Playing Music After A 5 Year Hiatus

What's it like to perform live music again after a 5 years hiatus?

Last weekend I performed a live looping cover set at The Wakehouse, an outdoor events venue and restaurant bar in Reedley, California. I'd been preparing a live cover set for a few months and decided to perform it for the first time at a farmer's market type of event. Full disclosure, The Wakehouse is my most longstanding digital marketing client and my hangout headquarters.

It was the most natural place for me to play again.

I wasn't really prepared to perform my best, I just wanted to set up and hear my stuff on the big speakers and shake out my legs, feel a stage again. I did okay, I got through the material and people seemed to dig it. The first few songs were rough, I struggled to play the parts under pressure. But I shook it over time - veteran mental notes came to me in my time of need: "Just keep pushing through the material. Don't stop the music. You'll pick it up along the way." I didn't even finish the set particularly strong, but I got the material out and people were giving me very specific compliments, so I think that means they're not lying. I've naturally got lots of improvements to make but overall I'd give my performance a 70%.


Now I'm tweaking my sound a bit, improving it based on how the mood translates to a live environment. I'm basically picking out from my live set the best drum parts and building a slightly different style around them. Same thing with the instrumentation - removing some instruments I didn't end up using very much and replacing them with instruments that I'd like to experiment with next in this next iteration of my style.

There were a lot of rudimentary rhythms, guitar and bass parts, I can't have that in my next outing. Each part needs to have something specific to say. And the song selection needs to be refined. At this stage I'm thinking of taking the timeline further back. I'd like to cover a "40's-50's-60's" set of songs in my next outing. Maybe keep a few appropriate songs from this past set, which was mostly 90's hip hop and pop songs, that might fit the new styling.

Right now I am using a guitar and bass guitar with a few pedal effects, a Novation Launchpad Pro for performance of the percussion and softsynth instrumentation, and to control the arrangements with Ableton Live 10. I'm playing, recording, and looping all the parts as clips into Ableton and then controlling the starting and stopping of them with the Launchpad Pro. The instruments and mics are running through a multichannel mixer plugged into the macbook via USB. In the future I will add more organic instruments and a percussion setup. I will be immediately adding a foot controller and probably another midi effect controller of sorts.

I'm a week or two away from being ready to book more shows. My plan is to book different types of shows and feel out each one to see where my music feels/sounds best. The small local artist showcase shows, restaurant gigs, those daytime cafe gigs, small club gigs opening for an outta towner. Whatever I can get my hands on.

In the beginning you've gotta get a lot of reps in. Yet you've still gotta try to not suck in the beginning either, or you've got a long road of winning back the respect of the people. It's a much shorter road to solvency if you're good at the beginning rather than if you're bad at the beginning.

That's all. This post is meant to catalog how I see this point in my music performance experiment. But if someone does read this who is interested in doing a live music performance at some point, it should give them whatever they need to just go for it. And make note of the process.

Let me know your thoughts!

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Okay So What Exactly Is Sat Nam Fest?

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"Attending a kundalini yoga festival for the first time is one of the best weird things you can do for yourself."

"I wanna go to that! So what is it exactly?" I've heard this exact thing from several people over the last few years, including once today.

Let me start by saying this was my 4th year in a row attending a Sat Nam Fest. Now that I've done it a few times I feel like I know enough to share my perspective.

Sat Nam Fest is unlike any other festival I've attended. It's a kundalini yoga and mantra music festival that lasts 5 days filled with kundalini yoga classes and music performances. It's a drug and alcohol-free event. (There was one CBD vendor this year... edgy)
People tent, RV, rent dorms, and commute from off-site.

Spirit Voyage is the organization that puts Sat Nam Fest together in support of its charity non-profit, the Sat Nam Foundation.

Spirit Voyage is a Kundalini Yoga music record label and online kundalini yoga resource.

Spirit Voyage's team, its music artists, and affiliated kundalini yoga teachers come together for this 5-day event once per year on the West coast (Malibu Creek State Park, formerly Joshua Tree Retreat Center) on the East coast, (Berkshires) and on a beach in Mexico.

Attendees are kundalini yoga enthusiasts, instructors, mantra music fans, and attendance seems to reach the 1,000-mark on Friday and Saturday, though I haven't seen any specific data on attendance and tend to overestimate crowd size.

The event started at 2pm on Wednesday and ended at 2 PM on Sunday.

This year I decided to do a volunteer partial-exchange so I could be more involved and get more exposure to people involved with the event. Even though I've made a lot of really strong friendships in previous years, I'm usually left wanting to be even more connected to the people in the kundalini yoga community. To desired effect, I got to know so many more people this year than in previous years because I was there for the whole 5 days and had so much more contact with people.

I was on the video team. We filmed classes and concerts throughout the event. I really lucked out and was scheduled to film the night concerts with my days completely open to enjoy classes.

"My first year I didn't get a meal pass. What a big mistake."

At Sat Nam Fest you will meet life-long kundalini yogi's, and you will meet people who are about to experience their first kundalini yoga class. I think there were quite a bit of folks who were new to kundalini yoga this year because it was held so close to LA.

My first year I didn't get a meal pass. What a big mistake. The food is a big part of the experience. Not only because it's delicious vegan cuisine but because that's where you have a chance to sit alongside the people of the festival and chat. You will never have an easier conversation. Each year I've met my closest kundalini yoga friends at the dinner table.

Even if you are not hungry, go to each meal because each one is a chance to make a good friend.

Kundalini yoga practitioners are people who are working to better themselves, self-realize, evolve, and serve others at increasing capacities.

