Hello Friends, Devoted Readers and Fellow Journeyers,
I started this post because I wanted to share something with you - a brilliant manifesto I found and photographed whilst doing my business in a bathroom in Ireland. But I wanted to give some sort of introduction, or hello, or something personal. And that something turned into a manifesto of itself. So catch this rare glimpse into my life and thoughts beyond the world of music, and you will see why I won't be posting again for a while. I hope you mull the thoughts over for a while and leave some comments to add to the discussion. Happy Solstice!
Tomorrow I'll to be moving to the edge of a woodland and into a yurt which will be my dwelling-place for the next 6 months. I’m going to be working on the land: clearing rhododendrons and brambles, chopping wood, creating low-impact buildings (a tree-bog compost toilet for starters!). The first few weeks, I will be fully over my head just trying to attend to basic things like keeping myself warm, dry, and fed. But ultimately the work I will be doing will lead towards something much greater than myself. I am planting the seeds of a dream that's been brewing for over a decade, which I've recently been drawn into. As I begin this work, I will be plunging into a prolonged disconnection from computers, amplified music, etc. for 40 days or so, in order to aid my reconnecting process with the quiet and luminous world of the winter forest.
The funny thing is, I don't know anything about what I'm doing. And yet, I'm doing it.
And, speaking of planting, a month ago at Samhain time, I planted some rice, and put my dreams and desires for the coming year into them. This is scary. I've never planted anything in my whole life. Sure, I've watered plants that had already sprouted, pulled thousands of ‘weeds’, spread compost and diligently plucked the yellowing leaves from my room's resident spider-plant. But they all came into being through someone else's aid. Now, for the first time in my life, I take responsibility for the life of another being. With these few dozen kernels, I commit to ushering a life into the world, and providing it with the environment it needs to flourish.
And as I nourish these seeds, I nourish myself. I am these seeds just as I am the compost in which they are planted, just as I am the water that courses over them. Their desire to grow tall is my desire to become myself. If they flower, with them will flower my dreams. According to all available information, rice cannot grow in Ireland. It's too cold here. Not enough sun. No one has ever done it before. Likewise, the tackling the challenges of climate change, the economy, the huge degree of inequity among the world's peoples, a spiritually ailing society mired in the dredges of an unfulfilled post-consumerist malaise, and finding a meaningful and personally fulfilling role to play in transforming the aforementioned headache-inducing mess, seems rather impossible too. But so many things that we now take for granted - flight, instant communication, moving pictures, etc. - were once deemed impossible. What brought them into being was a dream, diligently nourished and acted upon. If we can create dream into being such complex and multifaceted problems for ourselves (every element of which came about as a solution to some other problem, mind you), then we can dream into being a more sane, fulfilling, and sustainable way to approach our stay on this planet.
And if there is to be a change, a real (r)evolution in the way we operate as individuals, as a culture and a species, it will not come as a result of government-directed actions. We have seen the failure in Copenhagen, and though distressing, I know it could not have been any other way. It is as much a failure for our current political system as it is for the ailing environment. It would be easy to criticize Obama for his obvious posturing and unwillingness to do anything of value, and his covert loyalty to the military-industrial complex, but once again I know it could not have been any other way. Ultimately, our politicians are a reflection of ourselves. The only power they have is the power we have given them; they are corrupted by the corporations which was continue to fund. How can we expect them to reform when we are unwilling to reform our own lifestyles? They will only change when we take back our power and initiate the changes ourselves. But how? The mounting crises are so vast! How will we change in time?
It just occurred to me that the whole drama of the banking collapse is a reflection of our relationship with nature. We have been borrowing, and borrowing, and borrowing her resources, and continually putting off the payback. In the olde dayes, if a people cut down their forest, polluted their water, or over-hunted the animals, inevitably the floods and droughts and poisonings and scarcities that followed would wipe them out or drove them away. Natural consequence. Nature foreclosed on their property. Then, since the land couldn’t support people, no one would settle there for a while and the land would have a chance to rejuvenate, and build up its resources again.
But we’ve created such a hall of mirrors now. What happens in one part of the world affects another part, so that with advanced technology and abundant oil, we’ve been able to delay the natural consequences. And they’ve been snowballing behind us as we run, and they’re catching up in the form of ‘natural’ disasters and unprecedented changes in the elements. We bailed out the banks because we weren’t ready to wake up yet. At Copenhagen we bailed out the polluters, for the same reason. No one has asked “Why are we giving money to the banks in the hope that they’ll lend to us again?” or “Why are we still supporting an economic system which is vastly unjust, unsustainable, disempowering, and if left to its own devices will destroy us in the name of never-ending exploitative ‘growth’?” Or, rather, no one is listening to those questions and finding the courage to answer them. Is this denial rooted in the fabric of our cultural world-view and spirituality? Do we favor denial by nature or does it come because we are unwilling to face our own shadows, because we are afraid to see death as a natural part of the rhythm of life?
I do not believe humans are inherently destructive or bad for the environment. There have been cultures who maintained the ecosystem which housed them so well, and kept it in such perfect balance, that when these people were moved out or killed, the landscape fell to ruin as well. And the power of human creativity and love can surmount any obstacle. It must be stressed that the situation we're in came about not from some evil person's ill-intentions, but from a great many life-styles that were conducted without a sense of the greater picture. The current situation we have is not wrong, it's just out-of-balance. Vastly out-of-balance. We can re-balance it. But we have been conditioned to believe that we are powerless. We have complicitly given away our power away in exchange for a kind of comfort and stability. We have sacrificed our freedom without even knowing it. And in exchange we have been given a god named Convenience, to whom we sacrifice many more things. But we have made the situation from which we now suffer, and complicated as it is, we can unmake it. Because you and I can change, this community and civilization can change. But how?
