The Mughal courtly tradition of nightly mehfils that brought together poets and musicians to collaborate and create gets a 21st century update this week. On Wednesday, April 23, nine South Asian artists from around the world come together “to celebrate and investigate the rich diversity of South Asian spiritual influences” at Mehfil Massive: South Asian Religions Remixed Through Poetry and Music. The free-with-RSVP event takes place at USC’s Bovard Auditorium in Los Angeles, and it offers an excellent opportunity to celebrate National Poetry Month. Here are five more reasons why you won’t want to miss out on Mehfil Massive.
1. The event marks DJ Bandish Projekt’s stateside debut.
Mayur Narvekar’s Bandish Projekt brings electronica and tradition, rhythm and beats, and much more to the turntable, and this event will be the artist’s debut in the United States. Check out the spoken word poetry in Bandish Projekt’s single “Alchemy” — it’s official video is a one-of-a-kind multimedia experience.
2. One of the ‘Best New Poets’ of 2013 will be performing.
Poet Tarfia Faizullah’s “Self-Portrait as Slinky” is included in the Best New Poets 2013: 50 Poems from Emerging Writers collection, and her first book Seam explores the experiences of Bangladeshi women raped by the Pakistani Army during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Read our interview for more on Tarfia before you head out to see her.
3. Freestyling recording and visual artist Mandeep Sethi will be there.
The one and only Mandeep Sethi activates souls through vibrations, transports listeners to a New Delhi state of mind and gets them mobilized. Mehfil Massive is your chance to catch his freestyling live. A new multimedia performance from Sethi called “Folk Lok” debuts soon too, on April 27.
4. Salman Ahmad of Junoon fame invited you!
Pioneering sufi-influenced metal-rocker guitarist Salman Ahmad formed Junoon back in 1990, and the Pakistani band went on to become one of the world’s biggest bands, leading to U2 comparisons. The introduction to Ahmad’s autobiography Rock & Roll Jihad: A Muslim Rock Star’s Revolution is written by Melissa Etheridge. These days he also works as a CUNY professor and social activist.
I'll be in LA, USC's Bovard auditorium for Mehfil Massive, April 23rd,music & poetry! Join us! https://t.co/jDZEtEP7U5
— salman ahmad (@sufisal) April 14, 2014
5. Mehfil Massive is free!
With its lineup of acclaimed artists it’s hard to believe this event is free. In addition to Salman Ahmad, Mehfil Massive has vocalist and ten-string double-violin master Gingger Shankar, DJ Bandish Projekt and hip hop artist and producer Brooklyn Shanti in collaboration with award-winning poets Kazim Ali, Tarfia Faizullah, Bhanu Kapil, Mandeep Sethi and Amarnath Ravva, all hosted by D’Lo. RSVP is required too, so if you’d like to attend please send yours via the event’s page on the Kaya Press website.