Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Sunday evening found your blogstress in the thrall of the amazing Anoushka Shankar, composer and sitar player extradordinaire -- and, yes, the daughter of Ravi Shankar. This weekend, the younger Shankar dazzled the audience, equal parts Indian and non-Indian, it seemed, at Washington, D.C.'s Lisner Audiorium.

Anoushka Shankar has taken a daring walk out to the edge of classical Indian music, mixing her sitar and other traditional instruments with piano, electric bass and rock-n-roll-with-a-world-music-twist stack of drums. The results were mixed but always riveting, and those pieces that thrilled were positively transcendent. One particularly astounding piece featured tabla player Tanmoy Bose and Ravichandra Kulur, a virtuoso on the traditional wooden flute trading percussive vocalizations in a a call-and-response mode. Imagine Bobby McFerrin gone South Asian. It was breathtaking.

Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of the evening was the sight of this jewel of a young woman seated, cross-legged in the center of a platform draped in hand-made red carpets, surrounded by some of the most masterful players in her genre. And make no mistake, she was in charge, and in the most charming way imaginable. Regardless of lineage, she has clearly earned her place. Her playing was hypnotic, sometimes Coltrane-fast and loaded with notes, sometimes languid and contemplative. She's 25 years old. Can't wait to see her at 40.


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Happy Samhain!

Your blogstress wishes you and your family a blessed Samhain -- known in these parts as Halloween -- whether you celebrate in the old way (dancing around a fire) or the new way (dressing up as a cartoon character, begging for sweets). Either way, these are our days of the dead, our welcome to winter, our moment to disappear into the form of a different being.

It's also the eve of All Saint's Day, a co-option by the Roman Catholic Church of this ancient pagan festival, wherein we celebrate the pure ones who have gone on to the next world. The following day, All Souls Day, we try to pray any loved ones stuck in Purgatory out of that firey netherword.

And so it mote be...

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