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Many long, glorious climaxes

Garaj Mahal is one of the best jam bands around

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Thank god Christmas is over. Bobble Tiki barely escaped the fiasco with the Hawaiian shirt on his back and the maxed-out Visa in his wallet. As if the financial implications of celebrating teeny, tiny baby Jesus’ birthday the American way weren’t bad enough, Bobble Tiki was forced to endure two days and two nights at the in-laws. It was touch and go on a number of occasions, and there were many times Bobble Tiki wondered if he’d escape with his life.

Alas, Bobble Tiki made it back to Tacoma safely, and he’s as happy as ever to be sitting at his cubicle inside Weekly Volcano World Headquarters.

Even better, Bobble Tiki is stoked about the opportunity to write about Garaj Mahal this week — one of the best jam bands currently touring the country, doling out 15 minute spectacles of tireless sitar and never-ending guitar solos. If there’s one thing Bobble Tiki loves, it’s a jam band. Bobble Tiki sometimes wonders if this means LSD accidentally slipped into his mom’s breast milk or he has a trust fund waiting for him somewhere.

Regardless, Bobble Tiki just loves it when a band keeps going, going, and going. That’s exactly what Garaj Mahal can do — with expertise. The band will play Jazzbones Friday, Dec 28.

Bobble Tiki first saw Garaj Mahal at one of the band’s previous stops at Jazzbones. He was hooked on Garaj Mahal’s ’05 release, Blueberry Cave, and couldn’t wait to see the foursome live. Bobble Tiki suspected the 10 song disc only hinted at the talent guitarist Fareed Haque, drummer Alan Hertz, keyboardist Eric Levy, and bassist Kai Eckhardt possessed.

Bobble Tiki was correct. Rarely has he seen such a seamless meld of funky jazz, progressive world music, and mystical Middle-Eastern ambiances. Bobble Tiki decided that night that he’d love Garaj Mahal long time, and not much has changed. This week he was lucky enough to catch up with “guitar and sitar virtuoso” (according to Fareed Haque.

BOBBLE TIKI: Bobble Tiki loves Blueberry Cave. You guys have a new CD. What’s the deal, yo?

FAREED HAQUE: We’ve just signed with a new powerhouse label called Owl Studios ( Our new CD is recorded at the famous Record Plant, in The Bay Area, the same studio where Stevie Wonder, Santana, Rick James, CSNY and many other classic artists from the history of popular music have recorded there greatest works. In addition, we’ve written so much new music ... Blueberry Cave was a wonderful document of where we’ve come in six years. The new CD is where we are going!

TIKI: What directions can fans expect you to explore on the next one?

HAQUE: The new CD integrates the Indian influence ever more fluidly, seamlessly, there is a great deal of strong playing on the new CD, and more and more we find ourselves relaxing and grooving harder — becoming a ‘funky-prog-rock-mahavishnu-jamband’ ... for those of you who don’t like labels, there really is only one name for this new style of music — Garaj Mahal!

TIKI: Garaj Mahal brings a lot of experience and varied influences to the table. Talk about the impact that the band’s education and background makes on the music.

HAQUE: It can be complex to balance all of the differing values and kinds of education we all being to the table, but as we get older and hopefully wiser we all have begun to flow more with each other ... its important not to be judgmental, but rather just accept your role in the whole experience and try to bring to it whatever you can ... with love and enthusiasm. However, we are all different. Some of us are more dedicated to the jazz tradition and others to other concepts, and this makes us sometimes blend different musical languages, which can be amazing and beautiful.

TIKI: How do you gear up for a live show? Is it harder because of your jammy nature to prepare, because you never know what’s going to happen?

HAQUE: Playing a show is pretty much fun for me. We gear up by trying to get relaxed, get our gear in order, and we have a unique way of playing our sets ... we round robin and whoever is up picks the next tune. It usually works pretty well, in that we all have a say in the building of a set, but we all can feel the room and react to the vibe ...

TIKI: How much of your typical set is improvised?

HAQUE: Tunes are set, and solos can go anywhere ... sometimes we improvise and get lost, but usually we just let ourselves get REALLY lost. In addition many of our more difficult tunes are more structured, so there are different approaches to different tunes that allow us real flexibility with the music.

TIKI: What’s in the future for Garaj Mahal?

HAQUE: Oh man SO much. We just spent a s***load of money on a new RV, and we are be gearing up to go biodiesel soon. All of this means we can tour more comfortably, rehearse more, write more, and carry more gear as well as more crew.

We’ve got a great relationship with our new record company, OWL studios, and are entertaining a number of management offers. We will continue touring as much as we can, and it looks like we will hit Europe this fall. All is good and getting better in the Garaj.

As always, Bobble Tiki doesn’t care what you do this week because he doesn’t even know you. Furthermore, he’s already used all of his space for this issue and doesn’t feel like explaining his anti-social ways again this week. Sorry. Check out for Breakfast with Bobble Tiki every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

[Jazzbones, Friday, Dec. 28, 9 p.m., $10-$12, 2803 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.396.9169]

Bobble Tiki is going out of his head via e-mail at and

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