Children's rhymes often use call-and-response.
So do folk and gospel music, political and labor marches, military drills, and sporting events.
Sunday evening, Toledoans can learn a different way to experience call-and-response singing with results both soothing and exhilarating. It's kirtan (KEER-tan) chanting, led by Californian Dave Stringer and his band, including another singer, tabla (East Indian drum) and cajon (box drum) drummer, acoustic and electric guitar players.
Stringer sings beautifully and plays harmonium, a small pump organ related to the accordion.
His 7 to 9 appearance Sunday at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Toledo is presented by the Yoga Teachers of Northwest Ohio.
"When I first started touring, yoga studios weren't performance venues," he said in a telephone interview.
Eight years later, there are kirtan singers and bands throughout the United States and the genre has evolved to several different styles, from simple to complex. Originally popular in the big cities on the coasts, kirtan has drifted into the Midwest, he said.
A Sanskrit word, kirtan's popularity is linked to yoga having become a mainstream exercise. Yoga's spiritual component appeals to people who may be disaffected by traditional Western religions, said Stringer, who declines to reveal his age.
"The chants begin slowly and with each repetition, they speed up - from a place of stillness to a place of joy," he said, adding that they'll perform three kirtans, lasting 20 to 30 minutes each.
An audience member will draw from a bowl the mantras (a phrase or series of sounds) that Stringer will chant. The mantra, usually in the classical Indian language of Sanskrit, will be projected on a screen to help people follow along.
Interspersed with chants, the band will perform its own songs. Stringer's four albums have sold about 20,000 copies each, he says.
It's great music for children. "It's a kind of beautiful nonsense. The words are really simple and kids haven't developed a lot of inhibitions about singing and dancing."
Dave Stringer's performance will be 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday in Trinity Episcopal Church, One Trinity Plaza at the intersection of Adams and North St. Clair streets. Parking is free in the structure on North St. Clair St., but tickets must be validated in the church. Advance tickets are $20 (from www.davestringer.com; click on "Purchase tickets for all events"). At the door, admission is $25; $12 for ages 13 to 18, and free for children under 12. Information: 419-266-9642.
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