Death, of course, is inevitable. We understand that we must accept the ebb and flow of life, and yet knowing this offers little comfort as we find ourselves face to face with this greatest of transitions. I can think of nothing harder to handle or understand than a life cut short long before expected. I speak of Shanti Ananda, beloved father, husband, son and friend who recently suffered a sudden brain aneurysm, costing him his life and creating a void in Santa Fe.
I've spoken with a number of Ananda's friends and they've demonstrated how well he was loved and how well he loved them, but you may wonder, he not being a musician, why am I covering his death in a music column.
First of all, we're talking about a man who was the very embodiment of what I consider to be punk rock. It's not always about "Fuck this" and "Fuck you!" Rather, punk is about social change and having a positive impact on your community. With his non-judgmental style and gentle manner, Ananda brought a much-needed friendliness to the local scene as both Cowgirl doorman and music lover.
Kindness has been the word most used to describe Shanti by friends with whom I spoke after his death. I know I will miss the fleeting moments in which that wonderful teddy bear of a man would take the time to say, "Hello," whether I was attending an event at the Cowgirl or just passing by on my way home. Shanti often walked right up to me with a great big smile, shook my hand warmly and asked me earnestly about my day or my life in general.
Secondly, Ananda was a fixture in both the punk rock and bluegrass communities for years. To be precise, his friends and family tell me that he championed multiple musical styles. Equally at home dancing like crazy in the pit or tapping his toes to reggae or Americana, Ananda loved music from birth. His brother tells me that Ananda's mother, Chela, took a newborn Shanti to Woodstock—yes, the Jimi Hendrix Woodstock performance—where the two were caught dancing on camera, footage which now exists in a documentary about the concert.
"[Shanti and I] were both cut from that '60s cloth, that revolutionary hippie movement which provided that type of consciousness uncommon in today's culture," Ananda's brother, Sattva, says.
Finally, Ananda's untimely death has been felt by dozens of friends who also happen to be local musicians. Musicians who are hard at work putting together a benefit show, or possibly shows, for Ananda's daughter, Freyja. Final dates, lineup and venues are not confirmed, but names like 27 Devils Joking, The Elected Officials, These Charming Cobras and even Grimple are possibilities. SFR will have the details as they become available.
Considering I was, for all intents and purposes, a stranger to Ananda, I found myself moved by his ability to treat me like I mattered. Whenever I left his presence, I wondered why someone who didn't even know me made such effort, and knew that the people closest to him were very lucky.
"If Shanti loved you, he really loved you and that was that," Ananda's wife Jessica Savage tells me. "Our friends keep describing to me how they felt safe around him, or like they were home."
I truly believe no words can convey the sense of loss felt at the death of one as loved as Shanti; however, local musician and longtime Ananda family friend Sean Healen has tried his very best. "Through the rust and cold and wind are where we find our truest friends," he says. "Santa Fe will never be the same again."
A PayPal account has been set up for Shanti's daughter. Donations can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
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