Dylan tribute fest organized all over Northeast

Old Friends – Lou Majaw with Nandan Bagchi on the drums

The music landscape of Shillong and other parts of the region came alive once again recently with the birthday celebrations of Bob Dylan. The birthday celebrations have been organized by Lou Majaw with unfailing regularity in Shillong from May 24, 1972.

This was the 41st year of the birthday celebrations and it extended for three whole days. Starting on May 24 at Cloud 9 lounge in Shillong, this year’s edition was dedicated to creative expressions – a blend of music, poetry and panting. Accordingly, besides the jamming and music sessions, an evening of poetry was also coordinated by noted poet and folklorist Desmond Kharmawphlang at Cafe Shillong. “Anyone can come and share their joys, pains and sorrows through the medium of songs and poetry,” said Kharmawphlang, who had a number of well-known poets like Kympham Singh Nonkynrih giving him company.

Alobo Naga sings in Hiyo cafe

The festival concluded at Umiam Lake where a host of musicians, including Whirling Kalapas led by Uday Benegal and American singers Parker Ainsworth, Jeff Harding and Skye, also performed. “Every day we are being bombarded by one absurdity after the other. There are too many dos and don’ts. But what I believe is that the music must go on. Forget politics and save music,” Lou said in the sidelines of the festival.

from left – Anup Dutta, Monijit Baruah and Nandan Phukan

What started off as a small fest, however, has now grown into a mega festival, with its popularity spilling over into other major towns and cities of the region. After Shillong, the first city to fall prey to the Dylan craze was Guwahati. Musicians and music lovers of the gateway city who have attending the Shillong tribute with unfailing regularity had started their own tribute concert last year. Christening themselves as the Guwahati chapter of the Bob Dylan society, these musicians join Lou celebrate Dylan’s birthday over a distance of 100-odd kilometres.

“Lou is undoubtedly India’s own Dylan. However, it has become increasingly difficult for us to go up to Shillong every year to take part in the celebrations. That does not, however, mean we will stop celebrating the day. So some of us friends decided to open the Guwahati chapter of the Dylan society so as to make it easier for us,” a member of the Guwahati chapter of the Great Dylan society said,

This year around, the Dylan tribute fest in Guwahati was organized by the Guwahati chapter of the Dylan society in association with popular art and music promotion organization – the Eastern Beats Music Society – at Cafe Hendrix in the city. Like the celebrations in Shillong, the event here too was also dedicated to creativity. As a member of the Dylan society said, “Dylan is a person who advocated creativity and change throughout his life. So this year, the theme of our celebrations was creativity in any form – it could be writings, poetry, music, songs, whatever. Anyone who has a piece of something creative with him or her were encouraged to come and take part in the event.”

So as the celebrations in Guwahati began with a poignant rendering of Blowing in the Wind by Dr Nandan Phukan, one could truly feel the Lou-led tribute fever wafting down the hills from Shillong. The Great Dylan Society (Guwahati chapter) was joined by a host of veteran musicians, including Monojit Barooah, Amlandeep Das, Bala Bhadra Hagjer, Sandeep Gogoi, Sumon Duarah, Anup Dutta, Hridoy Goswami, to name a few.

Pratik Barooah of Bolt from the Blue

Guwahati-based bands Bluetooth and Bolt from the Blue also performed their own sets of originals and popular Dylan numbers, which included Just Like a Woman, Like a Rolling Stone, Baby Blue, All Along The Watchtower, amongst others. While the duet between Amlandeep Das on guitars and Bala Bhadra Hagjer on the harmonica was received with much applause, the performance of Sarah by Monojit Barooah, who was accompanied by his son Pratik Barooah and Anup Dutta, really took one back on a nostalgic ride.

Dimapur – the commercial capital of Nagaland, located some 380-odd kilometres away from Guwahati – also could not miss the Dylan fever as a few musicians celebrated the day with a jamming session at Hiyo café. Popular Naga singer Alobo Naga, Naga Idol renbeni Idyuo were the main performers for the evening even as a host of other musicians got together for an evening of jamming and poetry.

Thanks to Lou Majaw, Dylan certainly lives on in Northeast India. And judging by the way the tribute celebrations are going, he will surely do so for quite some time to come!



About Aiyushman Dutta

Who am I? Yet to find the answer. For the time being, u can call me a writer, maybe a journalist and a music entrepreneur or an errand boy! Whatever suits your fancy!

Posted on July 9, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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