Change begins in the hearts and minds of people; healing and growth come from within. Change begins with one person deciding to take responsibility for their own life, deciding to live neither as a victim nor as an agent of violence. Change begins when one person overcomes the barrier of social awkwardness and starts a conversation with someone they don't know about things that matter to them. Change begins when one person decides to love themselves, and proceeds to spread that love to those around them. Change begins when one person decides to leap into the frigid and bottomless waters of the unknown and pursue a dream which by any reasonable estimation is absurdly, outrageously impossible. Change begins when one person remembers how immensely beautiful, powerful and great they are, and decides to embody and radiate that greatness. Change begins when one person picks up a spade and turns their green pointless grassy lawn (or better yet - roof!) into a budding vegetable garden. Change begins when one person gives thanks for the rain that falls, the food that grows, and the billion rats and ants and plants and people who clean up our messes. Change begins when one person, who has been academically educated to the point of paralysis gets up off their arse and actually does something! Change begins when we let a child be a child and discover for their self who they are in this world. Change begins when we allow that same magnificent freedom to our own starry-eyed and beaming inner being. Change is the most natural process of life. It will happen whether we want it or not. But right now, we still have the power to choose how it will come.
One the few social or environmental movements I think is actually on the right path is the Transition movement. It is community-powered, viral, and dynamic. It tackles a number of challenges (peak-oil, climate-change, turbulent economy...) with a multifaceted and evolving solution based on building local resilience and taking advantage of everyone’s unique and different skills. It essentially takes a permaculture approach to creating community, and a ‘be the change’ approach to the global crises. It is a brilliant initiative and spreading like wildfire. But it is a social and material solution to a social and material problem, and our culture is also ailing spiritually.
The system which has fostered the climate crisis is the same system which has bankrupted the social and spiritual health of our society. It is founded on a materialistic worldview, and has fostered a cult of the individual ego. Our whole educational system is founded on this materialistic worldview and ego-worship. It has systematically stripped the mystery and greatness of ourselves as it has stripped the Earth of the diamonds in her shadows. In its glorification of rationality and the 5 gross senses it has denied the magical and powerful world of the soul and the subtle senses. This has in turn produced a gaping hole in people’s psyches, which is most often filled by over-consumption of goods, over-dependence on words, and sensory overstimulation (I’m not sure which among the 3 is the most damaging). Community was sacrificed to the cult of the personality, and the personality was glorified through goods, words, and sensory artifacts. We have made gods of ourselves, but only on the outside. Still, we are parched for the healing waters of the soul. Poetry is the healing of words. Art and music the healing of the eyes and ears. Exercise and gentle touch the healing of the body. But the greatest and most neglected healer of all is Nature. She is here, waiting, always willing to give, but we hardly take notice. We search so far and wide for happiness and healing, but so often we search in vain.
Happiness is not an ends to be achieved, but a means to be chosen. It comes from within. And, like Love, it is a choice always present. And Love is the most powerful currency for transformation that exists. By loving myself, my wounds will heal. By loving the people around me, community will be born. By loving the great Mother that gives and sustains life, by whose fruits we are nourished and upon whom we rest at night, the rift that has grown between us will close and we will find the way back into balance with her. With Love, balanced by Wisdom and Power, anything is possible.
I am not talking about hope. I don’t believe in hope.
In the hope for salvation, suffering is perpetuated. Hope is the band-aid over the festering wound of the future that will come if we don’t attend to the present. When we hope for anything outside us to solve our problems, we give ourselves the paralyzing excuse to sit back and do nothing. When we expect politicians, gurus, international humanitarian organizations, etc. to provide the answers and changes we need, we give away our power, agency and will, and become passive spectators to a match that we will lose for never having acted in. We need warriors; we need people who refuse to sit idly by while the things they love are laid to waste around them. The comfort zones we dwell within are being stripped away and reality is knocking at the door. It is as though we are on a ship, and half the people are running around, trading suits and dusting shelves and putting on makeup and the other half are trying to get everyone on the ship to be counted as equals in the eyes of the captain, or trying to turn the stirring wheel by a democratic process, or just criticizing everything, and meanwhile the whole ship is sinking. The time for denial and procrastination is over. A choice is before us: act or perish.
But one must not rush into action too soon. There is a great abundance of action right now, working at cross-purposes. Activists bumping heads.
It must be remembered that the whole situation of the planet right now, our great collection of crises and catastrophes, is the result of our well-intentioned actions, most of them seen to be solutions at the time. Short-sighted, perhaps, and human-centric certainly. But solutions nonetheless. Actions alone are not enough. We need vision: long-seeing, deep-reaching visions. We need dreams.
When action is not guided by the orchestrating vision of a true dream, the result is cacophony - a dissonance of wasted energy - and the solutions are short-sighted and shallow. When action is motivated by a sense of obligation or guilt, it creates a resentment which slowly and silently unravels all that the worker has sewn. But when action is motivated by inspiration and an authentic desire to give service, in whatever way we are called to and suited for - , then, then it will create an unstoppable, divinely-guided change in the world. The most efficient and effective person is the person who is following their heart’s calling. And the most intelligent person is the one who can hear not only their own mind, but also the intelligence of their soul, and those at work in nature. The heart is an organ of perception, a center of intuition and a powerhouse of inspiration. But so many people have denied their hearts for so long, that they can no longer hear the call.
