Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Special moments in Goa



Life continues to be a constant stream of absorbing happenings... There is always so much going on and I tend to be carried off by the currents much of the time. It is this part of my nature that allows for such rich experiences and constant surprises to occur, but sometimes months or years go by without my taking much time for reflection. Writing is a sweet way to catch up. It used to happen mostly through songwriting, but lately my compositions have been more melodic than lyrical, which means that the stories are passing through me without description.. remembered in feelings, expressed through the rise and fall of notes, wordless...

Those who have seen my performances over time, know that my musical and personal journey has been towards unity.. In taking a deeper look at culture, how it forms us, how it divides us, we can come to a place where we can honor and delight in our traditions without being bound by them, or separated by them. My personal experiences seem to be in contrast to the wild world around me though. I continue to learn in India, a place of deep rooted traditions and divisions, to experience the trend towards conservatism in Europe, and to observe the situation in the U.S. as the political climate becomes more fiercely protective of its comparatively new culture.  As a musician and performer from Canada, I have a way of seeing the world, of respecting culture but not identifying too closely with it. How could I? My father is from the East, my mother from the West, and myself, I am constantly between, and I don't need to choose. Both musics flow through me. As the world lately seems to be delving still deeper into politics and division, this position of mine feels more and more like a radical stance. Still, despite the outward influences, I feel a deep inner unity happening...

In Goa, there is an international music scene, this play of people who may or may not understand each other's musical phrasing, language, training or approach, but we share a love for the exploration. The performances are perhaps most powerful for the musicians as we see our assumptions and expectations of each other most clearly in the musical 'failures', which can create chaos and confusion and then lead to places no one could have imagined on their own. The key is to stay with it, to become aware of how each of us lives inside a set of codes, how even in our improvisations, we are bound by forms. Forms that are real inside our own heads, but mean nothing to a player from another tradition. How able are we to let go of the structures we know? The measures, the rhythms, the cycles, the talas the ragas, the words... How willing are we to say yes instead of no? To affirm another voice from another place and co-create the presentation?

From the audiences, there is an openness, as everyone becomes aware that anything can happen. I'm talking about the jams. The embryo stage of what we are calling these days, "fusion music". It takes time to find the center, to develop. It takes deep listening to each other and ourselves. It takes a lightness and a letting go. It can be absolutely magic. When we let go of what we wish would happen, or what we are trying to create, and allow the flow to happen. Allow ourselves to be truly present. Nothing exists outside of this note, this breath, this phrase... This is music. This happens when culture, training, desire and expectation are paused. This happens a lot in Goa. Thank you to all who have shared with me and taught me so much.

Friday, 30 September 2016

ASHK!

 Deep Roots Music Festival in Nova Scotia has just finished and it feels like the season has changed for real now. It was so wonderful to play the festival with my sister Kamila and Ken Shorley.


 This summer has been a special time of playing music with my sisters, enjoying sweet lakes, walks in the woods and watching little children grow up. Somehow slower and more introspective than past summers, still, lots has happened. The most exciting being the formation of a new band, ASHK, with a show that explores all of our collective musical experience. The four of us, Ariana, Kamila, Ken Shorley and myself have all devoted our lives to musical study and performance, and music has taken us around the world and given us so much. In ASHK, we can relive it all and share it!
We did one performance over the summer - and it was an intense experience putting it all together. Vocal harmonies, many instruments and styles, music from around the world in ten different languages...  and we will be back at Denton Hall in Wolfville on October 22nd at 8:00pm. It is wild ride, this show, and I can't wait to be part of it again.






Wednesday, 11 November 2015

A Summer/Fall Update!

The summer has been busy. A new project. Two new little family members. An amazing family wedding. And now, finally after much waiting and creating... A new tour bus!!

After leaving Asia last spring, I landed at the Banff Center in the Rocky Mountains for one of the most intense musical experiences of my life (and that is saying something!). It was a three week residency in Persian and Eastern music with my teacher from Mumbai, Dhruba Ghosh, as well as Yogesh Samsi, Kiya and Zia Tabassian, Didem Basar, and Charbel Rouhana. I learned so much in a short time and I would have loved a year off to process!  But there was more to come...

Immediately after I left Banff, Ken Shorley and Heidi Kalyani met me in Victoria where we started a tour of the beautiful West Coast with Blue Lotus Trio. We played in the loveliest of spaces, yoga studios, halls, homes and community centers. It was a magical experience touring around the islands of BC and meeting such wonderful people!

Then I was joined by my long time friend, Daunt Lee. We used to hang and play music and build guitars together in Newfoundland when we were just starting out. Now after both of us have spent many years in Asia, (he lived in Japan) we are back in Canada and playing music together! And what a Joy! We toured across Canada, reconnecting with dear friends both old and new, playing in wonderful venues and creating a new show together.

