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Escape the trivium through trance, tents

Andrew Harley
Special to the DailyHamsa Lila plays the State Bridge Lodge in Bond today.
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The muddy roots and the mystically ethereal mingle at State Bridge Lodge in Bond today .

Traditional American touring musical acts carry the term “travelling band.” Hamsa Lila is better described as nomadic collaboration. The San Francisco-based group performs music stemming from the Gwana brotherhood of Morocco, North and West Africa, North and South America, India and the Caribbean.

“Hamsa Lila is a Sufa-hypnotic-world-groove band,” said Sintirist Vir McCoy. “We play indigenous music from many parts of the world.”



Hamsa Lila has been associated with the jam-band scene, but the vast cultural influences contained within the band’s music sets it apart from traditional drum-and-bass pentatonika. A nod is also given to electronica. But, Hamsa Lila cannot be defined by these generalizations; the band can be compared to Sound Tribe Sector 9, but Hamsa Lila tends toward vocals and acoustics, while STS9 incorporates more electronics.

“Trance’s purpose is to get people out of their heads and into their bodies,” said McCoy. “It’s about getting people to move and groove.”



Hamsa Lila is a cosmic play, mixing fire dancers and belly dancers; the show is a sensual smorgasbord. There are swirling colors, incense, costumes, imagery (slides, shadows and film), Capoiera artists and contact improv.

See Hamsa Lila, page B4

“It’s kind of like a Moroccan circus. There is a level of creating a transformative atmosphere using ancient sounds and sacred chants from all around the world,” said McCoy. “It’s really about creating a sacred atmosphere to allow people to gather and go deep within themselves.”



Hamsa Lila is comprised of McCoy on sintir, Ian Herman on drums, M.J. Greenmountain on vocals and percussion, Nikila and Deja on vocals, John Schroeder on sax and flute and string specialist Ganapati on guimbri (Morocco), oud (Egypt) and saz (Turkey).

The sintir comes from Morocco and includes camel skin and three goat gut strings to produce a sound akin to the bass. The guimbri is a goat-skinned, stringed instrument reminiscent of the guitar.

“The guimbri and the sintir work like the guitar and bass, but have a much more ancient sound,” said McCoy. “I first heard an album by musicians from Gwana five years ago, and I immediately went out and got a sintir. I hooked up with friends who were playing Moroccan instruments and then the girls came.”

Hamsa Lila did their first show less than three years ago. Now, they play a lot of summer festivals.

Hamsa Lila’s first album, “Gathering One,” exudes vibrant rhythms with rich female vocals and the global groove of ethnic intruments.

“Our band is trying to inspire peace. We can’t force anything on anybody,” said McCoy. “We just try and create that atmosphere for people to go where they need to go with it.”

For more information on Hamsa Lila, visit http://www.hamsalila.com. For more information on State Bridge Lodge, call (970) 653-4444, or visit http://www.statebridge.com.

Andrew Harley can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext.610, or at aharley@vaildaily.com.


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