Category Archives: Concerts/ Reviews
My views/ reviews on some of the concerts/ events which I attended
Attempts being made to set up musuem for late Elwin’s works in Guwahati
SHILLONG, Feb 22: A little known aspect of the life of pioneering anthropologist late Sir Verrier Elwin, one of the founding father’s of the Indian Government’s policy towards tribals, was brought to the fore when a collection of his poetry was released in Shillong on February 22 last. The collection, 28 poems, was released in Bookmark, a small bookstore in Nongrim Hills, by his wife Lila Elwin, son Ashok Elwin and NEZCC director Som Kamei in the presence of a host of litterateurs. The publication of the book was facilitated by the North East Zone Cultural Centre (NEZCC).
Born on August 29, 1902 in Dover, Kent, late Sir Verrier Elwin came to India as a missionary. A visit to Sabarmati Ashram and a meeting with Mahatma Gandhi changed his life and he became a staunch supporter of the Indian national movement. Although not trained as an anthropologist, his studies about the tribals and his writings on their customs, myths, folklore, poetry were pathbreaking for both anthropology and for understanding the rich cultural diversity of our nation. He spent a considerable amount of time with the tribals of Northeast India and finally settled down in Shillong.
Releasing the book, Som Kamei said that the royalty collected from the sale of the book would be given to the Elwin family. He also presented a cheque of Rs 25,000 to his son Ashok Elwin and Lila Elwin, wife of late Sir Elwin.
Kamei further said that his department was trying to set up a musuem displaying certain memoribilia and souvenirs from the late anthropologist’s personal collection in Shilpgram in Guwahati. “Sir Elwin protected the rights and cultures of the tribals of Northeast India to a huge extent. The manner in which we perceive the Northeast and the way we live today has been determined by his efforts to a huge extent. We hope our plans to set up a musuem in his memory become a reality.”
Ashok Elwin, son of late Sir Verrier Elwin, said that he was thankful to NEZCC for facilitating the publication of the book. “My father’s writing about the tribes of Central and North-eastern India definitely had an impact on the policies of the Indian Government towards the welfare of tribes of Northeast India. The collection ‘28 poems’ was first published in 1956 for private circulation only and it was only because of a chance meeting with Som Kamei that resulted in its formal release today,” he said.
A number of noted poets and critics dwelt on the significance of the poetry collection. Noted folklorist and poet Prof Desmond Kharmawphlang said that late Elwin had a deep understanding of the relationship between folk and the narrative which was evident in his poems. “The manner in which he used the power of narrative to depict simple issues having such deeper significance is simply amazing,” said Kharmawphlang, the head of the department of folklore and creative studies of North East Hills University (NEHU).
Dwelling on the collection, noted poet and critic Dr Ananya Guha said that love was one of the most significant elements in late Sir Elwin’s poetry. “Love in all its many different forms is one of the many recurrent themes in his poems,” said Dr. Guha. Another acclaimed poem Prof Robin Ngangom also read some of the poems from the collection.
The sixth edition of the Streax Unish Kuri Glam Hunt 2012 powered by Vicco SF this year has yet again set the most promising and sought after platform for ten aspiring enthusiastic and energetic models.
After an exciting and nail biting preliminary round, the next rounds which tested the 10 finalists are the sub contests which included the much anticipated swimwear round. This round was held at Princeton Club’s pool side where the models competed against each other for the title of ‘Mr. and Ms. Glam Bod’. In this round, the participants were judged on how good they looked in swimwear and the comfort and ease with which they could carry of the garment. The judges for the swimwear round of Streax Unish Kuri Glam Hunt 2012 powered by Vicco SF included: Joy Mukherjee; lead actor of the Bengali movie ‘Target’, Arpita Mukherjee; actress from popular teleserials – ‘Sindoor Khela’ & Sabinoy Nibedon and Paromita Banerjee; an acclaimed and renowned Fashion Designer, who has participated in several Lakme Fashion Weeks. The swimwear has been designed by Saadhika Jhunjhunwalla for ‘Marg’.
