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Events across the West Coast & Texas, plus news from our Kirtan Camps

Greetings friends,

Happy 2015!
I hope the year has had a magnificent beginning for all of you!

I have so much to share with you all, but I have to keep this short. Who has time to read long emails or Facebook posts? I certainly don’t.

Our Bhakti Kirtan Camp in Costa Rica was total bliss this year. The Kirtans were off the charts, as were the Yoga classes with Nubia, the surfing, Visvambar’s drumming and singing, the sunsets and the sunrises. (Ok, I didn’t actually see the sunrises, but I was told they were awesome….). We made a ‘practice’ of swimming in the warm ocean every evening during sunset. I can’t begin to tell you how this affected our hearts and minds. I’d never really done this and I’m missing it already. If you’re thinking about coming next year, sign up soon and get the ‘early bird’ discount. I haven’t mentioned this before, but Blue Spirit, where we hold the retreat, is a wonderful place for families. Although we don’t provide childcare or a kids’ program, the scene is very kid-friendly (with parental supervision). Ezra has so much fun there!

And speaking of ecstatic, family-friendly Kirtan events, our summer camp at Harbin Hot Springs is already beginning to sell out. This camp has a slightly different tone than the winter camps because I give Harmonium and Indian music lessons on top of everything else. But don’t think it gets too intellectual; the fun, the community, the communion, the yoga, and the wonderful music and singing are sublime. To say nothing of the incredible Hot Springs…..

Check my schedule for upcoming events. Even though I’m gradually cutting down my travel, I look at my schedule and it seems like I’m going everywhere this coming year. Barcelona, Australia, possibly South America….. I’m even visiting the Midwest in June.

IMG_4876On January 31st I’ll be leading Kirtan at Open Secret Bookstore in San Rafael, California. All of the proceeds from this event will go to the Ali Akbar College of Music and to the Ali Akbar Khan Archives, to help continue the teachings of the master of masters, Ali Akbar Khan. There are so many incredible and heartbreaking needs in the world today, so you may ask ‘why do a benefit for a music school’? Well, Khansahib used to say that music was food for the soul, and our souls are all so hungry. Personally, I would say that 99.9% of my musical life is due to the teachings of Ali Akbar Khan. Even when I play Brazilian music on my guitar, or sing Reggae Kirtan, the focus and reverence for each note that was drilled into us day after day guides my hands and voice. Khansahib gave us so much. All he wanted was to share the ancient gift of his music. Whether he was grumpy or sweet, he and his divine music were a gift to the universe. Once he told the class that we were not only destroying his father’s music, we were ‘destroying the entire 16th century’! There was a stunned silence in the room followed by a few giggles that quickly exploded into laughter. Such was his dry humor. And such was his fierce teaching. I don’t think Khansahib had much interest in kirtan. Probably the sound of a room full of people singing mostly out of tune would have been hard on his super microscopic sensibilities. But nonetheless, he was deeply devoted to music as a spiritual path, and always encouraged us to sing from a heart filled with love and humility. Actually, I never would have sung at all if it wasn’t for Khansahib. He insisted that all of his students learn singing as well as instrumental music. My debt of gratitude to Ustad Ali Akbar Khan can never be repaid……

I’ll be accompanied by Vijay Krishna on Mridanga, Prajna Vieira singing response vocals, and Radhanath Das on Kartals. 

Oh yeah, one more thing. Just in case you missed it, I released two CDs last year: Return to Shiva Station and Lifeline: The Essential Jai Uttal and Ben Leinbach Collection. Please pick them up, enjoy, and buy some for your friends!!!!

I guess that’s enough for now.
Sending love and peace to all,

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Thank You and Happy Holidays!

Dear friends,

Wow, what a year! Ups, downs, and arounds, hopefully growing and learning from it all.
My family and I are leaving for Costa Rica in a few days for our annual Winter Kirtan Camp but before we go I want to express to you all a VERY BIG THANK YOU! Thank you for your support of my music and work over all these many years. And thank you for the never ending stream of love and caring I receive in the form of emails, notes, smiles….. And of course, thank you for your voices and dances whenever and wherever I perform.

So, whatever you celebrate over these holiday weeks, may your celebration be filled with light and joy. And whatever you’re wishing for, may it come to you. And may all beings on this planet and all planets in all the universes know love and be free from suffering. Amen Om!!!!!
Love and peace,

P.S. I’m looking forward to celebrating with you Bay Area folks at my Reggae Samba Kirtan Holiday Dance Party on Saturday! More details here.

