Gary Waryan

Gary Waryan, tablas, vocals

Gary Waryan

I was born in Minnesota.  By the time I was a teenager, I was regularly making music with my two brothers.   In the 1970s, I became fascinated with East Indian rhythms when I heard Zakir Hussein perform with the group Shakti .   Shortly thereafter, I discovered the modern minimalist composers Phillip Glass and Terry Riley.  Both use the concepts of Indian rhythm within their compositions.  The exposure to these artists inspired me to study the tablas.

Zakir Hussein playing the tablas

I proceeded to study classical and folk tablas with several different teachers.  My interests gravitated toward India’s folk rhythms which are the rhythmic accompaniment to its devotional songs, kirtans, bhajans and ghazals.  Since then, I have developed an East-meets-West approach to my tabla playing, which has allowed me to perform with a number of artists whose styles range from ethnic to experimental music.

I have been playing kirtans for over 15 years with several groups.  In one of these groups, I met Dalyce Elliot.  We became friends and began playing together.  Later, we met David Schmit.  We formed the trio which became the Wild Moon Bhaktas after the addition of David Ballman.

For me, kirtans are a music form akin to western folk and rock music, with simple chord progressions and melodies that soothe the mind.  The Wild Moon Bhaktas provide a great vehicle for me to explore the tablas’ rolling folk rhythms which propels this music and creates the meditative and colorful landscape of kirtan.

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