Death Metal powerhouse Agnostic will bring their signature tunes to the Undergrind Fest(Bangalore) on the 14th of April with the album (Morbid Embracement) release. The band’s rabid and intense performances have been igniting stages around the circuit.
Given that their frontman and drummer- MitulBoro, has been a percussionist for many years, it is no surprise that this band has come to be known as one of the most experienced bands in the Northeastern Circuit. Agnostic has so far, performed and competed in a considerable number of festivals, pub gigs and competitions throughout the Northeast- Indian Metal Circuit.
Morbid Embracement isn’t about metal- overproduction or intricate songwriting/ instrumentation. The band has very intentionally arranged everything in a straightforward technique. Producer Siddharth Barooa has also made sure everything sounds raw as possible. There’s a solid theme backing the entire mix. This isn’t stuff that you’ve never heard before- but we’re sure you’ll like it for what it is.” Says Bassist Nitu Saikia.
Axl Hazarika – a young energetic youth from Guwahati has for the first time come up with an Industrial Music album called Electrokore 1 comprising both his never released songs and new ones. The album begins with a posthumous tribute to Amit Saigal – who was a Rock Musician, promoter and founder-publisher of the reputed Rock Street Journal popular among music aficionados as the RSJ since 1993.
All the songs have been composed by Axl Hazarika with help from Ryan Hazarika and Keng B on vocals. Axl has also recorded, remixed and re-mastered the entire album.
Released on the 26th of January 2012 Electrokore 1 is something experimental music buffs will certainly learn to grow an ear for.
MUSIC VENUE WATCH:
Cafe Hendrix is a one-of-its kind pub for blues and rock and roll lovers of the Northeast.Located in the Down Town area of Guwahati, this small cafe dedicated to Jimi Hendrix has in a very short span of time become a hotspot for music lovers of Guwahati, primarily on account of the live music sessions every weekend and the pub rock ambience.
As the name indicates, the pub is the dream initiative of Syed Arzoo Ahmed – a die-hard fan of Jimi Hendrix who always wanted to host people with good food and good music. Though it initially started as a restaurant with a diverse clientele profile, it was transformed into a Blues pub in September 2010. Driven entirely by the community of blues and Hendrix lovers of the city, the pub has become a suitable platform for visiting musicians of the Northeast and also a launching platform for new talents.
With Arzoo spending his childhood in the hill town of Kohima, he harbours strong sentiments of unity among the different tribes of the Northeast. Accordingly, the pub has featured many tribal musicians and artistes till date.
Cafe Hendrix initially started off as a restaurant in the winter of 2007 and its first live performance was dedicated to Hendrix during the guitarist 65th birthday celebrations. “Jimi Hendrix is a legend whose magic is inimitable even today. He is the greatest guitar hero that ever lived. Having grown on a staple diet of his songs, it was only natural that I name my venture after Hendrix.” Though the cafe served good food and featured a number of artists in the initial days, it managed to embrace a varied clientele only after it was transformed into a pub.
The highlight of Cafe Hendrix would undoubtedly have to be its ambience. A rock pub in the truest sense of the term, portraits of rock and roll legends adorn all the walls of the joint where comfortable sofas and tables are neatly arranged in the limited space available. With evergreen blues and rock and roll hits being played continuously in the background, the atmosphere reflects Arzoo’s passion for rock and his devotion to Jimi Hendrix. The only drawback of the joint is the limited space available.
Since its inception, Cafe Henrix has conceived and developed several evenings which have become properties in its own right. The birthday celebrations of Jimi Hendrix, which has been carrying on since 2007 and which is into its fifth year now, is one such property. The Guwahati leg of Shillong’s famous Bob Dylan tribute celebrations also started here from this year.
With the visitors to the trademark celebrations increasing every year, Arzoo now has plans to organize these gigs in other venues. A separate jamming room is also being constructed near the cafe.