And that, dear friends, is why I’m moving into a yurt at the edge of the woods. I’m not running away from society and community, I’m running towards a more ancient form of community. I’m following the call of my heart. I’m going to plunge into the silence and stillness of the winter woods, and perhaps I’ll discover something that I couldn’t hear before. I’m very excited about the growth that may take place, the wildness that may sprout in me. The paintings that will come, and the music without source. I know there may be times when I’m wet or cold or lonely or exhausted, but I know that since I won’t be able to run away from myself, these experiences will make me stronger.
But I’m not just doing this for my own personal growth. I’m doing it because I feel that I have a part to play in the unfoldment of a dream. I want to build a place that inspires people, opens them up to the magic of life and nature all around them, and educates in the true sense of the word - to 'draw out from within'. And I’m following the advice ancient Chinese words of proverb “If you are thinking a year ahead, sow seed. If you are thinking ten years ahead, plant a tree. If you are thinking one hundred years ahead, educate the people. By sowing a seed, you will harvest once. By planting a tree, you will harvest tenfold. By educating the people, you will harvest hundredfold.” And I’m also acting on the notion that trees are at the heart the solution to climate change, and that forests provide the best economy, and that forest farming is the most efficient known form of land management. And of course because trees are some of the wisest, friendliest people I’ve ever met, and I have a lot to learn from them.
The days are short now, and the nights are long. The sharp cold of winter draws us inside. The trees stand naked before us, and the mountains go to sleep. Now is the time for dreaming. Now is the time for clearing the fields of your heart and mind, allowing the untold stories to surface and the expired stories to find completion. In the great silence of the warm and infinite darkness within you, the murmurs of your heart can be heard. In this, the darkest time of the year, may you find a home in the ancient darkness within you, the domain of infinite unborn potential, and plant therein your seed of light.
Reality is created by dreams put into action. Go forth, you blessed warriors of tomorrow, dream your dreams and create!
You are all mighty beings, do not forget.
And, without further ado, here’s the manifesto that started this fantastic rant:
The Gaia Enlightenment: A Manifesto
December 22, 2009
December 16, 2009
If I were back home, today I'd be going to a party called the Solstice Revels, complete with Morris dancing, contra dancing, a mummers play, circus arts, storytelling, and other general merriment for six hours. It was always one of the highlights of the year, so I thought I'd share something Englishy and magical in spirit of it.
Roberts and Barrand sing with an uncanny harmony which is greater than the sum of its parts. It is an old form of harmony, an organic and off-kilter one which seems to predate the methodized mathematical harmonies that characterize western vocal music. And because they have such a compelling quality to their voices, their energies, and their songs, they manage to avoid the trap too common to English folk-singers, namely that of sounding like a total dork. They're more like the Watersons, or the Pinder Family, or some Appalachian clan - they do find a harmony, but it's an itchy harmony that wakes you up rather than lulling you into passivity. Enjoy these ballads, seek out their other work, and cozy up for winter - it's going to be a long one.
JOHN ROBERTS & TONY BARRAND
Widely acclaimed for their lively and entertaining presentations of English folk songs, JOHN ROBERTS and TONY BARRAND have performed at major festivals, colleges, clubs and coffeehouses throughout the United States, Canada, and their native Britain. They sing the ballads and songs of the sea, of rural pursuits, of social and sociable situations, of industrial toil and strife, and much more, typically arranging their material thematically to better illustrate the lives and the social history of the people who made and sang the songs. Their songs are punctuated with tales, monologues, dances and tunes, giving a more complete appreciation of the wealth, diversity, and vitality of the English folk tradition.
John and Tony met at Cornell University in 1968, as fellow graduate students in psychology. They discovered that they shared a common interest in folk song, and started performing together the following year. Unaccompanied two-part singing was always a primary staple of their repertoire, and the stark harmonies of their well-balanced voices soon brought them to the attention of the folk music community. They also draw upon a variety of instrumentation: John is a leading exponent of both Anglo and English concertina, as well as being a fine banjo and guitar player; Tony is a skilled percussionist, on drums, bones and spoons.
Both are active in the folk dance arena as well as in song. Tony is a well-known Morris and clog dancer, and his teaching is in demand across the United States. His recent book, Six Fools and a Dancer, has been hailed as the definitive work on Morris Dance in the United States. John, an able dancer himself, is more often found providing the music on concertina. When not singing or dancing (and often when he is) Tony teaches folklore and esthetics via the University Professors Program at Boston University; John is a freelance music engraver and desktop publisher.
In their many years together as a professional team, Roberts and Barrand have recorded with a number of companies including Swallowtail, Front Hall, Folk Legacy, National Geographic, and, most recently, Golden Hind. These recordings include a critically-acclaimed album of authentic sea shanties, an album of drinking songs recorded live in a Chicago tavern, An Evening at the English Music Hall, and four albums of songs from their celebrated Christmas pageant, Nowell Sing We Clear. Their latest release (August '92) is a program of English folk songs entitled A Present from the Gentlemen. They have also recorded a selection of the songs that the composer Percy Grainger collected in Lincolnshire during the early years of this century, to be released in the near future. Their next project will be a sequel to an earlier recording of sea songs and shanties.
