Muruga Booker

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Muruga Booker
Muruga booker.jpg
Muruga Booker
Background information
Birth name Steven Bookvich
Born (1942-12-27) 27 December 1942 (age 71)
Detroit, United States
Genres Jazz, rock, ambient, freestyle, funk, folk, new-age, techno
Occupations Musician, businessman, Orthodox priest, yoga instructor
Instruments Drums, nada drum, percussion, congas, vocals, guitar, synthesizer
Years active 1958–present
Labels Musart, Sagittarius, Qbico, Chesky
Associated acts Weather Report
Paul Winter Consort
Peter Gabriel
George Clinton
Funkadelic
Merl Saunders
Rainforest Band
Jerry Garcia
Mickey Hart
Bob Dylan
Allen Ginsberg
Babatunde Olatunji
Sikiru Adepoju
Tim Hardin
Mike Hinton
John Lee Hooker
Al Kooper
Bootsy Collins
David Peel
Brenda Lee
Mitch Ryder
Ted Nugent
Darius Brubeck
Dave Brubeck
Jim & Jean
Perry Robinson
Swami Satchidananda
Website Musartco
Notable instruments
Nada Drum

Muruga Booker (born December 27, 1942) is an American drummer, composer, recording artist, and uncanonical Greek Orthodox priest.[1]

Biography[edit]

Booker was born Steven Bookvich in Detroit, Michigan on December 27, 1942 at Highland Park General, and is of Serbian decent.[2] His father, Melvin Bookvich, was a shoemaker who played accordion.[3] He has a wife, Shakti; a daughter, Rani; and a son, Aaron, from a previous marriage.[4] Booker and his family moved back to the Detroit area from Oakland, California in 2000 and currently lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.[5]

Musical career[edit]

Booker first played the accordion before taking up drums as a pre-teen. He studied drums under Misha Vishkov, a Russian music teacher. He first professionally played drums with "The Low Rocks" in Detroit as Steve Booker.[6] Under that name he also achieved local recognition playing with the "Thunder Rocks"[7] and The Spike Drivers,[8] and was known for his long, driving drum solos. He shared the bill at venues like Detroit's Eastown Theatre and Grande Ballroom with Ted Nugent (2/23/70), Traffic (6/5/70 & 6/6/70), Jack Bruce (2/13/70 & 2/14/70), and others.

At the first Woodstock Festival, where he played drums with Tim Hardin, along with then-partner Richard Bach[9] he met Swami Satchidananda who invited him to visit him at the Integral Yoga Institute [10] in New York, where he gave him the name Muruga.[11] In 1973 - 1974, he performed with Weather Report[12] and appeared on their albums Sweetnighter and Mysterious Traveller.[13] In the late 1970s and early 1980s Booker lived in New York and played with David Peel on "King of Punk" and "Death to Disco" and Peel's Underground Comeback Hit "Junk Rock" (Muruga introduced his "Electric Talking Drum" on this song, production was by Sherwin Winick), then moved back to Detroit in 1980 where he connected with funk legend George Clinton and became an official P-Funk All-Star.[14] His band at that time, Muruga and the Soda Jerks, recorded several albums produced by George Clinton.

In mid-1985 he moved to Oakland, California and formed the band Muruga UFM, which included Big Brother and the Holding Company guitarist James Gurley. In 1990, after performing with Prem Das on the classic drum meditation album Journey of the Drum, he joined Merl Saunders and formed Merl Saunders and the Rainforest Band with Jerry Garcia, performing with them on the Grammy-nominated album Blues From the Rainforest.[15]

