Tag Archives: Luke Kenny
Blues icon Dana Gillespie to tour India
The legendary British singer, song writer, and blues musician Dana Gillespie with acclaimed boogie-woogie pianist Joachim Palden will be touring India this December. Dana has been nominated 3 years in a row, as the Top Female Blues vocalist in UK and an inductee into the British Blues Hall of fame, with over 60 albums to her credit. Joachim is a hot favourite on the European circuit and brings his special blend of boogie-woogie to the mix as well.
Dana Gillespie has performed with music legends Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Ian Siegal. She says she has a karmic connection with India, and is often fond of quoting Max Mueller What India cannot teach me, I dont need to learn. They perform as part of a two city tour (Bangalore-7th Dec13 and Mumbai-8th Dec13).
Anil Mehta, Partner, StarKonnect Events & Promotions says- Blues fans in Mumbai and Bangalore are in for a treat, as the boogie-woogie style of Dana is pure energy. With a vocal mastery that has been her calling from the time she performed in the original Andrew Lloyd Webber opera Jesus Christ Superstar on Londons Westend, she has audiences shouting for more. The kind of Blues that Dana does is generally upbeat and danceable which she considers as an uplifting sort of Blues. Says Dana – I like people walking home from my show with a smile on their lips and a spring in their step.
Festival Director Luke Kenny says Boogie-woogie as a blues style has not had that exposure to Indian blues fans, and in Joachim Palden, we have a world class boogie-woogie pianist. His style is quite puristic, and when he plays, he really stomps his piano in a way that completely thrills his audiences. They always say in the Blues business that to really play a great boogie you need a ‘left hand like God’ and Joachim has such hands! With Joachim, it is Strictly Blues!As part of the initiative to provide Indian blues musicians a platform to get wider exposure to perform alongside international musicians, we’ll have Benny Soans from Mumbai, performing on drums. Benny has been on the Mumbai music scene for decades, playing alongside Indian jazz legends such as the Johnnie Baptist Big Band, Louis Banks, and alongside international stars Herbie Hancock and Chico Freeman. Bangalore will feature The Chronic Blues Circus as the opening line-up.
Jack Daniels Rock Awards ’12 at Mehboob Studio, Mumbai
Time check – it was 18 o clock. Was I going to make it on time for the JD rock awards? At around 7-ish as I was zooming on the highway, I was mentally preparing myself for what the entire evening was going to be like. I got to the venue at sharp 7:30 and was mighty pleased to see that the entrance was nicely decked up with sweet signage complete with a desk of folks from Rolling Stones magazine/JD to check invites and sort out the invitees. They had setup a neat-looking JD/Rolling Stones magazine backdrop for photo-ops with a dozen photographers trying to squeeze out glamour shots for their respective publications. It all looked a lot like an elite fashion event.
This was the first time that I had entered this stage at Mehboob Studios and as I later found out this was the first time they were doing a live music event at this particular studio. It was huge with an incredibly high ceiling and the minute I got in, I was immediately enveloped by the smell of expensive alcohol and the sound of general last-minute sound check noises. I got in just in time to hear Luke Kenny start to rev up the crowd to get the Rock Awards going after introducing himself as the host. The turnout for the rock awards was modest at first but the place got crowded later, not uncomfortably so at any point. Furthermore, the place had long bars on both sides serving unlimited JD on the house!
Sky Rabbit or the erstwhile Medusa played a tight set of their tracks in spite of the odd sounding PA mix which I would largely attribute to the high ceiling and room in general. The Sky Rabbit sound, if I were to describe it from the few songs I heard them do in that particular setting, was a mix of post-punk and electronica, which for some might be pretty reminiscent of early Coldplay. However, it was packed with enough new ideas to still be quite distinct sounding.
Indus Creed was up next and they played a long set. I liked quite a few of their songs, but I certainly would want to hear the album that’s coming out soon so I can listen to them without having to put up with spectacular room reverb. They were quite energetic on stage, were groovy and had interesting bass lines and harmonic modulation throughout, which I quite love in a band.