John Roberts & Tony Barrand - Dark Ships in the Forest: Ballads of the Supernatural
Label: Folk Legacy Records
As children, we are as familiar with the story-world of elves, giants, witches, and ghosts as we are with the world of the reality around us. This kind of fantasy plays a major role in our growing up, but as we mature it seems to get shuttled further and further into the backs of our minds, closeted up, to be released only for the occasional entertainment of our own children.
But it is precisely this variety of fantasy which provided a major part of the entertainment of days gone by. Songs and tales, carried in a family tradition intermittently refreshed by itinerant musicians and raconteurs, were full of bizarre encounters between young men and water nymphs, knights and dragons, fairy queens and magicians; and many of these same ballads, as song or story, have been carried down to us through the same family traditions.
Why were these themes so popular? In a world of oppression and misery, the adventure world of heroic knights and distressed damsels offered some brief escape. And in the world of the inquisition, of the continuing struggle between God and Satan, the shining white and the murky black, with the might of the church pitted against the insidious powers of witchcraft, it would seem natural to spice these adventures with the incarnations of supra-terrestrial forces.
But changing times lead to changing ballads. King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table give way to Robin Hood and his merrie band of outlaws. Regal seductions make room for romps in the hayloft, Contemporary events are celebrated in new ballads, which take pride of place in the family repertoire. Many of the older songs are forgotten, or changed beyond recognition; but they are not all lost.
Old motifs, like old soldiers, seldom die; they live on in the new ballads and in adaptations of the old, altered, perhaps, but never really forgotten. Occasionally they appear in full glory in a miraculously preserved saga of ancient intrigue, perhaps remaining almost unchanged over the centuries. They may just come as fleeting allusions, shadows of the past ill at ease in their new settings. Sometimes (particularly, it seems, in their migration across the Atlantic) they disappear, leaving stark, grim tales of unexplained death, murder, and tragedy, And at times, it seems, they serve only to muddle an apparently rational sequence of events. But they remain with us, in many cases the same supernatural elements common to our children's fairy tales: the ghosts, wizards, talking birds, shape transformations, and miracles of a magical world of long ago.
The songs we sing here were born of this stock. Because of our biases, they are based on English or English-derived tradition, or are English in style or spirit (as it were). Many of them are filled unashamedly with the fantastical events of the balladry of yesteryear; others carry only faint indications of some long-gone past, of unnatural happenings, of pagan ritual, and of disconcerting power, In the primal forest of folk songs, these are our dark ships.
Oak, Ash, and Thorn
Rudyard Kipling's "A Tree Song" sets the scene for the stories and poems of Puck of Pook's Hill, This setting of the verses is by the late Peter Bellamy who, after the breakup of the Young Tradition, became one of Britain's best-known exponents of traditional song. He has arranged a considerable number of Kipling's "songs," using original melodies or adapting traditional ones. This tune is his own.
We also use it as a scene-setter, a "calling-on song." The magic of trees lies deep in the roots of Druidic religion and mythology, and the oak, ash, and thorn are central characters of the bardic tree-alphabets; much of this tree lore has survived in folk tales, in English as well as in Celtic tradition.
Of all the trees that grow so fair, old England to adorn,
Greater are none beneath the sun than Oak, and Ash, and Thorn:
Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, good sirs,
(All on a midsummer's morn!)
Surely we sing of no little thing
In Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!
Oak of the clay lived many a day
Or ever Aeneas began,
Ash of the loam was a lady at home
When Brut was an outlaw man,
And Thorn of the Down saw New Troy Town,
(From which was London born);
Witness hereby the ancientry
Of Oak, and Ash, and Thorn,
Yew that is old, in churchyard mould,
He breedeth a mighty bow,
Alder for shoes do wise men choose,
And Beech for cups also,
But when you have killed, and your bowl it is spilled,
And your shoes are clean outworn,
Back you must speed for all that you need
To Oak, and Ash, and Thorn,
Ellum, she hates mankind, and waits
Till every gust be laid,
To drop a limb on the head of him
That anyway trusts her shade,
But whether a lad be sober or sad,
Or mellow with ale from the horn,
He'll take no wrong when he lyeth along
'Neath Oak, and Ash, and Thorn,
Oh, do not tell the priest our plight,
Or he would call it a sin,
But we've been out in the woods all night,
A-conjuring summer in,
And we bring you good news by word of mouth,
Good news for cattle and corn:
Now is the sun come up
from the south,
By Oak, and Ash, and Thorn,
The Broomfield Wager
Cyril Poacher, our source for this "pub" version of a most venerable ballad, was a regular at the Saturday night sing-songs in The Ship Inn, at Blaxhall in Suffolk, The somewhat garbled nature of the story line is heightened by the mysterious "Hold the wheel" chorus, apparently the result of a misunderstanding of "had his will" by a visiting (and presumably inebriated) yachtsman, It stuck.
O wager, O wager, O wager I'll lay you,
I'll lay you five thousands to your one
That a maiden I will go to the merry broomfield
And a maiden I'm sure I will return.
That a maiden I will go to the merry broomfield
And a maiden I'm sure I will return
Hold the Wheel!
And then did this young maid get on a bay hobby's back,
All for to ride to that green broom (that green broom),
And when she got there, she found her own true love
Lying in that merry green broom fast asleep.
