Monthly Archives: September 2011

This puja, Guwahati gears up for ROCKTOBER

Internationally-acclaimed MENWHOPAUSE & OFF to perform for ROCK OF THE AGES concert


If you thought that puja pandals were all you had look forward to in the coming festive season, you better think again. Indian psychedelic rock sensation Menwhopause is all set to carry the puja fever to a different pitch altogether in ROCKTOBER RIFFS –rock of the ages. Scheduled to be held on October 8 next, this hardcore rock festival has already created a wave among rock circles of the State.

Rocktober Riffs, which will provide a rollercoaster ride through the good old days of rock, will also feature Nagaland’s top rock outfit Original Fire Factor (OFF). The four member alternative rock outfit, known for their originals, had won the Hornbill National Rock Contest in 2009. Guwahati-based classic rock bands PROJECT PATKAI and STAGS will also be performing on the occasion.

Rocktober Riffs is being organized by Eastern Beats Music Society in association with the North East Zone Cultural Centre, Dimapur. The event is being supported by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, under Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, The Northeast Today, Hit7 Television, Saanz Mobile and other partners.

Eastern Beats Music Society founder secretary and creative director Aiyushman Dutta said the concert has already created a lot of enthusiasm among the city’s mature rock circles. “Whether it is the alternative-meet-psychedelia sound of Menwhopause, or the protest brand of retro-rock as espoused by OFF, Rocktober Riffs is going to rock as it is meant to be,” he said.

For those who happen to be still uninitiated, Menwhopause, whose journey started a decade back in 2001, is one of the very few rock success stories in the Indian subcontinent. Labelled as “India’s top rock band” by a jury of veteran and eminent musicians in the Jack Daniel Polls 2008 held at Nashville, USA, their first EP titled ‘The Story Begins’ was launched in 2003 under the band’s own label “the middle earth company.” The songs found international airplay, including BBC London, and climbed on to top 10 ranks on international mp3 sites. Ever since then, the band has been slowly but steadily setting benchmarks in India’s music scene, most importantly as being one of the first bands to have stuck to playing only original music and concentrating on the art of songwriting.

OFF


Their debut concept album ‘Home’ saw an international release by the middle earth company in August 2006. Their fixation towards creating and retaining their own identity had worked for them, as they were the first Indian band found to be commercially viable to perform at the world’s biggest independent music festival, the prestigious South by Southwest [SXSW] in Austin, Texas, in March 2007. This was followed by a month-long tour with other bands from Iran, Germany, Britain, Mexico, Scandinavia, etc. in the early part of 2008.

The band’s performance at ROCKTOBER RIFFS in Guwahati marks the promotional drive of their new album ‘Easy’. “With soothing rhythms, emphasis on a simplistic approach to rock, lyrics that describe everyday life, and tons of humour – Menwhopause has ensured that with easy, their fan base remains on a continuous upward surge,” says Dutta. The band is made up of Sarabjit Singh, guitarist Anup Kutty, guitarist Inder Pal Singh, singer-songwriter Sarabjit Chadha, bassist Randeep Singh and Paul Schneiter on drums.

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Generous response to PRSI’s blood donation drive

GUWAHATI, SEPTEMBER 19: People from all walks of life responded whole-heartedly to the daylong blood donation drive that was organised by Public Relations Society of India (PRSI) Guwahati Chapter in collaboration with Down Town Hospital in the city on Saturday.

Madhuchanda A Chaoudhury, Chairperson PRSI speaking at the Blood Donation drive organised by PRSI in the city on Saturday


Dr NN Dutta, CMD Down Town Hospital, speaking at the Blood Donation drive organised by PRSI in the city on Saturday.


At the outset of the programme, Madhuchanda A Choudhury, Chairperson of PRSI welcomed the guests and donors besides giving a bird’s eye view of the various socially relevant projects undertaken by PRSI. Dr KC Barua, Director of Down Town Blood Bank, spoke on different aspects of blood donation. Others who spoke on the occasion were Dr NN Dutta, CMD Down Town Hospital and Dr Nandita Choudhury, Vice Chancellor, Assam Down Town University.

Large groups of students and media persons also donated blood on the occasion. The largest student group came from the central IT College in the city.

Vishal and Shekhar bring Dosti spirit to Guwahati


Multi-talented Bollywood music duo, Vishal and Shekhar, performed last Sunday in front of a massive audience at Guwahati as part of their 13-city Dosti concert tour. Besides bringing the crowd literally on its feet, the music director duo also disclosed their plans to get into dosti-based lyrics and tunes to strike an even stronger connect with their fans and friends. Vishal and Shekar’s joint Dosti Anthem, which will reflect the Dosti Ka No 1 Spirit, will be launched shortly later this month, they revealed.