In 2000 Booker formed the band Muruga and The Global Village Ceremonial Band,[16] which released the CD One Global Village, featuring P-Funk vocalist Belita Woods and jazz clarinetist Perry Robinson. They played at several festivals including the Starwood Festival, Rhythm Fest 1 with Mickey Hart, and Rhythm Fest 2 with Airto Moreira. In 2002 his recording company Musart and the Association for Consciousness Exploration co-hosted the SpiritDrum Festival, a tribute to Babatunde Olatunji, also featuring Sikiru Adepoju, Badal Roy, Jeff Rosenbaum, Halim El-Dabh, Perry Robinson, and Jim Donovan of Rusted Root.[17] Since 2003 he has also been playing and recording with jazz saxophonist Mark Hershberger, and Richard Smith as the Global Jazz Trio [18][19] and Mark Hershberger's expanded five piece group as the Global Jazz Project. In 2004, with most of the same musicians as Muruga & GVCB, Muruga formed the band Free Funk (also featuring Trey Lewd, and Louie Kabbabie), which plays mostly in the Detroit area.[20] Booker continues to work with George Clinton and play with the P-Funk All Stars whenever they performed in California, and occasionally elsewhere. He also plays and records with the brother/sister duo The White Ravens.[21] His most recent project is Muruga Booker & the Cosmic Hoedown Band, featuring him (drums,guitar, & vocals), Shakti Booker (vocals & drums), Parliament Funkadelic member Tony "Strat" Thomas (guitar), Patrick Sarniak (guitar), Benjamin Piner (bass), Douglas Weaver (bass), and Ralph Koziarski (woodwinds, brass & percussion).[22]

In 2012 & 2014 Muruga won a Detroit Music Award for "Outstanding World Music Instrumentalist".[23]

Recording history highlights[edit]

Through the 1960s, as Steve Booker, he recorded with Jim and Jean on Changes in 1964, and on People World in 1966. He appeared on the Paul Winter Consort's Something in the Wind in 1968, and recorded a meditation record with Swami Satchidananda in 1969. During the 1970s he recorded with Darius Brubeck, Gunter Hampel, Al Kooper, Ursa Major, and with Weather Report on their albums Sweetnighter in 1973 and Mysterious Traveler in 1974.[24] Muruga's band, Muruga and the Soda Jerks, were produced by George Clinton, and he recorded with George Clinton, Funkadelic, Bootsy Collins, and the P-Funk All Stars on the following records:

  • 1985 - George Clinton - Some of My Best Jokes Are Friends
  • 1984 - Muruga & The Soda Jerks - Boogy With You (45)
  • 1983 - George Clinton - You Shouldn't-Nuf Bit Fish
  • 1983 - P-Funk All Stars - Urban Dance Floor Guerillas
  • 1982 - George Clinton - Computer Games
  • 1982 - Godmama (w/Bootsy Collins) - Here
  • 1981 - Funkadelic - The Electric Spanking of War Babies
  • 1993 - George Clinton - Hey Man, Smell My Finger
  • 1995 - P-Funk All Stars - Dope Dogs

In mid-1985 his band Muruga UFM recorded Terroristic Activities 1990 and Rock the Planet 1993. In 1990 he, his wife Shakti, and Prem Das recorded the long-selling Journey of the Drums, a pioneering drum album. That same year, Booker joined Merl Saunders and Jerry Garcia to record the Grammy-nominated album (and subsequent DVD) Blues From the Rainforest,[25] and their live CDs Save the Planet So We'll Have Someplace to Boogy (1992) and Fiesta Amazonica (1998). He also joined Babatunde Olatunji and Sikiru Adepoju to record the CD Cosmic Rhythm Vibrations 1993, which was later remixed and distributed on Chesky Records as Circle of Drums in 2005.[26] With his Detroit-based band Free Funk, he recorded the self-titled colored vinyl LP titled Free Funk in 2005 which was released by Qbico Records. This band released the album OrthoFunkOlogy in 2008. Since then he has released several albums on his label Musart, including collaborations with many jazz, funk and World Music artists.

Other achievements[edit]

  • Booker invented the nada drum, a variation on the talking drum, which was sold through Latin Percussion.
  • He is a recipient of the 1991 Hiroshima Voices for Peace award.[27]
  • He was ordained as an Orthodox priest, and operates his own chapel, St. Gregory Palamas, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • He built and operates his own recording studio, Sage Ct. Studios, and founded his own record label, Musart.

