A tall, dark-haired Jewish guy with a wry sense of humor walks into a Hindu temple. ...
Sure, it may sound like the setup of a joke, but really it's just the life of Krishna Das, formerly known as Jeffrey Kagel. In the documentary One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das, named after his debut album of religious chanting and devotional music, director Jeremy Frindel navigates the long and winding road of Kagel's life that led him to where he is today: an internationally known musician with a devoted following and almost a dozen albums under his belt, including collaborations with renowned producer Rick Rubin.
It wasn't a smooth ride.
Kagel went from being a morose, blues-loving bus driver to an acid-tripping twentysomething who bowed out of sessions with what would become Blue Öyster Cult before listening to a life-changing talk by a former Harvard professor and taking a trip to India to meet his guru, Maharaj-ji. It was another long series of events, including a downward spiral through cocaine and freebasing addictions and serious depression, before he started over as a father, a healthy man, and a chanter. Despite taking almost 20 years to get there, Krishna Das is finally keeping his promise and paying tribute to his old friend in the only way he knows how.
Along the way, there's plenty of archival and concert footage (including a segment from his first bus tour in 2010) to keep viewers engaged on the roller coaster toward commercial success, plus interviews with friends and colleagues both here and in India. You may feel like you need a glossary at certain points – notably, the first 10 minutes – but at some point, the universal languages of grief, music, and friendship take over.
Regardless of whether you share his beliefs or understand the language, you'll find yourself sucked in by the tranquil chants and the endearing story of one hippie's journey through life, loss, and love. It's only fitting that it's screening at the temple of indie film, AFS at the Marchesa.
AFS Doc Nights presents One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 7:30pm, at the Marchesa (6226 Middle Fiskville). See www.austinfilm.org for tickets and complete event details.
Copyright © 2013 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.