Their performance in front of the 8000-strong crowd at Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Sarusajai was part of their 13-city McDowell’s No 1 Dosti Concert. Hardcore friends, their friendship had led to the evolution of the theme for the Dosti concert.

Music had brought the two of them together in the late 90s and their Dosti has produced songs that continue to top the music industry charts today. Strong melody, high energy, youth and honesty is the hallmark of Vishal and Shekhar’s music and the formula for their personal success and sustained friendship.

Speaking on the occasion, Vishal and Shekhar, said, “Music connects people especially when it reminds you of your friends or the great moments that you and your friends have spent together. It is this spirit that we want to re-create through the Dosti Concert. It’s a great opportunity for friends to come, watch us live and relive the magical Dosti moments. You will see a lot more Dosti music coming from our stable as we go forward – the Dosti Anthem is the first on the anvil. We will be talking to young directors in Bollywood to present our first signature song to celebrate the spirit of friendship.”

Vishal and Shekhar shot into fame with their differentiated music for Pyar Mein Kabhi Kabhi and Jhankaar Beats, for which they also won the RD Burman award. Novelty and youth connect drives them to be experimentative and compose a unique combination of lyrics, style and music for every new film in which they direct the music. Music in Buddha Hoga Tera Baap, Anjaana Anjaani, I Hate Luv Storys, Salaam Namaste, to name a few, is iconic in its own right and further scripts Vishal and Shekhar’s friendship success.

Mathew Xavier, Sr. Vice President – Marketing of United Spirits Limited, who presented the concert, said, “McDowell’s No 1 is the first choice when friends decide to have a good time. The brand has continued to foster the spirit of friendship through popular platforms of Bollywood music and cricket. From Bryan Adams Live to the more recent Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy concert; from the memorable Adam Gilchrist’s commercial at a restaurant prompted by his team mates to the trademarked Friendzy events during IPL and Champions League, McDowell’s No 1 has won the hearts of those who believe that Dosti is the No 1 spirit. Dosti Concert is a tribute to the two successful friends, Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani, who have continued to bring out the best in music in Hindi cinema.”

McDowell’s No 1 is the largest FMCG brand by retail value, also rated among the top four fastest growing brands in the world by Impact, an independent international magazine. The McDowell’s No1 Dosti Concert with Vishal and Shekhar is spread over 13 cities in India including Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Patna, Guwahati, Lucknow, Bangalore, Pune, Panchkula, Indore, Nagpur, Ludhiana, with some of these cities witnessing the duo live in action for the very first time.

Jazz concert held in city

An experimental concert was held in the city recently. Titled jazz-o-phonix, the concert was a mixture of Indian and Western classical, along with few shades of Rock, Reggae, Blues, traditional and Contemporary music. The concert was held at Shilpgram on September 10 and it was organized by Sabda Communication.

The evening saw acclaimed violinist Manoj Baruah and his group present some of their compositions which were well appreciated by the audience gathered. Barua was accompanied by Purabee Baruah, Abhinav Das and Preetam Ghosh on table.

The concert also marked the birth of a new jazz band called STOIC. The band members comprise of Dibbyajyoti Baruah (drum and percussion), Prasanta Das (bass and nylon guitar), Tapan Das (electric and nylon strings), Deep Bodo (bass guitar), Pankaj Choudhury (keyboard), Pallab Phukan(vocal), Papu Gohain and Bhavesh Hazarika (backing vocals). Enthralling the audience with their own compositions, the band members revealed the plans to launch their brand new jazz album with the same title as that of the band.

The musical evening was presented by SABDA COMMUNICATION which was established in the year 2009.The founders and members of SABDA COMMUNICATION are Subham Chakraborty, Wasbir Hussain, Anirban Lekharu (Dabu), Bikash, Bhaskar and Hiren.

Dissected Soul

BAND WATCH

Dissected Souls, formerly known as Soul, was formed in the year 2010 with a group of five musicians jamming with covers of bands like Megadeth and Mettallica. The band presently operates out of Darjeeling as its base but the members are from Kurseong and Siliguri. The founder members Dipesh, Yogen and Divakar were later joined by Sunny on Bass Guitar and Nitesh on Guitars. With the infusion of fresh blood, the band has devoted itself completely to playing its own original compositions.

