Wonderville’s the town I live in…
I want us all to remember the sweetness and
the wonder of all of it.
I want to live in Wonderville,
that’s where my PO BOX is, and
I’m inviting everybody to come
and join me. ‘Cause it’s where we live,
we just have to remember it.
Adam Bauer and Meredith Sasseen got together at Bhaktifest this year to discuss the launch of Adam’s new album, “Wonderville.”
Meredith Sasseen, YogaNews.TV: Tell us about your entry into the world of mantra and devotional music. How did you begin playing with Krishna Das?
Adam Bauer: I was plucked by Neem Karoli Baba’s grace. I was just minding my own business and I had met Krishna Das one time going to one or two of his programs, and he tapped me on the shoulder one day and he said “You play bass right? Because my bass player just left on her own career and I need somebody to play with me on some upcoming gigs. Do you wanna sit in?” And that turned into a seven year gig, basically playing bass with one of the pioneers of bringing devotional chant music from India to the West. And that was a life changer and a heart opener, and a bit of grace in action.
Meredith Sasseen, YogaNews.TV: You spent some many years with bass guitar supporting Krishna Das and Shaym Das. How did you begin playing the harmonium?
Adam Bauer: I was a bass player. Still, a bass player for many, many years, but I bought a harmonium in India actually. I was in Delhi and I picked up a harmonium. I brought it home, and I put it in my closet for about three or four years. One day I just had the inspiration like, “I’ll sit down with that harmonium.” So, I sat down with this harmonium and within, I swear, less than five minutes, the sound of the harmonium just started basically melting my heart open and I started wanting to sing. It was such a lovely, soft, forgiving pad of sound. I was just like “Ugh I just wanna offer my voice into this sound.” And suddenly I just basically became a singer overnight. I’m not sure how that happened! I’m still learning how to sing, but when it springs from the heart I think all is forgiven basically.
Meredith Sasseen, YogaNews.TV: This new album, “Wonderville” incorporates Sanskrit and English as the mantra, what made you choose to merge the two?
Adam Bauer: Sanskrit is the name of the game for mantra recitation but, I am an English speaking person and there’s something about tapping into our mother tongue that allows us access to a different part of our brain and our heart I think. So, the Sanskrit opens up things that I don’t even understand, because it’s a sacred language that’s beyond my capacity to understand. But it’s real and it’s powerful. But the english, sometimes just allows us to feel the familiarity of what words and ideas are. And when we kind of merge those two, the ancient scientific language of Sanskrit, with the modern, ridiculousness of english, we get to tap into the, sort of balance nature of who we are. And it allows us a fuller expression of the nature of devotion and reality, and our own search for our place in it. So, it just seemed like the next thing to start singing a little bit in english too.
Meredith Sasseen, YogaNews.TV: You’re releasing this album at age 53, but this path of service and devotion is familiar for you.. Can you please share about your teenage years, and what steps you took as you started this journey?
Adam Bauer: I discovered the world of healing work, massage therapy, and shamanic healing, and breathing exercises, when I was about 16 years old. I fell into a community of people in Cambridge Massachusetts, where I grew up. Through those experiences I basically found myself getting deeper into the journey of self discovery, and after I graduated high school, went traveling out to California for a few months. I came home and I realized “I’m gonna be a monk here because America’s nonsense, and I don’t want to play this game. I don’t wanna succeed in 1982 America. Reagan is too much for me.” So I became a monk. I took my vows of celibacy, and poverty and renunciation when I was 18, and I thought I would probably do that the rest of my life, it felt so natural and so proper and so good. I just focused for years on service and being, sort of, a hollow bone for the divine inspiration to hopefully come through me in some way so that I could be a blessing in the world. I lived that way for three years in a small community of people doing healing work every day. When I was 21 or so I realized, “Oh I guess I’m not supposed to be a monk for the rest of my life.” And rejoining the world was a little rugged at that point, but I just tried to navigate – “How do I bring renunciation? How do I bring service? How do I bring a desire to love people beyond my own personal benefit? How do I bring that into the world?” It’s easy when you’re a monk, in a way. But when you’re trying to pay rent, and keep it all going, to just remember, “How do I do what I’m doing, so that it’s a benefit to the people around me and to the world around me, and not just striving for my own thing?” So, I never really shook the kind of renunciation part. I did give up the vows of poverty and celibacy, but I never really gave up the renunciation thing, because I want my life to be an offering to the Divine and the Beloved. Not just like, “How do I, you know, make myself the focus of the action?”
Meredith Sasseen, YogaNews.TV:
So many of the audiences here have experienced the wonder of your music, and it’s no surprise to me that the title of your album is “Wonderville”. How did you come up with the title?
Wonderville reflects my general reflection of life, which is, “My God this is a world of wonder and miracle, and transcendent presence.” And it’s easy to access that if we just look for it basically. The wonder is everywhere. I feel like Wonderville’s the town I live in man. It’s just like how it is possible to remain childlike and wide-eyed, and connected to the miracle and wonder that is life in a body, life on this planet. I feel like this is all a cosmic manifestation, and I wanna remember the wonder, and I want us all, when we do this game, to remember the sweetness and the wonder of all of it. I wanna live in Wonderville, that’s where my PO BOX is, and I’m inviting everybody to come and join me. ‘Cause it’s where we live, we just have to remember it, and remember it.
Learn more About Adam Bauer:
Adam Bauer travels the globe sharing the heart-expanding beauty of group chanting in gatherings large and small. From Bhakti Fest and Wanderlust to more intimate festivals, ashrams and yoga studios, Adam enchants and inspires listeners with his deep, soulful presence wherever he goes.
Adam spent much of his Boston childhood on a bicycle exploring Harvard Square, absorbing the rich cultural ferment of the 1970s. Unsatisfied with the socio-economic offerings of the early 1980s, at 18 he took his vows of renunciation, poverty and celibacy and lived as a monk for several years, studying massage and healing work while living in a small but vibrant community above The Western Front, a funky jazz and reggae club. He eventually rejoined the mainstream world again, but never quite shook a core orientation of service and renunciation.
The later 1980s found him studying Hatha Yoga with Eddie Modestini – a practice of solo-healing he experienced as a complement to the work of giving and receiving healing touch with others. He was also discovering music, starting a 15-year gig playing bass in The Equalites, a reggae-rock band he co-founded who became a cornerstone of the music scene in Western Massachusetts.