Filmography[edit]

  • 1990 - Blues From the Rainforest, Ryko UPC 00688321200424
  • 2005 - One: The Movie, Circle of Bliss Productions
  • 2012 - Groovemonster, Quantum Media Arts
  • 2014 - Border City Music Project

References[edit]

  1. ^ Musician and Greek Orthodox Priest Steve Bookvich of Ann Arbor by Jo C. Mathis: interview in Ann Arbor News, September 15, 2008
  2. ^ The Return of Muruga Booker: Interview & Photos by P.T. Quinn, Recording Engineers' Quarterly (2000)
  3. ^ The Return of Muruga Booker: Interview & Photos by P.T. Quinn, Recording Engineers' Quarterly (2000)
  4. ^ The Return of Muruga Booker: Interview & Photos by P.T. Quinn, Recording Engineers' Quarterly (2000)
  5. ^ The Return of Muruga Booker: Interview & Photos by P.T. Quinn, Recording Engineers' Quarterly (2000)
  6. ^ "The Birth of the Detroit Sound: 1940-1964" by Marilyn Bond & S. R. Boland, Arcadia Publishing (2002) pg. 93.
  7. ^ Gold Thunder: A Legendary Adventures of a Motown Bassman by Tony Newton and Ted Lucas (2012)
  8. ^ The Spike-Drivers - Folkrocking Psychedelia from the Motor City in The Record Fiend, September 2, 2010
  9. ^ Weather Report The Annotated Discography: Sweet Nighter by Curt Bianchi
  10. ^ Woodstock Revisited: 50 Far Out, Groovy, Peace-Loving, Flashback-Inducing Stories From Those Who Were There by Susan Reynolds, Adams Media (2009) Pg. 110
  11. ^ Woodstock: Interview with Muruga Booker by William C. Leikam, originally printed in Relix (US) and Zabriski Point (Russia)
  12. ^ Global Jazz Trio: New Release Jazz News 2006 (Nestor Publishers)
  13. ^ Weather Report The Annotated Discography: Sweet Nighter by Curt Bianchi
  14. ^ Weather Report The Annotated Discography: Sweet Nighter by Curt Bianchi
  15. ^ Global Jazz Trio: New Release Jazz News 2006 (Nestor Publishers)
  16. ^ Musician and Greek Orthodox Priest Steve Bookvich of Ann Arbor by Jo C. Mathis: interview in Ann Arbor News, September 15, 2008
  17. ^ Muruga Booker Website
  18. ^ Global Jazz Trio: New Release Jazz News 2006 (Nestor Publishers)
  19. ^ Williams, H. Allen. Review of the CD Live in Detroit, Global Jazz Trio at Bakers Keyboard Lounge by H. Allen Williams in Jazz Review, Mar. 11, 2006
  20. ^ Musician and Greek Orthodox Priest Steve Bookvich of Ann Arbor by Jo C. Mathis: interview in Ann Arbor News, September 15, 2008
  21. ^ Musician and Greek Orthodox Priest Steve Bookvich of Ann Arbor by Jo C. Mathis: interview in Ann Arbor News, September 15, 2008
  22. ^ Muruga & the Cosmic Hoedown Band in SonicBids.com
  23. ^ Detroit Music Awards website: 2012 Winners
  24. ^ Weather Report The Annotated Discography: Sweet Nighter by Curt Bianchi
  25. ^ Global Jazz Trio: New Release Jazz News 2006 (Nestor Publishers)
  26. ^ Global Jazz Trio: New Release Jazz News 2006 (Nestor Publishers)
  27. ^ Musician and Greek Orthodox Priest Steve Bookvich of Ann Arbor by Jo C. Mathis: interview in Ann Arbor News, September 15, 2008

External links[edit]