Next up was Ankur and the Ghalat family. Since the first time I heard these guys at Blue Frog when we were all doing a mixed singer-songwriter set, I’ve always liked their downright earthy sound and honest songwriting. Moreover, their sound has always retained its simplicity and has a nice clarity in the way the songs are arranged and the harmonies are brought out.
For the most part, I expected this to be a lot like the splendid party thrown by the nice people over at The Blue Frog, a few months ago. Except at the end of it, maybe there would be a good old fashioned fist fight over who deserved to win best award for a three legged drummer. This certainly was at par and done on a much a larger scale apart from being an awards event. However in retrospect, I figure that one of the nicer things about the Bombay music scene is that nearly everybody has played with everybody and shares a healthy mix of camaraderie and the Bohemian spirit of I-don’t-really-f**king-care which leaves little or no place for any kind of angst or I-know-where-you-live type of behaviour. Bombay is certainly a great place to be a musician.
Amongst mixed reactions, knowing nods and downright ‘What the Frankenstein’ reactions the winners for this years JD Rock Awards were announced. Bombay Bassment won Best Emerging Act which I suppose was well deserved. They have acquired quite a following in the past year and their live act is very entertaining. Bassist Ruell Baretto was nominated for Best Bass Player at the last JD Awards and the band was ecstatic when they found out they had won this year. It would be great to see where and how this band evolves and where they go with their sound. Dischordian won the award for Album Art of the Year designed by Hemant Kumar for the album The Feni Farm Riot. Pentagram won several awards some of which were for Best Vocalist, Best Guitarist, Best Video and Best Album. Shiraz and Vishal were pretty much on a marathon to collect the plethora of awards that they picked up. Best Vocalist (Female) went to Subhadra Kamath from Fire Exit. Best Drummer went to Vibhas Venkatram from Eccentric Pendulum.Stefan Kaye from The Ska Vengers picked up Best Keyboardist. Best Bassist went to Abhinav Chaudhary from The Circus. Best Producer went to Miti Adhikari for his work on Menwhopause album Easy. Best Venue went to Blue Frog which couldn’t really have gone any other way! A special award for Years of Excellence went to Lou Majaw.
The party continued for quite a while even after the awards were done and host Luke Kenny had signed off. The alcohol kept flowing and people seemed to be having a good time too. The place had a steady influx of a lot of familiar faces from television and movies who didnt really have much to do with the rock awards or rock in particular but certainly contributed to the overall eye candy. I think that purely for the great setup, the copiously flowing alcohol and the abundance of legs, the JD rock awards was certainly a smashing night.
Tales from the Mahindra Blues Festival
A two day saga of one of the most compelling gigs anyone could have watched through the last weekend, when Anand Mahindra announced that he wanted to recreate the feel of the Montreal Jazz festival in India, brought a spark to music lovers, thus leading it to becoming one of the biggest festivals Mumbai has ever seen. The event, held at the infamous retro looking Mehboob Studios in Bandra was specifically designed to create a blues like atmosphere, with 3 venues, rather stages to choose from, out of which one was strictly for the ‘not so free’ flowing booze. Among the artists who were invited this year were Shemekia Copeland, a Grammy nominee, defined as one of the finest blues singers, (potentially the queen of the blues) and daughter of legendary Texas blues guitarist Johnny Copeland. Then came Matt Schofield, a British bluesman widely regarded as one of the most distinctive and innovative guitarists to have emerged in this generation, and rated amongst the top ten blues guitarists of all time (Guitar and Bass Magazine) putting him right up there with icons like Eric Clapton. Next on the list was Jonny Lang, a Grammy award winner who topped the Billboard New Artist chart when he was 15! And finally of course, the one and only, Mr. Buddy Guy! Need I say more?
