Musings about music, writing, Portland, my new house, my travels, my family, politics, whatever.....

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Deva Premal show Sept 26!

Being done with news of my trip (for now anyway), I have to tell you all about my next big project: a concert, the biggest one I've done in Portland thus far - Deva Premal & Miten, a duo who perform gorgeous arrangements of (mostly) Sanskrit chants and mantras. They have never played in Portland before and people are coming from far and wide.

This show is especially close to my heart and I am truly honored to be able to do it. I first heard Deva and Miten's first album, The Essence, in 1998. You see, they met and began playing together at the Osho Ashram in Pune, India. This is the ashram I have visited twice (and that my dad has been involved with since the 70s)- for several months in 1993-94 and again in 98-99. In 98, The Essence had just been released and Deva Premal was not yet a world-wide success. They played the album often in the main meditation hall during times of music and dancing or sometimes meditation (it was all meditation, right?!). I became somewhat obsessed with their version of the Gayatri Mantra, a mantra that became very meaningful to me that year as it accompanied several significant experiences I had while I was in India (maybe something to write about later). I returned to the States with that CD, and it really represented that time to me. I listened to it when I wanted to be back in that meditation hall in Pune or back on the overnight bus to Goa where I listened to it over and over on my discman. I didn't really know what it was, just that I loved her voice and that it felt like it bestowed some kind of healing/protection on me, it was comforting. Only later did I really learn what it meant, that it is said to purify and protect you from all harm and that chanting the Gayatri several times a day is said to take care of all the ill effects of the day's karma.

Apparently at that time, people from far and wide were also falling in love with The Essence. Cher is quoted as saying it's the only thing she will listen to when she does yoga. The Dalai Lama heard them and said, "Beautiful, beautiful music." There are other interesting quotes in their press kit, and I love what a diverse audience they have attracted with this music that would once have been considered pretty obscure. Deva and Miten have since released four more albums of their beautiful music, including the recently released "Deva Premal Sings the Moola Mantra," and become world-wide top sellers in their genre. I saw them perform in a tiny dance studio in Boulder once to about 50 people. Now they are playing big theaters and fill 1500 seats in some cities. She is often referred to in the press as the Mantra Queen.

German-born Deva Premal is a classically trained musician who grew up singing mantras as bedtime songs. And Miten is a veteran of the 70s London rock scene, having toured with the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Ry Cooder, and Lou Reed. One of his early albums was produced by the Kinks. He left his career to focus on meditation and ended up leading music groups in Osho's ashram, where he met Deva in 1990.

I've been trying to get Deva and Miten to Portland for years, and it finally worked. They are now on a big North American tour and my production company, Shining City, will be presenting them next Wednesday, Sept 26th, at the First Congregational Church (which holds 800 people) on SW Park in Portland. I did a few bigger shows like this in Missoula, and it's an entirely different experience than doing a small club show. I have been working on this since mid-Spring and at wifi cafes everywhere throughout the summer (also with the assistance of my friend Arupo, who has kicked ass networking on behalf of this show).

Really this is about the music, more than the people (though it is often about both for me). The beauty of their voices and the openness with which they sing. This quote from a recent concertgoer sounds almost excessive, but I believe it: “I’ve been going to concerts since 1965, but never have I experienced the peace, the joy and the depth of stillness that I felt in your concert.” And for this tour, Deva and Miten will have Nepalese bansuri (that's bamboo flute) player Manose with them.

If you are in the Portland area, I would love to have you at the concert! Come! They will also be in Seattle (where my grandmother is on the guest list) on Saturday night, Sept 22nd and in other cities (in CA, AZ, NV and FL) over the next month. If you go, drop by here and tell me how you liked it!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Last stop Seattle.

These ones are a bit late, forgive me (this was last weekend). Just a little behind here. These truly, are the last of my trip. Even though Seattle was a separate trip, it felt like part of the same one. So I got to see Kari O. and her family, which was lovely. Cute girls and a cute husband for sure. :)

Erin, Lauren, Kari, and me in their backyard in Woodinville, WA.

Kari's husband Sean, and daughter, Lauren.

The view from Happie's little balcony: Lake Washington and the Cascades.

My grandmother, Happie, outside her building on Capitol Hill.

I also got to see Jen Johnson (from the writing workshop in Sisters in June), which was great, but which I didn't stop to think about taking pictures of. Oh well. We went to Vivace on Capitol Hill and drank good coffee.

The other people I neglected to take pictures of but who I had a very nice visit with, were my uncle Peter, aunt Ginna, and cousin Ben. Maybe I'll see them again at Thanksgiving and get some pictures then. Or maybe before that.

