Confluence of Raga Guitars
Matthew Grasso & Joel Veena
Tantrakari guitar and Indian slide guitar duo play an immersive cascade of strings, resonating in the emotion and majesty of North Indian ragas.
Two artists extensively trained in the oral tradition of north Indian (Hindustani) music, Matthew Grasso & Joel Veena, demonstrate their unique instruments and open a door of understanding to the melodic world of ragas. Both guitars feature a myriad of strings and special elements of design that enhance their ability to render Indian music: Matt's Tantrakari guitar is of his own design, informed by his lessons with sarod maestro Ali Akbar Khan and Joel's Indian slide guitar was designed and created by Kolkata luthier Bhaba Sindhu Biswas as an evolution of the Hawaiian guitar that was adopted into Hindustani music over the past 70 years.
Matthew Grasso - tantrakari guitar
Matthew Grasso is classical guitarist, composer, arranger, musical instrument
innovator, and improviser who began playing guitar at age twelve. He attended
the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and at the Ali Akbar College of Music.
Through his understanding of musical systems of the east and west, he has
created a flexible and creative voice in improvisation and has developed a unique
style of rendering classical ragas. This music can be heard on his tantrakari
His recordings include seven CDs which include his own compositions,
transcriptions and improvisational works. In addition to recordings, Matthew has
published a few articles in the area of multi-string and microtonal guitars through various online publications.
Currently Matthew is on the faculty at Sacramento City College, American River
College, California College of the Arts, Yuba College and he teaches privately.
He has designed college courses in the area of North Indian and western music,
and resides in Davis, California.
Joel Veena - Indian slide guitar
Since 2007, Joel 'Veena' Eisenkramer has been traveling between his native Vermont, USA and India to study and perform Hindustani classical music on the 20-stringed Indian slide guitar. These days he is receiving advanced training from renowned sarod maestro of Kolkata, Pt. Alok Lahiri and has enjoyed the appreciation of the Indian classical music community. As a result, he has had the privilege of performing at venues like the 2019 Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj, Azad Bhawan ICCR Delhi, the National Gallery of Modern Art in Bengaluru and the Ekal Ka Rann Festival in Gujarat. Joel has released 7 albums to date, along with a handful of singles and his music has been featured on Radio New Zealand and NPR with 2,000+ monthly listeners on streaming platforms. His concert tours have taken him all over India, Europe and the United States and in 2023 was awarded the Meenakshi Hariharasubramani Award for Excellence in Music. He is an avid promoter of Indian classical music and a strong believer in the future of this music.
Joel's performances have been noted for their welcoming and explanatory quality; pieces are presented with their cultural and historical context so as to open the door for new audiences unfamiliar with Indian classical music. He has presented lecture-demonstrations at a number of schools and universities around the globe (including the California College of the Arts and Delhi Public School Sonepat).