Monthly Archives: July 2013

Now, a reality rock competition on television in Mizoram

Scavenger Management announces Rock Idol 2013

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Winners of Scavenger Rock Idol 20132

 

The Scavenger Rock Idol is back. And it is much bigger than its previous editions. For the first time in the history of Northeast India, a live rock music competition for independent artists is taking place on local television in the second edition of this rock competition in far-flung Mizoram. Well, I guess it will indeed be nice to see your favourite bands competing amongst themselves right from the comfort of your house sitting in front of your television sets!

MPC Scavenger Rock Idol 2013, as the event is christened, is the property of Scavenger Management and the brainchild of two highly proactive musicians – Victor Vanlalhruia and Booma Hansing. Dubbed as the first “national rock competition” of Mizoram, the entire music fraternity of the State has been supporting and participating to make it a mega success.

Like other States of the Northeast, the people of Mizoram too swear by music. The State is home to bands like Boomarang and Scavenger Project and musicians like Mami Varte, Liadingpuii, Pensy B, and the like who are increasingly carving a niche for themselves in the international circuit. But although highly vibrant, the music market here is yet to develop at the same pace as those of the other States, primarily because of the lack of government support. Event management companies are a non-entity and Victor runs the only group that manages artists or bands. Scavenger Rock Idol 2012, therefore, was truly a landmark event, which Victor hopes, would force the government to take musicians of the region a bit more seriously.

Being there in Mizoram to be part of the festival last year, I was indeed pleased with the tenacity displayed by these musicians to hold the Scavenger Rock Idol competition. As many as 21 bands from different parts of the country came out to participate in the competition last year, which offered a prize bouquet of Rs 1,00,000 in cash for the winners. Held over three days, the bands battled it out amongst themselves to remain in the race. At the end of it all, Stacy’s Penitence were adjudged the winners while Prophets and Prophecy came a close second and third. Guwahati-based Digital Suicide finished in the fourth position.

With the passage of a year, Scavenger Management is all set now for the second edition of the festival. And this year, the entire event will be a live rock competition that will be aired on local cable channel LBS. Victor says, “MPC Scavenger Rock Idol III, will be held in Aizawl during 2nd – 17th August. It will be a TV LIVE SHOW during 7:30- 9:30pm every night except Sunday. In this event, the winner will get 1.2 Lakh cash price and Rs.50000/- for the runners-up band. This event will be telecast live on our Biggest TV Cable operator LPS Vision which has more than 8 lakh Subscribers.”

Housed with a skilled and experience team, Scavenger Management is a convergent model that assimilates and caters to the niche of all live music aficionados – artiste management, event planning, multi media-production and booking agency. Victor said, “Scavenger Management had established a reputation as a vibrant and creative company which not only knew how to create an unforgettable experience, but how to get the most from their clients budgets to offer a whole new range of services related to live music production.”

Besides promoting music, Scavenger Management has always tried to be innovative in their practices. For instance, last year they introduced a new concept which was definitely a first in the region. The organizers had tied up with LPS, one of the biggest cable networks in the State, and also online radio station www.radioflambit.com, banking on the association of which they introduced the concept of online voting. The entire show was streamed live by these two channels and listeners of nine countries were able to vote for the participating bands. The online votes acted as the fourth judge in the competition. While I wouldn’t dwell on the effectiveness of the concept in a region where there is a very limited audience for such a radio, it is really nice to see organizers here experimenting with new innovative methods. And this year, they are going online as a live reality rock completion. Can it get better than this?

Art of Rock2 to be held in August

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The second edition of the annual ‘The Art of Rock’ concert will be held at Shilpgram on August 24 this year. An annual rock and Blues concert, the concert, which is held to celebrate the spirit of love, peace and unity through music, will feature pioneering Blues rock band from Shillong, Soulmate, and classic rock band Eclipse as the headlining acts.

The second edition of ‘The Art of Rock’ is being organized by Froggstomp – a modern day youth activity promotion organization whose basic agenda is to promote rock concerts, motor sports events and X games. Froggstomp is founded and managed by Mr. Avinash Borooah, (Masters in Mass Communications) formerly with an Advertising Co. in Bangalore and currently a Director of a TEA Company and Mr. Parijat Purkayastha (B.Com) CEO of A Broadband Internet Service Provider & a System Integration Training and Consultancy Organization. Parijat has been at the forefront of organizing rock concerts in the city of Guwahati.

