Moving my blog over to

Dear friends,

With the recent update of my website, I now have the ability to integrate the blog directly into the website, so that is what I am doing; it just makes sense. I will no longer be posting updates here. Thank you to all of you for your interest in my musical adventures. Please click along to my website for the continuation of this blog in the future! If you would like to update your RSS subscription, this is the new RSS URL:

I hope to see you over at!


Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Ragleela at the Collingwood Music Festival in Owen Sound

This past August 23, Ragleela had a concert at the Roxy Theatre in Owen Sound as part of the Collingwood Music Festival. This concert was somewhat significant as we played four new tunes, all of which will be on Ragleela's upcoming CD, which we will be recording this fall; it was the concert debut of my tabla 'drum-kit' (for lack of a better term); and it was also the debut of Jean-Marc's new seven-string guitar!
The Roxy Theatre in Owen Sound
Warming up during sound check
Playing the 'tabla-kit.' What should I call it?
The tabla-kit emerged out of a desire to add some other percussion to the Ragleela trio, for shows where the full quintet isn't involved. The core of the group is Uwe Neumann on sitar, Jean-Marc Hébert on guitar, and myself on tabla, and on special occasions, we are joined by Eric Breton on percussion and Marie-Soleil Bélanger on violin. Eric adds a special feel to the group, and while of course it's impossible to replace him, we thought that it would be nice to add some other percussive sounds to the tabla in certain places. With my tabla in the centre (of course!), I added a Sabian prototype 18" cymbal and 10" Paragon splash to my right, and a pair of Remo Tablatones on the left. The cymbals are both very, very thin, allowing me to play them with hands or sticks (Tala Wands!), and the Tablatones are great, as they allow me to add more pitched percussion to the tabla setup; I tune them to Sa and Pa. I'm very happy with the little stand I put together for the Tablatones, which keeps them mounted horizontally, and taking up a minimum of space.

We performed two sets, including both new and old tunes, and had a great time. The hall wasn't full, but the audience that was there was extremely attentive and super-enthusiastic!

Thanks to Caroline Tabah for the photos! Please don't forget to check out her TAAL - The Rhythm of Life documentary film fundraiser. Every contribution makes a difference. The project cannot succeed without your help!

More photos will be posted to my Facebook page.

Monday, 20 August 2012

TAAL - The Rhythm of Life - Documentary Film Project

I have some very exciting news to announce! I am touched and honoured to have been chosen to be part of a documentary film about my tabla Guru, Pandit Sharda Sahai, myself, and the Benares tabla gharana. TAAL - The Rhythm of Life, by Montreal filmmaker Caroline Tabah, will highlight Guruji's enormous contribution to the world of music, and document the musical adventures of this Canadian seeking to find his way in the world of music. The film will include tons of concert footage, and interviews with numerous musicians. While quite a lot of footage has already been captured, an enormous amount of work is yet to be done in order for the film to become a reality. Please visit the TAAL Indiegogo campaign to learn more about the film and to see how you can help contribute to this ambitious project. There are some very special rewards for those who contribute generously, so please do have a look and consider helping out.

Please click here to visit the TAAL page, and view the project trailer! Also, please do pass on this link to any of your friends who might also be interested in the project. Caroline and I sincerely appreciate your support!

Monday, 13 August 2012

More Photos from my Second Annual Summer Tabla Workshop

So many great moments to share from this summer's tabla workshop! Here are some photos of the workshop in progress:
Beginner Class
Intermediate Class
Group practice session.

... and here are some more photos of the Guru puja:

Linda doing puja.
Jean-Marc doing puja.
Aaron doing puja.
Mathieu doing puja.
Marc doing puja.
Final group practice session!
Looking forward to next year!

