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Wild Moon Bhaktas

Wild Moon Bhaktas Bios

David Schmit, vocals, guitars, accordion
David began playing guitar and some keyboards while a child in Minnesota. During his teens and twenties, by way of living in Florida and traveling in the Caribbean, he absorbed the music of the American South, especially blues and Appalachia and learned the great grooves and rhythms of the islands. His interest in yoga and Indian mysticism began in his teenage years. In 1974, in India, he was initiated by his teacher, Ma Yogashakti. Under her guidance he received training in the four branches of yoga, was initiated and learned lots of chants and mantras. Mataji (Ma Yogashakti) told him to practice bhakti, a path he has followed since then. During the 1970s he lead a weekly Indian chanting and kirtan program at his teacher’s ashram in South Florida, and recorded an album of sacred songs and chants, Heartsong. By 1980, he was back in Minnesota where he was drawn to the work of poet Robert Bly, who introduced him to the poems of Kabir, Mirabai and Rumi. Sufism also entered his life. It was in a chanting group with Bly that he made friends with David Ballman. They experimented fusing music and chanting with ecstatic poetry.

In 1994, he founded and directed Meeting Rivers Sacred Music Dance Theater with a group of musicians, poets, dancers and theater folk. Their exploration of a cross-cultural vision of the sacred through an interactive music theater experience was well received. The group recorded a CD, Meeting Rivers Live. After four energetic seasons, the group disbanded.

In 2006, David returned to leading chanting and kirtan groups with Gary Waryan on tablas and Dalyce Elliot on violin. Later, David Ballman joined the group and they became the Wild Moon Bhaktas. The group has been performing together ever since.

Dalyce Elliot, violin and vocals
Dalyce was born into a family who loved music. By the time she was six, she was studying violin. She spent much of her childhood and teenage years in classical music training. Her passion and talent led her to first chair in the Minneapolis Metropolitan Youth Orchestra by the time she was twelve.

During her teens, Dalyce developed a wrist bone deformity which ended her classical music training. It wasn’t until she was 23 years old that she was able to receive reconstructive surgery. Yet due to the limits of rehabilitation, she was unable to continue playing the violin.

Many years later, while in a meditation group, Dalyce was drawn again to the violin, and discovered – surprisingly – that playing kirtans helped restored her desire – and ability – to play her instrument. Since then, she has performed with musicians who play a variety of styles, but returns to kirtan due to the inspiration and spiritual nourishment it provides her.

David Ballman, vocals, tambura, percussion
David began writing songs while in high school in Minneapolis. By 1989 he was performing with musician friends including Bob Andresen, with whom he released a CD of original music, “Spirit is a Luxury.” In 1996 he joined a small group led by the poet Robert Bly where he befriended David Schmit. He developed a love for singing songs from the Sufi and Indian chant traditions. In particular, the Sufi Quwwali singers Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Sharam Nazeri inspired him. Long a lover of blues, in 2005, David was deeply moved by the soulful power of gospel music. He pursued this interest by joining the Twin City Community Gospel Choir directed by Robert Robinson. His work in the Wild Moon Bhaktas combines his intuitive feel for blues and gospel with Sufi chants and kirtan.

Gary Waryan, tablas, vocals
Gary has made music since he was a teenager. In the 1970s, he became fascinated with East Indian rhythms, by way of encountering the music of Zakir Hussein, Phillip Glass and Terry Riley. Since then he has studied both classical and folk tablas with several different teachers, and learned tablas for kirtans, bhajans and ghazals. His East-meets-West approach allows him to perform with artists whose styles range from ethnic to experimental music.