Taken from Radio and Music (Oct 08, 2016)
Karsh Kale recounts the ’Global Citizen’ experience
Tom Morello and Karsh Kale
MUMBAI: One day he's seen setting up his instruments on a beach in San Francisco for yet another music fest, the next week the finely modified set-up finds another platform to let the fusion flow for a collaboration featuring the who’s who of Bollywood and alternative music scene. Karsh Kale is an omnipresent musician. And his music (and the set) has reached where not many Indian music acts could. Well, of course, several Indian musicians travel across the globe, but Kale has 'upped' his reputation on the international scene with the recent performance at Global Citizen in New York's Skirball Center on 22 September.
Recounting the experience, the instrumentalist recalled the emotional experience that began with panic, last minute re-arrangements, understandable nervousness and eventually achieving a surreal outcome. "About a week before the show I got a call that there was a slight change of plans. Paul Simon was going to perform an acoustic version of ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and then Tom Morello would be performing ‘While My guitar Gently Weeps’ with Regina Spektor and Jon Batiste, and I could perform smack in between.” Kale received the call from the organisers just a fortnight before the concert, and the details concerning the nature of his performance were not provided. "I was told that I would be preceding a tribute and George Harrison/Global Citizen lifetime achievement award which was going to be presented to Dhani and Olivia Harrison. At the time I was requested to perform solo, and for it to be a tribute of sorts to Mr. Harrison’s legacy."
Kale's preparations for the concert began with the idea to create a new version of the ‘Within You Without You’, The Beatles’ classic 1967 released album ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. In the typical of Kale ways, the multi-instrumentalist decided to further ‘Indianise’ the composition with newer elements. Vocalist Priya Darshini joined the tabla player on the stage along with dulcimer player Max ZT and bansuri player Jay Gandhi - Kale’s usual stage companions.
Kale’s performance followed the musical extravaganza featuring The Kenyan Boys Choir and many other guest artists like Rage Against The Machine’s guitarist Tom Morello and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert’s bandleader John Batiste. "After an inspiring tribute video and speech by Dhani Harrison (George Harrison's daughter) after accepting the Global Citizen tribute award, Paul Simon took the stage with long time partner and guitarist Mark Stewart and played his inspiring version of Here Comes the Sun. We were set up to perform right after him so there was no time to revel in his performance as we were getting a countdown. The transition to the Karsh Kale Collective performance was seamless and without a hitch. The audience was super receptive to our rendition which had us weaving classical spontaneity throughout the track. The track ended on quite the high note as we got a great response before the stage focused upon Morello and what was to come."
However, Kale added, the highlight of the entire event arrived in the form of a beautiful rendezvous between him and George Harrison's wife Olivia and daughter Dhani Harrison. "Olivia held my hands for a moment, filled with joy at the fact that George’s music was being kept alive and reinterpreted in so many new ways. Spending time with all the artists back stage was the icing on the cake. The night ended with a short roadside hang with the one and only Paul Simon who also said he really enjoyed our performance, which became the cherry on top of an already dream like day. Back to reality."
Karsh Kale plans to record a studio recording of his version of ‘Within You Without You’ with the three supporting musicians. He would soon be seen hosting the new season of 'The Dewarists'.