One of the major highlights of this year’s ‘The Art of Rock’ is the launch and distribution of 1,500 copies of a compilation CD of Rock, Blues and Metal songs made and contributed by different bands from North East India. An unique feature in a rock concert, the cd itself will be used to gain entry into the event. As Parijat says, “Entry Passes will not be sold but will form a part of the compilation CD which will be available from the 15th of July 2013. The CDs are not meant for retail sale, but will be given to people as a token of gratitude for their contribution towards the event. The Gift Pack will contain a CD called ‘Art of Rock Episode 2’ and two entry coupons. The CD + Coupon combo will be available from the 19th of July 2013. The CD + Coupon combo will not be available at venue on the day of the event.”

Two top Northeastern rock and Blues band will be headlining the concert. While Soulmate is arguably one of the top Blues rock band in the world now, Eclipse is another classic rock band from the city which will be performing after a long gap.

The concert will be held on August 24 from 5 pm to 10 pm.

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 HEADLINING BAND: Soulmate

 Inspired by the roots and groove sounds of the Blues, Blues-Rock, Soul, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Funk and R&B, SOULMATE was formed in Shillong, in October 2002. Since then have played numerous gigs all over India and abroad. In 2011 they played in the US selling out two shows at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC during the Maximum India Festival, did a successful 4 city tour of Norway, shared the bill with John Mayall & Gary Clarke Jr. at the Jakarta Blues Festival Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, John Lee Hooker Jr, Robert Randolph Jr, Matt Schofield, Johnny Lang, Shemika Copeland, Walter Trout, Jimmy Thackery at the Mahindra Blues Fest 2011-13. The highlight of 2012 was when Carlos Santana walked on stage and jammed with Soulmate at the F1 Rocks Concert, held in Delhi and where the band were opening for Santana. In the past Soulmate have toured the USA playing in Memphis Tn., Brown University- Rhode Island & Colorado and were twice semi finalists at the 23rd & 26th International Blues Challenge. They have performed in France (Disneyland, Paris), Germany (Baltic Blues Festival 2012), Sweden (Gothenburg and Monsteras Roots and Blues Festival 2012), Singapore (Mosaic Music Festival), Dubai (Du World Music Festival), Indonesia (Jakarta Blues Festival 2010/2011) Bhutan and Kathmandu (Jazzmandu-2004 / 2005 / 2008).

HEADLINING BAND: Eclipse

Eclipse started as a 4 member band with Kundal Goswami on Lead Vocals and Guitar, Mihir Phukan on the Lead Guitar, Rahul Kaushik on Bass Guitar and Twinkle Das on the Drums. The band was later joined by Rajun Goswami on keyboards. After a few changes which saw Mihir leaving the band to be replaced by Sumit Baruah, veteran drummer Ambar Das too joined the band. Their first album, A Mouthful of Moonlight, was released in July 2008. The album reflects the evolution of the band over the years since its foundation. The album was received very well by the rock music fraternity of the region. Eclipse now plays, which they like to call feel good music’, a genre influenced by Blues and Classic Rock. With touches of blues on the guitar, groovy drums, a pounding bass guitar and the glimpses of the 80’s Glam on Keys, Eclipse is a beautiful fusion of all these.

Nagaland extends handshake to Indonesia through music

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The troupe from Nagaland with Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt after the concert in Indonesia

The Handshake concert of Nagaland, which has toured major cities of the country and Thailand, has truly gone international. After visiting Bangkok last year, the Rattle and Hum Music Society extended a hand of friendship to Indonesia. The Handshake concert was held in Indonesia on June 19 last as part of the Jakarta Festival.

The Jakarta Festival, which commemorated the anniversary of Indonesia’s capital city, witnessed Naga artists act as cultural ambassadors for the state. The Handshake Concert, organized by the Rattle and Hum society music society in collaboration with Gedung Kesenian Jakarta provided the key highlight of the day’s festivities on June 19. The festival also saw representation from Nagaland led by Advisor to the Music Task Force and MLA, Khriehu Leizietsu, who was the Honored Guest.

Grammy Award Winner and Global Ambassador of the Rattle and Hum Music Society, Pandit Viswa Mohan Bhatt, who enthralled the audience with his performance, said that he was in love with Nagaland, its people and the beautiful land. Artists from Nagaland were Zowe Madrigal, the Nagaland Chamber Choir, Alobo Naga & the Band, Cultural Vibrants and Naro Peinyii. one of the special highlight of the event was a performance by Naga Idol Renbeni Odyuo with well- known Indonesian guitarist  Mr. jubing Kristianto.

Abu Metha, Advisor to Chief Minister of Nagaland addressed the festival during the Handshake Concert. He projected Nagaland as a state with pristine natural beauty, rich bio-diversity, unique culture and heritage. Speaking about the youth in Nagaland, Metha said that the Naga youths have a special vibrancy that “has to be seen to be believed.”