Presently the band consists of Dipesh on Guitars, Nitesh on Guitars, Sunny on Bass, Yogen on vocals and Divakar on drums. Talking about their music, Divakar says, “Our music is not prematurely defined in any particular manner as such as this is a complete personal approach of our own self fancied views towards the bands we listen to and follow such as Meshuggah, Chimaira, Lamb of God , Gojira , Kill Switch Engaged , Hatesphere and many more.”

Dissected Soul’s music comprises of catchy breakdowns which hit you straight in the face and gives you an undermining power to feel what is being done. “We believe in the music that we do and have full respect for all other forms of Music around us,” says Sunny.

The band has been rising steadily in platforms all over the country. Winners of Manifesto of Headbangers 2010, the band was first runners up in the North North Bengal Medical College 2010 concert. They also performed in Assam when they were among the nine top bands selected from all over the country for the 2ns Karbi Anglong National Beats Contest. Dissected Soul were also the winners of Siliguri Institute of Technology rock concert, Jeclat 2011 rock concert, finalist in the Blossom Fest 2011 and many more. Out of their original tracks, their track Remorse was selected as the best original in the Great Himalayan Rock 2010.

‘Consumer taste is same, only loyalty has shifted’

    GUWAHATI RETAIL MUSIC MARKET – THE UP’S AND THE DOWN’S

For Arvind Ajitsariya, life, or rather the music record, has played its full cycle. From starting off as the only music distributor-cum-retailer in the Northeast with a booming business to the present day state of affairs today when retail sales of physical records are at the lowest minimum, he has seen it all. As owner of Meghali Music, the foremost and oldest music store of Guwahati, Arvind and his wife Usha had managed to create an enviable reputation for themselves as the music lords of the region. “If you don’t get that tape in Meghali, you wont get it anywhere else,” is still the unanimous view of most music lovers in Guwahati and other towns of the region.

However, a few years back, the pitiable state of the music retail industry had prompted Arvind to diversify into other areas like mobile handsets and electronic items. “The music retail industry won’t last for more than five years,” he makes a definite claim. The sadness, evident in his voice, is understandable. In the heydays, the same retailer used to sell more than 500 audio records of movies on a daily basis for three-four months at a stretch. “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Dil to Pagal Hain were some of the movies which sold like hot cakes during those days. Nowadays, it’s a big thing even if you manage to sell 10 copies.”

While the birth of T-Series marked the start of the music revolution in the country, emergence of music retail chains was one of its defining factors. “T-Series literally stopped the monopoly of HMV in the entire market but the mushrooming of the music chains marked the beginning of the downfall. While they themselves did not make any profit, they did spoil the entire market,” says Arvind.

However, he still has his hopes pinned on the market. “The dynamics are always changing. I am hopeful that it will come back to square one someday. After all, the consumer taste is still the same. Its just the loyalty that has shifted – you don’t want to pay for your music today. But quality will always have the last say.”

Having veered into music production for a brief period as well with my production house Nisha Audio, Arvind strokes my curiosity when he claims that in terms of volume, North east India has the highest market in the country for physical sales. He explains, “I have spoken to many music distributors all over the country while taking regional distributorship of a number of films and had realised that the North east accounts for almost 30 to 35 per cent of total sales.”

A much loved retailer of western music lovers for his collection of English tapes, Arvind has done it all, even bringing in pirated English cassettes from Nepal and then recording it in blank cassettes for music lovers here. “We used to get those cassettes from Nepal for Rs 150-200 during those days and re-record them and sell here. Copyright was an alien concept during that time,” says Arvind, who was arrested for the offence in the late nineties and kept in police remand. “Piracy is now the biggest threat to the music industry. The entire phenomenon has now been transformed into an organized crime with mafia groups running the show in places like other towns of the Northeast,” he says.

ARVIND’S VIEW OF THE GUWAHATI MUSIC MARKET

1. What genres sell in the city and who is the target audience buying physical music?

Arvind: There has always been a mixed audience for music in Guwahati. Ours is probably the only market in the country where such diversity in tastes exists. Folk, local and classical music are equally popular here, besides of course the Bollywood numbers. In other parts of the Northeast, there is a huge market for international catalogues.

2. Difference in margins to retailers for regional versus bollywood music versus international catalogue.

Arvind: Apart from local, the margin is almost the same. Margin is much lesser in international catalogues.

3. How has music retailing evolved with chain stores like Landmark, Planet M stepping in a decade back?

Arvind: It can be compared with a revolution. While these stores did not manage to make any profit themselves, they did spoil the entire music retail market.

