Last night in Studio C at Legendary Criteria Studios/Hit Factory in Miami, we had the first session to revise

the Ordinary Language song "Spill Some Oil" which we originally cut in 1989 for the Exxon Valdez Disaster,now revised for the BP Gulf Catastrophe. Lead vocalist GB cut the new verses, and I added a new tamboura track.

 A video is in production, watch for more news and the final track here...

Karma Chameleon By Jim Murphy Published: November 9, 1995 Call it karma or chalk it up to sheer luck, but things have a way of working out for Stephan Mikes. For example: Ten years ago, while he was living in Jupiter, Florida, Mikes paid $300 for a secondhand sitar, then shelled out a few extra bucks for a beginner's instruction book. It was the fulfillment of a desire that had been sparked two decades earlier when Mikes first became aware of the sitar through the East-meets-West musical experiments of such bands as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Yardbirds. "They were using it kind of as an effect, but it was enough to grab me as a teenager," notes Mikes, who has played an assortment of instruments in rock bands dating back to the Sixties. "I've always had an affinity for playing lots of different things. I got a hunch I could do it." Keep in mind, the sitar is an incredibly complicated instrument, with nineteen strings, sliding frets for endless tuning variations, and a tonality that's based on a completely different scale than that of Western music. Even the physical dimensions of the sitar are sufficiently intimidating to scare off most neophytes. Measuring about four feet in length, the instrument can be properly played only when the musician is seated -- often for hours at a time -- in a half-lotus position, an extremely demanding posture that requires considerable flexibility. Yeah, whatever, figured Mikes, who took his newly acquired sitar and started plinking out what he knew best -- blues scales. "I thought I was doing fine that first week," he recalls, "and having a blast." Here's where the karma kicked in. Three weeks later, as Mikes was sitting in a meditation class, in walked none other than Roop Verma, a master sitarist who studied under legendary Indian musicians Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan (remember, this is all taking place in Jupiter). Verma noticed a sitar propped against a wall and asked who it belonged to. "I said, 'It's mine,'" recounts Mikes, "and from that moment on we were hooked up." Verma went ballistic the first time he heard Mikes's blues-inspired noodlings, but agreed to provide the aspiring sitarist with classical instruction in return for recording time in a small eight-track studio Mikes had set up in his house. It was a win-win situation: Verma got to record four albums' worth of material; Mikes, after four years of intensive training A "It took me two years just to learn how to tune [the sitar] properly," he points out -- became proficient enough with the instrument to make a living from it. Indeed, Mikes, who moved to Miami in 1992, is, as can best be determined, South Florida's only professional sitarist (which means he makes enough money through performances and recordings to support himself, his wife, and their two-year-old daughter). In addition to appearances in predictable places such as ethnic restaurants, coffeehouses, and bookstores, Mikes has wielded his sitar in such unlikely spots as the rock dive Churchill's Hideaway in Little Haiti, trendoid dance clubs on South Beach, and, improbably enough, at local conventions and home shows. "Somebody said, 'Oh, you should check this out, they're looking for music,'" Mikes explains of how he lined up his first home-show gig. "I was really dubious, but I called the guy up and he was interested. We did the first one, and it just blew me away." How's this for good karma? In his first appearance at the South Florida Home Show, Mikes sold close to 150 cassettes. "This is, like, real Middle America-type stuff," he observes of the home-show crowd. "And they liked it." Middle America, schmiddle America. The fact is, by playing an instrument that developed well outside the melodic boundaries of Western music, Mikes may be the ultimate crossover artist. For proof, look no further than his third and most recent release, The Good, the Bad and the Karmic, on which Mikes successfully fuses the sitar's distinctive sound and winding Eastern melodies with a wide range of musical styles. "Medium Rara" builds upon Haitian Vodou drums; "Andean Dub" incorporates a strong reggae pulse; and several cuts are rooted in Afro-Cuban rhythms. The name of the album derives from the fact that, as Mikes explains, when panpipes and a moody synth announce the title track, "the image we had was, like, a Clint Eastwood spaghetti Western." Despite such humorous overtones, Mikes -- who converted to Hinduism around the same time he started playing the sitar -- is careful to note that the instrument has serious spiritual implications. "[Playing the sitar] is actually a meditation," he observes. "When you're in training you're practicing like seven days a week, eight or ten hours a day, so it's a spiritual practice just doing scales." So Mikes is especially wary of what he calls "the cheese factor" when he in blends various musical styles with the sound of the sitar. "People may misunderstand to a certain extent because they see me doing things like this, and if they're coming from a very spiritual place, they may think it's blasphemous," he says. "But that's the chance you take. Every form of music is a combination of things that come from other places." While he prefers to fashion world music hybrids, Mikes