Urban Nature’s World Fusion: Echo Location

The Perils of  Growing Up Echoes with Urban Nature

Ramesh and I both grew up listening to Echoes and I remember being a teenager and listening to Echoes as I’d fall asleep at night.  And so being exposed to Windham Hill and I’d go into the record store and get their Best of Windham Hill and it would be Will Ackerman and De Grassi and Michael Hedges and George Winston and all these different players on there.  And I really loved that instrumental music that  was very ambient and it was different than what I was used to listening to.  And I feel that the show Echoes and all those different artists really inspired and influenced my approach to music over time.  -Todd Boston

urbannatureTodd Boston is one half of the duo, Urban Nature.  We’ll be hearing an interview with them on Tuesday and in December there will be a Living Room Concert.  But right now, in this Echo Location, find out what happens when you grow up listening to Echoes.  You can hear an audio version of this blog, with Urban Nature’s music, here.


More than 40 years after it’s release, George Harrison‘s raga derived hymn, “Within You With Out You”  is still influencing musicians like guitarist Todd Boston.

Todd Boston:  I think it was the Beatles who brought me to Indian music.  I did a college paper on the song Within You Without You And I think that was one of the first pieces of music that really grabbed me that had some traces of Indian music and then I kept just going deeper and deeper into it.

Todd Boston wasn’t even born when The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers came out.  The guitarist grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, as did percussionist Ramesh Kannan.  His parents were born in Mumbai And Madras and he has even deeper roots in Indian music.

Ramesh Kannan:  My mom is an amazing Carnatic vocalist and she’s been doing that her whole life and she’s the one that influenced me to learn tabla when I was 8-years old and my musical path kind of got dictated in that way from her.

The two musicians met in San Francisco, where they formed their east-west duo called Urban Nature.  Todd Boston has studied Indian music extensively, including a couple of years at the feet of the late Indian sarod master, Ali Akbar Khan.

Todd Boston:  What appealed to me was something that I had a harder time finding in Western music and in popular music in the United States which was, you know, what somebody might call a spirituality to it or a depth.  You know, I’ll just define it as a depth to the music.  There’s a saying from India that says “Nada Brahma” which means “Sound is God.”

Urban Nature is influenced by jazz guitarist John McLaughlin‘s iconic band Shakti, as well as Windham Hill guitarists like the late Michael Hedges.  They play acoustic based music, but whip out electric guitars and digital loops, and they think of their album, Coming Home,  as somewhere between a meditation CD and a Pink Floyd concept album.

Ramesh Kannan: You know, we talked back and forth about like where does it fit, where does fit and is it meditation music?  Is it world fusion music?  What is it?  And that way of thinking wasn’t getting us anywhere.  We’re like, “let’s just make a record, a creative album that can explore everything that we are right now with this.

Urban Nature’s latest CD is called Coming Home.  I’ll have a more extensive interview with the duo next Tuesday 10/27/09.  This has been an Echo Location, Soundings for New Music.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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