Spirit Fest is an amazing yoga and music festival because of all of our incredible musicians! Not just because of the “stars” who take center stage, but also because of all of the amazing musicians that play along side of them, making their music sound even more incredible! Each year we are blessed to have an incredible number of talented musicians play for us.
We’d like you to meet some of the people you’ll be hearing play at Spirit Fest 2011…
Plays with: Snatam Kaur and others
Music and its power to transform and heal has always been a passion for Ramesh Kannan. Growing up in a musical household, the healing power of music was introduced to him at a very young age. His mother, an accomplished carnatic vocalist, started him on tabla drums at the age of 8. His lifelong musical journey has lead him to learn a wide array of percussive instruments including drum set, djembe, dumbek, udu, cajon and many melodic instruments including guitar, bass, and voice. Tabla remains to be Ramesh’s discipline and focal instrument.
Living in his hometown of Philadelphia, PA, Ramesh started his professional musical career at the age of 17. Ramesh quickly became a well-respected figure in the artistic and musical community, collaborating with a versatile body of musicians including local singer songwriters, jazz musicians, Indian classical musicians, and orchestras. During this time he toured the country extensively with Philly’s own 16-piece percussion orchestra Spokenhand, giving performances and workshops at universities, festivals, and theaters around the country.
Ramesh has had the opportunity to collaborate with some of the world’s best musicans, artists, teachers including Zakir Hussain, Krishna Das, Bhagavan Das, Jai Uttal , John Friend, Gurumukh, Snatam Kaur, GuruGanesha Singh, Krishna Kaur, Will Ackerman, Tony Levin, Rennie Harris, Tina Malia, Suzanne Sterling, Mirabai Ceiba, Rick Allen and many more. Having played with such a diverse roster of artists and styles of music, Ramesh has cultivated a sound that is unique to itself.
Residing in the Bay area, Ramesh is the percussionist of Urban Nature, an east meets west world fusion ensemble that blends voice, guitar, flute, tabla, percussion and ambient sounds. The music bridges musical traditions and instruments from around the world with modern day looping technology, creating a sound that can swell from a two piece acoustic duo to a ten piece orchestra of musical textures, melodies and rhythms.
Ramesh is also a licensed Acupuncturist, and when not performing, recording, or teaching tabla, he is practicing Acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine in the Bay Area.
What is he most excited about at Spirit Fest?
“What I’m most excited about Spirit Fest…hmmm… I guess I’d have to say connecting with the community that surrounds the event, and collaborating with the artists that are performing. Since I’ve been sharing music with this community, some strong friendships have been made, and an undeniable musical synergy has been discovered between myself and other artists involved with Spirit Voyage. Every time we play together, the music becomes more beautiful and magical, and an event like Spirit Fest gives us the opportunity to collaborate and continue to grow and connect musically and personally. This is what I’m most excited for at Spirit Fest. ”
Playing with: Satkirin Kaur Khalsa and others
I was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, and grew up in Massachusetts. My mother was teaching yoga way back in the ‘60s and introduced me to yoga postures when I was around eight years old. I took the name Dharm after meeting Yogi Bhajan in 1982.
My first introduction to the power of sacred music and mantra was at my first tantric course. We were chanting Guru Ram Das Guru for hours before the arrival of the Siri Singh Sahib, and I felt so full of light and healing that I think I was changed forever. At my first Summer Solstice Celebration later that year I heard many of the old legends of 3HO music… Sat Peter, Vikram, Guru Shabd and others singing music that would uplift the soul. The power of mantras and sacred music was astounding to me. After that, sacred music and the science of naad – the divine sound current – became my joy and intention.
What I found is that sound itself is a teacher, and this is why we have the Shabd Guru, with the power to open us to divine consciousness and true potential. In my workshops I explain how vibration carries intention with the ability permeate into physical manifestation. This means the sound current has the ability to bring health, harmony and happiness, or any attribute or intention that is infused into the sound. On a planetary level, the vibratory frequency of sound can uplift as well. And in the midst of all this power and grace, what really appeals to me is music that is joyful and expresses the happy gift of a human incarnation.
What I love about Spirit Fest is the synergy with other musicians and music lovers. Everyone is there to enjoy the sound current, and the uplifting effect of the sound works on everyone together. Its amazing what happens when we put our spirits together into a combined wavelength of goodness, grace, gratitude and mutual joy, and then we share music that carries these high frequency attributes. I also love to hear how the creative spark has so many different manifestations, through different artists, and the good willed sharing of creativity. Everyone’s music combines like the multicolored flowers in a mountain meadow. Each flower is unique, but the mountainside as a whole is one gorgeous unity whose beauty just takes my breath away.”
