March 10, 2013

Kate Callahan at West Hartford Yoga

There are moments in ones life when a single act, a single coincidence, a small bit of serendipity can be seen to profoundly change the course of the future. If one is wise, one can look back and recognize these in the rear view mirror. If one is in tune to the grander cosmic consciousness, one can become aware of these moments in the present.

I had one such moment back in 2005. I was a bit adrift - having completed my Big Life Project, and looking for the next thing.  My then partner, Zippy, and I were bike-riding through the industrial back roads of Hartford, West Hartford, and Newington, and I stumbled across a small building on Jansen Court - West Hartford Yoga. I was never particularly drawn to yoga; although several friends had suggested it over the years. And I had seen ads for West Hartford Yoga in the Hartford Advocate and other publications; but I had assumed it was somewhere over by the center, and way too toney for me.  But here's this little building, a shack really, that was closed but seemed very approachable.

I picked up two pieces of paper that afternoon. First, a brochure for The Enlightenment Intensive (led by Shankara Newton) - I was drawn to a quote from the gnostic Gospel of Thomas (I had been reading Elaine Pagels) and eventually I made my way to an Intensive (well, to be honest, six) led by Shankara and others. The other piece of paper I picked up that day was the West Hartford Yoga brochure and schedule. And I noticed an Intro to Yoga series led by Kate Callahan.

Now, I had run into Kate in the acoustic music world - I think Colin McEnroe had her on his afternoon show on WTIC 1080; and I had gone to see her at the Pine Loft Cafe in Berlin. Her beautiful spirit and gentleness was enough to get me to my first yoga class.

Kate did not end up completing the series; she had to step back and my friend Carissa picked it up. But I did not need more than one practice to get it - I was hooked. So in a  lot of ways - my yoga practice, my community, my spiritual growth, the many teachers, friends, and students I have encountered, and the many lives I have touched, are rooted in the seed planted by Kate.

So yeah, I was there last night when Kate and Friends played a special concert at West Hartford Yoga, now relocated to new digs on Brook Street.

Kate was joined by others. First, singers Cynthia Wolcott and Michelle Begley (also on drums), who were truly amazing. Cynthia and Michelle provided delicate and supportive harmonies for many of Kate's songs - not so much backing up as supporting and lifting Kate with each harmony. Kate's originals, so often reflective of her spiritual journey with themes of spirit, soul, choices, blessing, and struggle, were perfectly suited the beautiful yoga studio. But as wonderful as her originals were fleshed out with harmony, the trio really shined when then sang in more traditional choral harmony - CSN's "Helplessy Hoping" and the Wailin' Jennys "One Voice" were particularly powerful and beautiful. Here's a video of the latter:

 In addition to Cynthia and Michelle, Kate was joined by WHY fixture (and Little Ugly starlet) Kaia Pazdersky on violin, and percussionist Damon Honeycut, who was Kate's musical partner many years back. So it was a homecoming on multiple fronts. 

It was such a beautiful evening of music. The room was filled with family, friends, and fans, many of whom have known Kate or shared her journey over many years. The music was exceptional (Kate has recently invested in a great sound system, run well by her beloved David) which saved me from being the audio engineer.  I sat between my Kirtan friends Sharon and Virginia - and just soaked in the music. 

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