Combining instrumental creativity and a more rockin' feel to the modern folk trio's repertoire with mandolin, guitar, vocals and more.

From The Beginning:

In the Hot Summer months of 2000, three people met at the Brushwood Folklore Center in New York, the home of the Sirius Rising and Starwood festivals that have been going on for years. Among them were a singer, a vocalist, and a mandolin player. This father and son duo from Kansas combined with a single female vocalist from Missouri came together to form SONA. It was realized at once that these three had been searching for each other, and that the magick that was apparent between the three of them musically was rare.

At Sirius Rising and then at Starwood, two back to back festivals that encompass a plethora of dimensions and a diverse smattering of musical talent, the trio came together as much as possible to play and share original songs. They noticed that they got along very well and had great fun working out their tunes together, as if it were the most natural thing in the Universe for them to be together. They wrote several songs together, took them up to the bardic pavilion show on the main stage, and played them for an enthusiastic audience. They played at the tavern late at night, and after the gathering, went their separate ways, promising to get together again soon. A few weeks later, they rejoined at the Festival of Tara in Kansas to rekindle their connection by writing more songs, and were invited shortly thereafter by Trickster from Loke E. Coyote to come to Texas and do the Austin and Houston Pagan Pride day events, and do some work on his rock opera, "Druid Four Winds." Texas was a huge success. They decided to take it further and planned to get together to do another CD, in addition to the live CD they put together with Loke E. Coyote from the Pagan Pride day events.

The Music:

Beltana, Joe, and Joe, the three folks who make up the current lineup of SONA, have an interesting combination of influences and musical backgrounds. Bel had been involved in several rock bands in and around the St. Louis area, and had done some studio work, but always felt like she was missing the point, writing more earthy original music that no one seemed to understand or really have the same desire to play. When she met "The Joes," she realized that these were two very talented and spiritually like-minded people that shared her visions. Joe Sr., the "Older of the Joes," had a lot of background in music, and his son, also named Joe, was a mandolin player with a background of years of guitar playing, and it soon came to light that the three of them had very different musical tastes,yet similar in some respects, spiritually as well as musically. To describe the music of SONA would be a challenge; in words; try to imagine lofty vocals, sweet and at times mesmerizing, combined with passionate and humorous musical intercessions; a combination of roots Celtic and mysterious one moment, then full of energy and bluegrass another- with a little rock in between! Their work encompass mesmerizing harmonious vocals one moment, funny bluegrass tunes the next, and in another breath, a rockin' blues tune that will have you dancing and twirling with abandon.

SONA: The Meaning of the Name: While on the road to Camp Gaia, Bel and the Joes had many discussions on music, life and poetry. In these discussions, they came across the realization that a lot of the Buddhist concepts were something that they all had in common on a spiritual level, and began to discover this as one of the things that they shared as a common thread. Joe Jr. recalled the story of the parable of the lute in Buddhist teachings, and retold it to Bel while trying to describe some of those beliefs that they shared. Later, when searching for a name for the group, they came across the story in a book, the "Teachings of the Buddha." About Sona, the lute player, and the name was born. "The Parable of the Lute" Once the Blessed One lived near Rajagaha, on Vulture Peak. At that time while the venerable Sona lived alone and secluded in the cool forest, this thought occurred to him: "Of those disciples of the Blessed One who are energetic, I am one, Yet, my mind has not found freedom." Now the Blessed One, perceiving in his own mind the venerable Sona's thoughts.Left Vulture Peak, and, as speedily as a strong man might stretch his bent arm or bend his stretched arm, he appeared in the Cool Forest beside the venerable Sona. And he said to the venerable Sona: "Sona, did not this thought arise in your mind? 'Of those disciples of the Blessed One who are energetic, I am one. Yet, my mind has not found freedom." "Yes, Lord." "Tell me, Sona, in earlier days were you not skilled in playing string music on a lute?" "Yes, Lord." "And tell me, Sona, when the strings of your lute were too taut, was then your lute tuneful and easily playable?" "Certainly not, O Lord." "And tell me, Sona, when the strings of your lute were too loose, was then your lute tuneful and easily playable?" "Certainly not, O Lord." ";But when, Sona, the strings of your lute were neither too taut nor too loose, but adjusted to an even pitch, did your lute then have a wonderful sound and was it easily playable?" "Certainly, O Lord." "Similarly, Sona, if energy is applied too strongly, it will lead to restlessness, and if energy is too lax it will lead to lassitude. Therefore, Sona, keep your energy in balance and balance the spiritual faculties and in this way focus your attention." " O Llord," replied the venerable Sona in assent. Afterward the venerable Sona kept his energy balanced, balanced the Spiritual Faculties and in this way focused his attention. And the venerable Sona, lived alone and secluded, diligent, ardent and resolute, soon realized here and now, through his own direct knowledge, that unequalled goal of the holy life.

