Elixir

by Dave Stringer

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about

"Upbeat, at times bluesy and always ecstatic. The rapture of music and movement, the insistence in going toward "what you love" is fervent and inviting. This is a truly unique and inspiring project, perfectly realized with an eye to the sky, an ear to the earth, and all hearts to the One. These are songs to be danced with and meditated upon. 'Raise your glass, close your eyes, and toast the universe' with Elixir." --- Lloyd Barde for Common Grounds Magazine

“I’m so in love with ‘Elixir’ I can hardly stand it — I bought the book.” — Kitzie Stern (New World Kirtan Podcast)

Denise Kaufman introduced me to the verses known as The Radiance Sutras in 2007, at a surfing, yoga and music retreat we were collaborating on in Mexico. High on a cliff above the Pacific, twilight ascending and waves crashing below, we were singing in a circle, improvising melodies, trading phrases, dancing, drumming. The words spoke so eloquently of our ecstasies and agonies, and from a point of view so unbounded by them, that I was literally leaping with joy. I sang the Sutras until they sang in me.

Coiled intricately in meters of Sanskrit, the verses of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra sit in a state of potentiality. They spring into life as the translator teases out their meaning, or the singer beckons them, cajoling them into an act of intimate congress. They are reckless and modest, self-assured and self-effacing, bashful and bawdy. They want to be danced with, and meditated upon. They love to get up early and chant at the temple, and they also love to go out for a night on the town.

Capturing Lorin Roche’s electric, poetic riff on this sacred text in a recording meant taking an approach that was faithful to the meaning of the Sutras but also left us free to experiment and play. For five years, Denise, Joni, Donna, Lorin, his wife Camille, and I workshopped an enormous number of the Sutras. We recorded the jams with many different participants, noting the patterns that recurred, and the most memorable moments.

From 2012 to 2014, we composed the songs in intensive bursts, recording them while they were still fresh, letting them simmer in between sessions. Lorin encouraged us to play with the poetry, creating rhymes where needed, or adding words to clarify the concepts. In this way, the Sutras continued to uncoil, metamorphosing from a densely packed caterpillar of Sanskrit DNA into living wings of culture, taking the form of bhangra grooves, country anthems, and sultry ballads.

It is astonishing how much art, joy, and originality of expression arises in the people who get up and rock a Sutra at our workshops, many of them reciting poetry with musicians and a crowd for the first time. I learn so much from them. The songs we bring you here are versions that emerged from our process, but they are only some of many possible settings and interpretations, and only 10 Sutras out of a cycle of 112! Every encounter with The Radiance Sutras has the potential to generate new versions, new revelations. The Sutras sing of the infinity of potential in all of us, each verse an invitation to awareness, to wake up to the extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary. The Sutras sing in everybody, and they sing for you.

Dave Stringer

credits

released February 24, 2015

Billy Mickelson: Cello
Dave Allen: Drum kit, Cajon, Dumbek, Djembe, Ankle Bells, Shakers, Tambourine
Dave Stringer: Vocals, Harmonium, Accordion, Melodica, Acoustic Guitar, Electric & Acoustic Appalachian Dulcimer, Kartals
Donna De Lory: Vocals, Piano (Tracks 2, 3, 7, 8 and 10)
James Harrah: Electric Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin
Jeff Andrews: Hammer Dulcimer
Joni Allen: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar (Tracks 1, 4, 5, 6, and 9)
Julie Southwell: Violin
Krishan Khalsa: Tabla
Mark Gorman: Bass
Mac Quayle: Keyboards
Sheela Bringi: Bansuri Flute
Tyler Pike: Trumpet

Recorded, Edited and Mixed by John Potoker and Krishan
Assistant Engineer: Peter Mack
Mastered by Reuben Cohen at Lurssen Mastering
Recorded at Phantom Studio, Stagg Street Studio and Henson Studio (formerly A&M) in Los Angeles, CA
Produced by Dave Stringer
Musical arrangements by Joni Allen, Donna De Lory and Dave Stringer
Executive Producers: Lorin Roche and Camille Maurine
Associate Producer: Denise Kaufman
Artist Management: Dakini Jaeger for Blue World Sound
Cover design: Rachael Murray
Photos: Dave Stringer by Mitchell Manz, Donna De Lory by Nick Spanos, Joni Allen by Lenny Schway

“Dancing Ground, “ “Flooded with Joy, “ “Go There, “ “So Good” & “Wildly Devoted”:
Lyrics by Lorin Roche, Camille Maurine, Denise Kaufman
Music by Dave Stringer & Donna De Lory
Published by: Magnetic Melodies BMI / All About Eve ASCAP / Green Ray Music BMI / Lorin Roche BMI / Camille Maurine BMI