is also adept at playing ragas -- meditative, improvised pieces traditionally associated with the sitar that can last up to two hours. But dogma is simply not in the classically trained musician's repertoire. "Take what you want out of it," Mikes shrugs. "This is my philosophy. You can use it as background, or if you really want to get deep into it, the levels are there. Of course, the feedback I get from the people who buy the albums are a wide range of remarks: From 'Gee, it's real relaxing background music,' to 'Wow, man, I did some 'shrooms the other night and got into it real heavy.'" Considering all of the styles in which Mikes has dabbled, there is one glaring exception, which may be explained by Verma's initial reaction to Mikes's fumbled audition a decade ago. "The blues is one I haven't done yet," he admits. "But I've experimented with it, so probably I'll have a blues piece on the next album." It figures. With Mikes, what goes around comes around. Stephan Mikes performs from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at CocoWalk, 3015 Grand Ave, Coconut Grove, every Sunday in November.
Before You See, the first album from Stephan Mikes received a good deal of critical acclaim, including . . . "For fans of psychedelic world music, this one's a must . . ." -- Dennis Walkling, JAM Magazine, 5-star (highest) rating "The sitar is back. And one of its new, contemporary masters is Stephan Mikes . . . (He) has created a compelling East-meets-West musical fusion using the sitar and other Eastern instrments along with pedal steel guitar and synthesizers. The sounds may be foreign but the compositional structures are familiar and include pop-like melodic hooks you can hang your head and heart on." -- Scott Benarde, Critics' Choice, The Palm Beach Post ". . . The result is a collection of accessible originals, featuring simple, appealing melodies and rhythms, which at turns produce meditative or uplifting feelings." -- Laura Wilansky, Cafe Society, XS Magazine And, on The Good, the Bad and the Karmic: "By playing an instrument that developed well outside the melodic boundaries of Western music, Mikes may be the ultimate crossover artist. For proof, look no further than his third and most recent release, The Good, the Bad and the Karmic, on which Mikes successfully fuses the sitar's distinctive sound and winding Eastern melodies with a wide range of musical styles." -- Jim Murphy, New Times ?With a slew of Eastern-style instruments, Mikes combines the best of all worlds and creates a masterpiece -- highlighted, of course, by the sitar. Soothing, spiritual and somewhat transcendental, The Good, the Bad and the Karmic was created to take you away and it will.? -- DJ Justice, JAM Magazine "If you picture a film in which Tom Cruise molds the use of Eastern powers for romantic purposes -- 'Zen and the Art of Finding a Chick,' if you will -- this could be the soundtrack." -- Bob Karlovits, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Also, about Dakini Beach : "A master at blending cool Indian inspired ragas with upbeat instrumental world jazz, Mikes is at his best on Dakini Beach, his latest album . . ." -- Robert Silverstein, 20th Century Guitar And most recently: " 'Secret Songs' continues Mikes blend of the sitar with Western sounds and genres -- stringlike keyboards and lap steel guitars make appearances -- to build contemplative melodies that retain the mystery and exoticism of Indian music while also dabbling in jazz, blues and trip-hop." -- Rene Alvarez, Street magazine "A great chill-out album filled with world beat sitar sounds and subtle yet effective percussion and electronica, 'Secret Songs' is like an audio travelogue filled with magical, mystical sounds." -- 20th Century Guitar
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Wow, what an experience! 3 days of Peace,Love and Music at Hookahville! Special thanks go out to Steve of Legend Valley and Ekoostic Hookah for inviting me to play. I had a Sitar Side stage where I played afternoon 'tweener sets and the highlite was the late night set with my good bud Dana Keller on pedal steel and insane, trippy video projections by our new friend Rob from Ann Arbor. My road manager Bruce said that his favorite part was when Lisa Simpson morphed into a monster during "Shiva's Bolero" It's hard to say which was more fun though, the late night set or the guest peformances I did with four different bands, each with unique styles. On Friday I sat in with the MOST excellent jam/bluegrass band Hot Buttered Rum. I played on their song "Sweet Honey Fountain" which has a very trippy Eastern break in the middle, and the traditional bluegrass song "Norwegian Wood" With six stringed instruments on stage, including fiddle, banjo, mandolin,guitar, bass, and sitar, we thought it was a possible world record for most twang on stage at once. The result was labled HinduGrass. Saturday was very busy starting out the day was a sit-in with the MacPodz from Ann Arbor,who lable their music as "Disco Bebop" These guys Rock and can make a 23 beat pattern dancable! I started their first song with the Invocation Raga Kalyan, which then morphed into a very heavy groove! Later in the day I did a short Afternoon solo set on the Sitar Stage, and then watched excellent sets by the Wailers and Rusted Root. After that is when things got very interesting. A last minute hookup resulted in me getting to sit-in with Ekoostic Hookah during thier last set of the weekend.They graciously gave me lots of space, and we possibly went where no sitar has gone before. Sitting on a high riser surrounded by smoke, it looked like I was floating on a cloud above the band as i