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

This week the Mountain Music Project released their collaborative CD to accompany the film of the same name, The Mountain Music Project: A Musical Odyssey from Appalachia to Himalaya. Danny Knicely and Tara Linhardt set out from the hills of Virginia on a journey to compare bluegrass/old time music from the Appalachian mountain region with Nepali/Himalayan traditional music from the Gandharba caste. Gandharbas are traveling musicians who sing and play the sarangi. The similarities between these two different cultures are striking. The sawing and droning sound of the sarangi is reminiscent of the country fiddle. When the fiddle and sarangi accompany each other on the album, they sound like long lost cousins reunited at last. This music sounds familiar but is distinctly Himalayan and Appalachian, two mountain region cultures separated by nearly 8,000 miles and two oceans. Knicely and Linhardt started the recording in Nepal then added a killer lineup of musicians to contribute and share in this ground breaking project. Tim O’Brien, Curtis Burch, Tony Trischka, Riley Baugus, Abigail Washburn, Mark Schatz, Paul Brown, Aaron and Matthew Olwell, all lend their talented musicianship to the CD.

The Mountain Music Project CD beautifully illuminates the parallel experiences of musicians from Virginia and Nepal. 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.” – Tim O’Brien

The Mountain Music Project: A Musical Odyssey from Appalachia to Himalaya has also been released as a film, chronicling the adventure of Knicely and Linhardt as they traveled from Virgina to Nepal. Director Jacob Penchansky lets the audience take a seat among the musicians in Nepal as two cultures share their music together. Included in the documentary are great interviews, scenes and music with influential musicians. Mike Seeger and Sammy Shelor weigh in with their deep knowledge of folk and bluegrass music. The bond formed between the Appalachian and the Himalayan musicians is revealed throughout the film. It is this connection that allows Knicely and Linhardt such an intimate encounter with an endangered music and culture. Their work on this endeavor is impressive and although the film completes the picture, the music is also outstanding on its own. Watch the trailer for the film below and look for The Mountain Music Project: A Musical Odyssey from Appalachia to Himalaya CD/DVD in stores everywhere.

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