Pranavam Das is Lipbone Redding
recordings and workshops in the service of the sound, vibration and creation
Why Pranavam Das?
Ok, so I am and have been LIPBONE for the past 15 years. I came by the name honestly, as It started with the making of all those mouth sounds in the subway in New York City and finally being able to pay my rent. One thing led to another and next thing I know, I am traveling around the world, making a living, singing and playing guitar as LIPBONE REDDING: King of the Lip Trombone. Whew! What a ride. It’s cool. I like being “LIPBONE!” It makes people smile when they say it. And the music is…happy. I tell lots of stories, and hopefully everyone had a great evening. It seems like a very long road…
Back in the early 2000s, When I was trying to make a change from being a street musician, I went to live in San Francisco. Soon after my arrival, I started playing for Yoga Classes. 6am every Tuesday and Thursday. Ugh. It was early, but there was something very nice about it: calming, reassuring. It wasn’t a performance. It was more about melting into the collective, feeling the vibe of the room and trying to put my sound to work on whatever was needed. I learned a lot in the yoga studio, just as I had in the subway. That one little opportunity led me to study with the great bansuri (indian classical flute) player, G. S. Sachdev, and eventually on a yearlong trip to India to sit at the feet of several masters of the Carnatic and Indian Classical tradition. I didn’t know it then, but my entire career as an entertainer has been inextricably tethered to what I learned in those years.
Fast Forward to the Spring of 2017
I was taking a few weeks off of the road when some friends invited me to Saint Anne’s Chapel in Tarboro, North Carolina for a Vernal Equinox event. No longer a church, per se, the space had been reconsecrated into a multipurpose healing arts center with yoga, drumming, and rituals of all types. There was mention of live music with the class. One thing led to another and I found myself cross-legged with my guitar in front of a large yoga class. Afterwards, I was speaking with the owners/caretakers of the property, They invited me back to do a workshop the following week. I actually panicked because I had no idea what to do. I mean, I know a lot of things, and I perform for thousands of people every month, but to put my quite closeted spiritual/musical practice together in a 90 minute workshop is something else. Right then and there, I decided to play to my strengths and present what I know, based on what I do. I mean, its always been about the music.
During my tenuous first workshop we chanted Om, meditated, and I explained the meanings of a few popular vedic mantras, (because it’s Eastern North Carolina, I think some people got nervous during this part.) So we did a little stretching, I told some stories, and we sang some more. Slowly people relaxed. I began to recall all the many years of vocal training, All the yoga workshops I had taken, and I somehow cobbled together an odd sequence of exercises followed by the most glorious 40 minutes of guided meditation with live music. It really was a wake up moment. We all just felt so good afterward. I decided that I needed a name for the workshop, so I called it OM PRANA. Om = The sound of creation, the pranavam, the big bang, the beginning of everything. PRANA = Breath, life-force, matter, energy, light.
Ok, so now I had some work to do.
Soon after my workshop debut, and not fully satisfied with my workshopping skills, I visited an ashram in upstate New York. I went walking one morning with my beautiful and wise Swami friend. During our conversation, I jokingly told him that a strange thing had happened, I was giving these workshops, and to my surprise, a handful of the people were showing up ready to party like it was Saturday night. The truth is, that after so many years of building the LIPBONE “brand,” (you know, the thing that pays the bills) I felt that I really needed a way to delineate the Lipbone Show from the OmPrana experience. So, my friend suggested that I use a different name for the spiritual practice.
We looked at one another expectantly for a moment. He laughed, “You don’t think I am going to give you a ‘spiritual’ name, do you?” A grin lifted the corners of my mouth.
“Well,” I said, “isn’t that kind of like, your job.”
“I think you should pick one yourself.” he said. "Think of something that describes your spiritual aspirations and use it for your workshops. You will always be you, no matter what.”
Ok, so I was a little disappointed that a sacred name wasn’t bestowed upon me that day, but I began to think long and hard about it. It took many weeks of trying names on like hats. Some fit, some didn’t, but finally, I settled on Pranavam Das. PRANAVAM DAS means In the service of the sound, vibration and creation. PRANAVAM - Om, the vibration of creation. DAS - in the service of. PRANAVAM DAS.
We are here.
The LIPBONE TOUR continues, and I am still LIPBONE REDDING. I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter what you call me. Just know, that through my music and my life, I am striving for the highest good. True wealth is our imagination, our health, our hope, and our capacity to become what we imagine. Now lets all go out and do a little good in the world.