Nine tines did she walk round the crown of his head,
Nine times round the soles of his feet,
Nine times did she say, "Awake, master,
For your own true love is standing nearby.
And when she had done all that she dare do,
She stepped behind that bunch of green broom (that green broom)
All for to hear what her own true love would say
When he awoke out of his domestic sleep.
He said, "If I'd been awake instead of being asleep,
My will I would have done toward thee,
Your blood, it would have been spilled for those small birds to drink,
And your flesh it would have been for their food."
"You hard-hearted young man, how could you say so?
Your heart it must be hard as any stone,
For to murder the one that loved you so well
Far better than the ground that you stand on,
"Nine times of this bell did I ring, master,
Nine times of this whip did I crack,
Nine times did I say, 'Awake, master,
For your own true love is standing nearby."
1 Oak, Ash, and Thorn - 2:43
2 The Broomfield Wager - 4:12
3 The Wife of Usher's Well - 2:45
4 Tom of Bedlam - 3:57
5 The Dreadful Ghost - 4:22
6 The Foggy Dew - 5:07
7 The Derby Ram - 3:31
8 The Maid on the Shore - 3:45
9 Reynardine - 3:03
10 The False Lady - 3:21
11 Polly Vaughn - 3:18
12 The Two Magicians - 5:19
pirates like ships or alternate link
vinyl | mp3 >256kbps vbr | w/ cover
if you like it, I think you can get some more at Freebornman's livejournal. More of the style, at least.
December 6, 2009
And - can you face it - one more dulcimer album! By the queen of the dulcimer, princess of the folk revival herself, Jean Ritchie. One of the only people who could be deep, authentic, and totally appalachian while still being clean, pretty, and acceptable-to-city-folkies. Thus, she had a big impact on the folk scene, along with Doc Watson (the two shared an album recorded at Folk City in the early '60s. You could probably get it around somewhere...). Though she's familiar with (& wrote the book on) all manner of dulcimer styles and forms, she plays in her endemic, traditional style, held in her lap, strumming across the 3 strings with a feather.
And, just to show you that I don't have anything against nice, pleasant music (so long as it's done well and not too sappy), here's some fine heart-warming strings and things. Usually the separating question is: have they gone deep enough into the traditional music to understand its subtle depth, or have they merely skimmed its harmonious overtones? In McCutcheon's case, I believe the former is true. Even when making children's music, he stands apart from the crowd in making music that doesn't belittle the innate intelligence of children. But these two albums come before his childrens phase, when he was just making lovely glistening bits of folk.
John McCutcheon - Fine Times at our House
Review by Steve Leggett
John McCutcheon's love for traditional Appalachian music is apparent on all of his many albums, but Fine Times at Our House, recorded for Jean Ritchie and George Pickow's Greenhays label, is particularly neo-Appalachian in feel, featuring several fiddle medleys and McCutcheon's own bright and airy hammer dulcimer playing. Among the many highlights here are the opener, "Wild Rose of the Mountain," a fiddle reel that makes the heart soar, and a wonderful segue that puts two traditional melodies, "Lonesome John" and "Fine Times at Our House," together in one basket. Most of the tracks are instrumentals, but McCutcheon's appropriately creaky singing on the haunting dirge "Times Are Not What They Used to Be" is particularly moving. A bright joy seems to permeate every inch of this record, and its offhand, easy flow makes it a wonderful introduction to McCutcheon's considerable body of work.
1. Wild Rose of the Mountain/Wild Rose of the Mountain
2. Hale's Rag
3. Nancy Ann/Hey, John D., Where'd You Get Your Britches?
4. Lonesome John/Fine Times at Our House
7. I Am the Bravest Cowboy/Cowboy's Dream
8. Times Are Not What They Used to Be
9. Grandpa's Waltz/Clarinet Polka
10. Sally Ann
11. Back Side of Albany/Cooley's Reel
12. Carolan's Farewell to Music
mr | vinyl, cleaned | mp3 >256kbps
Labels: flying fish
Debashish Bhattacharya's imaginative renderings and innovative extensions of playing technique and instrument design reveal the kind of provocative re-thinking that has always been at the vanguard of Indian classical music. Raga Bhimpalasi is played in the afternoon, evoking a contemplative sense of peace and the majestic grandeur of creation.
a customer said:
This is one of the best Hindustani recordings of all time. I hope you will not let the guitar factor get in the way of your giving this cd a chance. Make no mistake about it, in the hands of Debashish Bhattacharya his acoustic slide guitar is as "valid" and "authentic" a Hindustani instrument as a sarod or a sitar. Plus he has altered the guitar by adding drone and sympathetic strings so it does indeed have a very "Indian tone" to it. Gorgeous tone actually.
If you never have 70 uninterrupted minutes to dedicate to a cd then actually Debashish's Raga Saraswati cd may be a better choice for you because it has three shorter performances rather than the one long one contained on this cd. Plus, in terms of "performance quality" you aren't sacrificing anything by buying Saraswati. It's an epic recording as well. I give the slight nod to the Bhimpalasi cd because the 48-minute alap, jor, and jhala on this cd is so magnificent, and it so perfectly displays the profound emotional impact and creativity that stands at the heart of a great Hindustani improvisation that I just have to choose this one. Plus the gats are volcanic as well! The Saraswati cd is also amazing, the performances are just more compact so none of the alap's get to stretch out and go quite as deeply as this one does. My advice: Buy them both!