Sat Nam Fest is a great space to see how well those characteristics translate across the global community.
This stuff really works! You will know them by their fruits.

High-profile kundalini yoga teachers and trainers teach classes throughout the day.

Krishna Kaur, Guru Singh, Kia Miller, Tommy Rosen, Yogi Amandeep Singh, Jai Dev Singh, Sat Siri, Mahankirn, and Akasha Ellis are all the teachers whose classes I attended this year. All of them have taught at previous Sat Nam Fests. Each has a unique style and perspective. The trait they all share is a deeply realized knowledge of kundalini yoga. Each has decades of personal experience they draw from and I always appreciate the gained insight as much as the spiritual experience that comes with taking one of their kundalini yoga classes.

They are all my favorite. There were a few teachers whose class I missed that I wanted to see (Wah, Dr. Ramdesh)  and a few teachers whose classes I attended twice.

I realized just how significant are some relationships I've made with people I've met at Sat Nam Fest.

I went out of my way to make connections with as many people as I could this year because I saw just how beautifully previous seeds of simple interactions have bloomed into sweet friendships.

I tip my proverbial hat to Karan Khalsa for her astounding work growing her organization and her leadership coordinating this tremendous festival. What a powerful woman!

“Profoundly purposeful” is an excellent description of Sat Nam Fest and the Spirit Voyage organization.

Attending a kundalini yoga festival for the first time is one of the best weird things you can do for yourself.

And it gets better and better every time. I highly recommend it.

"I went out of my way to make connections... I saw just how beautifully previous seeds of simple interactions have bloomed into sweet friendships."

What I Learned At Sat Nam Fest 2019

Every time I take a kundalini yoga class I keep a journal and pen next to my mat and write down valuable nuggets shared by the teacher. Kundalini yoga classes afford themselves the time for brief lectures on the realms of self-discovery, awareness, metaphysics, spiritual science and the like, and I really appreciate the gained insight.

Here are a few key notes from during Sat Nam Fest taken directly from my journal and edited for comprehension:

4-10-19 Wednesday
Sitting in grass, 10 minutes before initial video team meeting.
Have open mind, no expectations. Enjoy the present moment. Learn from everyone and everything. Write down new information. Be yourself. Give yourself to the moment. You are free. Enjoy lessons. When you feel resistance, look there. Learn, love, enjoy.
As long as I am not being my true self, I will struggle and lack. The me I am at different times in my life when things are easier and more rewarding. The time has come to stop finding myself and just to be my self. Time to give Anthony back to the world. I have to be Anthony in order to be someone who the world can truly see. I will never be seen unless I accept that I, the real I, am what the world needs right now. The world will go to hell all around me unless I be my self. Completely, undoubtedly, indubitably Anthony.
Every exhale is an opportunity to let it go.
4-12-19 Friday
Jai Dev’s class in the main tent.
A wider lens gives you a greater depth of field.
Nothing is really a big deal except for death.
Blissfulness is important. Destiny requires it. You can’t rely on willpower to generate your blissfulness because you can’t guarantee you will have willpower when you need it.
Aspirations are determined by your sense of self and your depth of field.
“As the crow flies” is a cool expression.
When you rely on your mind intelligence, you’re always one step behind or away. When you rely on your heart intelligence, you are always ready to answer. Feeling is how you digest emotions.
The gateway to blissfulness is through pain.
We’re learning and training the psyche to experience joy in the most uncomfortable and in pain. Everything underneath is love.
Long Time Sun is a great prayer.
4-13-19 Saturday
Yogi Amandeep’s class in the main tent.
It’s not about doing, it’s about sitting.
We are always doing and doing and doing and nothing ever happens. Experience this moment as it is. Sit without reference to thoughts. The moment the mind comes in, you are out.
“In the religion of love, there are no believers or no non-believers.” - Rumi
Later that day
Every thought is a form of self-realization.
This is the moment. And I am ready for the moment.
Make everything an act of yoga.
Think and speak with your heart mind first. Let your brain mind be the smart, quiet one who backs you up with logic and information.
“I have finally found a way to live in the presence of the Lord”
My bliss has no brand. My joy is not co-sponsored.
When I serve you, I serve myself. We are one. You are me & I am you. When I serve you, I serve myself. When I love you, I love myself. If I hate my brother, I hate myself. If I curse my sister, I curse myself. I feel about him how I feel about myself. I feel about her how I feel about my self.
Not even once should you do anything that you don’t want to go down in the eternal records of your soul. You are writing your story. But your story thread started at the beginning of time and goes on long after you. And what are you writing into it?
For the rest of time, when ever the great eternal collective consciousness takes a glance at your thread of life, what will it think about what ever bad thing you are about to do right  now?
Just like you show up to Sat Nam Fest, show up to everything in life.
And make your life more about showing up to the right place at the right time.


Sat Nam Fest - divine experience.
Biggest takeaways: I need to make every act an act of yoga. That is how to walk with God.
I forgive myself for my past, and now to be a proper example of my true identity I should always walk with God. When I eat, when I sit, when I wash myself, when I serve others, when I greet others, when I speak.
Yoga - union, connection, creation
Roga - illness, disease, destruction
There is God in all. Make everyone an ally. Bringing people into your life from the kundalini yoga community works because you know what their ideals are, you know they’re people who work through tough times in seek of union with truth.
Be the light. Work to give, rest and receive. Don’t work to get. Sit. Be Still. Otherwise, make an effort to give. Give loy, joy, peace, patience, space, and time.
To have a yoga practice every day, to abide in the stillness and presence of the LORD every day, and operate in the world from that place of stillness, Amen, is all you need.
Eventually you have to accept your stage of enlightenment and live life with it.