Four years ago, a performance that he was not expecting led a local yoga studio owner to start what has become a successful annual fundraiser for two local charities.
Mike Houlihan of Roots to Wings Yoga & Healing in Byfield was attending a training session in the Berkshires when he first met percussionist and vocalist John de Kadt. At first, he wasn’t too impressed.
“This guy walks in with a frumpy, old barn coat and a couple of canvas bags,” Houlihan said. “He’s late, and he pulls out these weird-looking drums and starts playing them.”
About 20 minutes into the performance, Houlihan realized that he was familiar with the music from his early days of yoga and that he was really enjoying it.
“All these bells and whistles went off for me,” he said. “I was so moved by his drumming music that I asked him to come to Greater Newburyport.”
About six months later, Houlihan received a call from de Kadt, who offered to bring some friends along for a concert at the studio. Although he was a little apprehensive, Houlihan agreed.
“We’d never done anything like this before,” said Houlihan, who had just recently taken over Roots to Wings with his wife, Beth.
Not sure what to expect, Houlihan did little promotion for the event — until he saw a video online of de Kadt and his friends performing in Manhattan. The group, called The Hanumen, was a new collaboration featuring world music, mystic poetry and mantra chanting.
“When I heard that music, it was so incredible and I was completely freaked out,” Houlihan said.
He immediately went into “panic mode,” spreading the word as fast as he could about the upcoming performance at the studio, which he was able to fill to capacity.
The success of the evening spurred Houlihan to expand the event into an annual offering called “An Evening of Peace, Love and Healing for Greater Newburyport.” The second concert was held at the First Parish Church of Newbury. Last year, it moved to Newburyport City Hall, which will again host this year.