Just a reminder that you can stream complete songs from both albums at http://pavaka.bandcamp.com/
This past June I had the good fortune to be involved in the Nordic Countries Songs of the Soul Tour. This brought us to Vaasa and Helsinki in Findland, Riga in Latvia, Oslo in Norway and Reykjavik in Iceland. As with all other Songs of the Soul tours, these were concerts of meditative music free to the public featuring exclusively the music of Sri Chinmoy. Musical performances were offered by Alap (Duduk), Paree’s Group (female a cappella singing), Adesh and Ajita (Sitar and Tabla), Sangit Desh (vocal, piano, charango, guitar, ukulele, flutes), Parichayaka and myself (electric guitar, vocal and keyboard), Mandu and Vishudhi (Harp and Erhu) and Agnikana’s Group (vocal, harmonium, guitar, flutes, percussion).
The first concert was in Vaasa, a city of about 90 000 people located five hours North of Helsinki. I thought that the sun was setting quite late in Helsinki (still plenty of sunlight at 11 pm) but of course driving north made that effect even more pronounced. The concert went quite well and I got to use what ended up being my favorite amp of the tour – a vintage Vox tube amp. I traveled with a Fender Telecaster + an MXR Carbon Copy analogue delay pedal and an older model Digitech Jamman loop pedal. I also used an E-Bow on the second song we played. The incomparable Parichayaka played various keyboard configurations throughout the tour plus he sang and played percussion. At times all three at once. We thought of setting up a kick drum that he could wear like a back-pack, but we thought that would be less soulful and more carnival.
In Helsinki, we were in the main concert hall for the capital and the building is brand new. It was a real treat to play and spend time in such a nice facility. It was so new that the local technicians didn’t know how everything worked yet.
Fortunately our own tech team is very nimble and everyone worked together to make things sound nice. We were playing one of the smaller halls. The audience was very appreciative.
Riga was one of the surprise hits of the tour because many of us just didn’t know much about the country or the city. I think it was one of our bigger concerts with something like 700 people in a lovely older theater. The local organizers
were young, friendly, helpful, dynamic and professional. The day after the concert we got a nice tour of the old city which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and indeed very charming.
Travelling between tours was all done by plane and the whole technical and musical team traveled together. That was really fun. There was 40 or 50 of us, I believe. It was like a school trip.
The concert in Norway was lovely too. There I was given a Marshall “stack” amplifier for the guitar, but it was just too big for this type of music. I thought it was pretty funny. 20 years ago, I would have been over the moon with a big rig like that, but the past is dust 🙂
The local organizers, many of whom work for the Fragrance of the Heart restaurants absolutely spoiled us travellers in the food department.
The final destination for us was Iceland which is a really cool place to visit (literally and figuratively). The lava-field landscape that welcomed us upon arrival was a neat first impression. It’s like landing on another planet. The air is rlight and pure. I really enjoyed discovering this unique country. Icelanders are renowned for their hospitality and the local organizers didn’t disappoint. We got a nice tour after the concerts featuring waterfalls, a geyser, and miscellaneous volcano-related scenery. The sun really never set when were there. At midnight it’s like 8:30 or 9:00pm in southern Canada.
Fortunately or Unfortunately we didn’t see any “hidden people” (Elves of Icelandic folklore) who apparently live in rocks (which was like how I went to Japan and I didn’t see a single robot), but we did see several dudes who totally looked like vikings.
We played 2 concerts in the brand new concert hall in Reykjavik (completed right before the economic crisis), and the crowd was very appreciative. We even had some political VIP’s in attendance who came to thank us backstage
after the concerts.
After the VIP’s left I had the honor and privilege of performing a song with some of the boys including Homagni, the stage director and one of the founders
of the Songs of the Soul series. The song was a remake of Gotye’s “Somebody that I used to know” for which we re-wrote the lyrics to recount the highlights of the tour we had just completed. It was pretty loose but got some good laughs.
I feel that the performers and technical crew worked really hard and had a really nice time on this tour. We certainly hope that the audiences enjoyed the music. The next such concert tour is Mongolia in September.
If you are in Montreal Friday March 16th, I highly recommend you attend a presentation by Natabara Rollosson from New York City on the Evolution of Meditation from the Ancient to the Modern World. Call 514-489-5692 for more information. Also, visit www.montrealmeditation.org for news on meditation classes and other activities.
The next planned concerts are March 4th in Kingston, Ontario and March 11th in Toronto, of the same province. Showtime in Kingston is 5:30pm at the Open Eye Yoga studio, 336 Barrie st.
The Toronto concert will be at 1pm at the Centre for Culture and the Arts
which is located at 918 Bathurstncert. This is 1 block North of Bloor St. Looks like an awesome venue!