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Summer Kirtan Camp 2015 & Holiday Sale

Join me for Summer Kirtan Camp 2015!

Hey everybody,

Did I tell you how awesome Summer Kirtan Camp at Harbin Hot Springs was? I just can’t remember if I ever got around to it…. But this morning, looking out my window at the mist shrouded rolling hills of West Marin, I recalled the indelible image of happy, well-soaked campers emerging from the forest laden with harmoniums, drums and cymbals, singing the holy names, and gathering for our Gala Kirtan session on the second to last day of camp. In particular, I’ll never forget the kids’ Kirtan band singing “Sita Ram” to the tune of “Mission Impossible,” or the ever inspiring (and slightly amusing) chorus of 40 harmoniums playing “SA RE GA MA PA DHA NI SA,” the notes of the Indian scale.

For me, every Kirtan Camp is another opportunity to dive deeper into devotion, to remember anew what a beginner I am, and to feel, once again, the grace of my Guru. In addition to all that, what an amazing thing it is to see the Bhakti family grow and expand, to see how our “campers” have gone out to their own communities and shared the wonders of God’s names with their friends, families, students, and, in some cases, concert audiences. So please check out our Summer Camp at Harbin Hot Springs, July 2015, for a life changing experience that you will never forget….

Lots of love,

Tuesday, July 21 – Sunday, July 26, 2015


Special Price Before Dec 25

Jai Uttal and co-teachers Daniel Paul and Nubia Teixeira

This training is for those who aspire to lead Kirtan; those who wish to enhance their Yoga teaching with chanting; and those who simply wish to immerse themselves in the vast ocean of Bhakti.

In this workshop we will share some of the many tools that we use in our Bhakti practices. Our hope is that everyone will leave this retreat with the inner experience and knowledge that we are all able to dive into this world of devotion and sing and share our hearts with others.

Subjects to be covered:

Kirtan – As the essential practice of Bhakti, Kirtan will be the main focus of this training.
Bhakti Yoga – Understanding the path of Bhakti as a journey of surrender and offering of one’s entire being to the the Divine will.
Mantras – Experiencing the invocational power of the ancient Sanskrit syllables and names in ecstatic song and silent contemplation.
Gods and Goddesses – An exploration of the energies embodied by the different deities of Hinduism.
Ramayana – Studying and reciting the multi-leveled epic adventures of Ram, Sita and Hanuman; and how this story relates to our daily lives.
Saints – Reflecting upon the lives of some of the saints of modern India, particularly Neem Karoli Baba.
Vocal Training – Opening the voice and learning to love the sound that comes from our bodies.
Rhythm – Beginning to understand the rhythms associated with Kirtan.
Learning Harmonium – Gaining a beginning understanding of the rudiments of harmonium for accompanying Kirtans.

