Kathryn E. Livingston
Though I like to live in the present moment at all times, The GuruGanesha Band concert in New York City at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center recently was a night to remember! The group was opening for Deva Premal and Miten, with whom the band is on a 25-city tour, produced by BrightStar Live Events (MantraFest On Tour 2013). To say it was a splendiferous event would be putting it mildly: The GuruGanesha Band totally rocked the packed house, and I was thrilled to be in the audience!
The evening began with multi-instrumentalist (and multi-amazing) Hans Christian playing solo on a sarangi, a beautiful Indian instrument played with a bow. As the stage lit up the band began to play “A Thousand Suns,” the title song of their latest album. The piece opens with the mantra “Ang Sang Wahe Guru,” led by the hauntingly beautiful Paloma Devi, the band’s one and only female member. The audience was mesmerized as GuruGanesha crooned, “May the light of a thousand suns shine through, live the life of grace that you were meant to …wahe guru…”
The “Ang Sang Wahe Guru” mantra invokes all 72 trillion cells to dance with joy and divine intoxication, GuruGanesha explained. We could sure feel it! This couldn’t have been a more perfect song with which to begin the concert, and from the first notes our hearts were open and ready to receive the amazing blessings of music, mantra, and love that pours from this extraordinary group of musicians. (If you can’t make it to a concert, check out the group’s YouTube video of this selection.)
GuruGanesha offered a song that is his 92-year-old mother’s favorite (“She keeps asking why I sing the same words over and over,” the entertaining guitarist and band leader quipped). But the sparkling, uplifting, “Bright Star” is a song that any mother would love! With all the talk about the sun and stars, I felt like I was floating on a celestial cloud of blessings.
There are six members of The GuruGanesha Band: GuruGanesha (in his 60s), Paloma Devi (in her 20s,) Tripp Dudley (in his 30s), GuruSangat Singh (40s) and Hans Christian and Sat Kartar Singh (in their 50s). It’s so much fun to watch this “musical family” which “spans the generations” interact and enjoy playing together.
And you never know what will come next, as the band is full of surprises and delights, such as their reggae-style rendition of “Suniai” with Paloma’s voice soaring and shimmering throughout (GuruGanesha calls her “The divine goddess of our band” and indeed she is).
Another high point was “Om Gate,” a Buddhist chant, with cool guitar riffs by GuruGanesha, and an electrifying tabla performance by percussionist Tripp Dudley. Let’s just say there was some ecstatic whoopin’ and hollerin’ in the audience as well as some chanting on this one!
One of my favorites (and judging by the audience, I’d say theirs too) was the Latin inspired “Waho Waho Gobind Singh.” GuruGanesha really wails on this one (his guitar, I mean). The words translate: the master and disciple are one. It was hard to sit still for this number—so some didn’t! As GuruGanesha said at the beginning of the evening, do whatever the spirit moves you to do—thus there was plenty of dancing, laughing, chanting, and maybe even some so-grateful-for-Ganesha tears.
The Jefferson Airplane-esque “Re Man Eh Bidh Jog Kamao” was another stunner (“If Grace Slick embraced Sikhism it would have sounded like this!”). These musicians are so in sync that you feel as if they’re connected at the hip. We know they’re connected at the heart!
The set ended with “Hari Om.’’ I love the story GuruGanesha tells about how this song was created years ago when Yogi Bhajan and Swami Satchidananda got together. On that momentous occasion, the musicians played for three hours straight (GuruGanesha included). We were treated to the “eight-minute version!”
As the band played out to a standing ovation everyone felt the contagious joy: The GuruGanesha Band really delivered a Divine and heart-opening musical experience. And of course, next up was beloved Deva Premal and Miten with Manose and Maneesh de Moor; what an incredible evening of bliss and beauty!
Catch them on tour if you can: they’ll be in cities all across the nation, heading south from New York (my sis had tickets for the Asheville, NC concert and I couldn’t wait to chat with her about it as this was her first time hearing The GuruGanesha Band. I know it won’t be her last—and it sure won’t be mine, either!) Sat Nam, Hari Om, and blessings to all, and thank you for a wonderful evening, GuruGanesha & Co!