Till now, the cafe has played host to a number of regional and international musicians, including Lou Majaw, German band Karma Grooves, Mystical Illusion, April Shower, amongst others.
On full evenings, the cafe can host around 100 to 150 people which is very small when compared to other pubs in the country.
Cafe Hendrix has a basic sound system with the requisite stage gear and light and sound apparatus.
As part of its journey across all the Northeastern States, Dimapur-based HAWA and Guwahati-based Quaint Essense kick-started their handshake tour with creative minds from the Northeast with an open platform at the 13th North East Book Fair. The literary conclave, entitled a conglomeration of creative minds, saw a number of senior and established writers interacting with amateur writers, photographers and artists.
Coordinated by writer Susan Waten, the literary conclave was the first step in the handshake tour. Susan and writer-activist Aiyushman Dutta are presently touring across different towns and cities of the Northeast in a bid to bring unpublished and hitherto unheard writers, artists and creative professionals on a common platform with established voices and faces.
The event in Guwahati, entitled ‘North East Writers’ Conclave – an open platform: A conglomeration of Creative Minds’ saw a number of eminent writers from the city and also a host of amateurs get together to discuss on a host of issues concerning writing and writers from the region. The issues discussed were as diverse as the list of participants, ranging from writing styles and influences, new-age tools for writers, integrity of the writer, understanding of a community, publishing woes of writers etc.
Noted writer and associate editor of Assam Tribune Group of Newspapers Indrani Raimedhi began the proceedings of the conclave. Speaking on the art of writing, she had a lot of tips for the amateurs on the nuances of writing. The event was coordinated by Susan Waten.
Responding to queries of students and amateurs on the influences for writing, noted writer and associate professor of Handique Girls College Srutimala Duarah said, “Different writers, both from the classical and from the contemporary genre, may influence us and our writings, but as writers we need to have a sensitivity to respond and react and have to touch upon us. All we need is to be open to moments that might range from the beautiful to the ugly and we need to grasp it no matter what.
Morningkeey Phangcho, an ethnographer who also spoke on the occassion, said, “A writer focusing on a particular community should concentrate not only on the ‘what’ aspects but also on the ‘why’ aspects. A writer should relate to the community he or she is writing on and needs to go back in time to make a study of all the aspects of the people.” The event also featured travel columnist Swapnil Bharali who shared his experiences about his personal growth as a writer.
Asking writers to respect the art, senior bureaucrat and writer Dhruba Hazarika said, “The most important thing for a writer is to respect oneself and to command respect as well, which is possible only if one is honest.” He opined that writers nowadays have a lot of choice to take up the art as a full time profession.
Texas-based Software professional Ankur Bora, who publishes and edits the global magazine ‘Friends’ was also present in the seminar. Talking about his initiative to bring a regional magazine while being based abroad, Ankur recounted his own experiences with writing and with writers.
A familiar name in the Northeastern literary realm, Susan Waten was among the handful Indian delegates invited to the 1st Kathmandu Literary Festival. She had organized the first conglomeration of Naga women writers in Dimapur which concluded with the publication of the epic anthology ‘Of Voices and Paper’. A popular writer and columnist of Nagaland, she has been collaborating on several research and documentation projects with journalist-activist Aiyushman Dutta.
Farida Parveen, Gazi Abdul Hakim enthrall city-goers
Two highly popular artistes of Bangladesh performed in Guwahati recently, much to the delight of the music lovers here. At the initiative of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and the Directorate of Cultural Affairs, the city got to witness widely recognized Lalon singer Farida Parveen and noted instrumental flautist Gazi Abdul Hakim perform right in their backyard.
The 18th century mystic poet Lalon Shah was influenced by Sufism, a spiritual philosophy. For many years Lalon’s mystic songs have been rendered by singers in metros as well as by the fakhirs in aakhra (Lalon’s followers living in the den). But being a singer alone is not enough for rendering Lalon’s songs. One has to imbibe Lalon’s philosophy and Sufism. Though this does not mean that one has to live like fakhirs at the aakhra, one has to love human beings and other living beings and overcome all kinds of desire.