Plays with: Nirinjan Kaur and others
Producer, Composer, Engineer, and Musician all under one hat. Hans Christian’s work in all of these capacities has been documented on countless recording projects, from his participation as a cellist, bass player or multi-instrumentalist, to his collaborations with other artists as a producer and engineer, and to his works as a composer of solo recordings and of RASA’s CDs. Most of Hans’ musical life was spend in recording studios- from first recordings at age 16 with a local flamenco group called Duo Flamenco in his home town Hannover, Germany; to recordings in Hamburg at the famous Deutsche Gramophon studios and a local facility called Studio Hafenklang. From there he went to Hollywood to pursue a life as bassist and cellist, performing and recording first with local underground bands and later with popular artists (Robbie Robertson, Sparks, Toni Childs, Gene Clark, and others). Picking up clues from recognized producers T-Bone Burnett, Chad Blake, Daniel Lanois, Mitchel Froom (all of whom he met during sessions) and others, Hans developed a foundation for his work as a composer, producer, and engineer. His first instrument being the cello, Hans’ musicality evolved around Western classical music. Technique and discipline were the building blocks for his musical education, although these were quickly augmented with his choice of the bass guitar as a second instrument (and leading to the subsequent immersion in rock music). The foundation for a rich musical career was thus prepared. His interest in World Music, especially from India, led him to pick up the Indian sarangi and sitara (a small customized sitar) and the Scandinavian nyckelharpa. Hans has played on countless albums, given hundreds of concerts, and produced many projects, including his collaborations with Kim Waters under the name RASA (visit www.rasa-music.com for lots of information) and several recent solo recordings. Recent projects include new solo instrumental releases called Undefended Heart, Sancta Camisia and Cinema Of Dreams and two new releases with RASA- Temple Of Love and Saffron Blue. His work as a producer and mix engineer keep him busy with ongoing projects throughout the country, ranging stylistically from classical and folk to electronic and Indian devotional music. Hans also recently signed with Banshee Music as a staff composer for TV and advertising. Please visit Hans’ recording studio, called STUDIO 330, at www.recordingstudio330.com for lots of info about his professional work…
Plays with: Prabhu Nam Kaur and others
Fun fact: Her husband Amar Singh plays the flute and her son Ram Dass is one of Spirit Fest‘s featured musicians. You’ll see her whole family perform this year!
Sahib-Amar is a classically trained violist and was a musician in the original Khalsa String Band. She has recorded with Snatam and Prabhu Nam Kaur on Mother’s Blessing and Seasons of the Soul, on Ram Dass’s The Alchemist’s Prayer, and on Simrit Kaur’s The Sweetest Nectar. She also recorded with Singh Kaur, including This Universe, Fairy Night Songs, Mender of Hearts, and Peace Lagoon II. She lives in the SF Bay Area, performing with the Vallejo Symphony and with the improvisation group, WingIt! Performance Ensemble. In addition to teaching Kundalini Yoga, she and her husband Amar lead Naad Yoga and chanting workshops, and participate in interfaith kirtans. This is their second year performing at Spirit Fest.
What is she looking forward to about Spirit Fest?
“As a musician, Spirit Fest is such a great opportunity to hang out, listen to and play with all the great musicians that will be there. In all my years of coming to Solstice, my favorite part is always the music and getting to play with everyone as a backup musician. Spirit Fest is that kind of high-energy musical experience. I’m also very excited that our son, Ram Dass, has his own slot this year. We’re looking forward to performing with Prabhu Nam Kaur and finding out what other musical surprises are in store.”
Plays with: Gurunam Singh
In his own words:
“My name is Hardev Singh Khalsa. I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, home of the rhythm and blues and birth place of rock and roll or rockabilly-and the place where Kundalini Yoga found me. I was blessed to live and learn theses sacred, transformative shabads and mantras with Siri Sevak K. Khalsa and Harbhajan K. Khalsa at Guru Ram Dass Ashram in Millis, Massachusetts- as well as the teachers and musicians of our global 3HO community. It is by His grace I play, experience, and share theses vibrations.”
Where have you seen him?
He’s been on tour with Gurunam Singh since Summer Solstice!
Michelle Jai Kartar
Playing with: GuruGanesha Singh and Harnam Singh