Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Real Florida

Hi Everyone,

I finished up my Florida trip with some time spent visiting what I call the "real" Florida: wildlife, parks, ocean and nature.

We went to the waterfront at St Petersburg, where Cuban Pete welcomed us grandly:

"My Name is Cuban Pete! I'm the King of the Rhumba Beat!"

"Cuban Pete," actually, is my name for a huge stuffed alligator in a gift shop there. He's named after an old Mambo song. Outside, there was a very important convention having to do with the fishing business:

The next day we went to the Myakka River State Park, a gorgeous example of everything that should be protected and preserved in South Florida. However, it had been raining some the days before we went, so a good portion of the trails were being reclaimed by the swamp. After some heavy head-scratching, we finally figured out, with the help of this wonderful park service sign, that the trail was "very wet". Can you tell?

But did I let that stop me from my rough and rugged exploration? Heck no.

"Alligators? What alligators?"


This gator was actually in the river, and I got this distance shot of him very late in the day. You can't tell from the photo, but he was probably about 7-8 feet long.

South Floida is also bird-watcher's heaven, especially if you like big water-birds:

But alas, all good things must come to an end, so we bid a heartfelt farewell to the Myakka River at sunset, and made our way back to Tampa.



Saturday, March 19, 2005


Hi Everyone,

It's Saturday, it must be Florida! Actually, I got here Thursday and have been chilling at my brother's house in Tampa, working on some websites and seeing a few sites.

My brother has a nice home here in the Northeast part of town, which is called New Tampa, because it has mostly been built in the last 25 years. here's his wife in front of their house, and then a nice sunset shot from right behind his "Florida Room". A Florida room is the local terminology for a screened in back patio area.

We also visited a local fruit stand, and in addition to the beautiful checkout girl, there were the biggest lemons I've ever seen. That's my hand in the picture, so you can see the lemon is as large as a grapefruit.

I also took a walk in anearby park and saw some of the real Florida - saw palmetto forest, lazy rivers and sunshine:

And then we enjoyed sushi in Ybor City, which is a historic part of old Tampa and has a strip with lots of bars and restaurants. This is me with my brother on my right, his wife on my left, and a close friend that treated us to the sushi.

All for now. See you soon!


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Chandana's Benefit Rocks Kane Hall

Hello Friends!

I want to thank everyone of you who came out for Chandana's Tsunami Relief Benefit. The entire proceeds from the concert are going to an organization named Child Relief and You, or CRY for short.

It's what we musicians can do to help. Between three and four hundred people (that's just my personal estimate, I haven't seen any real numbers) came and almost all stayed for the entire four-hour long show. Food was provided during intermission by concert sponsors
Tandoori Kitchen of Kirkland.

Everyone made the show a screaming success. Not only did the audience hear some of their best-loved Bollywood favorites sung and played by Chandana's top-rate Indian ensemble, they were treated to a high energy Jazz-Indian fusion jam (featuring yours truly and Yoginis sax man Mike Deasy), the royal treatment by Planet Suzanna's Belly Dancers, and some American Hip-hop by the Rebelz.

These pics posted here were taken with my little digital camera, which had no zoom, poor light adjustment and was pretty much totally inadequate for the job, so some of them are not the best quality, sorry. I do have footage of everything, and later, after we can edit it all down, we'll have some really nice stills and movies of this great show. And I know some of you have much better pix. Email me if you want me to post some up here. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of Tom, the fusion segment guitarist, because I was playing when he was on stage and therefore wasn't taking pictures at that time. And I realize I have no shots of Arun, who played drums for our fusion segment, and dhol and congas on other numbers. And Pranav, who was masterful at holding the keyboard down on a number of songs. And my camera memory was used up before the Rebelz came on stage at the finale. I think I got everyone else. Please let me know and email me pictures if I didn't.

MC'd by Manish Tangri, a Bollywood singer with his own hits who treated us to a rousing song near the show's end. The show also featured singers Sangeeta, Amita, Prasanna, and Mohan. In various combinations of lead and backing teams, they showed finesse and great emotional power with each song. I guess I should state here, so as to avoid offending anyone, that, being an American, I unfortunately did not know all the names of the Indian songs. Please forgive me for that, I am still learning.




