No Place Like Om

Chants and mantras dominate the music of India.

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Think of kirtan maestro Dave Stringer as a yoga instructor with an amazing singing voice. And he'll teach you how to chant along to Indian music tonight, when he and his band perform in Beachwood. "One of the unusual features of kirtan is that it's participatory. The crowd is singing in response to the band. What we try to do is play in venues with large, open areas that allow people to both sit on the floor and dance," says Stringer. "For me, the experience is like singing with a large choir."Like yoga, kirtan is meant to bring an inner awareness through a series of mantras. Stringer discovered this type of mysticism on a trip to an Indian ashram (a temple) in 1990. He has since fine-tuned the energy of his chants to rival that of spirited gospel music. "India blasted me into billions of spinning particles and slowly reshaped me," says Stringer. "I can't begin to claim complete knowledge about all of the layers of history, philosophy, and theology represented by the mantras I learned to chant while I was there. But I can attest to their power."Nearly two decades later, the L.A.-based Stringer and his ensemble are touring throughout North America and Europe to introduce the music to audiences that often have never been exposed to it. But few regions in the world can match Cleveland's reception to his concerts. "Every time I've played there, they're probably one of the wildest and most enthusiastic in the country," says Stringer. "I can see why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in this city." Chants start at 8 tonight at the Cleveland Yoga Center, 3355 Richmond Road in Beachwood. Tickets are $25. Call 216-591-1183 or visit
Thu., April 10, 8 p.m., 2008
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