The Friday, April 21, Column

Jai Uttal

Soundbytes – House Concert

If one were to look up “House Concert” in the internet’s version of the dictionary, Wikipedia, it is defined as “… a musical concert or performance art that is presented in someone’s home or apartment, or a nearby small private space such as a barn, apartment, rec room, lawn, or back yard.” House concerts are becoming increasingly popular once again, as they provide a chance to actually listen to the music and lyrics from the performer, in comparison to a club or bar where many times the “performance” is simply background music. House concerts were common in the past, long before the world tours and arena shows that many artists perform at today, as those things simply didn’t exist and having the “Traveling band” play at your house may have been the only exposure one got to hear live music. Some performers recently have made entire tours across the country just playing house concerts and many well-known acts will do surprise shows at a small venue or house concert.

Sonoma Valley has some opportunities for just that coming up in the next few weeks, including this Saturday, April 22, when Jai Uttal plays at the “Sacred Music Sessions” at a time and place to be revealed after purchasing the ticket. The Grammy-nominated Uttal is coming off a sold out Kirtan event with over 400 bhaktas at Spirit Rock and will be performing to celebrate the release of his 19th album, “Roots! Rock! Rama!.” Utall learned to play piano, guitar, banjo and harmonica while still quite young, but a first encounter with Indian music at age 17 proved to be a life-changing experience. He would later say that this music “touched my heart like the sounds of home.” Soon he was studying with Indian sarod virtuoso Ali Akbar Khan. His endeavor to master the challenging Indian stringed instrument also led to the discovery of his singing voice. But, his exposure to music actually started much earlier, and with some traditional rock and roll roots. Born the son of record executive Larry Uttal, Jai was ideally suited to absorb pop music’s ‘50s and ‘60s golden age. “Every week my father would bring home the top-ten singles and play them for my sister and me,” he remembers. “That was the coolest thing. And I was at the recording session of Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels doing ‘Devil with a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly.’ That made me totally crazy; it was just so amazing.”

Music and spiritual practice became linked for Utall when he became a student of Indian spiritual master Neem Karoli Baba in 1971. Maharaji, as the guru is known to his students, encouraged the practice of bhakti yoga as expressed through kirtan, the call-and-response chanting of sacred names, over and over again until they become deeply instilled in the consciousness, providing an experience of profound peace and spiritual insight. Kirtan would become the center of Jai’s musical and spiritual life.

Playing with Utall in Sonoma will be Kirtanista Prajna Vieira on vocals, bassist Greg Barnett, Radhanath Das on mridangam, and Ben Leinbach on drums and percussion. For tickets and more info, point your browser to

NOTE: By press time the show has sold out.


Nigel Armstrong

Set List – The Rundown

Annex Wine Bar, 865 W. Napa St. Sonoma, 938-7779
Tonight, April 21: O and the Riots. 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 22: Hooper and Sloss. 7:30 p.m.

Flatbed Farms, 13450 Sonoma Hwy. Glen Ellen
Saturday, April 22: Spring Fest with Dale Geist. 11 a.m. Johan Raskin. 11:50 a.m. the Betty Blues. 12:15 p.m. Home, 1:15 p.m. LoWatters, 2:15 p.m.

Friday Farmers Market, Depot Park, 270 First St W. Sonoma
Today, April 21: Stewart Degner. 9:30 a.m.

HopMonk Tavern, 691 Broadway Sonoma, 935-9100
Tonight, April 21: Frankie Bourne. 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 22: Brian Dolzani. 8 p.m.

Murphy’s Irish Pub, 464 First St. E. Sonoma, 935-0660
Tonight, April 21: Matt Bolton. 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 22: Roem Baur. 8 p.m.

Olde Sonoma Public House, 18615 Sonoma Hwy. Boyes Hot Springs, 938-7587
Tonight, April 21: Ryan Tatarian. 6:30 p.m. Reggae Night with Byron Borges. 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 22: Karaoke. 7:30 p.m.

The Reel Fish Shop and Grill, 401 Grove St. El Verano, 343-0044
Friday, April 21: People of Earth. 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 22: Attila Viola. 8:30 p.m.

Sonoma Speakeasy and American Music Hall, 452 First St. E. ste. G. Sonoma, 996-1364
Tonight, April 21: Jim Caroompas. 6:30 p.m. 3 on a Match. 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 22: Full Circle. 5 p.m. Marina Crouse. 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 23: the Sideman with Peter Welker, 5 p.m. Acoustic Blues Jam. 8:30 p.m.

Sonoma Valley Woman’s Club, 574 First St. E., 938-8313
Saturday, April 22: Hawaiian Jam Session. 3 p.m.

Vintage House senior center, 264 First St. E. Sonoma, 996-0311
Sunday, April 23: Nigel Armstrong with Elizabeth Dorman. 3 p.m.

If your gig isn’t in my column, you didn’t tell me about it.

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