February 4, 2024
November, December, January…3 months! I think it is a new record for how long I've gone between posts here. Let's be honest, who reads much of a website's little blog posts anyhow? Everyone is too busy with 15 second Tik-Tok videos or whatever.
Regardless, I'll post a few happenings here.
A lot has happened. I spent 5 weeks in India in Dec/Jan and had some peak experiences, playing my first concerts in India and with Guru Trichy Sankaran at that. Chennai, Bengaluru, Mysuru were all lucky to see the group, which also included Raman Kalyan, VVS Murari, and Jared Burrows. None of this would have been possible without the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.
Of course, Anu and Leela also joined and Leela had the time of her life, a memorable trip indeed even though this was her 3rd time there. Was awesome to get her to connect with family and also have so many experiences in different parts of the country.
Some pics below.
As for what's next….not much on my plate except a bog production with Sujit Vaidya in late April and with Naadaleela Ensemble after that. But have been in the studio with Mohamed Assani making some cool music…stay tuned for that.
October 28, 2023
November almost here, 2023 almost done...wtf!?!?!
Well, time is like that.
Speaking of time, we had a great time last week with the Naadaleela Ensemble, playing Amir Eslami's "The Last Dance", which featurs three amazing dancers - Ashvini Sundaram, Chengxin Wei and Fereshdeh Zakery. The piece is a major relfection upon the oppression of women's freedom, in Iran specifically, but speaks globally.
We will be doing it again on NOv.7 @ The Annex , get your tickets HERE. This is part of the STAND Festival, a festival dedicated to artist who are refugees or immigrants to Canada. Check out what they do.
Below is a pic from the recent concert.
September 24, 2023
What to do when your ambitions, dreams an goals have been realized? That's the situation I find myself in after the past couple of shows with the master Trichy Sankaran and high-calibre Carnatic musicians like VVS Murari and Raman Kalyan. To have my own music realized by these giants, as well as play their music as peers is something I always wanted to do...and have done it! So now what, do more of it? Well, for me the next logical step is to do this music in the land where it was born basically...India. And with the help of some Canada Council funding, it looks like we will do just that in early January of 2024! Details to come when things solidify.
August 7, 2023
Man oh man....Sep.15 there will be a lot of rhythm going around! Tabla wizard Yogesh Samsi will be out in Surrey, but in Vancouver the mountain of laya, Guru Sri Trichy Sankaran will be playing.....and I get to play too (well, I did dream up the idea to begin with). Also exciting is that VVS Murari (violin) will be joining as well as Raman Kalyan (who you may remember from the Anubhava concert in May). As usual, trusty guitar-god Jared Burrows will be on stage too. The repertoire will be mostly Sankaran Sir's original compositions, including his rarely performed "Carnatic Concerto". Also, the concert will be livestreamed...so you can watch it from anywhere in the world!
But coming up right away is a nice all-ages jazz show in St. John's, NL on Aug.13 with the fellows from Big Space. Finally, Leela will not be mad for not being able to attend a club show.
July 21, 2023
Well then...2 weeks in Ghana is the shortest I've ever spent there. And what an intense 2 weeks it was! Check my IG feed for evidence. The highlight/climax was the funeral/festival we held in honor of Hunor Labor Gatorwobuna Avi, my friend and friend to many who made a big impact on this earth. He has joined the ancestors, we call his name during libation pouring and prayers to ancestors. In November they will bury the father of everyone, Glagovi Agudzeamegah, the saviour of Atsiagbekor in Dzogadze. Sad to miss that one. The GoFundMe to help the families with funeral expenses is still open. Please contribute if you understand the situation.
Hit the ground running when I returned on July 10. Had a gig with Mohamed Assani on July 11 at the Indian Summer Festival which was a blast (though plagued some intense audio issues in the first set). Will play some Carnatic music on Saturday, then some Nuevo Flamenco (!) on Sunday in Victoria. Then next Friday is the return of TARAB with Hazem back in town....can't wait. If you know, you know. If you don't know, you must come to know. Another Carnatic recital on July 30 and then taking off for points East for most all of August (including a gig in NL on Aug.13...stay tuned). A busy summer somehow but still lots of time on my hands to do what I want with the summer, which mostly includes hanging out with Leela. And that's fine by me!
