Kirtan music review: Dharma Gypsys.

Via on Apr 28, 2010

dharma gypsys

A couple of weeks ago my pal Joni Yung, the go-to-gal for all things L.A. yoga, raved about a new kirtan album by the Dharma Gypsys.  Joni has attended more kirtan than one can imagine, so if she said it rocked, I knew I had to check out the album.  The Dharma Gypsys is a group of yogis and non-yogis grooving away under the leadership of L.A. superstar yoga teacher and rock musician Daniel Overberger.  Overberger, a former member of several death rock bands, had a life changing experience traveling to Indian where he became immersed in yoga and kirtan.  He is well-known in the L.A. area for teaching classes that are set to rock music, which are called “Sonic Yoga” including an eternally sold out “Yoga on the Dark Side of the Moon.”

The Dharma Gypsys first album is unlike any other kirtan album I’ve heard.  The guitar and drums are reminiscent of the Rolling Stones’ “Sister Morphine” and the ambiance echoes Pink Floyd’s “Fearless.”  The vocals of Overberger and Katrina Chester (who has played Janis Joplin on stage) are perfectly matched with the dark guitar solos.  Yet despite the heavily rock-influenced sound, the roots of more well-known kirtan artists such as Jai Uttal and Krishna Das are also echoed throughout the album.  It is clear that the whole band approaches the music from the heart and with a deep passion for their art.  What really works for the Dharma Gypsys’ approach is how their music is able to appeal to both the devotional and the rock that lives in every yogi.  Daniel told me that he was inspired to start the group while listening to Krishna Das.

“I was listening to Krishna Das and I picked up my Les Paul, plugged it into my Marshall and just started… soloing. The hair on my arms was standing straight up. I thought, ‘Wow. I like this.’ That was the beginning, the spark.”

Their marriage of rock and kirtan is successful: resonates deeply and it lingers.

This album is ideal music for not only a yoga class but for so many settings.  I used it while teaching to students who prefer vocally-intensive devotional kirtan and they raved.  It is perfect for a home practice, a drive on a beautiful road or just as the background music to a fun afternoon of mojitos with your local sangha of yogis.  Daniel and the Dharma Gypsys have something here: something dark and resonant and beautiful.  They are looking at the possibility of taking the band on the road for a rock-n-roll kirtan/yoga fest, and are already talking about a second album.  I, for one, am standing on my yoga mat lighter in the air, begging for an encore.

Photo: courtesy of Daniel Overberger

The Dharma Gypsys album can be purchased via CD Baby or iTunes.

About Nancy Alder

Nancy Alder is a 200H Registered Yoga Teacher in Connecticut. She teaches her students to connect with space and breath from a place of safety and humor. She writes for many yoga blogs and chronicles her daily practice to find the beginners mind on and off the mat at her own blog,ww.flyingyogini.com. She is co-founder of Teachasana,www.teachasana.com, a site by yoga teachers for yoga teachers. When not writing or doing yoga she is in awe of her elves, busting asanas in crazy places and counting the days until the next snowfall.

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5 Responses to “Kirtan music review: Dharma Gypsys.”

  1. Hi, Nancy. Excellent review and I really enjoyed the videos.

    Of course, I'm particularly attracted to anything with "gypsy" in the name, ever since I called my first flamenco album "American Gypsy". Now I'm learning that the Spanish gypsies I lived with in Andalusia have roots going back to northern India and even Yogic dance! So I guess flamenco kirtan fusions should be a natural, right?

    Thanks for introducing me to Dharma Gypsies.

    Bob Weisenberg

  2. Linda-Sama says:

    not just the Spanish gypsies, but many other bands have roots in Rajasthan. My heritage on my mother's side is Eastern European gypsy so that explains my affinity for all things India….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCOM_5cC63w
    Rajasthan is my next trip….

  3. How interesting, Linda. Did I ever tell you that my son Joey did with Eastern European gypsies what I did with Spanish gypsies. He traveled to the Balkans to seek out the pure lesser know players and recorded them.

    Today he's a popular sideman in all kinds of Gypsy and Balkan bands in NYC. You can hear a few samples on his website JoeyWeisenberg.com . Listen to the opening song (that's Joey on the mandolin), then click on "music samples" for more.

    I went to a Balkan music festival a few years ago somewhere north of Harlem that Joey was playing at. A lot of the big names were there, none of which I knew then nor remember now, of course!

    Bob Weisenberg

  4. How interesting, Linda. Did I ever tell you that my son Joey did with Eastern European gypsies what I did with Spanish gypsies. He traveled to the Balkans to seek out the pure lesser know players and recorded them.

    Today he's a popular sideman in all kinds of Gypsy and Balkan bands in NYC. You can hear a few samples on his website JoeyWeisenberg.com . Listen to the opening song (that's Joey on the mandolin), then click on "music samples" for more.

    I went to a Balkan music festival a few years ago somewhere north of Harlem that Joey was playing at. A lot of the big names were there, none of which I knew then nor remember now, of course!

    Bob Weisenberg

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