My Lockdown Hippie Kushi Heroes
May 24, 2020
2020 has been a topsy turvy year so far; although for me its been pretty positive. My injured arm is much much better, I had a wonderful few weeks in Goa and my many projects are keeping me busy, especially my (and my business partner’s) up and coming online hippie clothing and jewellery business HIPPIE UTSAAH.
There have also been some fairly dark events, the main one being the coronavirus and resulting lockdown.
Whilst living through these strange few months I have realised that there have been three individuals who have really helped me get through this lockdown. Although they are not actually people I know personally, they have kept me feeling entertained, upbeat and positive. These three inspiring individuals have truly excited and inspired me during these roller-coaster months.
Alongside my art, my books and the setting up of my business; they have also felt like a big part of my recent lockdown life.
So who are my three lockdown hippie kushi heroes?
The first is Swami William; a Goa icon and cannabis king.
The second is Jessica Savano; vlogger, lover of all things India and someone who really ‘Loves her Life’.
And the third is the amazing SITARSONIC! Another Goa legend, famous for his performances at the Ampora Saturday night market in Anjuna.
I first came across Swami William whilst reading up on another hero of mine; Goa Gil. They both shared a fascinating history together. Both men followed the hippie trail to India in the early 1970’s and subsequently chose to live in Goa full time .
William and Gil embraced the eastern spirituality they found there. Fascinated by Hinduism they accepted teachings from holy men who soon became their gurus. And so Swami William and Sadhu Gil found spiritual purpose and direction in the place they loved.
Goa Gil was later to become famous as the master of Goan psy-trance.
Swami William features heavily in the movie Last Hippie Standing. This film is a fascinating time capsule of Goa’s greatest hippie years. What comes across most strongly in this film is William’s warm character and his close friendship with Gil.
Swami William now lives in California with his wife Nikki. You can find their channel on YouTube, where they talk about all things cannabis. Below is a little more about Swami William’s interesting life.
Swami William or
Called “The Swami of Pot” by Rolling Stone Magazine, Swami Chaitanya is a radical classical. Having started life as an East Coast academic, now, in his early seventies, he’s grown over the years into a West Coast Cannabis Holy Man. A self-described “original hippie,” Swami moved to San Francisco in 1967. From there, he traveled the world, living in South America, Europe and India for many years, before settling in Northern California’s Mendocino County, the heart of the Emerald Triangle. A well-known figure on the music festival scene, Swami speaks and teaches publicly on spirituality.
Last Hippie Standing (2001) is a 45-minute documentary by the German filmmaker Marcus Robbin about Goa, India. The film compares the 1960s and 1970s hippie era with the situation in 2000.
The film has no commentary and consists of documentation of the ongoing party culture in Goa, as well as private and previously unreleased Super 8 footage from the 1960s and 1970s in Goa, filmed by Cleo Odzer. This material is the only existing contemporary film document of the hippie era in Goa. Furthermore, interviews with hippie veterans like Goa Gil, locals, and the former chief minister of Goa, Francisco Sardinha, describe the clashes that occur between the party culture and Indian conservatism. The last part of the documentary is shot at the Berlin Love Parade, where the protagonists reflect on their own spiritual development and the changes that have occurred since the hippie movement’s advent.
The film was shot in December 1999 and January 2000 with an estimated budget of $20,000. Since 2004, it has been distributed by Nowonmedia (Japan). The documentary was widely viewed online.
I first came across Jessica Savano whilst looking for material about Arambol on YouTube. She had a vlog post on their about this hippie town in Goa. I liked her energy straight away, she has a really positive way of being.
There are a few unanswered questions about Jessica’s past that she doesn’t seem to talk about much but many of her ‘sisters’ that she introduces us to in her vlogs appear to be transsexual.
Jessica really loves her life and now spends half her year living in Goa in India.
During these dark lockdown days Jessica has really got me through it; if I cannot travel at the moment, I travel through her. I have been working my way through her back catalogue of vlog posts and she has taken me all over India, around Bali, Dubai, Thailand and Indonesia.
She is a people person and we meet many interesting characters on her travels. I often feel a warm glow after watching her vlogs and so I cannot recommend her more.
In some ways Jessica Savano has become a good friend of mine but like everything else at the moment our friendship is virtual.
Jessica’s mission lies in helping people love themselves and break free from dogma and mediocrity and to live a life of true fulfillment and Joy.
I remember the first time I saw Sitarsonic live at the Ampora night market in Goa; i thought he was fantastic and his beats reminded me of Transglobal Underground.
His live performances are flawless and his skills on the sitar are second to none.
Sitarsonic is a musician and performer, creating a fusion project of Electronica & Sitar. His real name, Paco Rodriguez started learning sitar in 1994 in Varanasi (India). Electronica is Chill out & Dub.
SITARSONIC is a fusion project of Electronica, Dub and Live Sitar, founded in 2000 by Paco Rodriguez. Initiated to this instrument in 1994 by an Indian master in Varanasi, Paco has always privileged experimental explorations rather than a classical approach to the instrument. Sitarsonic, his solo project, is releasing its 8th self-produced album which explores more and more mystical horizons combining original compositions and Mantras in Sanskrit. These formulas of words and repetitive sounds used in meditation and rituals have been part of his life over the last 25 years.
Live, Sitarsonic performs in cafés as well as in festivals.
Paco currently lives between Goa, India, and Crete, Greece.
Past events: Free Earth Festival 2019 (Greece), Hill Top Festival 2019 (India), Atman Festival 2019 (Sri Lanka), Harmonic Festival 2018 (France), Freedom of Earth Festival 2017 (India), Chill Top Festival 2017 (India), Summer Never Ends Festival 2016 (Switzerland), 7 Chakras Festival 2015 (Italy), Ozora Festival 2015 (Hungary).
Discography all on Sitarsonic records:
2018 Peace of Magic (vinyl), 2016 Radio Mantra, 2014 Unidos,
2013 Tomorrow Never Comes, 2010 Indus Reverb, 2008 Museland,
2006 Sitardust, 2005 Aditronix (Artpop), 2004 Ethnonicus,
2003 Pharmakon, 2000 Sitarsonic.
I seem to be blessed in that I have seen Sitarsonic on multiple occasions even though I was not planning too. I have watched him perform in Arambol (Goa) and three times now at the Saturday night market (Goa). The last time I saw him I was so impressed I purchased all of his CDs from the stall next to the stage.
I finally met him in person at the Hilltop festival in Anjuna this year. We only spoke briefly but I gushed at him like a teenage pop fan.
His music is exciting and upbeat. He is one of my favourite music artists. Magnificent..
I think I have got through lockdown mainly by keeping busy on my projects but the frustration of not being able to travel has been hard. Jessica Savano helped me a bit with that issue, I may not be able to travel in person but I can see the world through Jessica’s eyes.
I have also been kept entertained by watching Swami William’s fun and upbeat video posts on his unique cannabis channel.
Music is a great healer and it can lift your mood when you are feeling down; Sitarsonic boosts my energy and my creativity when I play his music.
These three heroes stand out as lifesavers for me during this pandemic but there is a fourth group of heroes that have helped me survive too:
…my dear friends.
Thank you and I love you all.
Till next time…