June 21, 2023
Here we are, Summer Solstice....the year half over (!). Time to reflect and what has happened thus far and what is upcoming. The year has been well I should say. A little busy with music and such and new experiences. I'm in a happy place. Some plans have been executed and goals achieved and soon some others will go that same route.
The most awesome thing thing thus far was the project I did with Raman Kalyan. Such an honor to work and create with him and there is potential for more in the future. I finally have some decent video from out concert which are up on my YouTube channel. Here is one of them.......
With the help of Dr. Kwashie Kuwor (and funding from SSHRC's Connection Grant program), I managed to make a one-day symposium happen at the University of Ghana with the theme of "Invigorating the Role and Transmission of the Performing Arts in Rural Ghana". I attend and presented via ZOOM but from what I can tell, it was a great success and will result in a publication of the proceedings as well. Ina few days I'll head to Ghana for the other component of the SSHRC Connection grant, which will be a festival in Dzogadze (which will also be a funeral!).
Coming up next is Sujit Vaidya's "Breathe in the Fragrance", a superb work in the vein of Bharatanatyam that we have been working on for nearly 6 months(!). It has all come together nicely and the team of dancers and musicians (live music!) is well-stacked and rearing to go. I can't wait to perform this for the public....sadly, it is one-night only! So don't sleep on it. We may remount this work or something similar in Spring 2024, stay tuned.
Speaking of Ghana, some great men have passed away recently, friends and mentors of mine. I am going to attend one of their funerals and am collecting funeral contributions from people outside of Ghana to give to the families involved as funeral costs are quite an expense. Aside from your birth, one's death and the manner in which you are buried are of great cultural importance in Ghana. Here is a fundraiser that I have started: https://gofund.me/08a606a9. Please share it if you can.
May 17, 2023
Wow, what an intense and amazing experience it was to have Raman Kalyan join us here in Vancouver. Such a warm, open and fun person. And as a musician, one of the best I've ever played with for sure. He elevated everyone onstage. And music just flows from him, as improvisations, compositions, ideas galore. The concert we did went off smoothly and then the day in the studio was super productive. Not sure what we will do with the recordings but stay tuned! Also have some good video from the concert and will release a few pieces from that as well. Playing tonight at Guilt & Co with the band and we'll play one of the pieces that Raman composed for the group entitled "The Magic of 9".
The future holds a lot of unknowns. Was planning on being in Ghana from May 29-June 18 but some metaphysical forces are dictating otherwise. Have to execute some plans related to my SSHRC grant, including a symposium at the University of Legon and then a festival/funeral in Dzogadze. The former will go ahead as planned on June 14 but the latter is in flux. Not looking forward to the $3000 airfare for summer travel to Ghana!
April 6, 2023
Rains have come again but that means more flowers and the cherry blossoms are in full swing now. Always a beautiful time to be alive when they come out. Speaking of which, was awesome to play with Zimbamoto last weekend as part of the cherry blossom festival.
More stuff coming up soon, like this gig with Shine tomorrow. We always have a great connection. Music almost plays itself, always improvised within certain understood grooves and feels. Here is a clip from the last time we played together.
Following that is a couple of things on April 21/22 weekend which are gonna be good. April 21 is a fundraiser at UBC for the victims of the recent earthquakes in Turkey/Syria. I'll be playing with a great Syrian oud playeder named Bero Saker.
March 1, 2023
I say this all the time, but dayum...I can't believe March is here already!
It was a nice February with some good musical activity, and some good rehearsal with Sujit Vaidya leading towards a performance in June. March is markedly slower. Just a couple of gigs on the books and only one public. Will be heading to Mexico for 9 days though, so that's fine by me. Speaking of the gig, information is on the left and here is a poster:
Happy to be celebrating my good brother Kofi Gbolonyo in all that he does!
If you read this in time, also check out the Nisga'a new year celebrations known as Hoobiyee, which will be celebrated in Vancouver on March 3/4 at the PNE Forum on East Hastings. An awesome way to experience the diversity of First Nations cultures that exist here.
January 29, 2023
New year, new digestive system!
Shortly after I wrote the previous missive on this here website I came down with a MAJOR gallstone attack. Fast-forward 10 days later and I'm home after 8 days in hospital waiting for the surgery, finally getting it on Dec.10. All I have to say is STAY OUT OF THE HOSPITAL if you can help it.