“Are You Here?,” “Roar,” “Skin,” “That Kiss,” and “Who Am I?”:
Lyrics by Lorin Roche, Camille Maurine, Denise Kaufman
Music by Dave Stringer & Joni Allen
Published by: Magnetic Melodies BMI / Iron Dogg ASCAP / Green Ray Music BMI / Lorin Roche BMI / Camille Maurine BMI
All songs are based on The Vijñana Bhairava Tantra, translated and interpreted as The Radiance Sutras by Lorin Roche, PhD, and published by Sounds True SoundsTrue.com

Special thanks to Paloma Cain Rollings, Trudy Goodman, Melissa Howden, Jo Lesoine, Jef Payne, Jeff Andrews, Christina Nagao, Jill Benioff Petrov, the staff of YogaCO, Felicia Tomasko and Dakini Jaeger. Grateful acknowledgement to Zoe Elton for igniting the ideas that coalesced into “Go There.” Deep gratitude to Dearbhla Kelly for giving this album its title, and for the Sutra Jam performance with L.B. Iddings that inspired “Dancing Ground.”

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Dave Stringer Los Angeles

Grammy-nominated producer, singer, composer and innovative international Kirtan artist. Stringer’s sound connects the transcendent mysticism of East Indian ragas to the exuberant grooves of Gospel and the ringing harmonies of Appalachia.

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Track Name: Dave Stringer & Donna De Lory - Flooded With Joy
Flooded With Joy (Sutra 100)

Flooded with joy, flooded with joy.

All this talk of purity and impurity —
These are just opinions. Beyond them
Are the astonishing energies of creation.

Rays of light from a trillion suns
Illumine the altar of your sky.
Rolling blue-green oceans
The air you breathe, sanctify, sanctify.

In this moment, you are inhaling their blessing.
Who are you to call any of this pure or impure?
Astonishing are the energies of creation
In this moment, you inhale their blessing.

Flooded with joy, flooded with joy.

kinchit jnaih yaa smritaa shuddhih
saa shuddhih shambhu–darshane
na suchir hi a-shuchih tasmaat
nir-vi-kalpah sukhee bhavet
Track Name: Dave Stringer & Donna De Lory - Dancing Ground
Dancing Ground (Sutra 80)


Sukhe Duhkhe Madhye

That space is bad
This space is good
That space is bad
This space is good
The ride is rough
Or the going is smooth
The ride is rough
Or the going is smooth

We are thrown into suffering
We are thrown into joy

Beloved soul mate,
find the space in the center
The shimmering spaciousness
encompassing all opposites

The center is the dancing ground
The center is the dancing ground
Dancing ground

Sukhe Duhkhe Madhye

That space is sad
This space is sweet
That space is sad
This space is sweet
The ride is fast
Or the going is slow
The ride is fast
Or the going is slow

We are thrown into suffering
We are thrown into joy

Here the essences of creation are at play:
Earth, water, fire, air and space
And the senses that perceive them
Earth, water, fire, air and space

Na chittam nikshipet duhkhe
Na sukhe va parikshipet
Bhairavi jnayatam madhye
Kim tattvam avashishyate
Track Name: Dave Stringer & Donna De Lory - Go There
Go There (Sutra 18)

Immerse yourself
In the rapture of music
You know what you love
Go there
Erase yourself
In the rapture of music
You know what you love
Go there

You know what you love
You know what you love
Go there

Embrace yourself
In the rapture of movement
You know what you love
Go there
Release yourself
In the rapture of movement
You know what you love
Go there

You know what you love
You know what you love
Go there

Every note rising up from silence
Every voice dissolving again
Every step evolving from stillness
Every chord resolving again

Vibrating strings draw us into
The spacious resonance of the heart
The body becomes as light as the sky
Singing our existence

Tantri adi vadya shabdesu
Dirghesu krama samsthiteh
Ananya chetah pratyante
Para vyoma vapuh bhavet
Track Name: Dave Stringer & Donna De Lory - So Good
So Good (Sutra 49)

Tasting dark chocolate,
A ripe apricot,
A luscious Shiraz
Your favorite elixir –
Savor the expanding joy in your body.
Nature is offering herself to you.

How astonishing
How astonishing
How astonishing
This world can taste so good.
So good.

Raise your glass,
Close your eyes,
Toast the universe.

The Sun and Moon and Earth danced together
To bring you this delight.
Receive the nectar on your tongue
As a kiss of the divine.

jagdhi–paana krita–ullaasa
rasa–aananda vi-jrimbhanaat
bhaavayet bharitaa–avasthaam
mahaa–aanandah tatah bhavet
Track Name: Dave Stringer & Donna De Lory - Wildly Devoted
Wildly Devoted (Sutra 98 )

Be wildly devoted to someone, or something.
Cherish every perception.
At the same time, forget about control.
Allow the Beloved to be itself and to change.

