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      Devendra Banhart in Ventura

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      October 15, 2019

      Tuesday   8:00 PM

      26 South Chestnut Street
      Ventura, California 93001

      Devendra Banhart

      Banhart emerged seemingly out of nowhere in 2002 with his first CDcollection, Oh Me Oh MyThe Way the Day Goes By the Sun IsSetting Dogs Are Dreaming Lovesongs of the Christmas Spirit,compiled by Swans frontman Michael Gira for his Young God labelfrom homemade recordings the itinerant Banhart had amassed as hetraveled the world. He was born Devendra Obi Banhart in Houston,Texas, but spent his childhood in Caracas, Venezuela; as a teenager, hisfamily returned to the States, relocating in Southern California, wherehe soon became enamored of skateboard culture. Ballad of KeenanMilton, in fact, is an homage to the legendary skateboarder, who diedtragically in 2001 in a freak accident.Music was always a passion for Banhart, and he discovered it in waysboth magical and haphazard. As a boy in Caracas, says Banhart, I wassurrounded by salsa, merengue, cumbia, some bossa novathat wasubiquitous, youd hear it on any street. In what could be an excerptfrom a David Sedaris monologue, Banhart claims he found his ownvoice one day when he was home alone and impetuously donned one ofhis mothers dresses, grabbed her hair brush and started to sing. Whatcame out was a prepubescent sound he could call his own, atouchstone, something that echoed, years later, in the falsetto of hisearly albums. In high school, Banhart became obsessed withrocksteady, bluebeat, and ska, which hed learned about viaskateboarding videos.Finishing high school, he thought he would pursue a visual arts careerso he enrolled at the San Francisco Art Institute, but he soon droppedout in favor of exploring music. He has, however, successfullymaintained a parallel career as a painter: Banharts distinctive, minutelyinked, often enigmatic drawings have appeared in galleries all over theworld, including the Art Basel Contemporary Art Fair in Miami; theSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Palais des Beaux-Arts inBrussels; and Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. He hascreated the cover art for most of his records, and in 2010 his artworkand packaging for What Will We Be was nominated for a Grammy.San Francisco had an indelible influence on Banhart; the flamboyantdressing he adopted that entranced the fashion crowd (and fueled thefreak folk and New Weird America labels the press attached tohim) was inspired in part by the seriously subversive cross-dressingculture of San Franciscos legendary performance troupe the Cockettes.Like Nonesuch label-mates Caetano Veloso and David Byrne, withwhom he shared a stage at Carnegie Hall, Banhart has embraced anastonishingly wide range of musical ideas, from folk to blues to theavant garde. He extols the late Arthur Russell, a relentlessly eclecticartist who was impossible to pigeonhole in his brief lifetime, andBanhart has brought back into the spotlight forgotten artists like late-60s singer Vashti Bunyan, whose psychedelic folk he championed. Hehas collaborated with Brazilian legends Os Mutantes, the Swans,Antony and the Johnsons, and Beck, among others, and has engaged inart projects like conceptualist Doug Aitkens monumental 2012 Song 1video installation on the faade of the Hirschhorn Museum inWashington, DC.For Banhart, his career remains an adventure and an exploration.Banhart admits, I dont really take care of my voice, but, just like withplaying guitar, you get more familiar with it, and you get better at it.Ive always said that Im very good at not knowing how to play theguitar but, really, its just that Im very comfortable with the utteruncertainty of my approach.

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