In Tune With Musicians
Editor’s note: Stephan Miks plays sitar music from 6:30-7 p.m. today in the Oasis tent and all weekend in his artisan booth at the 35th annual Carbondale Mountain Fair. To learn more about the artist and hear samples of his music, visit stephanmikes.com.City/hometown: Miami, Fla.Type of music played: Contemporary original sitar musicHow long have you been a working musician? About 22 years
How did you start playing the sitar? I bought my first sitar in 1986, having been fascinated by the instrument since I was a teenager in the ’60s. By sheer coincidence I met my teacher, Roop Verma, within the week, and for the following several years I received one-on-one instruction from him in the intricacies of classical Indian music and the underlying philosophy.What exactly is a sitar? The sitar is a long-necked lute from northern India with 19 to 21 strings. They say it’s existed in its present form for about 600 years. The sitar was first used in western music by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in the 1960s and became kind of a “hippie symbol” when George Harrison connected with Ravi Shankar (also my teacher’s teacher).Most memorable city, town or country you have played: Key West, Fla. It’s like another world – it just “floats” on the skin of reality. Pretty much the geographical opposite of say, Aspen, although the spiritual ‘flavor’ of the two places are very similar.Ever play any cover songs? If so, what’s your favorite? Yes, once in a while. “Within you, without you” by George Harrison would be my favorite. The most unusual cover combination I ever played was “Margaritaville” with a steel drummer. It went over surprisingly well, and we were actually asked to do it again.What’s the best part of playing summer festivals such as Mountain Fair? Being able to expose myself to so many people. I mean, meeting such a diverse range of people and giving them the rare opportunity to get up close and personal and experience the sitar.Which three musicians, living or dead, would you jam with if you could? Tan Sen (16th-century Indian musician, progenitor of my musical family or lineage, said to have been able to light fires and bring rain with his music!); George Harrison; and Bela Fleck
What message would you like people to hear in your music? Just as I’ve brought many influences from around the world to form one music, that the people of the world should see themselves as one family.Ever been confused for another musician? Sometimes I perform in areas of the country considerably less sophisticated than Carbondale, and the most frequently asked question is, “Whut the hale IS that thang, anyhoo?” The second most frequently asked question in these places is usually, “Hoo the hale are yoo, Rah vie shang car?”Your biggest influence? My teacher, Roop Verma. He taught me that the most important thing about the music any music for that matter – is the intent behind the music. Whatever your intention is when you create music, that is what people will “get,” sometimes on very subtle levels. And the sitar, which was originally created as an instrument of healing, lends a spiritual depth to the music which can take the performer, as well as the listener, as deep as he or she wants to go.If you had a planet named after you, what would it be? Umm … how ’bout Sitarnia?
Beatles album: “Sgt. Pepper!” A masterpiece!Yoga posture: Half-lotus or lotus position, the position in which the sitar is playedChristmas carol played on the sitar: “Coventry Carol”Color of curry: RedPhilosopher: Mahatma GandhiBeach in the World: Dakini Beach, of course!Karma-related quote: “Instant karma’s gonna get you.” – John Lennon (If only our government officials understood that one!)
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