Aside from that, life is grand. Had a swell time back in Newfoundland over Xmas and some time in Ottawa as well. Am actually teaching a course at Kwantlen Polytechnic University this semester which is new for me. But am looking to the horizon for some big projects coming down the pipe, likely in May with Carnatic flautist Raman Kalyan and (hopefully) guru Trichy Sankaran as well! Nothing much else planned for March/April but I'm sure that will all change as time goes on. For now, got some things in February to keep me busy, check it out on the left or for detailed info, check the Live Music page of this site.
December 2, 2022
Well, 2022 is almost OVER! Time is time man, it just is.
Still a few things on the horizon but have to speak about the little trip to Toronto I just took to play a couple of concerts with guru Sankaran. It was such a heart-warming affair and honour to be a part of it, with so many other wonderful musicians. Some of these folks I've known since 1998 when I first moved to TO and became aware that something known as Carnatic music actually existed (ie: mind blown). And some of them I never had the chance to play with before, actually most of them! There was so much love all around and everyone was there for Sankaran Sir. I can't imagine how he must have felt, with some of his earliest students in Canada (from 51 years ago!) attending and coming to say hello. Wild.
Not much left in December. Just a short gig tonight at Just Dance with some improvising folks and then a little demo video recording with Mohamed Assani and Jared Burrows, then off to NL and Ottawa for the rest of the year. Playing a couple of nice gigs in NL though, one with Darrell Cooper and Mark Squires (Jimi Hendrix tribute) and another with The Panting Brothers and Duane. Should be a time.
November 19, 2022
I'm a lucky man. Last week I spent a number of days in Bella Bella, home of the Heiltsuk First Nation, a strong and proud nation that is actively asserting and reawakening their identity within this system we have called Canada. We (my family) were invited to a potlatch by its host, hereditary chief Frank Brown (λaλiyasila) and his family. It was an amazing experience on so many levels. To see the way a community and family comes together to renew family and societal ties, histories, creation stories, and of course, the disbursement of so many gifts to those in attendance. The highlight for me was to experience the music and dances which relate to the spiritual ancestors of the family, with various masks being animated in the retelling/performance of these histories. That and the return to the village of about 28 children who are not in the care of their families or the community and live outside. For some it was their first time ever visiting Bella Bella. They were uplifted, given gifts and told their full family relations. Given the history of extraction and separation of First Nations children by the state, it was a powerful act to have them return for a visit in this way and let them know they have a home there.
And I was gifted about $200 in amazing fresh halibut, smoked salmon and smoked black cod!
Beyond this, my luck brings me to some of the musical opportunities I have had and will have very soon, namely being onstage with guru Trichy Sankaran once again. Since 2018 I've had some good luck with grants and have been able to bring him to Vancouver to play with my ensemble on two occasions, perform with him in Newfoundland this past summer, and now will go to Toronto to perform with him in a concert celebrating his 80th birth year. Next year I have some funds to bring him back to Vancouver again for a project with my ensemble as well.
I also consider myself lucky in that my arms are healing (slowly, but healing) and that I can actually play music, something I could not do at all earlier this year.
October 4, 2022
Man oh man! Staying up tp date on this here realm is difficult! Anyhow, lots to share. September came and went, not sure how. Back in August I was back in NL and played a great gig with The Offering, including Bill Brennan on keys. Was a time. Not much action in September aside from school starting and some private gigs, including a fun one with Mohamed Assani and Jared Burrows. Some good news came in September though. I was awarded a BCAC grant for a project that will invite Carnatic flute virtuoso Raman Kalyan to Vancouver next Spring to collaborate with my group and make some new music as well. Super stoked. And Time Will Tell Arts society also received some funds to work with the Ghanaian Association of British Columbia in making heir own cultural group a bit stronger. Related to this, a SSHRC grant that I applied for was successful as well and if the visas come through, my good friend Vodzi Torgboh will be back in Vancouver for a spell next Spring also. On top of this Naadaleela Ensemble has a major Canada Council grant to work with some dancers and video artists for a production in Spring too. Looking like a busy Spring!