In terms of just sheer improvisational ability and emotional power, Debashish is right up there with Viliyat Khan, Ali Akbar Khan, etc....
If you've never heard of him before, don't worry. Whether you're just a guitar fan who is curious to hear something new or you're a knowledgeable longtime fan of Hindustani music this cd will blow your mind. Debashish and Samir Chatterjee (the tabla player) created one of the pearls of recorded music.
Raga Bhimpalasi is a beautiful raga and they create one of its best-ever versions.
1. Raga Bhimpalasi: Alap, Jor & Jhala (48:24)
2. Raga Bhimpalasi: Vilambit Gat in Rupak Tal (16:42)
3. Raga Bhimpalasi: Drut Gat in Tintal (13:11)
mp3 >256kbps vbr
dedicated to everyone who enjoys this particular brand of genius...
Sorry about the lack of posts recently, fellows. Though I'm somewhat settled and would be happy to post, the internet/phones have been down for quite a while, and are only up for brief intermittent spells. I only just learned upon coming back to the web that Jack Rose, the most beloved and best of the new generation of Takoma-style players, has met old Blind Joe Death and now travels in his company. All the info I have can be gathered from Delta Slider, and he's probably more able to keep updated as the info comes in.
November 17, 2009
And the waves
from their snowy throats
as they come
over the moss-green,
glass-green roughage ---
as they crumble
on the incline
whatever they carry
in their invisible
icy and plump
with waled shells,
for the gatherers
who come flying
on their long white wings---
who comes walking,
who comes muttering:
coins of the sea
in my pockets
and plenty for the gulls
and the wind still pounding
and the sea still streaming in like a mother wild with gifts---
in this world I am as rich
as I need to be.
- Mary Oliver
October 12, 2009
Well, folks, it's that time again. I'm heading off to travel around the misty isles of Britain and Ireland again, so don't expect any more posts for a while. But I thought I'd leave you with this special treat to savor while I'm away. I really shouldn't have to say anything to convince you this is wonderful music. The names speak for themselves. Two of the greatest slide guitarists in the world produce one of the greatest works of East-West fusion. Sweet and spicy, like a good curry. Like Ry Cooder & Vishwa Mohan Bhatt's grammy-award-winning album 'A Meeting By the River', but better. Mmmmmmm.....!
Bob Brozman's journey into India and its music began with Debashish Bhattacharya, who Bob considers the greatest slide guitarist of all time in any genre. Bob first encountered Debashish in 1996, when Bob, Debashish, and Martin Simpson all had recent concert video releases with Stefan Grossman's Vestapol videos. Stefan suggested getting together for a "World Of Slide Guitar" US tour, and the very first show in Vancouver, BC was the moment the that the three actually met, having arrived from different destinations. Debashish arrived from India with his brother Subhashis, master tabla player; Bob came in from Europe; and Martin arrived from California. There was no time for any rehearsal. The opening notes of this tour began with a simple agreement to play in D minor. From that point, only attentiveness, communication, and emotion built the music. Several cities deemed this concert to be their concert of the year. The 1996 tour included the West coast, Midwest, and East coast. The trio toured again in 1997, this time on the West coast, Canada and Hawaii.
In January 1998, Bob went to Calcutta for a residence and recording with Debashish and Subhashis. Being in Calcutta is a very intense experience, recommended for all Americans to witness how much of the world lives. SUNRISE was the result of a recording made in stifling 110-degree heat. The compositions on this recording were created to give the listener a true mixture of east and west. Drawing on Debashish's roots in Indian classical and folk music, and Bob's roots in blues, Hawaiian, Caribbean, jazz, and African music, these two guitarists employed both their cultural differences and their philosophical commonalities to compose a variety of completely new music. SUNRISE was released in 1998 in India only, and remains difficult to obtain.
Calcutta, India's Debashish Bhattacharya started learning Indian music from his parents before he learned the alphabet. In his childhood he mastered many Indian classical instrumental styles as well as vocal music from different musical teachers in Calcutta. He became a disciple and student of Brij Bhushan Khabra, the father of Indian classical guitar, for 10 years, and also trained under Ajoy Chakraborty, the eminent Indian vocalist. He has also studied with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.
As a performer, Debashish gave his first guitar recital at the age of four on the All India Radio, and in a public concert. In his twenties, he evolved a unique style of playing guitar, synthesizing selected features of various other instruments such as the Veena, Sitar, Sarod and Kannur. In 1984, he was awarded the President of India award at the age of 21.
Debashish developed his innovative Hindustani slide guitar after years of research and experience. It consists of a Hofner acoustic F hole guitar, with a total of 22 strings. He added a platform of wood running the length of the guitar's neck, mounted with 17 tuning gears. This piece of wood extends the width of the neck, making room for twelve sympathetic strings, and five supporting strings for additional versatility. Above the 5 normal (sliding melody) strings, there is a pair of ckikari strings, as on a sitar. One of Debashish's innovations was to move them to the treble side of the guitar, which enables far more complex playing, since their rhythmic drones can be played by the fingers, over other melodies simultaneously. Debashish plays this guitar while sitting cross legged, with the guitar held on the lap and played with a small steel bar, metal picks and a celluloid thumb pick.
