Sheila Pell 8:30 a.m., Feb. 7
Hargo Goes to India: Local Musico Blogs From Across the World
Hargo Goes to India: Local Musico Blogs From Across the World
HARGO GOES TO INDIA - Local Musico Blogs From the Other Side of the World
"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 is Sikh. "People say, 'What is that?' It's the fifth-largest religion in the world, but people don't even know about it."
Hargo got his first taste of fame at the age of 16, when his tune “Giving” was selected as official theme song for the 1999 South Africa Peace Conference. “I wrote that when I was eight years old, in choir,” he says. “While performing in Oregon [years later], I got to do that song. A woman approached me and said they were looking for a theme song to kick off that event.”
A 2000 performance opening for Seal earned him a ringing endorsement from the headliner (“This young man’s music moved me deeply”). Hargo says “That was around 2000, in New Mexico, at the Peace Festival. I played him a few of my songs on a 12-string. He flipped it over, Hendrix style, and played a song from his new album. He asked me what I thought about another song he played, and I told him it had interesting chords. When he played the bridge, I told him I thought it was too chordy, and it took away from the strength of the melody.”
Seal isn't Hargo's only famous fan. “Shortly after I had decided to really make a move in the music scene in San Diego, Kate Pierson of the B-52s told me to stick with my nickname Hargo, as opposed to some stage name or something. She said ‘It’s one word, unique, and easy to remember….it just sounds cool.’ ”
Hargo's publicity photos include several shots by legendary rock photographer Mick Rock. “His photos were being displayed at Morrison Hotel [in La Jolla],” says Hargo. “We saw in the Reader that he was going to be there, but we missed it by a day. When my dad mentioned it to a yoga teacher in New York, the guy said ‘He’s one of my students.’ When I was there, I asked if I could meet him. He’s a really cool, laid back guy."
"I was one of only three people he's ever photographed that wasn't already famous. And he did it at a greatly reduced rate. Before he’d take pictures, he’d twirl around with his eyes closed. Then he’d open his eyes and just start shooting pictures. I’d hear him say ‘Okay, Hargo, we got a great shot, you motherf*cker!’ It was a lot of fun.”
Hargo is on his way to India, where he'll be sending sending the Reader a series of written blog reports and "Turban Cam" video footage. Here's part one:
PART ONE: LEAVING LOS DIEGO
Tomorrow, or more accurately today, in a few hours I get on a plane for 20 hours with John and Andi (our resident Albanian whirling dervish, film maestro) as we travel to India. It's been almost 10 years since I was last there during my sophomore year of High School, and I can't wait to set foot on those fertile grounds again. This trip will be different than any other, for many reasons, though.
The three of us will be on a three week journey across the country playing free shows, bargaining in marketplaces, riding in Auto Rikshas (tin can on 3 wheels), visiting young children at an orphanage outside Amritsar (hopefully spotlighting what these fantastic people are doing), and soaking in the rich flavors of a whole different world and way of life.
A trip to India is, for me, as it should always be in my opinion, a journey to, across, and then finally, within. It's a place that just has a way of testing you, challenging the ego and pulling you away from mother Culture, to whose breast we often cling so tightly. But that's dessert, let's start with breakfas
We'll roll in to the humble
In any case, it's going to be an unforgettable trip, and I'm glad we'll get to share it together via Turban Cam. For those who have been keeping up to date, the launch of these webisodes is a bit overdue, but I think it'll be well worth the wait.
We're going to have TONS of footage, and very unreliable internet access, so we'll do our best to post as much stuff as we can, and perhaps more lengthy in depth stuff when we return and Andi has time to put something great together!
PART TWO, SUNDAY 2-21: AWAY WE HARGO
I'm here in New Delhi and just discovered that I can send and receive emails on my blackberry, but not calls, here in India somehow. Very strange...
Here's the next blog, written by my bassist John, who just arrived...well, it's off to sleep. Our first day in Bombay tomorrow...Gonna be amazing!
