"All travelers through distant lands return with elements of those lands’ richness inside—later integrated into the creation of new richness at home. As musical and spiritual travelers, Michael & Benjy have taken this journey to create the new land of Celtistan.
"The beautiful musical landscape there reverently merges Michael’s Celtic and jazz sensibilities with Benjy’s love of Indian classical music, giving the ancient traditions of India and Ireland a new melodic voice (with occasional touches of Asia and Bosnia). Celtistan’s flowing and vibrant language was captured live, to preserve the unique richness, openness and spontaneity that shared moments bring.
"Michael & Benjy have shared the depth and beauty of these moments since 1999, when it was clear from their first meeting that their synergy would take them and their audience to new acoustic lands.
"Welcome to Celtistan."
–Eric Alan, Music Director
Jefferson Public Radio • Ashland, Oregon
Author/photographer, Wild Grace: Nature as a Spiritual Path
About Benjy Wertheimer:
An award-winning musician, composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist equally accomplished on tabla, congas, percussion, esraj, guitar, and keyboards, Benjy Wertheimer has toured and recorded with such artists as Krishna Das, Deva Premal and Miten, Jai Uttal, Walter Becker of Steely Dan, virtuoso guitarist Michael Mandrell, and renowned bamboo flute master G. S. Sachdev. He has also opened for such well-known artists as Carlos Santana, Paul Winter, and Narada Michael Walden. Benjy is a founding member of the internationally acclaimed world fusion ensemble, Ancient Future.
Beginning his musical studies at age 5, starting with piano and later violin and flamenco guitar, Benjy received training in Keyboard Improvisation at the University of Colorado and in Composition and Ethnomusicology at the University of Washington. In addition, he has studied Indian classical music for over 25 years with some of the greatest masters of that tradition including Alla Rakha, Zakir Hussain, Ali Akbar Khan and Z. M. Dagar, and was, along with the Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart, a contributing composer and member of the Zakir Hussain Rhythm Experience.
For over five years, Benjy scored music for the internationally syndicated NBC series, Santa Barbara. He has also recorded music for several international clients including Master Card and The Nature Company. His CD Circle of Fire reached #1 on the international New Age radio charts in 2002.
About Michael Mandrell:
Moving to Taos, NM in 1991, Michael performed with the world fusion group "Taos" co-producing their CD, "The Deepening Edge," released nationally on Blix Street Records. His later self-produced CD, "The Great Spiral Dance" continued in the world fusion tradition with all original guitar compositions, adding flutes, East Indian percussion, Uillean pipes and other ethnic instruments.
Michael tours regionally and nationally, playing solo as well as with many of the acoustic warrior road tribe, including Jenny Bird and Benjy Wertheimer. As "Echoes" executive producer Kimberly Hass observes, "Michael's hybrid guitar style reveals a guitarist of eclectic sensibilities and delicate technique. His music circles the globe in imagistic compositions." He currently makes his home in Portland, Oregon.