Passion and compassion, holding and letting go,
This ache in your heart is holy.

Devotion is the Divine streaming through you
From that place in you before time.
Love flows through your body, toward a body,
and into eternity again.

bhakti–udrekaat viraktasya
yaadrishee jaayate matih
saa shakti shaankaree nityam
bhaavayet taam tatah shivah
Track Name: Dave Stringer & Joni Allen - Who Am I?
Who Am I? (Sutras 63 & 64)

Dreaming, sleeping, waking
Rhythms of dark and light
Day and night time wondering
Who am I? Who am I?

Secrets are hidden in darkness
And difficult nights
Awaken into aloneness
Howling for the light

This is the call of the dark one
The soul seeking its source
The union that you long for
Is within reach

Dreaming, sleeping, waking
Rhythms of dark and light
Day and night time wondering
Who am I? Who am I?

Throw off hesitation
Becoming one with fear
Plunge into the blackness
Eyes wide open, clear

This is the call of the dark one
The soul seeking its source
The union that you long for
Is within reach

Evam eva durni-shyam
Krishna paksha-game chiram

Dreaming, sleeping, waking
Rhythms of dark and light
Day and night time wondering
Who am I? Who am I?
Track Name: Dave Stringer & Joni Allen - Are You Here?
Are You Here? (Sutra 26)

There’s a space in the heart where everything meets
Come here, if you want to find me!
The scent of a blossom is so sweet
Come here, if you want to find me!

Are you here? Are you here?
Are you here? Are you here?

Dancing fingers on vibrating strings
Come here, if you want to find me!
Answering the call, let every bell ring
Come here, if you want to find me!

Are you here? Are you here?
Are you here? Are you here?

Give yourself to it, Give yourself to it
Give yourself

Mind, senses, soul, eternity
Mind, senses, soul, eternity
Are you here? Are you here?
Are you here? Are you here?

hridayam akasha ni-li-na-akshah
padma samputa madhyagah

There’s a space in the heart where everything meets
Come here, if you want to find me!
Track Name: Dave Stringer & Joni Allen - Skin
Skin (Sutra 25)

Attend to the skin, an illusory boundary
Nothing inside is solid, nothing outside is solid
A person is a cloud, electrons gathered
We are particles, when we are happy

There is no inside, there is no outside
There is no other, no object to meditate upon

Enter that shimmering, pulsing, vastness
Discover that you are not separate
From anything here
From anything there

Attend to the mind, an illusory boundary
Nothing inside is solid, nothing outside is solid
Intelligence is a cloud, electrons gathered
We are particles, when we are happy

There is no inside, there is no outside
There is no other, no object to meditate upon
There is no future, there is no past
There is no present, and no time to meditate upon

deha-antare tvak-vibhaagam
bhittiobhootam vi-chintayet
na kinchit antare tasya
dhyaaayan na dhyeya-bhaaj bhavet

There is nothing that is not you.
There is nothing that is not you.

Attend to the heart, where is the boundary?
Nothing inside is solid, nothing outside is solid
Love is a cloud, electrons gathered
We are particles, when we are happy
Track Name: Dave Stringer & Joni Allen - Roar
Roar (Sutra 16)

The roar of joy that sets the worlds in motion
Reverberating
In your body

Beloved, listen…
Beloved, listen...

Pranava aadi sam-ud-chaaraat
Pluta-ante shoonya-bhaavanaat
Shoonyayaa parayaa shaktyaa
Shoonyataam eti bhairavi

Calling you home
Calling you home
Track Name: Dave Stringer & Joni Allen - That Kiss
That Kiss (Sutra 47)

Adorable one
When by myself, flooded with delight
Simply in the memory...

Of that kiss, that kiss

That lick
That particular pressure
That taste of nectar, and caress

And that kiss, that kiss

Melting, mingling, merging, swelling
Inundated by divine sensations,
And perhaps, a sense of impending ruin

But I'm willing to go down with that ship
Take me down with that ship

lehanaa manthanaa aakotaih
stree-sukhasya bharaat smrite-eh
shaktyabhaave api deveshi
bhavet a-ananda-samplavah

Adorable one:
When by oneself, flooded with delight
Simply in the memory of that kiss...
That lick, that taste of nectar,
That caress, embrace, that particular pressure
This is the inner ritual, this is the inner ritual,
Here is the inner ritual

Adorable one
Embrace this storm, know it as your own
This ocean of bliss is you

And I'm willing to go down with your ship
Take me down with that ship
Take me down with that bliss
Take me down with that kiss