Ravi Shankar – Woodstock 1969 – Evening Raga
During a time when the youth favored tolerance and expansion in all forms, they became greatly interested in Indian music, culture, and philosophy. Sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar gave the Woodstock audience a view of how the other side of the globe gets down.
Born on 1920 in Benares, India, the sitar player was already well known in his native country and is the one responsible for introducing and teaching the sitar to George Harrison. Shankar became well known outside of India by performing his native music at Woodstock 1969, the Monterey Pop Fest, and other large venues all over the world.
Although Shankar’s performance was truncated as a result of the historical rainout that has become such a big part of the Woodstock story, the timing of the performance and the ripple that it caused in heavily influencing the Beatles cannot be understated.
Shankar was the primary transmitter of Indian music during a time when the youth displayed great interest in expanding their horizons, he was critical of the reception by the American public. He is quoted in “The Dawn of Indian Music in the West” By Peter Lavezzoli as stating “I felt offended and shocked to see India being regarded so superficially and its great culture being exploited. Yoga, Tantra, mantra, kundalini, ganja, hashish, Kama Sutra? They all became part of a cocktail that everyone seemed to be lapping up. “
The “Godfather” of world music is constantly described as being ahead of his time and has written two concertos for sitar and orchestra and his third concerto debuted on January 31st of this year and featured his daughter Anoushka Shankar at the head of it.
Shankar’s performance at Woodstock was crucial to the world music scene and came at a highly impactful period. Later material by the Beatles would feature the sitar and it could be said that Shankar is responsible for popularizing Indian music within the timeframe.