What respected rock critics are dishing on E.D.
And now for something completely different. If you’ve been pacing the aisles of your local Tower Record store looking for that perfect rockabilly concept album about, say. . . a Hare Krishna devotee searching for the meaning of life, well here it is. Ekendra Dasa became a Krishna devotee in 1989, shaved his head, gave away his records, joined a temple – the whole shebang. Ten years later he’s still a believer but he’s returned to his country roots and recorded God Project with the Planet Cow Orchestra.
As previously mentioned, this is a concept album of sorts. It’s also one of the funniest, infectious slices of country and rockabilly you’re ever likely to hear. The struggle for the deeper meanings of life are hit head-on in hilarious numbers like “Maggot Poo Poo,” “Dogmind,” and “Never-Do-Well.” It’s a pretty sure bet that George Jones never sang a hangover song with lines such as, “like an inflamed tonsil/stick me in the oven and call me ˜Hansel.” “(I Think) I like It Here” makes the point that any seeker of spiritual truth feels a bit homeless.
The music is more than able to get your boots scooting. The lyrics will definitely have you laughing out loud. Beyond all that, however, this is really a serious album. Dasa means what he says, he just says it in the funniest way imaginable. Good for him. And better for us.
Words like “interesting” tend to be a bit vague, but make no mistake, the music of Ekendra Dasa and the Planet Cow Orchestra is interesting. How else would one describe the combination of rockabilly, Hare Krishna, and lyrics about decomposing? Religion aside, however, Dasa delivers a solid set of rocking country.
Former member of straight-edge hardcore act Shelter, these days Ekendra Dasa spends his days as possibly the only Hare Krishna country ‘n’ western singer in the universe. Those who recall the late Ronnie Lane’s efforts on Pete Townshend’s Who Came First album won’t be so surprised by the idea of transcendental hillbilly music, though it’s gotta be hard being a cowboy unwilling to harm cows. Regardless, Dasa’s “Krishnaphonic” sounds are highly enjoyable, and songs like “Maggot Poo Poo” prove his spirituality is at least as much new wave as New Age. He’s performing with his band on Saturday and Sunday, during the Spirit of India Festival. Hare Krishna Temple/1287 Ponce de Leon Ave.
The Planet Cow Orchestra plays a mixture of country, hillbilly, rockabilly, and roots that’s more than just music. It’s energetic, it’s fun, it’s humorous, and it’s philosophical. Who’d have thought hillbilly would be a medium for spreading the Hare Krishna philosophy?
That’s right, Ekendra Dasa, the ringleader of the Planet Cow Orchestra, has only recently returned to music after a 10-year stint in Chicago’s Hare Krishna Temple as a monk. Perhaps we should classify this as Krishnabilly? And for you music trivia buffs, prior to returning to his country roots, Ekendra spent 3 years in the early 90’s touring with straightedge hardcore band Shelter. Is this planet getting smaller or what? Who’d have figured?
Ekendra isn’t preaching with these songs. And if he is, you’re too busy laughing and enjoying the music to feel pressured. With songs like “Maggot Poo Poo,” claiming we’ll all become just that, or “Dogmind,” where Ekendra “chants himself a sloka” from the perspective of a “fetchin’ fleabag” one would assume to be his dog, Ekendra gets his points across in a very humorous, subliminal way. Honestly, the first time I spun the disc I hardly noticed any of the references. I was too busy enjoying the music.
Every song on the disc is well-written, well-produced, and downright good roots music. Ekendra not only sings well, but plays guitar, percussion, and the harmonica on most tracks. If a fiddle makes you wiggle (did I really just say that?) then hit their website and listen for yourself. MP3s are there for your listening pleasure. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
CITY LINK–South Florida’s Entertainment Weekly
(cover story, excerpt)
Ekendra’s new CD, God Project, is a rockabilly romp that doesn’t quit until, as one song aptly puts it, everyone on Earth is “maggot poo-poo.” From the futility of sex to being TV drunk . . .(God Project) is his shoot ‘em up satiric ode to imperialism and materialism.
With a John Prine-like playfulness to his lyrics—“You lettin’ me down would be like a ghost leavin’ a ghost town”— the appeal is as universal as it is spiritual.
Michael Stock, host of the Saturday afternoon folk and acoustic show on WLRN (Miami Public Radio 91.3 FM), says he didn’t know what to expect from this Krishna cowboy when he first appeared on the radio program. “ . . .he played acoustically on the show and I enjoyed it” Stock says. “He’s very sincere and his lyrics are clever and quite personal. A lot of things in his songs ring true even though he’s on his own chosen path. You don’t have to be a Krishna to identify with it.”
Valerie Caracappa of the Folk Club of South Florida booked Ekendra for their Acoustic Underground Series after he auditioned over the phone. “He blew me away. We book folk, acoustic and comedy and he covers all three,” she says. “There’s great humor in his music. It’s not like he’s out there preaching dogma. The audience loves him.”
*Hagiography: “a book about someone’s life that makes it seem better than it really is or was: a biography that praises someone too much.”