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!


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