BEST LOCAL ACOUSTIC PERFORMER - 2004
Plenty of unplugged soloists fill rooms with auditory delights. Xela Zaid, for example, can hunch over a guitar and turn your world black as your heart quivers. But this acoustician stands (actually he sits, in the lotus position, when playing) a world apart from the standard electricity-free dude or chick. After decades of study, training, practice, and performance, Stephan Mikés plays sitar at the master level, placing a karmic chapter in the book of cosmic music. Barefoot and ponytailed, gentle but worldly, taught by the best on the planet, Mikés first enters another realm with his giant, stringed gourd-stick instrument across his lap. Then he begins to play tunes from one of his CDs and takes the listener to outer space and beyond. Musical Valium one moment, fire ants in your eyes another, his is both tranquil and stirring music, complex yet smoothly engaging. Playing sitar is extremely challenging. Playing one as well as he does is as rare as a rabbi in the Himalaya mountains.