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Speaking on the relationship between India and Indonesia, Metha said the two countries have shared a special bond that goes back hundreds of years, adding that the handshake concert aims to promote international peace and understanding through the medium of art, culture and music.

The Handshake concert is a non-profit concert aimed towards promoting music, culture and goodwill among the people of the country through “a handshake at a time”. With the first edition of the Handshake concert being organized in Guwahati in 2008, the event has till now travelled to Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Bangkok and Jakarta.

 

In previous editions of the festival, many Naga artistes have visited other parts of the country and the world and got the exposure. Till now, the list of artists who participated in the festival include Tetseo Sisters, OFF Band, Zowe Madrigal, Kenei Chale, Zeliang Dance Troupe, Avancer, Alobo Naga, Lama Tashi, and many others.

Talking about the handshake concert, Theja said, “Since our first show in Guwahati, musicians of our State have not only been representing the Naga culture but also going out as ambassadors of the Nagas. Through music, they have managed to portray a lot of positive aspects in the wake of so much strife and violence in the State. The Government of Nagaland and other non-governmental organizations have together provided an environment where musicians can come and strive to attain excellence,” he said, adding that the Handshake concert has started taking the initiatives of the Nagaland government at the international level.

Theja informed that the Handshake concert has helped expose local talents of Nagaland to the rest of the country and therefore open a window to the remote Northeastern State. “This platform has helped Naga musicians discover their counterparts in other States and we were honoured when, after our 2009 concert in Mumbai, some of our folk artistes were invited to sing and act in a film called The Hunt which had Naseeruddin Shah as the lead actor and was directed by Anup Kurian.”

Stopovers which blend fact with fiction

Ram & Deepa with book

BOOK REVIEW: THE STOPOVER

Recently I came across a very unusual book called, The Stopover – a blend of photography, fiction and fact. Written by Ram Prakash and Deepa Pinto, the book takes one on an enchanting journey to uncharted territories through four absorbing stories.

A crossover between a pictorial essay and a coffee table book, The Stopover, as the name suggests, is the result of four stopovers in life. Deepa says, “We both believe that every place we visit and every culture we experience enriches our lives and that at every stopever in the journey of life lies an exciting new treasure trove. To these shared convictions, we added Ram’s passion for photography and story-letting and mine for language and literature. And the end product is this book.”

Ram Prakash is an executive in the advertising and marketing world while Deepa teaches German at the Goethe Institut/ Max Mueller Bhavan. Their book brings alive four stories, supplemented by highly artistic photograph, in locations, as varied as the stories themselves – of Tibetean monks in Ladakh, of Channapatna wooden toys, a Toda settlement in Ooty and a fish breeding farm at Kolathur in Chennai.

“When I started off, I did not have any objective in mind. I just had a large canvas which I wanted to paint with people and stories,” says Ram, a marketing executive-turned-photographer who got together with Deepa to write the book. “After more than a decade in the advertising world, I realised that professionally I was doing well but have failed to experience life itself. Armed with a one-year course in photography, I got in touch with my long-time friend Deepa, who passion for languages is equally supplemented by her desire for travel and exploration. With a vague idea in mind and a yearning for the unknown, we set out for our stopovers,” he says.

The stories in the book are about fictional people set in actual places. Although written in simple language which is easily comprehensible, the stories bring alive actual tales of dreams, despairs and hope. “We chose subjects that were visually appealing and had a deep context so that the story would become like an inner journey. It’s like expanding your horizons and getting to know yourself better. We also had a marketing strategy in mind for if a person is going to pay Rs 495 for a book, it should have good photographs and tell stories which are beyond the obvious and not available in google or any other search engine.”

So we have a story of an ornamental fish-breeding farm in the outskirts of Chennai as well as the depiction of daily life in a Toda settlement. “We came across the fish-breeding farm during our visit to Kolathur and that particular stopover resulted in a strong desire in both of us to portray the interaction between humans and animals. We were writing about the fish so one might as well see things from the point of view of the fishes, right? What these fishes go through and how they are treated form a major part of the story,” says Deepa.

A photo from the book - The Tibetan wheel of wisdom

But the stories are set in more realistic surroundings as well. As Ram says, being with Todas was an eye-opener. “The place we visited had around 69 settlements with roughly around 2000 people. Everybody knew each other by their names and money did not have any bearing in their relationships. Whatever we read about in scriptures were all practiced by these people,” he said. “Through these stories we want to tell people about what is there in our backyard, of lives and stories which exist but which nobody talks about and which very few ever know that they exist. In the process, we give something back to society as well.”

Photographs from the book have been put on display at Ranga Shankara’s art gallery in Bangalore. The book is available on Flipkart and more details are available at www.stopoverbook.com.