This is John Jolley, Hargo's bass player, reporting from New Dehli, Midnight, December 21st. I'm dead tired, mosquito bitten, sick as a dog, and blissed out like I've never been. I came to India in spite of a sinus infection and variety of other unpleasant medical maladies and right now I don't even care. There's beautiful Indian music blasting from the city through my window, and the smell of burning permeates the air. I think I'm in love. But let's rewind for a second.
I arrived in India 24 hours ago, 2 days later than Hargo due to visa issues, after a week of road tripping and frantically getting ready to move out of my condo. Hargo and Andi picked me up outside the airport to New Dehli a few minutes after my unreasonably delayed flight and immediately informed me we'd be playing for a bunch of Indian school kids within 15 hours of my arrival, without any time to practice, and hardly enough time to sleep, eat, and purchase an amp for my bass. Yikes!
The show was fantastic - after we played the three of us were mobbed by Indian kids begging for our contact info and our even our fucking autographs! It was pretty strange. On one hand, it's real nice to be noticed and treated like a celebrity, even for just a little while, but on the other, it was pretty clear our presence as white Americans was a real novelty in the part of Dehli we played in, and that most of the attention we received stemmed from this fact.
As a white male from the USA, being singled out due to my race is an entirely new experience for me - I'm still processing it. Pretty strange...
Our hosts for the show, the organizers of the school we played at, were the most relentlessly kind individuals I've met in my life - after booking the show, giving us the tour of their facilities, and introducing us to our audience (translating our greetings and salutations into Hindi for most of our audience couldn't understand english), they showed us around their district of New Dehli and took us out to dinner, remaining most gracious throughout.
I bought some cheap bootleg designer tees and ice cream while we were out and called it a night, taking a taxi back to Hargo HQ.
So check the video of our performance, and next time I'll be updating you from Bombay ---- John Jolley
PART THREE, TUESDAY 3-2: BOMBAY'S AWAY!
After a huge, and incredibly delicious, home-cooked meal at a family friend's house, we ran off to the airport to catch our flight to
The terminal was completely different and, apparently due to the lesser amount of money these domestic airlines make, they have to take people to the plane on the tarmac by bus loads of about 100 at a time. So we waited to "board" our bus, drove for 2 minutes, then got off the bus and on the plane.
Certainly a new way of doing things, but kind of cool. I've always missed the days when you could board a plane by walking up those stairs they wheel up next to the jet. Something grand about that...
The flight itself went smoothly, the plane was something akin to Southwest, and after a fairly quick 2 hr ride we dropped down in to Bombay. This was where things got interesting. As usual, Andi, in his splendor and God-like manner, glided off the plane and onto the bus with his belongings, sans a blue American Passport that was tucked into his plane seat pocket.
We got off the bus and into the domestic baggage terminal and he realized the situation. "Ummm, you guys, I think might have left my passport on the plane," Andi coolly commented. Shit.
We rushed around, somewhat frantically, and found a little Indian lady in a white shirt with a walkie talkie whoradioed the plane telling them to look for a passport with the picture of a blond, tranquil looking Albanian (American) in the seat pocket of 21C. Fortunately, the plane hadn't moved into take off rotation, and they were able to get it back to him.
We came outside and were greeted with a warm, sticky sensation that is Bombay, and a handshake from our friend Rajinder who was putting us up during our stay. We drove 2 hours through the city of Bombay to get to his house. Yes...two hours within one city. The size of this place, combined with the traffic, is a spectacle unto itself. We drove through some really dark slums and our Rajinder remarked as we past one area, "This is where they film Slumdog Millionaire." It looked like it.
I've seen Old Delhi, which has some serious slums, but Bombay is really on a different level. However, the majority of the people you see here, as it is in other poor areas of this country, don't seem particularly despondent or sad. People in this country have a way of being so warm and welcoming and curious regardless of how easy or challenging their situation. It's refreshing and really reminds you of what's important about being human.
Anyway, we settled in at Rajinder's, which wasn't difficult to do since he has a badass apartment on the 14th floor of this building looking out on the delta and Arabian Sea (Indian Ocean).
We sat on his swing, drinking chai and soaking in the tropical air and life was simple, good...