I had a lovely mellow birthday on Thursday, dinner with Holly and Prema, Thai food and cocktails. And many wonderful phone calls.

Now I'm hard at work on my upcoming Deva Premal concert. More on that soon. If you are in Portland, get your tickets now!

Onward into the fall!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Best and worst of the summer

State with the most state troopers on the road: Kansas (by a long shot)
Dumbest driving choice: Crossing the border from Michigan to Canada (and back) on a Friday in July when I didn’t have to.
Most roadkilled animal: Raccoon
Most roadkilled deer: West Virginia
Worst thunderstorms: St. Charles, Missouri
Nights spent in motels: Six (Boise, ID, Rock Springs, WY, Gloucester MA, Winchester KY, and Brigham City UT)
Most sketchy motel: Rock Springs, Wyoming
Best goat cheese and goat ice cream: Happytown Dairy (aka Elise's house), Lawrence, KS
Toughest yoga class: Om Time, Boulder, CO
Weirdest yoga class: Ann Arbor, MI
Most expensive deli ($9 bread): Zingerman’s, Ann Arbor, MI
Worst road construction: Odgen, Utah
Best random connection: What Maeluise called “The Debes Coincidence” in Rochester, NY
Most last-minute lunch: Katie Moos in Cambridge
Most confusing place to drive around: the Amherst/Shutesbury MA area
Single most frequent graffiti word in states all over: Impeach!
Most pregnant cousin: Jessica Basmadjian Moos (or Moosmadjian)
Latest baby: Ms. Zoe Moos
Coolest babies that I actually met: Sylvie Grayson-Neff and Ruby Donaldson
Coolest twins: Hazel and John
Best household of kitties: This is a tie, there was no way to break it: Kermit and Stella (left, DC), Miss Kitty and Madonna (Shutesbury, MA), America, Flip, and Gretzky (Bethesda, MD), and Suzette and Gigi (Boulder, CO).
Best new (old) band that I got to see live: The Dead Horses (MA)
Person seen the most number of separate times on the trip: Ms. Alexandra Karnow
Best cover song performed live: George Michael's "Faith" performed by Ms. Tracy Grammer at Falcon Ridge (thank you!)
Person I hadn’t seen for the longest amount of time before this summer: Tie between Cal Andrews (MA) and Carol Thrane (Kansas City) – both 17 years (before my mom died).
Most adorable 80-something folksinger: Pete Seeger
Best day of pure vacation: Fire Island with Lucy, David and Louis
Best tea shop: Tie between TeaDrops in Kansas City (best tea: Keemun Mao Feng), and Tea Spot and Pekoe in Boulder
Best coffee shop: Tie between Rao’s in Amherst, MA, Haymarket in Northampton, MA, The Lone Gull Coffeehouse in Gloucester, MA, and The Trident in Boulder, CO.
Prettiest latte: Cushman, Amherst (see above)
Best cocktail: Tie between Bloody Marys made by Louis on Fire Island, Margaritas on Jim Henry’s porch, and the Mango Jalapeno Margarita at Tahona in Boulder.
Best pedicure: Salon Bellezzio, Blue Springs, Missouri
Keys to houses still in my possession: Rochester, NY and Boulder, CO.
Best podcast discovery: Barnes & Noble’s Meet the Writers
Best new CD of the summer: Lori McKenna’s “Unglamorous”
Miles covered: 8,850 (this is calculated about as close as I can get it for now, and is probably way too low because it doesn’t include getting lost or stopping for gas or other things)
And let’s not even calculate the money spent on gas, OK?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Books of my travels

When you travel around the country and tell people are you writing they suggest books, they loan you books, they give you books. So here are the books I have acquired in my travels:

A great batch of books from Jerri (who suggested I make this list):
Revenge of the Paste Eaters: Memoirs of a Misfit – Cheryl Peck
Fat Girls and Lawn Chairs – Cheryl Peck
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
Before Women Had Wings - Connie May Fowler

One I bought in Iowa City after I met Jerri’s hilarious friend Barb in KC:
Change Me into Zeus’s Daughter – Barbara Robinette Moss

I finally got hold of Marge Piercy's memoir, Sleeping With Cats, at a used book store in Ann Arbor. Interesting stuff, but the workshop with her turned out to be a bit disappointing. She's a great writer, but a somewhat cantankerous person who did not seem thrilled to be teaching.