Hatha Yoga classes will be offered daily by Nubia Teixeira.

~~~~~~~~~~ Hari Om ~~~~~~~~~~

Harbin Conference Center Harbin Garden Harbin Pool Harbin Spring Pool

Where: Harbin Hot Springs
Middletown, CA
Website: http://www.harbin.org
Early Christmas Bird Price: $1,500.00 IF PAID IN FULL BY 12-25-14
Early Bird Price: $1,800.00 IF PAID IN FULL BY 04-25 -15
Price: $2,050.00 AFTER 04-25-15

Camping (bring your own camp supplies for sleeping dorm or tent) + using Harbin Facilities for 5 nights – 6 days
3 daily meals + snacks
2 daily Bhakti/Kirtan 2hrs sessions with Jai Uttal & Daniel Paul
1 daily rhythm session with Daniel Paul
1 daily Bhakti- Hatha Yoga with Nubia Teixeira

More info: nubia@bhaktinova.com

Holiday Sale: 20% Off New Albums & Shirts

In time for the holidays, I’m offering 20% off my 2014 albums Lifeline: The Essential Jai Uttal and Ben Leinbach Collection and Return to Shiva Station, including a special bundle of both albums for $19.98, as well as 20% off all t-shirts in my online store. Place your order before December 15 for US delivery in time for Christmas.

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“Return to Shiva Station” Album Release Party in San Francisco on October 30

Bay Area friends, come celebrate and sing with me the songs from Return to Shiva Station on Thursday at 8pm! For the album release party, I’ll be playing with a full band at Yoshi’s San Francisco.


Tix: http://www.yoshis.com/sanfrancisco/livemusic/artist/show/4502

Here’s a sample from the album, “Hari Guna Gao” acoustic.

Hope you can join me!

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Lifeline: The Essential Collection + East Coast Events

MM04141D-Lifeline-coverDear friends,

Welcome to Lifeline: The Essential Jai Uttal and Ben Leinbach Collection, released three days ago on the Sounds True label.

I’m listening to it right now and have to say I’m very moved and inspired. Where did these songs come from????? Ben and I have always had an amazing working relationship: humorous, deep, and creative. But as I listen to these collaborations I see that something or someone bigger than us was hard at work constructing these songs of love and longing.

In putting together Lifeline our most difficult job was picking the songs. There are just so many that we love. The next job was editing them and, in some cases, remixing them to fit on a single CD and to flow from one into the other. Though editing was sometimes challenging we found that the songs seemed to flow easily, regardless of which album they represented. It was as if all of our Sounds True CDs were just chapters in a very long story, as yet incomplete…..

We had fun experimenting with taking elements from one song and fitting them into another, kin for like Giles Martin did on the Beatles’ Love album. Have you heard that? It’s fabulous. So, as you listen to Lifeline , you may hear musical parts that you recognize from other albums. Ben and I are going to think of some kind of a contest around this. Stay tuned for for that……

Anyway, I don’t have much more to say right now except I hope you love this new release.

Briefly, a heads up to you East Coast friends. I’ll be embarking on a very short tour starting in Washington, DC, and moving up to New York City to sing and teach at Integral Yoga and YogaMaya. I’ll be accompanied by two great friends that most of you know: Gaura Vani and Dharma Dev Das. Please join us!!!!

And in closing, I’d like to share what I wrote for the liner notes of Lifeline.

Lots of love,

In these so-called “modern” times the lifeline between countries, continents, and cities is found in the airplanes and jets that burn holes through the sky, leaving trails of vapor in the etheric distance. Before the planes were the trains, and we all know through the tradition of folk songs the incredible trials and sacrifices that were made to lay the rails. In slightly older times the lifeline between cities and villages was always the river— the great rivers, the great waterways. We’ve heard thousands of songs about the Mississippi River, forever rolling towards the sea. In India, we have so many Bhajans and prayers about the Ganges, Mother Ganga, about the Yamuna, the Narmada, and all the great divine tributaries that connect people to people, village to village. These rivers are worshipped as Goddesses, delivering the divine quality of grace to humankind. And in the more remote, rural, dry regions of India the lifeline used to be (and sometimes still is) the oh-so-slow bullock cart, carrying supplies and messages from one dusty hamlet to the next.

But to the soul there is no “ancient” or “modern.” There is no time, there is no place. There is just eternity. And what has always been the lifeline for the human spirit? Music, rhythm, melody, the songs that connect heart to heart, and soul to soul. The songs and dances from time immemorial feed us and nourish us and become our lifeline to Spirit. In India, in the great Vedic tradition, there is yet another lifeline known as Mantra; divinely channeled words from the Sanskrit language that were blessed and given to us as a wondrous soul-survival mechanism for human beings, a life raft to carry us across the stormy ocean of existence. The Mantras that we sing and that we use for prayer and for practice are known to be another form of the Divine, another form of God and of Goddess. These Mantras are the heart and the essence of the music on this album. They are the lifelines that have connected me to that One who has saved me time and time again. May they become a beautiful and rich part of your lives …

P.S. We’re offering a limited-time discount on a bundle of Lifeline and Return to Shiva Station if you buy direct from my website here!

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Lifeline: The Essential Jai Uttal and Ben Leinbach Collection available now




