?

after i witnessed the turnout at last weekend's chant for peace at the power yoga west studio in santa monica, the answer was very clear to me: yes, they will!

as with most inaugural events, there were a few snags that evening -- including a late start and some unfamiliarity with some chord progressions -- but since the musicians were all seasoned performers, they all took it in stride and played along as best they could. so whether it was the familiar hare krishna or a chant that was unknown to everyone but the person leading it, the crowd chanted along lustily and loved every bit of it!

of course, proper credit should be given to all the talented musicians who supported the kirtan wallahs in their collective endeavor: patrick richey on tabla, matthew hufschmidt on percussion, momo rocking on guitar, dave lichten on violin and slide guitar, dave watts on bass, marla leigh on flute, dahveed hari bol on cartals and shakers, and jessica sokolove on vocals. thanks to them, the music filled every corner of the amazing space... as well as the heart of every devotee who was inspired to clap, sway, and even dance that evening!

with an open invite going out to every LA-based kirtan artist to join the collective, you can almost bet that their next get-together will be even more "bhaktified" than the last. so stay tuned; i'll be posting the next performance date just as soon as i find out...