(Adapted from the Anguttara Kikaya, translated by Nyanaponika Thera) Reviews: CMA Beltane 2001 From the show with SONA: "SONA, a trio of pagan musicians, plays a delightful blend of bluegrass to rock-a-billy" - Don Waterhawk, in a festival review at the WVOX website, 4/19/01

Heartland 2001 From a review of the show: "Friday night kicked off with a great performance by SONA! Many thanks to Beltana, Joe Sr., Joe Jr., for their energy and for the smiles they provided that night. It is always a joy to hear you play." - Don Waterhawk, from the festival review at WVOX on 6/2/01 Dark, Soulful Power and Beauty "Bel's melodic feminine contributions feel like "psychedelic folk" to me, haunting and eerie in their dark, soulful power and beauty." ---SilverDrake Fey, on the recording sessions in Texas, 2000 Splendidly Woven Lyrics On the Gypsy Song: "This Beltana tune will magickally transport you into a gypsy camp..." On the song, Tate's Dream: "Splendidly woven lyrics and haunting music..." On the song, Land of the Sidhe: "Considered Beltana's best "pagan song" to date. Beware: you may put yourself at risk listening to this song under a sycamore tree..." - Cernowain Greenman, from the SONA Fan website

And as one reviewer commented on the Texas Pagan Pride Day Shows: "Joe, Joe, and our own Beltana comprise the trio known as SONA, a name derived from the story of the Buddha's sudden enlightenment after years of contemplation under a tree. This band features an eclectic and rich mix of styles and sounds, which make for a universal appeal to many musical tastes. I feel that they have an appeal even outside of the Pagan context.

The older Joe, who is responsible for many of the more "bluegrass" style songs the bands offers such as Fairy Dew, Burn in Hell, and others, provides a lighthearted and merry feel to much of the music -- and lyrics you can sing along to and remember. Like Trickster, (from Loke E. Coyote) he also has a flair for satire. I found myself being very careful about what I said and did around these folks, let me tell you.....

The younger Joe's particular musical style, embodied in songs like Paper Floor is thus far eluding a particular characterization for me, though I would take a stab at saying what I have heard sounds like "folk rock" or "alternative". Whatever it is, it is introspective, passionate, and even brooding at times, though it never for a moment loses the feel of being driven by an intense, energetic PRESENCE. It is...quite good.

Bel, whose song contributions thus far are Land of the Sidhe, The Well, Tate's Dream, and Snails Ho, provides a melodic feminine counterbalance to the smooth masculine voices of the Joes. Her songs feel like "psychedelic folk" to me, haunting and eerie in their dark, soulful power and beauty. The song Snails Ho is a humorous and cheery tribute to her experience with her "family" at the Pagan Spirit Gathering every year."

In even more words, you MUST experience them for yourself.

Their 2007 Comeback:

"Yes, its true! After a hiatus of three years, SONA has reunited-- to the delight of all their fans. Our infamous Interlopers of Idolatry, the Sultans of Spiritualism, the Pompadours of Paganity, the Mad Missourian Mithraites, the "Peter, Paul and Mary" of Pagan Music, have come back together to reform the Power of Three that is known as SONA." - Cernowain Greenman

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