If one were to look up “house concert” in the internet’s version of the dictionary, Wikipedia, it is defined as “… a musical concert or performance art that is presented in someone’s home or apartment, or a nearby small private space such as a barn, apartment, rec room, lawn or back yard.”
House concerts are becoming increasingly popular once again, as they provide a chance to actually listen to the music and lyrics from the performer, in comparison to a club or bar where many times the “performance” is simply background music. House concerts were common in the past, long before the world tours and arena shows that many artists perform at today – as those things simply didn’t exist and having the “traveling band” play at your house may have been the only exposure one got to hear live music.
Some performers recently have made entire tours across the country just playing house concerts.
Sonoma Valley has some opportunities for just that coming up in the next few weeks, including this Saturday, April 22, when Jai Uttal plays at the “Sacred Music Sessions” at a time and place to be revealed after purchasing the ticket.
The Grammy-nominated Uttal is coming off a sold out kirtan event with over 400 bhaktas at Spirit Rock and will be performing to celebrate the release of his 19th album, “Roots! Rock! Rama!”
Uttal learned to play piano, guitar, banjo and harmonica while still quite young, but an initial encounter with Indian music at age 17 proved to be a life-changing experience. He would later say that this music “touched my heart like the sounds of home.” Soon he was studying with Indian sarod virtuoso Ali Akbar Khan.
His endeavor to master the challenging Indian stringed instrument also led to the discovery of his singing voice. But, his exposure to music actually started much earlier, and with some traditional rock and roll roots.
Born the son of record executive Larry Uttal, Jai was ideally suited to absorb pop music’s ‘50s and ‘60s golden age.
“Every week my father would bring home the top-ten singles and play them for my sister and me,” he says. “That was the coolest thing. And I was at the recording session of Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels doing ‘Devil with a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly.’ That made me totally crazy; it was just so amazing.”
Music and spiritual practice were linked for Uttal when he became a student of Indian spiritual master Neem Karoli Baba in 1971. Maharaj-ji, as the guru is known to his students, encouraged the practice of bhakti yoga as expressed through kirtan, the call-and-response chanting of sacred names, over and over again until they become deeply instilled in the consciousness, providing an experience of profound peace and spiritual insight. Kirtan would become the center of Uttal’s musical and spiritual life.
Playing with Uttal in Sonoma will be Kirtanista Prajna Vieira on vocals, bassist Greg Barnett, Radhanath Das on mridangam and Ben Leinbach on drums and percussion.
For tickets point your browser to jaiuttal.com/saturday-april-22-2017.