Chanting is Universal! BlueGrass Kirtan

Across many spiritual traditions, singing repetitive sacred phrases is used as a way to quiet the mind, open the heart and connect to a power greater than ourselves. Here with Jon and Friends of the Universal Chanting group, we have traditional examples of Hindu, Buddhist, Native American and Christian chants and group singing for you to enjoy.

Also on this CD Jon shows how music from one culture (old-time fiddle banjo tunes) can be incorporated with sacred phrases (Christian and Hindu here) for a unique transcendental experience. Also good tunes for dancing or cleaning the house!

The first tune is a unique English translation of an ancient Hindi prayer that helps us in the West know better the meaning of the words of the Hanuman Chalisa. The last track of Chanting is Universal is the same chant only with the Hindi words in a very fast rap style!

“BlueGrass Kirtan” — a CD featuring Jon Seskevich and fiddle great AC Bushnell combining ancient sacred words in Sanskrit, Latin, and Tibetan chanted with old-time American Appalachian fiddle and banjo tunes. There are 11 cuts on the album, and they are all fantastic!

What Happens When You Mix Kirtan and Bluegrass Music?
BlueGrass Kirtan!

BlueGrass Kirtan is ancient sacred words in Sanskrit, Latin, and Tibetan chanted with old-time American Appalachian fiddle and banjo tunes. It is chanting that will knock your socks off!

“Mantra chanting can be an extension of shaking your ass or raising your voice in joyful exultation, with no fundamentalist associations. It’s sheer joy to sing, a good way to loosen one’s heart in the world.” — Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997)

This poem by the renowned beat poet skeleton Allen Ginsberg has delighted and inspired me as a veritable foreshadowing of the spirit and experience of BlueGrass Kirtan.

Jon notes: Living in the Durham-Chapel Hill area of North Carolina, I have enjoyed old-time/bluegrass jam sessions. Listening to the melody of tunes as they repeated in a regular pattern, in my mind, heart, and soul, I began to “hear” a mantra that fit the melody and rhythm. These were the same mantras I had learned during my time of study in the 70’s and 80’s with Ram Dass, noted spiritual teacher, friend of chanting and author of the book Be Here Now.

In 2006, I went to a concert to hear fiddle great AC Bushnell playing with Stillhouse Bottom Band. Afterwards AC and I chatted, discussed this concept and began a fun musical and spiritual collaboration that has culminated in this album! AC who has many rich years of playing, recording, and performing, has brought together wonderfully talented North Carolina musicians for this East-West project. They highlight their skills and artistry with traditional bluegrass instrumental breaks woven throughout the pieces.