The house was full. Many of the people who had managed to grab seats inside Handuraw were intent on staying put. Yet ironically they also seemed intent on going on a pilgrimage, which was assuredly happening in the later hours of the evening.

If you believe in the power of folk music, you’ll wish you had been there at Cynthia Alexander’s gig last Saturday. I only heard about Cynthia the day or so before and I was even less familiar with Asian folk (the folk I usually listen to is of the Simon & Garfunkel variety), but being there introduced me to a kind of vibrant high, which evoked the spirit of George Harrison, the tenderness of Joni Mitchell, and at the same time the energy of Alanis Morissette. Though she often borrows the musical elements of other Asian cultures, she manages to craft together these pieces to incorporate the East into the Western spirit that I could feel being emulated. Thus there was a kind of worldly spirit that night. Understandably, I was also in the presence of long-time Alexander fans, who were either mouthing the lyrics or joining the harmonies of “Comfort in Your Strangeness” and “Intertwyne”. Her fondness with the crowd also took form as she took requests and when she made jokes in passing before launching into another symphonic piece. The show lasted long after midnight and the crowd pleaded for more; we never got to see the end of it.

Like I said, it was a pilgrimage, and she was leading.

 

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