Jim Kates is a high school friend of my mom’s and the head of Zephyr Press. He gave me a few books:
The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East – Sandy Tolan
Say Thank You: Poems by Mikhail Aizenberg, translated by Jim Kates

Lucy gave me a memoir she liked:
Jesusland: A Memoir – Julia Scheeres

Kate and Jen in DC gave me a copy of their friend Shauna’s first novel (which is great so far): When We Get There – Shauna Seliy
(I just saw that Shauna will be at Wordstock in November!)

My grandmother, Happie, gave me this novel the other day: The Elegant Gathering of White Snows – Kris Radish

And my other grandmother, Netta, sent me this novel about a small village just before the creation of Israel for my birthday this week (she can usually be counted on for something on the topic of Israel from a conservative perspective): The Blue Mountain – Meir Shalev

A book I need to mention here that I read in June is The Wholeness of a Broken Heart by Katie Singer. It's a book about four or five generations of Jewish women that feels something like what I hope to write.

And last but not least, my friend Deidre gave me a slew of amazing audiobooks from Sounds True, where she works in Boulder. I won't list every single one, but she gave me CDs from Ram Dass, Natalie Goldberg, Julia Cameron, Jack Kornfield, Clarissa Pinkola Estes and several others. Such a great gift for the road!

I think that's it, but the list of books I need to get from the library is very long now! I have so much reading to do! Please leave any further book suggestions in the comments.

Stay tuned for pictures from Seattle and a Best & Worst of my trip list (feel free to email me additions to that, too).

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Northwestward, homeward

Here are a few last pictures from Boulder, and some from the drive home.

The Flatirons from the south.

Jeanne and Bindu on a rock overlooking Gross Reservoir (SW of Boulder).

Gross Reservoir and Dam.

A lizard I made friends with.

View of Boulder from Flagstaff Mountain.

Zetta (Jane's partner) on Sunday evening, when we spent a lovely few hours. She gave me a beautiful necklace she'd made, and I gave her some music. :)

Ms. Beth Amsel and I after a nice breakfast on Monday morning. I should add that she will be touring very soon, so check out her web site for dates near you. She is awesome live, and I'm not just saying that because I love her. :)

Road and sky along 287 in northern Colorado. I saw a quite a few dark ominous skies like this over the next few days (and they did not improve the driving conditions).

More dark sky.

An interesting sign in Tie Siding, Wyoming. I did not pay 50 cents (I wasn't offended, just cheap).

The Snake River just west of Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho (thank you Tracy).

Shoshone Falls and a rainbow.

Shoshone Falls, wider view.

...And off I drove into the sunset (near Pendleton, OR)...

Yes, I'm home now. Still very much in recovery mode...

Monday, September 03, 2007

Boulder, again

I got to make another stop in Boulder, see a few people I didn't have time to see the first time (Beth, Deidre), and see Bindu and Jeanne and Jane and Zetta again.

Mountains on the way in to Boulder on 36.

Me and Parmita, who runs White Swan Records (Deva Premal's label, and where I worked for the summer of 1995, among other things). She is an old friend of mine (I used to camp on her mountainside with friends when I was a teenager) and of Jane's, and has known my dad a long time.

Ms. Deidre Saddoris taking a break from her margarita on Pearl Street. Dee was my roommate in the Pea Green Dyke Den in 96-97, and we reconnected last year after we ran into each other at the Rocky Mtn Folks Fest. She now has two boys and works at Sounds True in the publicity dept. Cool job. :) There was a picture of me drinking a mango jalapeno margarita, but I think you've seen enough here of me and my foofy cocktails.

Me and Jane Seaton, mom of Bindu, ex of my dad's, good friend and amazing woman and writer. I think that covers it.

Jane and her partner Zetta, who I feel very lucky to have spent some time with.

Sunset on the Flatirons.

The ceiling of the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse.

Bindu and Jeanne at the Boulder Teahouse.

Me and my tea.

Jeanne, Bindu and me outside the Teahouse.

Jerri, her son Evan, and her father (Independence, MO). So glad I got to meet them, and so glad I got to see Jerri again and hang out a little. And my toes are all fixed up nice, too! :)

To everyone I have stayed with or spent time with on this trip, HUGE thanks to you for taking sure good care of me and sharing yourselves and your stories. This trip would not have been possible without you, and I am going to go home and work hard (after I sleep for a long time) to put my stories together, keep writing, and see what I can make of all this.

Just had a lovely breakfast with Beth. And, now (after a few more minutes in the Trident Cafe) I am headed home!! (But there will be more Boulder pictures and probably some of the drive.)