You can always teach an old dog a new trick. In this case, I’m the dog and the new trick is exposing myself to and very much liking a kind of music that was previously not on my radar. It’s also something that when I learned what it was about, I never thought I’d like. Lesson learned, people, lesson learned.
Because yours truly has a brand new appreciation for Kirtan chant music. Yeah, you heard me right. My entry into this mystical world came via David Newman, or Durga Das, as he’s also known.
So what in the world is Kirtan? Permit me to enlighten you. It’s essentially call-and-response chanting accompanied by instruments. Some, but not all of it, is sung in Sanskrit, the ancient language associated with India that is made up of primordial sounds.
Still with me? OK, then let’s delve a little deeper specifically into the life of our new friend Durga Das. He’s a renowned Kirtan chant artist, sacred singer-songwriter and a practitioner and educator of Bhakti yoga.
His music is all about devotional mysticism and you don’t have to be hip to that kind of thing to appreciate it. Do yourself a favor and head to www.davidnewmanmusic.com, where you’ll hear his music upon arrival.
I’m as cynical as the next person, but it was hard not to get swept away by “Love, Peace and Freedom/Sita Ram.” I poked around there for a while listening to songs and reading press clippings and then headed to YouTube and had a genuine moment listening to and watching the clip of “Shiva Shambho.” I have no idea what the translation is, but like an opera, one doesn’t need to understand the words to embrace the sentiment.
Das has a calming and clear singing voice that’s accompanied by acoustic guitar and gentle percussion. Listening to “Shiva Shambho” had an other-worldly effect on this over-caffeinated, attention deficit disordered gal.
This music isn’t for everyone, I definitely get that. But I challenge you to open your ears, heart and mind to it. And if you like what you hear, consider heading to the live show on Saturday night. Though the word “show” hardly cuts it. I’d say this will be more like a multi-sensory, participatory experience that will send waves of white light coursing through your veins. Namaste dear readers.
David Newman Kirtan Concert. 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Portland New Church. 302 Stevens Ave. $25 in advance; $30 day of show; www.brightstarevents.net/events/david-newman-portland-me
NOW LET’S SPEND a few moments talking about the uber-talented singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Katie Herzig. Herzig’s latest record, her fifth, is “Walk Through Walls” and it’s fanfreakin’tastic. Head to www.katieherzig.com and have at it. The title track lies on a bed of electronic beats and Herzig’s voice is bright yet edgy.
“Before you walk through walls, you will leave all this behind, before you walk through walls, you will learn to say goodbye,” she sings. And I believe her.
Last time she played here was at Empire; this time around it’s Port City Music Hall. Let’s fill the room. Herzig deserves it.
Her music is like a tree with many roots; folk, dream-pop, synth-driven and so much more. The more I listen to Herzig, the more I want to keep listening. Join me on Friday night.
Katie Herzig with Elizabeth & The Catapult and Keelan Donovan. 8 p.m. Friday. Port City Music Hall. 504 Congress St., Portland. $14 in advance; $16 day of show; $30 preferred seating; 18-plus; portcitymusichall.com
Staff writer Aimsel Ponti can be reached at 791-6455 or at: