Saturday, May 26, 2007

Kirtan, Gratitude in Lansing and Troy

Hello,
Last Friday was another Kirtan event. We had a small group due to some schedule conflicts and a couple of members leaving the group, so that put Dr. Chernin in the first time position of being the only chant leader. To top it off he was feeling pretty sick. The responding crowd was as big as ever, so we were faced with a real challenge of keeping the energy up. It was great to see the members step it up. It felt like each voice in the group was now just a little more prominent, important, and exposed. When you play in a big group, it can be easy to loose yourself in the music. It takes a lot of performing experience to really hear yourself through all the layers of sound. I think this stripped down version of the group was very good for the members involved. I still have a great time playing tabla for 2 hours straight.
The next day I was with the Gratitude Steel Band on the mainstage at the Lansing Art Fair. Actually, it wasn't the full band, (once again), because the Russell family was up in Escanaba MI. So we had Guy Barker on Guitar, Anthony Tollson on bass, and Lamar Woodall on the lead pan. Guy and myself were providing the vocals. It was one of the first times I was a lead vocalist. I had a great time and the group was sounding great. This group is one of my favorites to play with. They love to improvise, have fun, and put on a great show. I have a lot of shows with Gratitude coming up this summer and that excites me.
So a couple of days ago, as if to make up for the smaller groups, I played with a delux verstion of the Gratitude Steel Band that included the Russell family, Guy Barker, Lamar Woodall, and Miguel Guttierez on percussion. It was for a wedding reception, but it didn't seem to matter where we were. The band was sounding so nice that we were just completely involved in the music. I think the crowd appreciated the music more than at a normal wedding reception, but they were not much in the mood to dance. Lucky for us, the Pacific Island Dancers were also there doing their hula and tanietian drum dances. Charles had coordinated the music with the dancers, printed off set lists for everyone and handed them out right before the show. The leader of the dancers however, brought a set list from an old show and used it to determine her costume changes and order of dances. Needless to say, it caused a great bit of confusion and we ended up having to improvise a set list on the spot. It all worked out, and we were back on track by the second set. The gig was extra long - 6 hours! But it was sounding so good, that even when it was all over, and everyone had left we continued to play. They actually had to ask us to stop so they could pack up. This show got me even more excited for the time ahead.

Thanks for reading and I will talk to you soon!

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