On coming home to Nova Scotia, I taught a course on World Music at Acadia University with Ken Shorley. What a joy to be able to share all of these cultures of music that I have lived and worked in. Indian, Chinese, Persian, Celtic, Latin American. We listened, found connections, learned about culture through music. Another intense three weeks!

Then summer happened, my niece and nephew were born. My sister got married. I swam and jammed and spent time putting a new show together with Daunt as well as launching our new small business; Sahara Jane Collections. This is a line of Jewellery, scarves and shawls that Ji Myeng Kang and I started in India through designing and purchasing beautiful quality pieces made by our friends and communities there. Now Daunt has joined the project to help create colourful elegant pop up stores and markets around the East Coast. Every sale helps to support children in need in Varanasi though a project called DARE.

So as winter approaches, we are preparing for some upcoming tours in Asia and we will be heading out to Christmas Markets to sell these beautiful pieces that I brought from India.

Our tour bus is going to be a pop up shop for the fall, his name in Benji. I think he deserves his own post! Well, everything that has happened could have had it’s own post, but I was just way too busy to write. Soon I will introduce the lovely sweet bus.. when I have finished painting the interior!! 

Wow. Life is full and wonderful. It is a treat to be in Nova Scotia for so long. We will be back in Asia this winter and back in Canada next summer. I hope to see you all along the way! 

Friday, 15 May 2015

Cross Canada Tour

Canada is unbelievably beautiful. We just left Lillooet where every time we would exit a building, or even close our eyes and open them again, we were amazed again at the natural beauty around us. What a magical place. In fact it has been like that everywhere we have been so far on this tour!

Here are the dates for the rest of the tour which will take Daunt Lee and myself from Vancouver to Halifax and many places in between...

Friday May 15 - Nelson BC  at Cafe Momento, concert starting at 7:30

Saturday, May 16 - Nelson BC at Cottonwood Farmers market, the first of the year!  10am-12pm

Sunday, May 17th - Winlaw BC at Mama Sita's - we will play an evening of Indian and fusion music while they prepare a special Indian menu!

Thursday, May 21 - Kaslo BC at Blue Belle Bistro 7:30-9:30 - for an evening of original music!

Friday, May 22 - Driftwood Concert House - Kimberly BC - 7:30 - A special and intimate venue, we are so looking forward to this magical show.

Saturday, May 23 - Lethbridge, Alberta - Owl Acoustic Lounge - 9:30 pm

Sunday, May 24 - Alberta - House concert - email saharajanemusic@gmail.com for details

Tuesday, May 26th - Calgary Alberta - House Concert - email saharajanemusic@gmail.com for details

Thursday, May 28th - Saskatoon, SK - House Concert - email saharajanemusic@gmail.com for details

Sunday, May 31st - Kenora, ON - The Bijou Steakhouse - 152 Main St. S. - 8:00pm

Tuesday June 2 - Ear Falls, ON - House Concert - email saharajanemusic@gmail.com for details

Thursday June 4th - Thunder Bay, ON - Red Lion Smokehouse with Outside the Lines!! 8:30 pm

Sunday June 7th - Toronto, ON - 8:00pm at Majlis Art Garden, a beautiful venue with roses in bloom!

Tuesday, June 9th - Ottawa, ON - at Avant Garde with Tea and Bread ( Kyla Tilley and Ed Hudson) this will be a happy hour newfoundland reunion!  Can't wait! 5:30-7:30

Wednesday, June 10th - Montreal, QC - at Cabigi - with Tea and Bread again, and another bunch of East Coasters no doubt.




Monday, 13 April 2015

BC TOUR WITH BLUE LOTUS TRIO!!!!!



 Ken and I at the Victoria Folk Music Society!




This April I am touring with my world fusion ensemble Blue Lotus Trio on Canada's West Coast!!  In May I will be joined by multi-instrumentalist Daunt Lee from Newfoundland to tour our world folk sound back across Canada!

FOR MAY/JUNE DATES SEE http://saharajanemusic.blogspot.ca/p/calendar.html

WITH BLUE LOTUS TRIO

SUNDAY APRIL 5
Concert in Victoria | 7:30 pm

FRIDAY APRIL 10
Concert on Salt Spring Island | 8pm
Please join us on Salt Spring Island at The Art Barn, Golden Tree Farm, 150 Suffolk Road.
$15 (suggested donation)

SATURDAY APRIL 11
Concert in Vancouver with NAAD | 7:30 pm (doors 7:00)
Blue Lotus Trio is excited to be sharing the stage with the Vancouver-based group Naad for an evening of world music "sonic journeys". For tickets and details:
http://caravanbc.com/2015/02/sonic-journey-blue-lotus-trio-naad-ensemble

THURSDAY APRIL 16
Concert in Steveston | 7:30 pm
I'll be playing at the Steveston Folk Guild with Ken Shorley! http://www.stevestonfolk.net/