Sangita and Amita

Chandana, of course, kicked all our butts. She covered Bollywood/pop songs, sang a raga, and belted out some Punjabi-style hip-hop. On the raga she traded improvised, wordless vocals with the solo intruments of Erika on violin, Tom on guitar, and Mike's sax, each trade pushing the energy envelope higher. I thought the energy was going to explode the place before we got done with the raga, which they even let me play a piano solo on (imagine that!).




A crowd pleaser was Sumi, dressed in traditional Sikh outfit and commanding the tablas, and joined on percussion by Arun on dhol, and mridingam. Sumi did the percussion break with vocals along with Prasanna in the hit song Piya Bavri, and took an extended solo on the raga during the jazz fusion jam. Drummer Atul rounded out the percussion section with Ashish, who also played electronic percussion, djembe, and congas, and Arun, who pounded out some heavy dhol for us during Manish's song and the Rebelz hip-hop finale. As you will see in the pictures, there was a lot of percussion in this show. These guys were our backbone, no doubt.


Ashish and Sumi


Bhushan and Chandana's husband Sanjeev Sharma shared acoustic and electric guitar duties. Sanjeev has been an army unto himself, tirelessly promoting and
organizing this show alongside Chandana.


Sanjeev tuning up before the show

A little behind-the-scenes for you - due to the unfortunate pulling-out of one of the shows biggest sponsors just two weeks before the show, the job of promotion and organization fell completely onto Chandana and Sanjeev. I was blown away by the amount of work these guys did before the curtain rose. They organized the sponsors, the staff, the photographers and film crew, the promotion and PR, and organized the musicians and rehearsed us, and organized all the songs and arrangements. And did Sanjeev get any time off from his realty business for this? Heck no, he was still putting in 50 hours a week at his day job the whole time! So you wanna be in show biz...

Raja, Sanjib, and Pranav performed flawlessly on keyboards, navigating the complex settings and arrangements demanded by Bollywood songs and making it look easy.

Raja and Sanjib


And Sam, our bassist, was just incredible. I really enjoyed playing with him. Here he is during the sound check:

Planet Suzanna's Belly Dancers wowed the audience with two exciting performances, one during each set. The women in the audience were appreciating the high level of belly dance technique by the dancers, and we guys were appreciating the ...well, anyway, they were a great addition to the music and a definite crowd pleaser. They were joined by a contingent of the Rhythms of India Dancers, dressed in traditional Indian dance costumes, to create a nice mix of Indian and Middle Eastern dance. Egpytian percussionist
George Sadak powered them on with masterful doumbek (also called Egyptian Tabla) and electronic percussion. Excuse the motion blur in the picture due to my cheap camera.

The show was closed out by the Rebelz, a hip hop ensemble led by Justin (Justice) and Jaris (Professor Icee). They traded raps with Chandana singing in between. Kane Hall was rocked by that irresistible combination of American freestyle and Punjabi rhythm. That sound is on fire throughout South Asia, but it is still new to The USA. I hope America gets to experience more of it.

The finale was a song called Dhoom Machale, and the Belly Dancers returned to the stage to get everyone up one last time. Circle of Fire dancer Fredo broke out on center stage during the song, and blasted us with some tight 360s, full-on standing flips and a beautiful floor spin. He was so good that one of the belly dancers were photographing him even while they were on stage behind him! There were a number of kids on stage with us at this all-ages show, adding the special energy that only small children can to the whole mix.

This show ROCKED, people! Do yourself a favor and keep an eye out for Chandana. This music is not just for the South Asian community, although their community makes it all possible to be sure. This music is for people of all ages, who love good music, great singing, and a high level of professionalism by the performers. Chandana's music brings us together, wherever we're from. So don't miss her next show!

Bye for now, hey do I look happy about it all or what?

Friday, March 11, 2005

Yogi's Big Gig with Chandana

Hello Music Lovers!