Maybe that is the reason why Farida Parveen’s name has today become synonymous with Lalon’s songs. While her style is different from that of the fakhirs in the dens, she lays more emphasis on adding a classical aspect to give it a polished form. Having rendered Lalon songs almost throughout the world, she has won many awards including the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize for Best Music 2008 from Japan; Ekushey Padak in1987; and the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer in 1993. She is the founder of “Ochin Pakhi School” which is dedicated to accurate teachings of Lalon Sangeet to children. It is also dedicated to providing teaching in acoustic instrumental music with the traditional flute, saringee and sitar as she believes this to be vital for preserve traditional acoustic music.
She says, “I have respect for those who have made an immense contribution in preserving Lalon songs. However, some of them are not torchbearers of the spirit of Sufism. Some of them have addictions and some are responsible for blending the doctrine of Vaisnavism in Sufism. For instance, the practice of gerua attire and bearing a few musical instruments by the Bauls at the aakhra have come from Vaisnavism. But, a true devotee of Lalon is not supposed to do so. Like my guru Moksed Ali Shah, true Sufists at the aakhra do not use gerua attire. Instead, they wear white.”
Besides Farida Parveen, noted flautist Gazi abdul Hakim also performed on the occasion. An exponent of the bamboo flute, he is the only flutist to have performed at the House of Commons (in 1994). Before him, only Sarod player Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and Tabla player Ustad Zakir Hussain had got this rare opportunity. Hakim also played at the Commonwealth Summit in Canberra in 2001.
Gazi has developed a unique style of playing the wind instrument, which gives him a firm niche among the bansi players. He has made a proportionate synthesis of classical, western and traditional folk forms. Talking about his mission to promote the bansi (bamboo flute), he says, “Our bansi is a wonderful wind instrument. Its melody touches the soul of the listeners, which cannot be said of the silver flute. Moreover, only the bansi can play Meer Gamok. And it can be a suitable instrument for any orchestra.”
Having fought in the Bangladeshi liberation war of 1971, Gazi has been working as a staff artiste of Bangladesh Betar since 1974. He has released 12 solo albums till date and all of them have been very well received in Bangladesh as well as abroad.
33 Top Artist share stage in two days of inter-cultural exchange; Eastern Beats Excellence in Music Award handed to Guru Rewben Mashangva
Curtains came down on the 1st Guwahati International Music Festival (GIMF) on December 2 and 3, 2011 amidst scintillating performances by top artists from various parts of the globe. The two day festival, which was participated by 33 top artistes from different parts of the country as also abroad, had been a resounding success, with a number of musicians, students and music lovers attending the various events.
Organized by the Eastern Beats Music Society of Guwahati in collaboration with the North East Zone Cultural Centre (NEZCC), Dimapur, the landmark event GIMF 2011 was supported by North Eastern Council (NEC), Shillong, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), under the Ministry of External Affairs; Directorate of Art and Culture of the Government of Goa; Numaligarh Refinery Limited, The Telegraph, Suzuki Musical Instruments Co Ltd, Thomas Music, Artist Aloud, Earth Sync, Muzickonnect, CEC, Assam Times, Academy of Broadcasting Media School, Creoveant Productions, Assam Down Town University, Sound Box, ISNP, Eclectic Vibes, Radio 92.7 BIG Fm, Hotel Gateway Grandeur, Hotel Landmark, Saanz Mobile, Hit & and a host of music trade professionals and institutes from all over the world.
GIMF 2011 had been conceptualised to fill the need for a premier music festival in the country which can showcase the best of regional, national and international talents in the music field to the people of the region. Besides serving as a platform for interaction among musicians, music professionals, music lovers, music trade firms and music institutes, the festival was also organized to initiate cross-cultural dialogue among people and artistes of the region with those from others parts of the country and the world. The event was conceptualised, planned and implemented by Aiyushman Dutta.
