See Jonny Fritz, Robert Ellis Perform in India - Rolling Stone
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See Eccentric Troubadours Jonny Fritz, Robert Ellis Perform in India

Margo Price tourmate and Americana leader Ellis traveled throughout the country in 2015, often singing with local musicians

In 1968, the Beatles traveled to Rishikesh, India, to study transcendental meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an experience that opened the eyes of Western culture to the country’s majestic draw and launched the band members into one of the most creative and productive periods of their lives. Almost half a century later, Jonny Fritz and Robert Ellis traveled in their footsteps, toting along filmmaker Joshua Shoemaker with the intent to learn from and integrate local players into the recording of Fritz’ fourth album Sweet Creep.

Though the record was ultimately produced by My Morning Jacket’s Jim James in Montecito Heights, California, Fritz left India with handfuls of material, many enlightening creative experiences and, in the case of Ellis, an unwelcome stomach ailment. In the exclusive video above, Fritz, Ellis and two musicians, Neeti and Raj, who run the Devi Music Ashram, perform Fritz’s “Forever Whatever,” with the local players adding an ethereal touch of harmonium and tabla drums to the Sweet Creep track.

“[Neeti and Raj] run an ashram where you can stay for three dollars a night in a very nice room, overlooking the Himalayan holy city of Rishikesh,” Fritz tells Rolling Stone Country. “There’s no limit to how long you can stay at Devi and if we didn’t have flights to catch, and if Robert didn’t almost die from some parasite, we’d probably still be there. Neeti and Raj were very reluctant to play music with us. It was confusing since they run an ashram completely based around music. We finally talked them into playing this song with us. Looking back, I wish we had pushed to record more songs with them. But India is a very confusing place and often makes you wonder why you did any of it in the first place.”

Country music doesn’t exactly have a stronghold in India, but it does lay claim to one major star: Bobby Cash (born Bal Kishore Das Loiwal), who lives about an hour north of the ashram where Fritz and Ellis recorded “Forever Whatever.” His music draws a line between the picking styles commonly used on traditional instruments like sitar and the Saraswati veena and the playing found in the honky-tonks of Nashville – which, as evidenced on this version of “Forever Whatever,” have more in common than one might expect.

Fritz, who released Sweet Creep this past October, will set out on a new tour this spring at home and abroad, including several shows with Margo Price.

Here are Fritz’s full tour dates:
February 11 – Missoula, MT @ Palace with Izaak Opatz
February 17 – Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Theatre
February 18 – Los Angeles, CA @ El Condor (DJ set)
February 23 – Knoxville, TN @ Bijou Theatre *
February 24 – Blacksburg, VA @ Lyric Theatre *
February 25 – Charlottesville, VA @ The Southern *
February 26 – Charleston, WV @Mountain Stage
February 28 – Asheville, NC @ The Grey Eagle *
March 1 – Wilmington, NC @ Throne Theatre *
March 2 – Charlotte, NC @ Neighborhood Theatre
March 3 – Saxapahaw, NC @ Haw River Ballroom *
March 4 – Chattanooga, TN @ Revelry Room *
March 5 – Birmingham, AL @ WorkPlay *

* with Margo Price

March 22 – Glasgow, UK @ O2 ABC2 Glasgow
March 24 – Bristol, UK @ The Exchange
March 25 – Twyford, UK @ The Swiss Cottage
March 26 – London, UK @ The Moth Club
March 28 – Krefeld, DE @ Kulturrampe
March 29 – Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso
March 30 – Utrecht, NL @ Molen de Ster presented by Ekko
March 31 – Rotterdam, NL @ V11 presented by Rotown
April 1 – Gent, BE @ Trefpunt
April 4 – Gothenburg, SWE @ Pustervik
April 5 – Orebro, SWE @ East West
April 6 – Oslo, NO @ Buckleys
April 7 – Malmö, SWE @ Folk å Rock
April 8 – Borlänge, SWE @ Broken Dreams
April 9 – Stockholm, SWE @ Southside Bar
April 13 – Sydney, AUS @ Porteno Restaurant
April 14 – Sydney, AUS @ Newton Social Club
April 15 – Bruzzy’s Farm, Tallarook, AUS @ Boogie Festival
April 16 – Bruzzy’s Farm, Tallarook, AUS @ Boogie Festival
April 19 – Melbourne, AUS @ Spotted Mallard
April 20 Melbourne, AUS @ Caravan Music Club
April 21 – Melbourne, AUS @ Meeniyan Town Hall
April 22 – Adelaide, AUS @ Silver Raven Festival
April 23 – Brisbane, AUS @ Triffid
April 24 – Byron Bay, AUS

In This Article: Jonny Fritz, Robert Ellis


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