Sing Out for SEVA

Sing Out for Seva

(Grateful Dead/Arista)

First Appeared at The Music Box, February 2000, Volume 7, #2

Written by John Metzger


Compilation albums, whether recorded in concert or in the studio, can be hit or miss affairs. The best of these tend to offer a cross-generational mix of music that fits together to form a cohesive package. Such is the case with Sing Out for Seva.

Since the Seva Foundation's inception in 1978, the organization has been blessed by a close affiliation with the rock n' roll community. Numerous benefit concerts have been held on its behalf, raising funds and awareness about the not-for-profit and its goals. These include the funding of diabetes wellness programs in Native American communities; sight restoration projects throughout Tibet, Nepal, India, Cambodia, and Malawi; and sustainable economic development projects in Mayan communities.

With such a noble mission, it's no wonder that the Seva Foundation has attracted the attention of a diverse array of musicians from the extended Grateful Dead family to folk legend Ramblin' Jack Elliott to bluesman Charlie Musselwhite. It is performances by artists such as these that have been compiled for Sing Out for Seva. The funny thing about the album is that the tracks that one would most likely expect to succeed end up playing only a minor role in comparison with the rest of the disc. For example, a collaboration between Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, David Crosby's CPR, and Graham Nash on Box of Rain sounds somewhat tentative, though the group redeems itself with an electrifying Wooden Ships to conclude the outing.

Other highlights include Mickey Hart's Luna and Bruce Hornsby's A Night on the Town. On the former, Hart taps into the spiritual connection between man and nature as Julia Butterfly, who has successfully concluded her two-year protest of Pacific Lumber, adds a haunting vocal above the song's percussive groove. The latter features Hornsby at his best, delivering gloriously grand piano chords that gracefully glide between jazz, blues, and classical styles.

As is most often the case with rock 'n' roll, it's the unexpected twists and turns that allow the music to transcend itself into something more.  Perhaps the greatest revelation on Sing Out for Seva is Dan Bern's performance of his self-penned Wasteland. The singer-songwriter is reminiscent of both Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen as he uses his stunning knack for lyrical timing and rhythm to deliver his haunting lyrics of desolate isolation in a post-modern America. Suffice it to say that this single track makes the price of admission more than worthwhile. starstarstar


Of Further Interest...

Dan Bern - New American Language

Mickey Hart & Planet Drum - Supralingua

Saint Misbehavin': The Wavy Gravy Movie (Documentary)


For more information or to send a donation,
contact the Seva Foundation at:

1786 Fifth Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
(800) 223-7382
(510) 845-7382


Sing Out for Seva is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!



1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright 2000 The Music Box