A Musical Odyssey from Appalachia to Himalaya

The Mountain Music Project: A Musical Odyssey from Appalachia to Himalaya
The Mountain Music Project

A Musical Odyssey from Appalachia to Himalaya (The Mountain Music Project, 2012)

Two mountain music traditions come together in The Mountain Music Project: A Musical Odyssey from Appalachia to Himalaya. As the title of the album indicates, the project is a collaboration between the Nepali (Himalayan) traditional music of the Gandharba, or musician caste, and the bluegrass/old time musics of the Appalachian mountain region of the United States.

The result of this collaboration is a music CD and a film on DVD. Nearly half of the pieces come from the Himalayan highlands tradition and the rest are songs from the Appalachian mountain tradition.

Danny Knicely (guitar, mandolin, fiddle, vocals) and Tara Linhardt (guitar, mandolin) recorded the first tracks in Nepal with the Gandharba musicians and themselves. Later, back in the United States, more musicians participated, including some high profile artists such as renowned singer and multi-instrumentalist Tim O’Brien, famed banjo player Tony Trischka and Curtis Burch on dobro.

Other well-known names include vocalist Riley Baugus, who created much of the music for the Academy Award winning film Cold Mountain. The list of talented musicians also includes Abigail Washburn on vocals, Mark Schatz on bass, Paul Brown on banjo, and Aaron Olwell on Irish wooden flute. In addition, Matthew Olwell contributes his percussive dance rhythms.

On the Nepalese side, participants include Buddhiman Gandharba on sarangi and vocals; Jagat Bahadur (JB) Gandharba on bansuri and madal (double-headed Nepalese) drum; Ganesh Gandhari on vocals and madal; Manoj Ghandarba on vocals and madal.

The ‘The Mountain Music Project‘ CD beautifully illuminates the parallel experiences of musicians from Virginia and Nepal,” says Tim O’Brien about the project. “We see and hear these fiddlers and flute players, banjo pickers and drummers playing in new urban environs as well as in their native chicken yards. To so many, they represent a constant in the face of changing times and lifestyles. These honorable troubadours keep the old songs and stories alive, reminding us all where we come from.”

The film component of the project follows the expedition of Tara Linhardt and Danny Knicely from the hills of Virginia to the mountains of rustic Nepal, where they discover the unexpected similarities between the Appalachian music that is now known as bluegrass and old time and the Nepalese Himalayan folk music and culture, wit a special focus on the traditions of the Gandharba caste.

The award-winning film was directed by Jacob Penchansky. It was filmed in Nepal and Virginia and features interviews, landscapes and music.

The Mountain Music Project: A Musical Odyssey from Appalachia to Himalaya shows the interaction between skillful musicians from Nepal and the United States who show mutual respect for each other’s traditions and end up creating a beautiful acoustic organic collection of songs.



Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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