Debashish is perhaps the greatest slide guitarist who has ever lived. He has, both through creating the actual design of the instrument, and through his incredible talent and discipline, elevated the Hindustani slide guitar to be the highest evolution of slide guitar anywhere. Though he is often compared to V.M. Bhatt, there is little basis for comparison, because Debashish's music has far greater musical range, physical dexterity, and emotional depth. To develop his playing, he has undergone decades of disciplined study of Indian vocal technique combined with his instrumental work. Debashish can sing perfectly in parallel with every blindingly fast melody he plays. Possessed of a very open musical mind, Debashish is eager and more than qualified to collaborate and truly blend with musicians from any other country.
Since 1996, his collaboration with Bob has resulted in two "World of Slide" tours of the USA and Canada, plus more appearances with Bob, and with The International Troupe, in Canada and South Africa. Most recently, Debashish has toured Europe and recorded with John McLaughlin and his latest incarnation of Shakti. In 2002, Debashish returned to Quebec with Bob, and later reunited with Bob in California for the recording of MAHIMA, released June 2003.
Subhashis Bhattacharya - biography
Subhashis is a leader of his generation of Indian percussionists. As the younger brother of Debashish, Subhashis grew up steeped in the deep musical background of the Bhattacharya family, learning melody and rhythm from infancy. His father Sri Sunil Bhattacharya taught him tabla and his mother, vocalist Smt. Manjushree Bhattacharya worked with him melodically when he was a toddler.
He started to make his presence felt in the music scene from childhood as a promising tabla player trained by teachers Sri Prabir Bhattacharya and Pt. Shyamal Bose. Now, he is considered to be a master player, and he continues to study with Pandit Anindo Chatterjee, the senior tabla maestro. He has regularly performed in every major Indian music festival, and has recorded four albums with Debashish and seven albums with Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty.
Subhashis first toured outside of India in 1996 with Debashish and Bob. His skill and flexibility as percussionist on several instruments, rhythm arranger, and vocalist have since been heard on subsequent overseas tours in the USA, Canada, South Africa, Greece, Kuwait, Bangladesh, and Nepal. A leading studio musician in India, he has begun creating and leading large percussion ensembles, and his arranging skills are essential to the music on this album, as an equal participant in its creation. With meticulously tuned hand drums, he played intricate rhythms, plus melodic parts inside the rhythm section. Creating percussion landscapes by playing several instruments on multiple tracks gave Subhashis a sense of liberty, yielding one creative explosion after another.
Biography: Bob Brozman Today
Redefining musical diversity worldwide, Bob Brozman is a remarkably prolific artist whose wit, energy, and musical technique combine powerfully to create an unforgettable live performance. A master of slide, fingerstyle, and percussive guitar, Bob's exhilarating show spans the global and musical spectrum, and keeps audiences enthralled, begging for more of his endearing, infectious energy.
Bob's familiarity with diverse world music cultures produces a novel blending of rhythmic and timbral influences, unparalleled in today's musical environment. His rhythmic dexterity resonates with elements of blues, jazz, Gypsy swing, calypso, sega, and even the most modern hip-hop and ska beats.
Likewise, his chords and harmonies articulate an acute blend of timbres from Hawaiian, Indian, African, Japanese/Okinawan, Caribbean, and American roots blues. His fingerwork has been described in world press as uniquely staggering, yet full of humor. Bob has a collection of hand-tricks that make audiences look for electronic effects that in fact don't exist: his show is the clean product of acoustic genius.
Bob's disarming talent for humor and rapport invariably adds spice to his already well-seasoned repertoire of music. A lifelong study of ethnomusicology and the global migration of musical styles ensures Bob's committed attention and respect to each of the cultures in his repertoire. He casually shares historical facts with his audiences, and charms them with his ability to integrate local languages into his show: over the years, Bob has taught himself useful phrases in over 30 languages, which he regularly uses both on stage and off.
Undoubtedly, however, Bob's preferred language is music - which he speaks fluently, around the world. His most recent projects have rendered him a true player in the world music scene. Since 2000, Bob has completed 15 full-length recordings, both solo and with reknown artists from around the world. Most recently, POST-INDUSTRIAL BLUES (Ruf Records) and LUMIÈRE(World Music Network) have proven Bob's virtuosity in both the blues and world music genres. His 2005 release SONGS OF THE VOLCANO (CD/DVD) documents Bob's two journeys to Papua New Guinea in 2003 and 2004, when he recorded with 60 musicians from five string bands. Other notable projects include the 2003 release of MAHIMA (with Debashish Bhattacharya, India); the 2002 release DIGDIG (with René Lacaille, La Réunion Island); as well as JIN JIN (with Takashi Hirayasu, Okinawa); OCEAN BLUES (with Djeli Moussa Diawara, Guinea); IN THE SADDLE (with Ledward Kaapana, Hawaii); NANKURU NAISA (again with Hirayasu); TONE POEMS III (with David Grisman and Mike Auldridge, USA); SUNRISE (again with Bhattacharya); ROLLING THROUGH THIS WORLD (with Jeff Lang, Australia); GET TOGETHER (with Woody Mann, USA); and FOUR HANDS SWEET & HOT (with Cyril Pahinui, Hawaii). Bob's 2005 solo release BLUES REFLEX was nominated for The Blues Foundation's 2007 Blues Music Awards, in the category of "Acoustic Album of the Year."
An abundance of projects such as these has established Bob as, according to one reviewer, "the man whose musical empathy seems to know no bounds." And as journalist Paul Fisher notes, "If music existed in another universe, Bob would be the Planet Earth's representative for an interplanetary collaboration."