The festivities began on December 2 when Tangkhul Naga folk balladeer organized a unique music workshop-cum-lecture demonstration for music lovers and school students of Guwahati. Guru Rewben Mashangva, a wandering minstrel from the hills of Ukhrul in Manipur, has earned international acclaim for his pioneering work in preserving and promoting Tangkhul folk tunes amongst the youth. Having refashioned tribal music instruments to suit the western tonal scale, he has developed his own brand of Hao music.
Hundreds of students attended the seminar to see Guru Rewben display his traditional instruments and the need to preserve the old folk traditions. Talking about his interaction with the elders of his village and displaying his traditional instruments, he kept the audience spellbound. The event was inaugurated by Assam Chief Information Commissioner and chairman of the core committee of the festival Deepak Narayan Dutt.
A 13-member cultural troupe of Goa performed the Goanese Mando Mogi and the Portugese Coredinho, ensuring that the cultural quotient was kept running throughout. The performance of the Goanese troupe was facilitated by the Directorate of Art and Culture, Government of Goa.
The Guwahati International Music Festival was spread across three indoor pavilions, an open-air stage, an indoor auditorium and a food court dealing in ethnic food items of the region. While live music performances were held in the open-air venue, the auditoriums and pavilions were used for the lecture-demonstration sessions, film screening event, display kiosks for professionals and firms from the music trade industry.
Among the visiting music trade industry professionals, mention can be made of Abe Thomas. The Indian representative of Musicians Institute in Hollywood, he also represented Suzuki Music Instruments Co Ltd (Japan), music journalist Colin Savio Coelho, Sonia Mazumdar of Muzickonnect and Earth Sync, Deepika Bagaria of Artist Aloud, amongst others. Many musicians of the city were seen interacting with these veteran trade professionals and learning about the latest trends and developments in the global music industry.
The first evening, which was dedicated to classical music, was inaugurated by musicologists Somnath Bora Ojha, Dr Prassana Gogoi and Eastern Beats Music Society secretary Aiyushman Dutta. Mumbai-based vocalist Abhishruti Bezbaruah began the proceedings of the evening which was graced by virtuoso Sitarist Pt Manilal Nag. The mother-daughter duo of Minoti Khaund and Sunita Bhuyan, Tarun Kalita, Moitryee Goswami, Pawan Bordoloi were some of the other performers of the evening.
The second day began with an impromptu jamming session by UK based Rajarshi Siddhartha Chowdhury, Samyami Sangeeta Chowdhury with Guru Rewben Mashangva from Ukhrul, Edwin Fernandez from Delhi and Daniel Engti of Karbi Anglong. The brother and sister duo from UK mesmerised the audience with their performance of lokageet and borgeet. Rajarshi is a lawyer by profession and Samyami is a doctor but their passion for classical and Assamese folk songs brings them to their home State every year. Their jamming session was an interesting fusion of classical and Assamese folk with Blues and Jazz, Karbi folk music and Tangkhul folk music.
Later a number of films on music were screened at a film camp. The films that were screened included Songlines by Vasudha Joshi, Mystical Grass by Pritish Chakraborty and Puja Chakraborty and Songs of Mashangva by Oinam Doren, amongst others. Over hundred students, musicians and people from all walks of life attended the workshop and the film camp.
The evening performance of the second day began with a piano solo performance by Ronojit Chaliha. Playing some popular compositions by Bach and Neil Nongkynrih, young Ronojit aptly set the mood for the evening to come. As the crowd trickled in, the Kolkata-Guwahati-based fusion project Naad Brahma came on stage. This classical and Blues ensemble ensured that Guwahatians got a taste of some new innovations in the fiels of music.
But it was UK-based harmonica specialist Brendan Power who took the honours. Playing a different set of scales on different harmonicas, he aptly demonstrated the immense possibilities of the Blues harp and at the same time, took the audience to an altogether different world during his hour-long performance.