4. How many stores were there in Guwahati earlier and do they still exist?

Arvind: There were around five major independent music retail stores in the nineties. Except one, all have diversified and the one which has not diversified is on the verge of closure.

Kalpana banks on mystic North East in latest Hindi music video album

Assamese singer Kalpana Patowary, who shifted base from Guwahati to Mumbai, has emerged as a front-running artist in the Bhojpuri music world. Having been bestowed with the title of “Queen of Bhojpuri Music”, Kalpana is now working on her first Hindi music video album – Maa-e-ri, which focus on the pristine beauty of North East India.

The locations for Kalpana’s album are befitting for the album as they take the viewers on a journey through some of the minimally visited locales of the Northeast. The videos have been produced and the production coordinated by Music Box, which has sought hard to present the North east in all its beauty and grandeur. The videos have been shot in locales like Dawki in Meghalaya, Mawlynong village, Cherapunjee, etc.

The production team has sought to highlight the significance of the locales through the videos. For instance, Mawlyngnong is regarded to be one of the cleanest villages in India.
“The rich sites of this village have been captured in frame, which obviously will whet the senses of an adventurous traveller. The tiny village, otherwise unknown to most people of the world, will now be featured in this video, which will get an edge in the tourism map. The Living Root Bridge, a phenomenon to be seen to be believed is something that tourism buffs will be attracted to after seeing the video, which will be a class apart in its league. A part of the video has also been shot in Cherrapunjee, once the wettest place on earth,” says Kalpana.

Mae-e-Ri, apart from portraying the rich tapestry of some of the places of the Northeast has also laid ample emphasis on the costumes, which is an array of attractive colours from the looms of the Northeast. The first costume that Kalpana has worn for her video is an ensemble inspired from one of the tribes of Nagaland. The video captures traditionally garbed Naga tribesmen performing to the beat of Kalpana’s song. “We have also used costumed from Assam, a dress unique to the Darrang District. This costume is mostly worn by the women during the performance of the Deodhani Nritya on the auspicious day of Ma Manasha Puja,” says Kalpana.

The Deodhani dance is performed either solo or in a group of three to four women essentially on the occasion of the worship of Godesses Manasha. As per myth, Behula had to dance before Goddess Manasha in order to get back her husband’s life. The dancers wear Mekhela-Sador, the unique and traditional attire of the women of Assam. This ethnic ensemble is a two piece dress, with the mekhela being the lower part or the skirt from waist down, which is pleated in two to three folds. This is topped up by a blouse. The Sador is a longish piece of cloth, which is again wrapped very gracefully over the blouse and right across the front of the torso to be folded delicately into the mekhela. The motifs woven into the mekhela-sador are usually inspired by objects from nature, like birds, flowers, trees, etc.

For Kalpana, this video has been a journey of some of the most coveted moments of her life. Says Kalpana, “I am launching my first International Hindi music album in order to reach out to the maximum number of music lovers around the globe. I am on a journey of evolution through this album. A tribute to Mother Earth, working on this album has been a major experience for me. Let us return to nature because only in nature can the spirit of mankind be found meaningful.”

Martial art group from Nagaland in India’s Got Talent

Faith in Action (FIA), a martial arts group from Nagaland, which has entered into the quarterfinals round of “India’s Got Talent Season 3”, received a standing ovation in the quarterfinals, after their brilliant performance. The event was shot at EyeDeam Studio, Mumbai with hosts Cheng and Gautam.

The Reality show is being judged by Bollywood superstar Dharemendra, Sonali Bendre and Kiron Kher.

The show would be telecast on September 3 at 9 p.m. at Colors channel and a repeat telecast on the same channel on September 4 at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. Right after the telecast on September 3, the voting lines would be open for the public till 9 a.m. next morning.

The show would have two Bollywood celebrities, Tusshar Kapoor and Shreyas Talpade.

FIA team leader, Deep Kumar, who is leading a 10-member team to the Reality Show has appealed to the people of Nagaland and Northeast to vote for them so that they emerge as winners. People can vote through SMS by typing FAI and sending it to 56882. It may be mentioned here that FIA is the only team from the entire Northeast, which was selected during the screening round held last month.

Abiogenesis charms Bhutan with Howey music

The silence of the beautiful green valley of Thimpu, the capital city of Bhutan, was broken with the performance of Howey music by experimental Naga rock band Abiogenesis in front of a mammoth gathering at Clock Tower in Thimpu on August 15 last. Incidentally, the performance of the world-class Indian band marked the launch of Bhutan Star season 3, the most popular reality show in Bhutan, which strives to find the best singing star in Bhutan. Abiogenesis frontman Moa was asked to sign at the Bhutan Star certificates which were given to the participants.

