Wild Moon Bhaktas Update July 2021

Hello all,

I hope you are weathering Covid-19 and are finding some joy in the summer!  If you have lost a loved one during these trying times, I speak on behalf of the whole band in offering you our condolences.

I write with news about the Wild Moon Bhaktas.  Gary Waryan has decided to retire from the band.  (I think I can hear your groans of disappointment).  Like so many others, Covid gave Gary the chance to rethink his work and his life and to make some changes.  There is no one reason for his retirement but rather a complex of things:  He is seeking more freedom from responsibilities; he wants to spend more time with his family; his work has become more demanding; and some health issues with his hands are limiting as well.  It was time for him to move to a new phase of his life.

Gary and I met about 2006 at a yoga studio opening.  We have been performing kirtan together ever since.  When the Wild Moon Bhaktas formed in 2009, Gary was part of it.  Since then, he has played at nearly all of the band’s 160 concerts.  He was a key player on both of the Wild Moon Bhaktas’ CDs, 2012’s From the Ganges to the Mississippi and 2018’s Why Not Wake Up.  For those of you who know of Gary’s talent, you understand when I say, he is one of the finest tabla players in the Upper Midwest, and perhaps far beyond that.  I cannot even begin to tell you what a privilege it has been to play with him, nor how I will miss him going forward.  I know I speak for the whole band in saying he has been a wonderful bandmate.

It takes a special kind of person to be so dedicated to mastering such an unusual instrument.  Gary had the discipline, innate talent and drive to do so.  He smartly studied directly with Indian tabla masters to learn the intricate rhythms and performing techniques.  Oh, how amazing it is to hear him make those drums dance and sing.  What a joy!

Everyone should know the following:  putting on a Wild Moon Bhaktas event is no easy task.  There are the rehearsals and the never-ending effort to master our instruments, the uncertainties of performing, then hauling gear, setting up, soundcheck, performing for two hours, breaking down and hauling our gear home.  For Gary that was often done after a full day’s work. He’d arrive at our pre-concert set-up immediately after his labors and warn us that he would not be able to play up to his normal level due to fatigue.  Then we’d start the concert, and he would just wow us.  Over and over again.  God bless him!

Gary plans to continue performing, but on a very limited basis.  Since we are parting on good terms, I strongly suspect that we will be able to lure him back for a special event.  In the meantime, I speak on behalf of the rest of the band as well as the many people who love his music in wishing him the very best.

In related news the Wild Moon Bhaktas are looking forward to performing live again, with Christine Larsen, Will Kemperman, Arlys Alford and me.  Given that there is not a serious surge of Covid in the Fall, we hope to be live by November.

Much peace and joy to you all,

-David Schmit for the Wild Moon Bhaktas

wildmoonbhaktas@gmail.com

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