Popular contemporary Assamese singers Mayukh Hazarika and Laili Dutta Hazarika were up next. In their 45-minute long performance, the duo gave a fitting tribute to their uncle – the greant unparalleled balladeer late Dr Bhupen Hazarika. Their performance was marked by a formal address by late Dr. Hazarika’s long time companion and filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi. During the ceremony, Secretary to Assam Government, Cultural Affairs department also formally handed over the Eastern Beats Excellence in Music award to Guru Rewben Mashangva. Also present was Eastern Beats Music Society secretary Aiyushman Dutta and joint secretary Peter Alex Todd.
Nepal’s rock diva Abhaya Subba and the famed Steam Injuns followed up next, much to the delight of the hundred-member strong Gorkha community and rock lovers that had descended at Shilpgram. Though the slight drizzle threatened a premature end to the performance, the rockers lived up to the spirit and rocked all those present. Lucid Recess from Guwahati also performed on the occasion.
Guwahatians have got some interesting times awaiting them. Two top-notch international music groups will be performing in the city shortly. This is besides the 1st Guwahati International Music Society that will be held at Shilpgram next Friday and Saturday,
About the groups, a 10 member Dance troupe ‘Bae Han Sung Midam Korean Dance Troupe’ from Korea will be performing at the International Convention Centre Auditorium of Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra on Tuesday.
The group has been invited by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, under Ministry of External Affairs, Govt. of India to participate in the Buddhist Art performing festival which is being organised by ICCR from November 27 to December 2. This group would perform in Puri Beach festival before coming to GUwahati on November 29 next.
The troupe perform Korean Buddhist performance like Bara (cymbal) Dance, Beopgo (Dharma drum) dance and Nabi (Butterfly) dance.
Meanwhile, Kingdom Hum – one of the top bands from Bhutan – will be performing at Shraddhanjali Kanan in the city on December 4 next. The group has also been invited by ICCR to participate in the South Asian Band festival. This performance is being organised by ICCR,Guwahati in collaboration with Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority.
Music lovers, for the last few months, have been waiting with abated breath the arrival of world’s numero uno harmonica artist and Blues harp player Brendan Power.Power, who will be arriving to the Northeast for the first time to perform in the 1st Guwahati International Music Festival, is really upbeat about his upcoming performance. He will be accompanied by wife Laura Jowers and music trade veteran Abe Thomas – MD of Thomas Music and the representative of Music International, Hollywood and Suzuki Asia Pacific in India.
Voted ‘Harmonica player of the year 2011’, UK-based New Zealander Brendan Power is acknowledged by many as one of the most creative, skilled & versatile harmonica players around today. Equally at ease on both the earthy Blues Harp as well as the sophisticated Chromatic Harmonica, he tunes them to his own scales to create a highly original style. He has recorded fifteen solo CDs to date, in a wide variety of musical genres. He has also receives the prestigious Bernie Bray Award from SPAH.
Besides Brendan, a host of other top ranking musicians are supposed to perform in the city. The list of participating artistes includes the likes of Nepal’s finest rock diva Abhaya Subba and her famed group, The Steam Injuns, Edwin Fernandes, Pt Manilal Nag, Guru Rewben Mashangva, Sunita Bhuyan and Minoti Khaund, Tarun Kalita, Abhishruti Bezbaruah, and the like.
Arguable one of the best bands to have come out from Nepal in the history of the hill kingdom, Abhaya and the Steam Injuns — through her mellifluous voice and her band’s fantastic musical synergy – has established themselves as the top ranking band in not only Nepal, but entire South East Asia. Their high energy performances in front of packed houses in their country and also Korea, India regularly, has ensured that their fan base is on a continuous upward surge. The Gorkha community of the Northeast is eagerly awaiting the arrival and performance of this band which has redefined folk fusion and rock in Nepal.
Entry to the Guwahati International Music Festival is free. The event is being organized in collaboration with NEZCC, Dimapur and is supported by the North Eastern Council, Ministry of DONER, ICCR, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of Goa, Numaligarh Refinery Limited, CEC, Assam Down Town University, Artist Aloud, Earth Synch and others.
Published in The Sentinel on November 26, 2011