Korla Pandit, the Grand Mogul of Exotica

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 20, 2016 05:59pm | Post a Comment

Korla Pandit

By Kai Wada Roath
Ambassador of Confusion Hill and host of the Super Shangri-La Show

Kai and Korla
The author, relaxing.

"For wisdom is better than rubies, and all things to be desired are not to be compared unto it. We bring you musical gems from near and far, blended into a pattern of glorious harmony."
~ Opening monologue of Korla Pandit's Adventures In Music television show

Are you still seeking for that magical present for your favorite Auntie Zuki-Neenee? Well, seek no further, for your quest triumphantly ends here! And the gift you ask? The newly-released documentary Korla on DVD!

Directed by folk art lover John Turner and produced by Eric Christensen, this documentary takes you into the mysterious world and history of Korla Pandit (minus Korla's famous "couch-hopping" that's said he did with female fans in his later years...that ol' moochie suave smoothie). The two filmmakers even got August 20th to be officially recognized as Korla Pandit Day with a proclamation from the City of San Francisco back in 2015.

Korla - Trailer from Appleberry Pictures on Vimeo.

Was Korla really from India? Was his mom really a French opera singer? Who was Juan Rolando? Did a blonde-haired rotting orange really become our next President?!?

Let’s face it…'tis the season for major mental breakdowns. Some folks try Qigong or floating therapy in a Korla Kristmassensory deprivation tank while holiday shopping to prevent an anxiety freak-out from happening. Others may stray their own path to inner peace, like visiting the Gordo's on Geary for a super burrito and starring out the window, waiting in hopes to catch a glimpse of that hot, beautiful Russian mom strolling to shop at Ross Dress-for-Less again (the same one they did not see while waiting for her the week before, but the one they saw the week before that). Myself, I lay on my Grandma's old Turkish rug and with my Pisces daydreaming powers and a Korla record playing, I quickly mentally drift to distant lands...lands of long ago...lands without meter maids and microwaves.

Korla's music will whisk you away to exotic locations, much like an airplane or the Starship Enterprise (original series only for me). His music was even used to set the mystifying background in the revival of the occult adventure radio series, Chandu the Magician.

I remember once asking Elayne of Marty and Elayne at the Dresden Room in Los Feliz if she was a Korla fan. Her sparkly stoned eyes filled with love and she told me he once came to her house when she was a little girl and he played their family piano. (On a side note, if you have not seen Marty and Elayne perform "Stayin’ Alive" in person, you need to drive to the Dresden tonight, order a Blood and Sand cocktail, and prepare yourself for a life changing event.)

Korla would put out 13 albums on Fantasy Records, many in beautiful colored bright blue or red vinyl. One running joke is it’s easier to find an autographed Korla Pandit record than one that is not.

Here Korla performs his version of the Eastern Mediterranean classic melody, "Misirlou," known to most as that song Dick Dale made a hit with in 1962, later to be Lazarused with that '90’s movie that got everyone who liked “caca de puupuu” music like Sublime to love surf music for a hot ten minutes. Ahh the surf revival of the '90's. Only the Phantom Surfers knew what they were doing...No Go Diggi Di!

In the 1970-80s, Korla would play at the Pizza and Pipes all around the Bay Area. One must wonder how Korla Pandit autographmany times San Francisco's Church of Satan founder and Fox Theatre organist Anton LaVey went with his friends to watch him play. One must also ponder what Anton's favorite pizza toppings were. Did he ask for the pizza to be cut like a pentagram (a.k.a. a Pentagram Pizza)? Did Korla get a free pizza for playing? And what were his favorite toppings?

These are the questions I should have asked him when I met him over 20 years ago, but I was too much in awe standing that close to a living god.

To wrap this up like Queen Nefertiti, seek out the Korla DVD and sleuth the Lounge section at Amoeba for old Korla records and reissued CDs. Korla will open a new dimension door for your ears to travel. Trust in me, just in me. Shut your eyes, trust in me.

Korla Pandit Day

Relevant Tags

Kai Wada Roath (37), Korla Pandit (6), Exotica (15), Lounge (12), Organ (11), Documentaries (20), Film (184), Marty And Elayne (1), The Dresden Room (1), Fantasy Records (2), Anton Lavey (4)