FRIDAY APRIL 17
Concert on Hornby Island | 8pm
Blue Lotus Trio is playing on Hornby Island at Sun Door Yoga, 8120 Central Rd. Hornby Island.
$15 (suggested donation)
http://www.sundooryoga.com

SATURDAY APRIL 18
Yoga Class with Live Music on Hornby Island | 10 - 11:30am
Blue Lotus Trio is pleased to be collaborating with Sun Door Yoga for a special yoga class (taught by Eila). Renew and nourish your spirit with a beautiful, uplifting morning of yoga with Indian- and Middle Eastern-inspired music! Sun Door Yoga, 8120 Central Rd. Hornby Island. $20.
http://www.sundooryoga.com

MONDAY APRIL 20
Frame Drumming Workshop in Courtenay | 6:30pm - 8pm
This hands-on workshop will focus on exploring the beautiful resonance of the frame drum. Participants will learn basic hand and finger techniques, along with a selection of traditional, sacred and dance rhythms from the Middle East. $25 (includes evening concert). Creekside Commons, 2202 Lambert Dr, Courtenay. Produced in collaboration with Monica Hofer.

MONDAY APRIL 20
Mini Concert in Courtenay | 8:30 - 9:30pm
Please join us for an intimate studio concert! $10 (suggested donation). Creekside Commons, 2202 Lambert Dr, Courtenay.

TUESDAY APRIL 21
Concert at Hensbury House in Victoria 
1218 Fairfield Rd. 7:00pm
Email me at saharajanemusic@gmail.com for more details

WEDNESDAY APRIL 22
House Concert in Duncan
House concert!  Email me at saharajanemusic@gmail.com for details

FRIDAY APRIL 24
Concert on Cortes Island | 8pm
Join Blue Lotus Trio if you can on beautiful Cortes Island for a lovely evening of eastern inspired music. The Gorge Community Hall. $15 (suggested donation)

SATURDAY APRIL 25
Drumming Workshop on Cortes Island | 2 - 4pm
Learn traditional Turkish and Arab rhythms, as well as popular belly dance grooves! $25 (includes drum and dance jam following workshop). The Gorge Community Hall, Cortes Island. Bring a darbuka, frame drum, tambourine, small djembe or another fave!




Saturday, 7 February 2015

The Music Lesson

Learning music teaches us to listen, to feel, to understand the connections between things. It goes far beyond studying a method, an instrument or learning to perform. These are the tools we have to try to get to that place. The place we know but find it hard to talk about. A place without constraints of time or purpose, a place of freedom, peace, beauty and expression.


Early morning in Mumbai. The air is almost cool. The birds, the traffic, the people are all just beginning to fill the day with sound and movement. I watch as the air turns thick and warm, listen as sounds grow into a constant drone to accompany my practice. I am back in the first city that I came to in India. Somehow all this bustle, shocking, beautiful, dirty, relaxed, dangerous, calm, fills me with a familiarity. I can not help but feel that my heart rests in this city. It is here that I am greatly challenged, and here that I grow so much.

I have come back for more. To listen to amazing musicians. To learn from a great and inspiring teacher. To be still in the midst of all this chaos and find that centred place where music and joy come from.

I came here to study music. I have been playing music for as long as I can remember, and sure, I have been performing since I was very young, but I have never stopped feeling like there is so much to learn. It was after a few years on the road playing folk music that I went to University to complete a fine arts degree. In a way that was like starting over. I had to break down my sense of self in order to do that. And it was hard, but well worth it. I graduated as a different person. More engaged in the world, and less concerned with who I was. And that study opened the door to Indian music. The door I had been pressing my ear against since I was a child. But oh, it was another painful process to realize that though I felt I knew music, I knew nothing about this completely different form and aesthetic. I had to start again as a child, learning beside children. From that broken down ego, came a new joy and confidence. And a flood of creativity. And now, more years have passed, and I find myself at another beginning. This time I won't fight it. Again it is hard, but this time I know what is coming.

As a young musician, I was taught the form, though at the time I did not see it as form. I played and created my own sound. In university, I discovered how to study, and how to work hard. As a cross cultural student, I learned how to let go of myself and to surrender in order to understand a new form. Now there is something else. I am learning to feel each note on a deeper level. I am learning how to listen, not only to the subtle nuances of the music, but to my own inner filters. To see how my mind has interpreted what I hear. It is an incredibly awakening experience to become conscious of the way our minds affect what is. To more deeply understand how two perspectives can see the same thing completely differently, how two people can hear the same sound and perceive it with totally different meanings. And how even beneath that, when I try to be completely open, and to repeat what I hear precisely as it is, there is still my own accent, built from years of listening and repeating, almost imperceptible to me.. until it is pointed out. And then I see.. wow.  I am made up of layers and layers of influences, judgements, thoughts, practice, repetitions..

And underneath all that? An incredible joy. Wonderment. Huge appreciation for this amazing way of expressing that we call music. We are so blessed. And I am honoured and humbled to be able to be here.