Shifting Shapes (and Sounds) with Sudama at SOhO

By Steven Libowitz   |   June 28, 2018
SOhO hosts Sudama Mark Kennedy on Sunday, July 1

Sudama Mark Kennedy doesn’t talk a whole lot about his past, but his background includes the fact that his father, a career diplomat who had posts in Yemen, Beirut, Lebanon, and elsewhere, was one of the hostages who became famous in the Iran-Contra Crisis back in 1979. By then, Sudama was already traveling and following spiritual teachers, studying Siddha meditation, Huna healing, shiatsu, Indian philosophy, and yoga – all by the mid-1980s – and took his interest in mystical literature and Indian music to UCSB to earn a master’s degree in religious studies.

Kennedy has been in town ever since, and all of those influences show up in his music, one way or another, but never as much as on his brand-new CD. Shape Shifting Jaguar, which will be officially released on Sunday, July 1, will also be celebrated with a live concert at SOhO that same Sunday evening. The album, one of a few in his catalog under his own name rather than Dreamtime Continuum – the erstwhile band he led for two decades – is a wondrous collection of a dozen original compositions. Taken as a whole, it’s a joyous journey through the subconscious’s interaction with the world, but the individual tracks run the gamut of styles from reggae and calypso to blues and funk to flamenco, Indian, and much more, including spoken word poetry.

Among the supporting musicians are Dreamtime players and many others, including Montecito sitar player Montino Bourbon, village-raised kirtan-reggae artist Joss Jaffe, plus Steve and Jill Miles, Eje Lynn-Jacobs, Ali Baba from Mali, Rebecca Kleinmann, Philippo Franchini, Chris Thomas, and Piyata Penedo, not to mention Kennedy’s cat, Nunu, whose purring in B-flat was turned into a raga.

Sudama talked about the album’s solar and lunar sides, an extrovert/introvert full-chakra experience that includes such concepts as mammalian brain energy, “what to do in a world of confusion,” “awakening with closed eyes,” and much more. It all comes to life this weekend, when most of the musicians will be on hand at SOhO for the special show, and Daniela Riva will be offering a mystical dance with her exotic troupe during the opening segments.

Q. What was the genesis of the project?

A. Joss Jaffee and I have been wanting to write a song together for years. We did “Just Being Me”, the reggae one. And we realized oh, this is really good. We need to have a whole CD. I had all these old Dreamtime songs, ones that were more like jams that we’d play in the second set, more like band-organized jams, with so many possibilities of directions we could go in. Seven of the tracks on the album are from that time frame of the last five or six years, things that evolved with the musicians as I worked on them. I refined them in the studio to turn them into something more concrete.

The album was mystically designed to cover the full 12 chakras – there are actually 12 if you count the ones over the head and in the feet and hands. It’s also the number of clock points, a very holistic bandwidth. So, the album is designed to extend the chakras in order.

The theme is about healing?

Yeah, but what is healing? It’s intention plus frequency. Anything can be healing. Dreamtime was always be a healing intention. The first half I’d play didgeridoo to take the audience into mystical places and then get increasingly dynamic as the show went on, with more structured improv at the end. People would come in depressed and leave feeling ecstatic. The album is the reverse order, so we’re doing it backwards live. On the CD, you get to feel the throb and then get even more open to the mystical sounds after being satisfied by the first half. Most people want that oomph right off the bat. But we’re starting at dinner time, so we’re doing it the other way around.


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