"My teachers used to skip over my name and say, 'Oh, you're here,' " says Hargobind Hari Singh Khalsa. "Kids started calling me Hargo when I was 7." Hargo, 21, is Sikh. "People say, 'What is that?' It's the fifth-largest religion in the world, but people don't even know about it."
The singer/songwriter/guitarist often plays solo at open mikes. Lately he's been getting gigs with a four-member backup band (also called Hargo) that he formed last fall. Around the same time, Hargo's song "Crying for John Lennon" drew the attention of left-leaning KLSD; the talk-radio station asked Hargo to play a John Lennon tribute show last December at Dick's Last Resort.
"People would say, 'Who is that wacko onstage?' Especially after 9/11, people say, 'Why does he wear a turban? He must be Muslim....' One time this guy came up to me in the mall and said, 'What's that thing on your head?' I explained that it was a Sikh thing. He said, 'Now, is that Jesus?' I explain it to him, but he gets this confused look on his face. I tell him it's not that we don't believe in Jesus; it's just that we don't think he is God or the son of God. He burst into this traditional biblical song."
Hargo's turban, which he's worn since kindergarten, makes it easier to manage his hair; he's never cut it or shaved.
"The yogic idea is that hair has energy. You don't want to cut it off."
Hargo appears September 9 at Brick by Brick.