Back in 1960s and ’70s, spiritual awakenings seemed limited to remote events or places – Woodstock and Esalen immediately come to mind. But in the 21st century, reminders to tap into one’s “higher self” are all around us – yoga classes, Starbucks cups, Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday.
It’s all there for the taking. But is it all really being integrated and embodied?
Enter: Bhakti Fest.
The bold six-day event unfolds in divine splendor, Sept. 25-30, in Twentynine Palms this year. The popular outing is the lovechild of The Bhakti Fest Group, now revered for the numerous soulful – and soul-filled – festivals it hosts annually. It’s core mission: Give people a platform to gather, focus on love, devotion and conscious living, as its website notes.
Spiritual smorgasbord? You bet. There’s everything from yoga, insightful workshop leaders – India mystic Radhanath Swami and “yoga rock star”/music artist Krishna Das are in the lineup – and acclaimed sacred music artists, such as MC Yogi, Nina Rao, and Mike Love.
“Festivals like this can be transformational events,” Love says of Bhakti Fest.
An inspiring musician devoted to “revolution through sound,” Love was born on O’ahu, Hawaii, to a spirited musical family. For much of his life, he’s leaned into using music as a conversation and a hope that he can inspire positive change by doing so.
He’s also bold, releasing music independently on his own Love Not War Records label with a musical sound that spans the genres of roots reggae, classical, and rock music, to note a few.
It wasn’t always a smooth journey – few pathways to transformation actually are. Love spent many years writing songs but was not “satisfied” with them. He experienced a major shift in spirituality and outlook by leaning more deeply into spiritual practices and meditation. It was then, he says, that he began tapping into a higher place – the higher self, God, the Universe, whatever you want to call it.
“That’s where the music started coming from,” Love says.
The musical artist, who performs at 8 p.m. Sept. 27 at Bhakti Fest, shares more about his creative journey and the allure of Bhakti Fest with Palm Springs Life.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JACKSON TYLER EDDY
Mike Love: "...it also feels like I am filtering the experiences of everyone else around me when I’m performing and in that way, it makes those experiences grow or become alive."
Why do you sense festivals such as Bhakti Fest are more popular now than ever?
It’s more all-encompassing than a traditional music fest, where people come and just listen to music. You’re providing three different genres of music with the common thread of the music having some kind of spiritual growth or positivity or raising vibrational consciousness. And you’re combining yoga and different figures and it’s about us growing as people. It’s popular because the consciousness of people everywhere is growing.
Your lyrics are deep. What’s your creative process like?
The one thing that’s constant is that it’s like a bit of a meditation. It’s like performance in a way, too. I’m tapping into my higher self, which is connected to the universe, and I’m receiving these ideas and inspirations from there. So I don’t really take credit personally and “write” the lyrics in a way. It’s coming from me and at the same time, I’m just listening and experiencing it.
A vessel, let’s say?
I think of myself as more of a filter for the work. But it also feels like I am filtering the experiences of everyone else around me when I’m performing and in that way, it makes those experiences grow or become alive. No matter where the inspiration takes place – I could be driving in a car or at home —it comes from a higher place.
PHOTOGRAPH BY MOLLIE HULL
You wrote in the song, Gonna Make It: “Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve been learning how to get to wherever I am, and where I am, is where I am going and I am going to the promised land.”
I was trying to weave in this idea that the past is the present and the future and they’re all really one. And all of your experiences have led up to this point. All of your ambitions for the future are really all coming back to this point and affecting what you’re doing now. So really, all of those things focus on the center of what’s really happening now. Everywhere I am “going,” is dependent on what I am doing now. There’s only really this moment that we have.
What makes the desert a stellar portal for something like this?
Festivals like this are designed to be in remote locations – the forest, the desert, the jungle, or a beach. Maybe it’s because it’s designed to be a kind of temple away from what many people consider “real-life.” We go to these fests to rejuvenate. I worked a lot of mundane jobs for corporations that I didn’t believe in, feeding a system that I didn’t believe in. That’s a situation that almost everybody can relate to. Things like this help people heal from that situation and start to remember their true purpose. Don’t get depressed because you are working this job you hate, just remember that even the greatest people you are inspired by the most have also been in that place. The thing that I did to start to divest myself from it was to focus on my vision and to manifest my true purpose. Everybody has a purpose. Everybody has something to teach.
Bhakti Fest runs Sept. 25-30 at Roadrunner Dunes, 4733 Desert Knoll Avenue in Twentynine Palms. Check the website at bhaktifest.com for updated information on showtimes and tickets. Keep track of Mike Love at mikelovemusic.com.