This is the final promo you'll get from me for this show on Sunday 5:30 at Kane Hall in UW. Seats are $15 and $30 in advance ($18 and $34 at the door). It's a Tsunami benefit. Read my post, from march first (second one down from this one) to find out more about Chandana. This show is gonna rock. 'nuff said on that.

Here's Chandana at her sold-out show at Kane Hall last November:

See you there!

Next up: Maya Arulpragasam, aka M.I.A., the rebel hip-hop sensation from Sri Lanka, aka the Tamil Tigress, Tuesday at Chop Suey. I'll have pix for you of her too.


This weekend's picks

Hi Everyone,

This weekend's picks from my friends gigs, reflecting my weird tastes running from R&B, to world, to hip-hop and other stuff.

By the way, you've got to email me about your gigs if you want me to list them,


My piano teacher and world class jazz musician Jovino Sanios Neto, is busy as usual this weekend. If you haven't caught one of his gigs, it's your loss.

Friday, March 11 from 9PM to midnight at Serafina Restaurant (2043 Eastlake Ave. East in Seattle, 206-323-0807) - Duo with vocalist/percussionist Samia Panni. He will be playing a wide variety of great Brazilian tunes in a casual and relaxed atmosphere. No cover, all ages.

Saturday, March 12 from 8 to 10 PM at Slavonian Hall ( 2306 N 30th St, Old Town Tacoma, WA)The Jovino Santos Neto Trio with Chuck Deardorf (bass) and Chris Stromquist (drums) will perform as part of the Tacoma Old Town Jazz & Wine Festival. For more info and tickets, please call (253)759-2518.

Tuesday, March 15 from 5 to 8 PM at the IKEA Store in Renton (600 SW 43rd St, Renton, 98055 - (425) 656-2980) - Jovino Santos Neto Trio with Chuck Deardorf (bass) and Mark Ivester (drums). No cover, all ages.


Paula Maya, the other part of the Brazilian contingent, is also busy:

@ Ipanema Brazilian Grill,
8 - 11PM No cover.
1225 1St Ave Seattle, WA 98101
Valet Parking

2-4PM @ KBCS 91.3fm
Spinning the radio show Raizes

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Chandana Tsunami Benefit

Hello Everyone,

I am very happy to be doing a couple of songs on the next concert of Chandana Dixit, an accomplished singer from India who is the voice in many smash-hit Bollywood songs.

Here's the details, then I'll write a little about what we are going to do. Many of you will also receive the email poster if you are on my music email list. If not, sign up by emailing me at and ask me to add you to the music email list.

ZK AArts presents Raga2Rock
with Chandana Dixit, original playback singer from Bollywood with hits like Goriya and Sheher Ki Ladki
with prominent singers,hip-hop artists, Seattle musicians, and Seattle's famous belly-dance artists

A Concert for Tsunami Relief

Sunday March 13th, 2005 5:30 to 8:30pm
University of Washington Kane Hall #130

Tickets, $30 special front rows, $15 general (or $34 and $15 at the door)

Tickets available at and in Indian Grocery stores around Seattle and Eastside.

Call 425-826-4800 for sponsorships and details

Bollywood, for those who don't already know, is Bombay's movie industry. Stars there are worshipped, all the movies feature several pieces of music and dance. Having hit songs in Bollywood is like having a song in the top 10 rotation on MTV and all major radio stations in the USA. And Chandana has a string of these. She is in the States now on a performers visa. A performer's visa is extremely hard to get, and is only awarded to artists considered outstanding in their field.

Chandana is not messing around, people. She is a highly accomplished professional who puts on a dynamite show. Read a review of her last Kane Hall show in November 2004 on Also read about her here on, where you can also purchase advance tickets.

She will sing many of her hits, accompanied by a full live Indian band, and then there will also be Bhangra music, and some tasty experiments with crossing Indian styles with western jazz grooves (that's where I come in, along with Yoginis saxophonist Mike Deasy) and hip-hop. I hear we'll have some belly dancers as well.

It's a full on three-hour long show. Tell all your friends. Get ready to Raga, get ready to Bhangra, get ready to ROCK. 'Cause this show will.

See you at the show!