Most immediately though is a concert on Oct.16 which we are calling African Chamber Music (see the link over on the left or under Live Music. Super excited and curious about this and how it will sound. First rehearsal tomorrow! It will be Ghanaian and Zimbabwean music with string quartet accompaniment. A little effort to decolonize the string quartet and what it historically represents, bring it into the realm of African music and see what possibilities it holds.
But the biggie for October is a full-on kutcheri (South Indian classical concert) on Oct.28 featuring Maestro Trichy Sankaran and some of India's top musicians on voice, violin and kanjira. Get your tickets now for that!
November I am honoured and excited to travel to Toronto to play in a tribute concert to Guru Trichy Sankaran on Nov.23/24 with a host of other great artists including Autorickshaw, Andrew Timar, Ken Shorley, Andrew Craig, and Russell Hartenberger..... and the maestro himself or course. More details on that later. I don't have anything planned, so we'll see what unfolds. I do know that December I will be back in NL and am planning a Hendrix tribute with Darrell Cooper which will be INSANE! Gonna let my musical freak flag fly high for that.
August 14, 2022
Last time I wrote something here summer was just born, and now it is almost over! But it was a good one thus far. Besides playing at beaches and in playgrounds with my daughter I've been playing a bit including a little tour out East which took me to the Sound Symposium and had a sublime concert with Guru Trichy Sankaran. Also played a jazz gig with Florian Hoefner, Jim Vivian (amazing bassist!) and Jared Burrows. Most of the work was with Arkora however. I was honoured they asked me to compose a piece for them, which I did entitled "Shantaleela Namostute", in honour of divine female energy and my daughter. The reception of the piece by the musicians and the public was overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. After NL we played a concert in Ottawa and Vancouver, I hope I can get some video of it. Also saw me reading music for the first time in a long time, which is never fun for me but I managed!
Just spent a week on Saltspring Island with some friends doing just about nothing, which was fine by me. Tomorrow about to fly back to NL again with the family this time, hope to get out fishing as well. I will play just one giga on Aug.26 with the fellows and lucky to have Bill Brennan join us once again. Looking forward to that!
The Fall will see me in a number of interesting projects including an mbira/string quartet project in mid-Oct, producing a classical concert with Guru Trichy Sankaran in late Oct, maybe a gig or two with my group in Nov, and the beginnings of the Naadaleela Ensemble collaboration with dancers and visual artists. Busy times!
June 23, 2022
Summer is upon us! I've got a few things happening as you can see from the gigs listed. Some exciting projects there with the awesome duo of Lara Wong/Melón Jimenéz (is flamenco guitar the pinnacle fo guitar playing?), some Zimbamoto action, a performance at the amazing Indian Summer Festival with Sujit Vaidya and Arun Mathai, and last but not least, a couple of shows at the Sound Symposium back in NL with Arkora and most special, wth Trichy Sankaran.
Hoping my arms hold up. Still some pain and the healing is on-going. Tried 6 sessions of LED/laser therapy and have to admit it didn't do much for me. Luckily my insurance paid for most of it!
Aside from music, hoping to get back on my bicycle this summer and enjoy what BC has to offer. Just spent a few nights camping on Gabriola which was great, and a night in Porteau Cove. Hope I can get to Cascade Peninsula for a night or two as well.
Not sure what else the summer will bring, I'll be heading back home from Aug.15-30 with the family which will be a good time, always too short though. Hope I can get on the water, might book a gig but might not, just want to enjoy the time there without worrying about rehearsals and schedules and such.
The fall has some very interesting projects happening, including a concert of "African Chamber Music" with mbira and Ewe music arranged for percussion and string quartet!
May 4, 2022
45 and still alive and aiming to thrive. Yes, on May 2 I hit that number. Things are getting better. The shoulder issue that has sidelined me for the past 4 months or so is slowly healing. Turns out I have something called medial subluxation of the long head of the bicep tendon, which means the ligament that keeps that tendon in place has degenerated, due to a combination of age and bad luck. That ins turn perhaps caused the minor tear in my supraspinatus tendon which stopped me in my tracks. But I'm on the mend, bit by bit. left arm is pain-free while the right is about 2 months behind and still has some minor pain, especially after sleeping. But there is at least light at the end of the tunnel.