played. Then it got even MORE interesting as I got a chance to play with one of my Favorite new bands, the most excellent TEA LEAF GREEN from San Francisco. We did a ripping version of their song "5000 Acres" and then went into "Morning Sun", where the band surprised me with extended space and I had a lot of fun trading lines with Trevor on keys. We had scheduled one more late night set with video, but after TLG we were all toasted, and the energy started to dissipate, and Hookahville 27 wound down to the end. On Monday, it was East to Harrisburg for a day playing at the Harrisburg Artsfest. Thanks to all my friends and fans who waited patiently for my late arrival on Monday. A very secial thanks to my great friend and benefactor Vishnu of Passage to India. If you are in the area don't miss a chance to eat at what i consider to be the best Indian restaurant in the country. More later,Peace Out!
Latest News-- I am currently getting ready to leave for Ann Arbor and Hookahville (that actually sounds like fun!) this week after 2 private gigs at Ngala and Vizcaya. Hookahville is going to be VERY cool with my own side stage for the entire festival. Joining me will be my good friends Dana Keller on Dobro and Pedal Steel guitar and Dave Simon master of sax and flute.Also possibly an appearance by Daveed Korup, percussionist extrodinaire Also check out my new myspace page at I'll be putting up new pix and music regularly. namasté Stephan
i just got back from the NAMM show in LA on Monday and am finally a bit rested up .It was great to see and connect with many friends both old and new.A BIG shout out to Jose of Paradise Records, Good to see you after such a long time.Greetings also to those who got thier first sitar lessons,and some their first sitar. Keep in touch! I also made connections with Relix Magazine and GlobalRythym Magazine, and gave the final outline for my new book to Mel Bay. Also, a big HEY to Mitch from HEAR for the great work he is doing to save musicians fine ears! If you are lucky,you'll also catch him playing bass with Iko-Iko (maybe the sitar soon). A few of the g-rated pix from the show will be in the Photo Gallery soon. Later and Namasté Stephan
Day after tomorrow I'll be heading out to Anaheim , CA to do some performances for Mid-East on a Radha Krishna Sharma sitar. Performances will be in their booth from 1 to 3 pm. If you are in the biz, come and say hi. We'll be in the shadow of WallyWorld right across the street.
WOW!! The most amazing trip of a lifetime! We traversed the subcontinent to meet some of the best sitarmakers in India.I was able to witness and at times take part in the entire process of making a sitar from a log that was almost 25 ft.long and a raw gourd to the final steps of finishing and adjusting the frets.I'm starting to post some initial photos now in the photo gallery, have a peek, more to come soon.
Favorite article about my music ever written (so far); especially the last paragraph! From the Charlotte Sun newspaper "Sitar Player fuses East and West in music" by Sandy Copperman One of the perks of a music writer is the opportunity to find new genres of music, especially when one least expects it. Last Saturday, when I visited the Sullivan Street Spring Craft Festival in Punta Gorda, I saw and heard a sitar player sitting in a booth a block from Retta Esplanade. He was sitting cross-legged with his feet tucked under him, and he was rocking to and fro in rhythm to the Indian music he was playing. The sound of the sitar combined with the background provided by the synthesizer was beguiling, yet relaxing, so I stopped and listened to this intriguing and unique music. As I listened, fascinated, I read a poster, set up front, which announced this artist's name, Stephan Mikés, and the many favorable critical reviews he's received. He performs, composes and records his own compositions. His many CDs were displayed on the front rack for sale. After he'd completed playing the song, I introduced myself and asked him some questions, which he answered cordially. I asked him how he became interested in music, especially the sitar. "I started as a rock musician in the '60s," he said. "In the '80s, I studied sitar under the instruction of a student of Ravi Shankar, Roop Verma. After six years of rigorous training, I began to blend the classical Indian music that I'd learned with many ethnic music influences into my own personal style. Part of this is a fusion of Afro-Cuban jazz with Indian music." "There are different types of sitar playing," Mikes continued. For example, the lively vs. the mellow. Ravi Shankar espoused the lively style, while my teacher, his student, developed his own mellow style, just as I am doing." Mikes said he was about to leave on a tour of 13 U.S. cities. Listening to two more selections of this pleasant music while sipping hot coffee, I heard first a jazzy piece called "Shiva's Bolero." I could feel a sinuous, sensuous energy that permeated the music and relaxed one's soul. The next selection, called "Blue Largo," was lethargic in mood. Like a tropical breeze, the rhythm's swaying and the melody's swinging felt calming to the mind and uplifting. While I listened, I read the flier that had Mikes' biography. A native of Chicago, his family moved to Pennsylvania, where he attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania, majoring in philosophy and anthropology. The flier said he combines his knowledge of Eastern music with the influences of Latin, Middle Eastern, Afro-Cuban and Caribbean music. "My music is a kind of microcosm of the different cultures in Miami rolled into one," he said. "I took all of their rhythmic and melodic influences, combined