Bob Brozman - Early Biography
Bob was born in New York in 1954 and has been involved in music since early childhood. A guitarist since age 6, Bob discovered National guitars at age 13. In their unique sound, the young Bob found his musical calling. He studied music and ethnomusicology at Washington University with an emphasis on the earliest roots of Delta blues. He has since also become a respected authority on historical Hawaiian music, publishing articles and amassing a large collection of 78rpm records. He has produced five re-issue albums from this collection on the Rounder and Folklyric labels, documenting the best of Hawaiian music from 1915 to 1935.
In 1988, Bob rediscovered the legendary 1929 Hawaiian recording artists, the Tau Moe Family. Together they recorded a landmark album, REMEMBERING THE SONGS OF OUR YOUTH, an historic re-creation of the family's genuine Hawaiian music from 60 years prior. The album was released in 1989 to rave international reviews, including the Library of Congress Select List Award. With N.E.A. funding, Bob began production of a feature-length documentary film about the Moe family and their amazing 54-year-long world tour.
Over the years, Bob's passion for National Guitars led him to build a large collection of these fascinating art-deco era instruments. After receiving a letter from the then-88-year-old inventor John Dopyera, Bob visited and became good friends with John and his family. This led to further research, and in 1993 Bob's massive work THE HISTORY AND ARTISTRY OF NATIONAL RESONATOR INSTRUMENTS was published internationally. He has also written for several music magazines concerning historical and instructional subjects.
Since his first solo album in 1981, Bob's repertoire of recordings has grown by over 30 titles to include 14 solo projects and at least a dozen collaborations with international friends. His ability to use the guitar as a portable translator of culture - coupled with his empathetic nature (through music, culture, and language), and seemingly boundless energy - enables him to establish genuine musical friendships based on respect and love of music. Bob's deep knowledge of musical history and arranging has enabled him to create large band arrangements and direct music for film, radio, television, and stage. In the last year, Bob produced albums for Ledward Kaapana and the Asylum Street Spankers; he also continues to generate educational and concert videos for Homespun Tapes and Vestopol Videos, respectively.
In 1999, Bob and Woody Mann co-founded International Guitar Seminars, which hosts over 120 students annually at sites in California, New York, and Canada. The team has pioneered a week-long, deluxe workshop in which students study day and night with a faculty that includes Bob, Woody, John Cephas, John Renbourn, Orville Johnson, Michael Dunn, Mary Flower, Mike Dowling, Jim Nichols, Pat Donahue, and more.
In addition to his rigorous touring and recording schedule, Bob is also an adjunct Professor at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, where he lectures on ethnomusicology and has been researching string music in Papua New Guinea and the tremendous number of islands around New Guinea and in the western South Pacific Ocean. Through the auspices of the University, Bob has been recording and collaborating with a wide variety of musicians from these interesting locales. He is also working toward the creation of a foundation to help third-world musicians to obtain the musical basics that western musicians take for granted, such as playable instruments, strings, tuning gears, and basic recording equipment.
Bob maintains a nearly superhuman tour schedule throughout the year, every year. Live performance tours are a vital part Bob's activity, in addition to his collaborations. He tours constantly throughout North America, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa.
As Bob says, "There's so much music out there…I guess I'll get some sleep in the next life!"
A BRIEF AND INTERESTING CHAIN OF EVENTS:
The slide guitar developed in many cultures around the world, but there are many deep connections between Hawaiian guitar and Indian music. The earliest known report of anyone playing slide guitar in Hawaii dates from 1876, when Gabriel Davion, an Indian boy kidnapped by Portuguese sailors and brought to Hawaii, is reported to have been playing slide guitar on his lap. Of course there are Indian instruments utilizing slide going back to earlier times. However, the normal western Hawaiian guitar was first introduced to India by Bob's Hawaiian guitar guru, Tau Moe, in 1929. Mr. Moe also lived in Calcutta from 1941-1947 at which time he made many influential recordings for H.M.V. India. Tau Moe toured with his family for 57 years around the world before his retirement and subsequent re-discovery by Bob in 1988. Tau's star pupil in India was Garney Nyss, who became India's leading Hawaiian- style recording artist. Mr. Nyss influenced Sri Brij Bhusan Kabra, the first Indian musician to play Indian classical music on the Hawaiian guitar. His star student, in turn, is Debashish Bhattacharya, who has taken the instrument to new levels, both in the form and design of the Hindustani slide guitar, but also in his incredible playing. Amazingly, all four generations were still alive in 1998. Bob had the privilege of meeting Mr. Nyss and hearing him play, during his 1998 Calcutta trip. He passed away later that year. Tau Moe passed away at 95, in 2004, but not before Debashish finally had a chance to meet him in Hawaii, completing the circle. Thus, the connection between Bob and Debashish has even deeper historical and philosophical resonance, which confirms and expands their deep friendship and musical partnership.
Debashish & Subashish Bhattacharya with Bob Brozman - Sunrise
Label: Sagarika (India)
1. Aalaap Of The Grateful Meeting
2. Menacing Waltz
3. New Swinging Blues
4. Motherless Children
5. Kirwani Calypso
6. Sunrise At Calcutta
8. Song Of Life
9. Maj Khamaj / E Mama-Ea
10. Red River Valley
mr | mp3 >256kbps vbr | w/ cover | 126mb
*released in India only. Very difficult to obtain...
but you can get their collaboration Mahima at bobbrozman.com