Aside from that, just spent an intense and fruitful 2 weeks in Ghana where I had a meeting related to my postdoc research with the Gadzo group in Dzogadze, made my yearly sacrifice at Apetorku Gbodzi, reconnected with various friends and made some new connections as well, in the villages and in the city. If you follow me on Instagram (@thecurtisandrews) you would have been able to see things as they unfolded. Check the widget to the left for instant access. Below is short lip that encapsulates the whole journey!!!
One amazing thing I did whilst in Ghana was connect with a wonderful media station called AvenorTV, which is now one of the only, if not the only, TV station that focuses on Ewe language and culture. They are doing a lot of great work to promote Ewe traditions and giving them their proper due and understanding. They actually asked me to come to their station give an interview for over 30 mins....in Ewe!!! I had to resort to English for part of it, but it was a good challenge.
See the full clip below (NOTE: my interview starts at 40:30).
Now that I'm back I'm getting in shape for a Naadaleela Ensemble concert on May 29 which will be nice. Have to finish a composition for the Arkora Ensemble for a short tour in July and am very excited to heading to the Sound Symposium in July to play with Arkora, as well as a show with a small version of The Offering, featuring Trichy Sankaran and violinist VVS Murari who is visiting NA from India. Many more gigs in July as well so watch the gig space on the left!
March 19, 2022
Ok then, a bit of time has gone by. Not much to share as most things have been cancelled since late December but are slowly opening up a bit now. But I've been effectively sidelined by a very debilitating shoulder injury. Ultrasounds, MRIs and visits with RMT, physio, osteo, cortisone injections, and GP.....all of this to say that my supraspinatus tendon has a minor tear, inflamed tendons, and even frozen shoulder.....on both sides! Also medial subluxation of the long head bicep tendon. I don't wish this on anyone. Slowly, very slowly healing for the better but still in daily pain, which has been very intense in the past, tear inducing. It's been a trying few months since this really raised its head (mid-December). Some depressing moments but I'm coming around now. The cause? Unknown basically...yeah, deal with that.
But bright things are on the horizon. Most immediate is a series shows with Sujit Vaidya and Arun Mathai in Montreal in a few days, exploring new forms of Bharatanatyam inspired movement. Composing a solo percussion piece for Jonathan Bernard for Turning Point Ensemble which will be turned into a video, and will also feature Bharatanatyam dancer Ashvini Sundaram. Naadaleela Ensemble will play on May 29 in Coquitlam.
Summertime has some things falling into place as well with a couple of Zimbamoto shows in Vancouver and Harrison Hot Springs and then in St. John's, NL in mid-July at the Sound Symposium where I'll be representing my own group featuring maestro Trichy Sankaran. Can't wait for that! And also composing a piece for the Arkora ensemble and shows with them in NL, ON, and BC in later July.
In the meantime, am taking it day by day, doing physio, trying to focus on positives and avoid pain.
December 22, 2021
Well, most things are cancelled, but here is a new video of an awesome rendition of "Malabar" we did back in October with Kaushik Sivaramakrishnan on the violin.
Ho ho ho!
December 8, 2021
Well, he came and went, Guru Sankaran that is. We all were lifted by his presence and he also loved the experience, it being his first real concert since COVID. Such a privilege to spend those 6 days with him and the concert of course. The concert was recorded (audio/video) and 3 pieces will be featured on Picanto.ca's festival celebrating new Canadian music in February. But in the meantime, you can check out this little snippet!
October 27, 2021
Tickets are on sale now! Click the poster for the link.
October 20, 2021
Things are happening!
Seems like wheels are in motion a lot this Fall. Just had a very busy couple of weeks doing a bunch of diverse musical activities, the cream of which being the concert with The Offering at Guilt and Co (videos should be ready in a month or so), as well as an awesome little house concert with Kaushik Sivaramakrishnan.
Things continue this month and into the next though, with the Naadaleela Ensemble (we also recorded a few videos which will be ready any day now) and Arno Kamolika. But the biggest news is that Guru Trichy Sankaran will be coming back in late November for a concert with my group! Can.Not.Wait for this to happen. Nov.26 at The Norman Rothstein Theatre...stay tuned!
Before that though I'm doing regular rehearsals with the Naadaleela Ensemble and my newest piece (tentatively called "Folkish") is sounding pretty good, and lots of fun to play. Will be doing a few guest lectures at Capilano University and at UBC in the coming weeks as well (on South Indian music and Zimbabwean mbira).