it with my classical Indian training, and that's how the music came together." "(My music teacher) taught me one of the most basic tenets: What is your intention when you create your music? Whatever your intention is behind your music, that's what people are going to get, no matter what kind of music it is." Besides many nominations for Florida music awards, Mikes has been featured on various commercial and public television programs. He has composed for a ballet company, a TV soundtrack and for studio recording projects. His performance credits include playing for President Clinton's 50th birthday celebration in 1996 from the Biltmore in Coral Gables. He also performed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and in Boston at the Wang Center for the Performing Arts. He has performed at many of Ivana Trump's black tie events, and he has played for prestigious gatherings at upscale art centers, museums and art festivals. He has also performed at most of the major jazz and rock clubs in South Florida. There is a satisfaction in discovery of a unique artist. Original music is never created in the music factories of large record companies, on network TV or in major movie studios. As with artists in general, true musical creativity can only happen with independent artists like Stephan Mikes.
Have you learned to speak with your soul? This weekend the family and I we went to a festival in Ferndale and had a wonderful time. We have finally located an artist to do the "Mother and Child" sketches we want to get done. Her pricing is very reasonable and we were very pleased with what we saw of her work samples. I ran up on an artist, Stephan Mikes (sitar player), playing World Jazz and was taken on a ride to another land. I was so moved by his music I began swaying in the streets and getting lost in the mixture of sounds. We must appreciate it all Good People. Life is not about being black or beige, its not about being in the bubbles that we are constantly screaming we are oppressed into and cant get out. Its not about living in a box of can'ts because we couldnt and the theys that wont let us, because its all bull and limitations we stick on ourselves. I used to get so tired of hearing it (Ive removed those elements from my life) and being in the presence of the ignorance preached about over and over by slaves about being enslaved yet they fail to realize they are shackled by an ignorance all their own. Be black, if you want to. Be Open, if you want to. But for the goodness sake, be human and live. If one thing was created for only one, it would be given to only one. But music, and literature, adventures, lands, languages, foods, cultures and lifestyles...they are all free. I am most glad I have reached a point in my life where I know the meaning of this. Brother Stephan sat barefooted with his leg folded beneath him, in passion with his own creations as they entertained us. He looked me in my eye when I handed him money. He spoke thank you clearly and continued playing his music for me. I turned to see my family enjoying it as much as I was and again was reminded that we are one in so many things. I love them so. Peace to Brother Stephan~ Stephan Mike, Dakini Beach - Sitar, World Jazz So I purchased his CD, Dakini Beach and am enjoying this fall day with the sounds of it filling my home. Peace!~Nia
Greetings and Warm Salutations! I'm checking in from my summer tour, and will be updating my schedule as dates are solidly confirmed. I will also be adding anecdotes and 'road stories' about each of the shows, and let you know what to expect coming up in the near future. In the meantime, all of my recordings are up at the CDBaby site, the link is on my products page. Thanks for visiting,and please sign my guestbook and e-mail list. Namaste! Stephan Mikes
“kalakar” St. Paul’s School celebrate India In India, Kalakars are folk artists whose tradition of extraordinary artistry, creativity and craftsmanship date back hundreds of years. At St. Paul’s school in Jacksonville Beach, India was the featured country in a daylong cultural immersion for teachers and students. Stephen Mikes of Miami demonstrates the art of making music with a sitar to a group of third grade students at St. Paul’s School in Jacksonville Beach. Each year students choose a country and learn its customs, cuisine, arts and religion to celebrate the annual art festival held during Catholic Schools Week. The gymnasium was transformed into a bazaar with exhibits on display presented by volunteers from the Hindu Society of Northeast Florida. Throughout the day, students were able to taste Indian food, dress in native costumes and have mehndi, a temporary body art, applied to hands and forearms. Sitar player Stephan Mikes sat cross-legged in front of the altar inside the church playing for groups of students. Inside the school, Sangeetha Subramanian performed an Indian classical dance to Ganesh, the elephant-face god symbolizing intellect and wisdom. Guest lecturers gave presentations to the older students on the history of the Hindu religion and the culture of their country for a day.

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Meditate! Free Track Below

Take a few minutes and close your eyes while you let this sound envelop you completely, and if you have any negative 
vibes from your daily contact with the mundane world, they 
will melt away by the time the music is over.

<iframe width="400" height="100" style="position: relative; display: block; width: 400px; height: 100px;" src="" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0"><a href="">Alap and Jor by Stephan Mikes</a></iframe>

Musical Mind Eraser

The Last Dance