Interview by Scott Preston
Although many Westerners have been fascinated by the sitar, Stephan Mikes one of the few who have undergone the years of rigorous one-on-one training in classical Indian music necessary to do justice to this ancient instrument. As a primary student of sitar master Roop Verma, Stephan is part of a teaching lineage that goes back over 600 years and includes Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. He combines his knowledge of Eastern music with the influence of Latin, Middle Eastern, Afro-Cuban, and Carribean rhythms to create compositions which are unique and compelling. In addition to the sitar, Mikes proficient on guitar, zither, mandolin, lap steel guitar and various types of synthesizers.
Since 1986, Stephan has been performing and perfecting his own distinctive technique on the sitar. He has released four highly-acclaimed CDs of his modern original compositions on the independent Akasha label; Before You See, The Good, the Bad and the Karmic, Dakini Beach and Secret Songs of the Sitar Player. He also has five specialty albums; Twilight: Evening Ragas, Sitar Christmas, Jewel of the Lotus: Sitar Meditations, Sounds of the Surbahar and East Meets South. Putumayo Records included Medium Rara from The Good, the Bad and the Karmic on their 1996 international release, Putumayo Presents: A World Instrumental Collection.
One of the few world music artists to transcend traditional boundaries, Stephan Mikes performs for a wide variety of events. He performed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and in Boston at the Wang Center for the Performing Arts for fundraisers sponsored by Giorgio Armani. In August 1996, Mikes played for former President Clinton's 50th Birthday Celebration, connected via satellite from the Biltmore in Coral Gables. Most recently, Stephan has enjoyed enormous success as a featured musician for many top-rated art festivals throughout Florida and the U.S. (source - stephanmikes.com)
Cincy Groove: How was your experience at Spring Hookahville last year?
Stephan Mikes: I didn't know what to expect going in, but it turned out really nice. People seemed to get off on it, I was wondering how they were going to react (to the sitar). I got to sit in with some great bands which turned out great. This Spring Hookahville will be kind of the same except it will be a little bigger and better. There will be the same setup with the side stage tent. I think I'm going to get together with ekoostik hookah beforehand to work some things out. What we did last year was totally off the cuff. Literally put together about an hour before their set. I'm really looking forward to it, its going to be fun.
Read the full Interview here