Thanks to Caroline Tabah for the photos!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Space Gathering with Jonathan Voyer

This past July, santoor player Jonathan Voyer and I performed at the Space Gathering, at Ste-Agathe-de-Lotbinière, which is not too far from Victoriaville. Space Gathering is a festival that takes place out in the country, in a beautiful natural setting. Most people camp out for the three days, but we were only able to stay for the day. Most of the performances are DJs and dance music bands, but Space Gathering also has a long tradition of Indian classical music performances at the 'Temple' stage, which was located right next to a sparking river.

I have to admit that while I have seen numerous statues or pictures of Ganeshji playing all kinds of musical instruments, I have never seen him with a turntable before!

We had an amazing time, playing to a captive audience as the sun was setting.

Thanks to Caroline Tabah for the photos! (Many more photos available on my Facebook page!)

Sunday, 5 August 2012

The First Annual Montreal Yoga Music Festival

This past July 14, I had the pleasure of accompanying kirtan artist Lea Longo for the First Annual Montreal Yoga Music Festival, held at the Concordia Loyola campus. This festival was the first of its kind for Montreal, focused entirely on kirtan. The weekend was filled with nonstop kirtan from morning to evening, in addition to various workshops.

I have accompanied Lea a few times over the past couple of years, however for this special occasion, Lea expanded the group with a number of guest artists. In addition to guitarist Rad Crasto and myself on tabla, we were joined by Mandala Kirtan (based in Sherbrooke, QC) musicians Geneviève Grenier on harmonium and vocals and Marie-Josée Veilleux on guitar, tanpura, and vocals. We were also joined by Elsieanne Caplette, who is a fabulous singer with a really unique voice, which you can hear on her two albums with her band Elsiane. I have been a fan of Elsiane since the band's first album, so her participation was a welcome surprise for me.
The Chapel at Concordia Loyola

Rad and Shawn

Elsieanne and Lea
Elsieanne, Lea, and Geneviève
Shawn, Elsieanne and Lea
Lea Longo
The whole gang - Rad, Shawn, Elsieanne, Lea, Geneviève, and Marie-Josée
Lea's kirtan lasted around 90 minutes, which was quite a serious workout in the overwhelming summer heat of the day. Who knew that kirtan could be hot yoga as well? :) I really enjoyed accompanying this particular incarnation of the group, and I hope that Lea will be able to coordinate some other kirtans with this ensemble.

Thanks to Caroline Tabah for the photos!

Second Annual Summer Tabla Workshop

This year's summer tabla workshop took place from July 2 to 8 at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University. I'm really happy with how the workshop turned out this year. The number of students has increased and some travelled from quite far away to be here, coming from Ontario, PEI, Wisconsin, and Florida.
The tabla workshop participants, from L to R: Mathieu, Kingsley, Dave, Aaron, Jean-Marc, Lisa, me, Fred, Marc, Linda. Missing from photo: Emily, Kameel, Rajit, Tomer.
The students were divided into beginner and intermediate groups. Each had four 90 minute classes, plus we all met every day for a two-hour technique practice session. It was really evident by the end of the week how much everyone had improved; it really brings me joy to see their progress. I also held two video viewing sessions where we watched a performance and a documentary on a nice big screen via a projector, and an excellent sound system.

On the last day, we concluded the workshop with a Guru puja, in celebration of Guru Purnima. All the students participated in the preparations and took part. After the puja, I distributed the prasad, we had a nice Indian meal, and wrapped up with a final practice session. After a week of daily two-hour practice sessions, this final session passed by amazingly fast!

Kingsley working on the large mala (flower garland).

Applying the tikkas.
Making an offering.

Fred doing puja.
Kingsley doing puja.
Dave doing puja
This being the first Guru Purnima since Guruji passed away, his presence was sorely missed more than ever. It was really heartwarming to have all the students participate, making their offerings and giving thanks to Guruji and his ancestors. The entire model for this workshop is based on how Guruji ran his workshops in the past. It was great to see former summer tabla workshop participants return this year, also wishing to keep this great tradition alive. I think that Guruji would have been very happy to see his traditions continuing in this way.
The final group practice session.

Until next year!

Thank you to Caroline Tabah for the wonderful photos!