The band, which is based in Nagaland, is famous for creating the avant-garde music ‘Howey’, a fusion of folk tunes and modern music. Their album “Aeon Spell” was listed for nominations at the 50th Grammy Awards, Rustic “Rustic Relish” in the 51st and their third album “Slice of Heaven” for the 53rd Grammy Awards. The family band has performed over 500 gigs in India, Thailand, and Myanmar. “The crowd was very responsive and sang Howey along with Arenla, the vocalist of the band,” recollects frontman Moa.

Later on the same day, Abiogenesis also performed in front of Indian dignitaries at the 800-capacity hall of the Indian embassy in Bhutan. The programme was organized by the Indian Embassy to celebrate the 65th Anniversary of Indian Independence Day. When the band started performing, the crowd started clapping and sang Howey along. After the show, the band members were felicitated by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk. Other dignitaries included the Prime Minister of Bhutan along with His cabinet ministers and MPs, 2 Princesses from the Royal Family, Diplomats of various Embassies in Bhutan, The Indian Ambassador and His lady wife, Director of Nehru Wangchuk Cultural Centre, Thimpu etc.

Following the performance in the high-profile concerts, Abiogensis is an energised and excited lot. Moa says, “It was really great performing in Bhutan. We never expected the kind of response that we got over there. All the dignitaries were awestruck by our performance and the Queen Mother herself commended on our energy on stage. Even the Prime Minister wants us to perform in Bhutan once again.”

The sound of the Bamhum, which is a wind instrument developed by Moa, was one of the main factors which endeared the band. Aren says, “Everyone praised the new form of world music and they were all enchanted by the sound of the Bamhum.” Both the above shows were shown live on Bhutan National Television CBBS and this channel is available in 42 countries.

The third performance of Abiogenesis in Bhutan was at Phuntsoling at the Phuntsoling Higher Secondary School auditorium. “The 1000-strong crowd which had gathered went frenzy when the concert kicked off and almost everyone was seen singing and dancing along with the music,” says Moa. The Phuntsoling show was organized by the Consulate General of India, India House, Phuntsoling, Bhutan.

Abiogenesis Bhutan Tour was coordinated by the Director, Nehru Wangchuk Cultural Centre, Thimpu, Bhutan and the tour was sponsored by ICCR.

Sunita performs at Rajiv Gandhi memorial ceremony

Assamese violinist Sunita Khaund Bhuyan, who is becoming a popular figure in the music circles of the country, added yet another feather in her cap when she performed at the Shradhanjali ceremony, which was organized in Mumbai to pay homage to former Prime Minister of the country Late Shri Rajiv Gandhi on his 67th birth anniversary.

Sunita with the mumbai mahila congress

Held on August 20 last at the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee Head Office, a number of political bigwigs and illustrious personalities were part of the gathering.

The event, which was attended by a host of dignitaries, included among others Shri Prithiviraj Chavan, Chief Minister Maharashtra, Shri Mohammad Arif Naseem Khan Minister for Textiles, Minorities Development and AUKAF, Shri Suresh Hirayenna Shetty Minister for Public Health & Family Welfare and Protocol, Shri Milind Deora Member of Parliament & Minister of State for Information Technology & Communications, Shri Eknath Gaikwad Member of Parliament-Mumbai South Central, Mumbai Congress President Shri Kripashanker Singh Member of the Legislative Assembly , Mrs Janet Dsouza President Mumbai Mahila Congress , Shri Charansingh Sapra Member of the Legislative Council Maharashtra.

With most of the gathering mesmerised by the performance of the Assamese violinist, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chauhan and MP Milind Deora, in particular, congratulated and felicitated the artist for her performance.

Sunita Bhuyan, who is the head of leadership and developmental training at Syntel Inc – a global ITES firm – is the daughter of veteran Indian classical musician Minoti Khaund. A respected human resource professional, she plays a dual role in life balancing her profession and her love of music. She has excelled under her mother’s musical tutelage to emerge as one of the finest violinists in the country. A star performer in many prestigious stages across the nation, her life is a precarious balance of her love and passion for music and her own professional requirements that involves bringing out the best in people.

Sunita has designed a much-acclaimed HR module called Life enrichment through music, which uses the various nuances of melody and harmony to increase productiveness in employees. The module has fetched Sunita the award for most innovative learning practice at the world HRD congress last year, while she has also been invited to present this concept at the Harvard Club of New York later this year. The artist is also a recipient of the Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini award for Music.