Jai Uttal, one of the West’s foremost voices of India’s kirtan chant tradition, and multi-instrumentalist Ben Leinbach gather together their most loved recordings. Sequenced as an unfolding musical celebration, here are favorites of both the artists and their fans. Lifeline spans a decade of collaboration that reflects the myriad faces of kirtan and beyond—ranging from unadorned, primordial chant to layered, sacred sound immersions. It’s a musical odyssey that inspires us to soar—upward, outward, and into the radiant heart of the Divine. Co-produced by Jai Uttal and Ben Leinbach.

Track list:
1. Twameva (Lifeline Mix)
2. Path to Govinda (Lifeline Mix)
3. Gopala (Lifeline Mix)
4. Shri Krishna (Lifeline Mix)
5. Parikrama (Lifeline Mix)
6. Sita Ram (Lifeline Mix)
7. Ganga Ma (Lifeline Mix)
8. Nataraj (Lifeline Mix)
9. Gopala Lullaby (Lifeline Mix)
10. Rama Bolo (Lifeline Mix)

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Listen to “Hari Guna Gao”

Here’s a link to stream the album version of “Hari Guna Gao” from my new album Return to Shiva Station. Enjoy and please share!

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Return to Shiva Station Out Now

Hi everyone.

Well, today’s the day!!!

My new CD Return to Shiva Station: Kailash Connection officially enters the material world. Reserve your seat on the train to the heavenly realms of Sri Hari, courtesy of Lord Shiva himself by simply ordering the album

No, seriously…. That sounds super goofy and pretentious, but I truly hope you enjoy the new CD. Please spread the word, and if you do like it, please post some good reviews on the online shops.


Track List
1. Guru Brahma
2. Shiva Station (Namah Shivaya)
3. Hari Guna Gao
4. Calling You
5. Malkouns (Night On The Ganges)
6. Rama Raghava
7. Bhajore
8. Corner
9. Sita Ram
10. Jaya Jagadambe (She Who Tears Apart Thought)
11. Never Turn Away

Here’s a short “home-movie” version of one of my favorites from Return to Shiva Station entitled “Guru Brahma”… We filmed it last night, one take before bed. It gives a bit of the flavor of the album – all acoustic, intimate versions of the songs from the original Shiva Station, which was released fifteen years ago.

The new album features my friend and teacher, Jose Neto, a true master of the nylon string guitar, weaving in and around my own guitar and banjo, as well as Ben Leinbach on bass and percussion (and co-production), Prajna Vieira singing, Timothy White on sitar (the first of all my albums to have sitar!) and Yoed Nir on cello. A small but powerful ensemble.

That’s it for now. I hope you all really love Return to Shiva Station: Kailash Connection!!!!!!

Warm wishes, and lots of love,

P.S. If you’ve been thinking about signing up for our Summer Kirtan Camp this year, now’s the time! We’re offering a little window of discounted rate if you sign up now and pay in full:
$1,600.00 if you sign up by March 31st.
$1,950.00 after March 31st.
Hope you’ll join us!

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Video of “Hari Guna Gao”

Hi friends, I recorded a video of “Hari Guna Gao” acoustic in my home for you. This song is very special to me because it always makes me think of my dear friend Don Cherry, who passed away as I was writing for Shiva Station. A version like this one will be on my new album Return to Shiva Station coming March 25.

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Free download from new album Return to Shiva Station

Dear Friends,

The artistic temperament is always looking forward toward new levels of refinement, new colors and moods of expression, new ways to manifest and communicate the deepest feelings of the heart. The soul of the Bhakta (one endeavoring to walk the yogic path of devotion) is also always looking forward toward meeting the Beloved, experiencing the play of love, seeing His beautiful face, somehow discovering the key to divine love and service in this world. When combined, devotion and art create an inner world of turbulent longing, of passionate experience, of deep emotion. Read the life stories of the poet saints of India and you’ll know what I mean. (Please don’t think I’m comparing myself to those amazing beings! But they are my inspiration.)

When I was first asked to “remake” my album, Shiva Station, my response was, “No way! I can’t go backwards—that was then, and this is now! At this moment, I have so many new songs coursing through me.” I was very resistant, to say the least. My sweet little ego can sometimes speak very loudly. But after thinking about it for a while, I began to see the idea through fresh eyes. I reflected that the thread woven through all of my music, from my very first album, Footprints, to my last Kirtan Kids project is God’s names, and a deep, non-verbal longing for divine grace. Why not revisit my music from fifteen years ago to discover what, if anything, was timeless in each song? So I accepted the challenge.

Returning to this album wasn’t always a comfortable process, not that recording an album ever is. You know how every melody is filled with memories? Well, many of those memories were pretty harsh. Imagine going through a box of photos from a period of your life when you were very unhappy and out of balance. While I had the same devotional practices and feelings in those days, I also felt I was struggling just to be alive, to keep my head above the raging sea. Nonetheless, I dived in and lo and behold, the process turned out to be deeply healing and inspiring—both musically and spiritually. Through each of these songs I was able to reconnect with my soul, my Guru, my Beloved, remembering how desperately they were sung fifteen years ago and resinging them with a new mood of gentleness, surrender, and acceptance.

I sincerely hope that you, the listener, will enjoy the results of this process. I’m consistently humbled and honored when people tell me that my music has helped them through their life’s challenges. With Return to Shiva Station, may our journey together through this strange and wondrous world continue in love, joy, and grace.

Love and peace,

P.S. Here’s a free download of “Hari Guna Gao” from Return To Shiva Station, coming March 25 worldwide on CD and digital. Preview and pre-order the album here.

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