Acoustic guitar master's concert at Mt. Airy venue

by Len Lear
Posted 5/4/23

Raji Malik will perform original acoustic guitar pieces from his new album, “Time of the Glowing,” at the Mt. Airy Art Garage (MAAG), 7054 Germantown Ave., on Tuesday, May 9.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Acoustic guitar master's concert at Mt. Airy venue


Raji Malik, who will perform original acoustic guitar pieces from his new album, “Time of the Glowing,” at the Mt. Airy Art Garage (MAAG), 7054 Germantown Ave., on Tuesday, May 9, at 6 p.m., has had a 30-year career playing in music ensembles and as a solo performer, starting out in rock music but transitioning to Indian and world music. 

But Malik is just as passionate about his second career as a kindergarten teacher at Abington Friends School as he is about his music.

“I love teaching kindergarten kids,” said Malik, who has lived in Mt. Airy for 20 years. “They teach me how to have awe and wonder for the world.”

Malik said playing music for his students and singing along with them is “a big gift,” and that when it comes to helping people heal their mood, it is “better than prescription drugs.”

“When I play music, I imagine the sound waves rippling out like water. All of our actions ripple out into the world, and kindness has medicinal powers, just like music,” he said. “These sound waves are intended to reduce stress and create a sense of spaciousness in our interior world so that we may more easily recognize our connection with others.”

Malik grew up in Rhode Island, the son of a Russian and Polish mother and an Indian father. He came to Philadelphia to go to the University of Pennsylvania as a philosophy major. He began teaching himself to play the guitar at the age of 19. His initial musical influences were the great rock guitarists Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Jimi Hendrix and David Gilmour (Pink Floyd).

But he then discovered the music of Shakti, a fusion band formed in 1974 that combines Indian music with elements of jazz. It is comprised of three masterful Indian musicians and guitar legend John McLaughlin playing a modified sitar-like acoustic guitar. “It's the most intense music I've ever heard,” Malik said. “They were the first acoustic instrumental world-fusion band. I have that Indian sensibility wired in, so their music has really influenced me.”

After graduation from Penn, Malik went to India to visit an aunt. “I was not sure what I wanted to do as a career,” he said, “and my aunt said that if I did not get a graduate degree, she would go on a hunger strike, like Gandhi. So I went to Drexel graduate school and asked if they had a master's degree program in music education. They said no, so I went ahead and got a regular master's degree in education.”

Right after graduation from Drexel, Malik got a job as a kindergarten teacher, got married and became a stepfather all within two months. He taught kindergarten for nine years at The Philadelphia School, an independent, progressive school in Center City, and then for 16 years at Abington Friends School, where he still teaches.

The first band 

Malik played with his first band, Abandon Earth, for 10 years all over the Philadelphia area. They played only original hard rock music, no “covers.” For the last 20 years, he has played acoustic guitar in two local bands, Earth and Jaffna, which plays all original Middle Eastern-Indian fusion music as well as music of other world cultures, including flamenco. Malik also recently made a video for WHYY's house concert series that has been seen countless times on WHYY's website.

Malik and his wife Tally, a social worker who has worked with hospice residents for years, have three children — Amara, 25 (who lives on the same block in West Philadelphia where Malik lived when he first met Tally); Leela, 17, and Jona, 13. “People might think his name is Jonah,” Malik said, “but we stole the 'h' at his birth. We wanted to give him a quest, something to live for, so he is constantly searching for that missing 'h.'”

“An Evening at MAAG Performance Arts” is scheduled for the second Tuesday of every month. The first performance, held on April 11, featured local jazz singer Phyllis Chapell. Each performance also features the international music of Melanie and the Lost Vaqueros and other local musicians, poets, spoken word artists, and comics. 

Two local businesses, Malelani Café and Kingdom Social Media, sponsor the events. Community members are invited to bring food and drinks (alcoholic and otherwise) to a venue set up like a cabaret with tables and chairs.

For more information, visit or Len Lear can be reached at