September 28, 2021
Summer is over, fall in full swing. That seasonal change affects us all in many ways, from our external environments to our sense of time and energy. The last vestiges of my summer were happily spent out east, finally getting to visit my family and friends in Newfoundland and some of Anu's family in Ottawa. Newfoundland was, as usual, full of activity for the most part: played a super gig with my band of friends at The Ship, went cod fishing a couple of times, walked the streets of my hometown of Carbonear, was content to do nothing at times whilst there.
Now in Vancouver things are busy. I completed a new piece for the Naadaleela Ensemble and we have been rehearsing towards a video shoot in October and then a live concert in November. This week I'm rehearsing all week with Sujit Vaidya, Arno Kamolika and Shrividya Balaji for a showcase (Oct.2) of the larger of the work we will present next year. And I'll be guesting on a couple of pieces with phenomenal Flamenco guitarist Melon Jimenez and flautist Lara Wong (Oct.2 evening).
The following weekend is an intimate house concert with Carnatic violinist Kaushik Sivaramakrishnan (Oct.9) and to cap it off, a club date wth my group The Offering of Curtis Andrews (also featuring Kaushik!) at Guilt and Co which I will be filming (Oct.10). The footage will be presented on a new website of Canadian music called Picanto.
Still slowly trying to make some action in Ghana happen re: my postdoc research but some of that activity is beyond my control and relies on folks on the ground in Dzogadze. Mainly, we are trying to arrange for some dedicated knowledge transmission sessions (hakpa in Ewe) for some music styles that are on the verge of disappearing. If a funding proposal comes through, I plan to go there myself in November.
August 1, 2021
I had such a blast playing for actual people with Zimbamoto the other day. They felt it, we felt it. We sweat, they sweat. I hope more of this happens.
Am enjoying this heat in BC, though this prolonged drought is not helping anybody or anything, especially these fires all over. Let's pray for rain! Just came from the beach and it was a bt hazy here today.
Have been busy working on a new piece for the Naadaleela Ensemble (gig on Nov.13!) which has been nice. It's an upbeat piece that nods to West African grooves tinged with a bit of South Indian folk vibes. Aside from that, working on a SSHRC grant to get some extra funds to do a number of activities on the ground in Ghana this Fall. More on that later if the grant comes through!
But most of all, I'm counting the days until August 9 when the family and I fly to Newfoundland for the first time since Dec.19, 2019. So much to do there: people to see, fish to catch, berries to pick, whales to watch, family to hug, music to play, ocean to taste. It's never enough time there......
May 29, 2021
Had a great time yesterday at beautiful Orpheum Theatre shooting a concert with the Naadaleela Ensemble. This is a new intercultural group featuring musicians from Chinese, Indian, Persian and N.American cultural-musical backgrounds. It includes myself (Mridangam), Lan Tung (erhu/voice), Jonathan Bernard (percussion), Deilin Hsieh (zheng), Vidyasagar Vankayala (Carnatic vocals), Jared Burrows (guitar) and Amir Eslami (ney). We perform original compositions and arrangements of traditional/classical pieces.
The recording was done under the auspices of the Indian Summer Festival, which has been doing AMAZING work in promoting local and international arts through a South Asian lens.
Broadcast will be in July....stay tuned.
Some pics from the day below.
April 20, 2021
Pleased to share another new visual creation for my tune "Tight Rope, Short Walk", create by Rup Sidhu and Sammy Chien. Check it!
Thanks to Canada Council for the Arts, BC Arts Council and CreativeBC for supporting all of these works. Impossible without that support.
April 8, 2021
Everything is new! Spring is here. New website (see here). New album (see above). New video (see below).
Released the album just about a week ago and the response has been very heart-warming. Everyone is giving me nice feedback and I have a bunch of nice reviews from media and blogs from around the world as well, which is nice (hiring a publicist helps). Have done several radio interviews too.
In addition to the record I released this AMAZING video:
The creator, Gouri Viravalli (@poizila) did a superb job for this tune from the album. I couldn't be happier. But there is more! Rup Sidhu and Sammy Chien have cooked up another vid which I will release in a week or so and an artist friend from Newfoundland is working on another. Stay tuned!
Thanks to Canada Council for the Arts, BC Arts Council and CreativeBC for supporting all of these works. Impossible without that support.