Both concerts will feature Sangit Surabhi. Once again we’re not sure who is opening for who, but I think the Pavaka Ensemble will open for Sangit Surabhi. We will probably have to play some Trivial Pursuit to settle it again.
Just a little note to let you know that both CD’s are now available from Bandcamp.com. check out:
This means you can stream the albums or buy the downloads. This should be the highest resolution available out there. Also Vol. 2 is cut down to 10 tracks and is offered at a discount.
(check out new photos and blog under the Japan title)
I just got back from a short trip that brought me to Moscow, Kharkov (Ukraine) and Eberbach (Germany). Such a warm welcome and a great time (even if the weather was a little chilly). Most people get on a plane for 15 hrs and leave Canada in order to get some nice weather. But not me, no siree. I fly East and a little North where it’s pretty much the same weather. I can see why so many Ukrainians made their homes in central Canada. It’s very similar – right down to the maple trees.
Moscow was a pretty epic concert. Although non-flawless and a little long, there was very cool stuff going on. Including: Rezwana Choudhury Bannya – the foremost authority in Bengladesh and the world on the music of Rabindranath Tagore,
The Blue Gold Shore of the Beyond – multi-instrumentalists from Siberia, Pravin, Premik and friends – smokin’ East meets West wind players, and the Gandharva Loka Orchestra – international orchestra and choir.
I had the good fortune of playing bass with the Gandharva Loka Orchestra, and also provided some faux-tambura on the acoustic guitar for Premik and Pravin. I really enjoyed that.
The Orchestra was mostly made up of musicians and signers from Russia and the former Soviet Union and I was really impressed with their hard work and great musicianship. We put together almost 2 hours of music in a few days. Actually I and other so-called Westerners arrived a few days before the concert, but the Russians put in about 10 days of dedicated rehearsing.
In Kharkov we had 1500 people attending the concert and it was a tighter affair than in Moscow. Different program too. Alap from Switzerland did a number on the duduk and Mandu and Vishudhi from Austria also did their haunting harp and erhu performance. I got to play some of my arrangements with Premik, Pravin and my friend and great percussionist Anton.
The day after the concert I spent the day in Kharkov and had a nice time. Sadanand and I played a little music at a meditation class that was held in an art gallery showing original Jharna Kala paintings.
Then it was off to Germany for a week-end retreat with 500 of my closest friends. That was loads of fun too. Naturally it involved playing some music also, in a more impromptu way.
All in all, a lovely trip and I am grateful to all the people who welcomed me and help me along the way. See you all again soon, I hope!
Good day good people! Please mark you calendars for this upcoming show on Sunday September 18 at the Tanna Schulich Hall in the McGill University School of Music in Montreal (527 Sherbrook). Show starts at 7pm and will feature Sangit Surabhi (playing their own brand of what I like to call angel music) from Ottawa and The Pavaka Ensemble from Montreal. Admission is free and seating is on a first come first serve basis. Great opportunity to get your meditation on! Tell your friends!
Here is a photo from our last concert at the Yoga Garden near Wakefield Quebec which also featured the excellent group Sangit Surabhi. This concert was meant to be outdoors in a natural amphitheater, but just as the music started, a crazy summer storm blew in. The same one that brought down the stage at the Ottawa Blues festival, for those of you keeping score at home. Luckily no one was hurt in Ottawa or in Wakefield. We were able to put together a concert for the brave souls in spite of the rain and it turned out to be a most memorable experience.
You can also check out this article in the Japan Times by clicking here. This article preceded the concerts.
I hate to make promises I don’t keep. Here is a little blog on the Japan trip, through the filter of time…. So we are now in November and the tour was in June. Japan is such a cool place. For the world’s second largest (or is it third now?) economy and clearly a leader in the world’s capitalist majority, I was surprised and impressed by how much it has maintained it’s very distinct culture and society.
Concerts took place in Tokyo, Kamakura and Kyoto. My favorite was Kyoto, mostly because by then I had my equipment working correctly. The organizers had rented a really nice fender tube amp (Deville, I think), so my telecaster sounded great. The only glitch was that the amp was right next to me on stage with a mic on it. That mic was also close to my pedals, so each time I clicked an effect pedal we would get a huge clunk in the monitors. It was funny more than disrupting (at least I hope). I was using a looping pedal, an analog delay, a tremolo with an e-bow at times. Gadgetfullness like this went over well in Japan.
The touring gang’s primary hobby on this tour was trying weird drinks. Here is Homagni doing his very own commercial:
Of course no trip to Japan is complete without spending one night in pod hotel. Looked like the place was designed by someone at Apple. It was cool for the novelty, but traditional hotels are pretty good too.
So thank you Japan for a great time and hopefully there will be more.