On the 5th of February, the gates opened up to the first day of the festival, the buzzing smiles and people waiting for their favourite bands to kick in. Luke Kenny’s Mojo Juke Box, a rather amateur sounding blues band with Luke Kenny on vocals, began playing their set. An hour later, at 8.00 p.m. sharp, Shemekia Copeland with her enthralling voice (which carried right till the end of the hall without even a mic!), was absolutely spectacular, and she dedicated almost all her songs to all the ladies in the house. Sorry boys! Looks like she loved the women better. Nonetheless, she managed to engage the crowd and made them sway to her tunes. Post Shemekia was the last act of day one, Jonny Lang. A rather young handsome looking lad with a Bryan Adams feel to him, he shredded his guitar like never before! However by this time, people had started leaving the venue, fervently waiting for their blues icon Buddy Guy to play the next day.
Sunday, the 6th of February, saw large crowds pouring in. Celebrities like Dolly Thakore, Kunal Kapoor, Gaurav Kapur, and not to forget our very own Anand Mahindra were all spotted walking around in the confines of the studio. What surprised us all was that every music set began on time and ended right when it was supposed to. Of course Buddy Guy wouldn’t conform to that rule! Come 5 o’ clock, the Kolkata based Saturday Night Blues Band started playing covers like ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’, and ‘Red House’, resulting in a brilliant, rather splendid show by this skilled band, which was formed in October of 1999.
Following them was the very famous blues band from Shillong called Soulmate, with Rudy Wallang on the guitars, and Tipriti Kharbangar (Tips) on lead vocals. Their showmanship was immaculate, and the weird robotic dance moves and expressions by Tips never ceased to make people fall in love with them! They played their originals including the song which has always been a hit amongst Soulmate fans, called âI amâ, and another one called ‘Blues is my Soulmate’ (how apt could that be?) which were sung to perfection that evening, with this band going all out on an international stage and sharing their passion for the blues just like the rest of them.
Subsequent to Soulmate, Matt Schofield kicked in with some mind-boggling riffs, his band comprising three members including himself, a keyboardist cum bassist, and a drummer. After the set completed, a fifteen minute break kept the people lining up outside stage 3’s entrance, and a few humming the blues like me who couldn’t wait any longer to see the ‘74 years young’ legend, Buddy Guy! And finally amidst a packed hall as Luke Kenny announced his name, you could sense the place vibrate, almost like thunder! It took him a good ten minutes to get up on stage. And there he was! The legend himself, with his guitar strumming to the likes of bands like Cream, and the infamous John Lee Hooker.
Buddy Guy is well known for his antics with his guitar, and that indeed is what he did, twisting and turning the instrument at different angles, playing it behind him, walking into the audience, and throwing away his many plectrums into the crowd. Yes, it was the ‘go crazy, feel the blues mood’. Once he started, there was no stopping him; it was pure magic on stage, as if it were set ablaze! His walk into the audience cost a lot of people a lifetime of memories, which they would probably share with generations to come. For me though, the part was where he in between a song would go ‘oh shucks!’ really did it for me! Another rather engaging act was when he sustained a note for over a minute, and his helper came up on stage with his cup, as he took a sip and started off a riff which blew everyone’s mind. His charisma on stage had transcended into this magical night, which was beyond compare to all of us. And later that evening it felt as if a galaxy of legendary blues superstars had come down to earth and played together. A final impromptu round with Shemekia Copeland, Jonny Lang, and Matt Schofield, ended with Mr. Guy’s guitar string breaking, as he yet again flung it across into the audience, marking the end of a whirlwind experience of a never before seen festival dedicated just to the blues. We take our hats off and bow down to those who respect this genre of music. All I know is yes, indeed it left me with this song in my head ‘You’re damn right I’ve got the Blues!’
There was something rather strange about last Thursday night’s 6th Annual JD Rock Awards, held in Mumbai at the Hard Rock Cafe. I’m not sure if it was the oddball MC-ing, the long list of small-time celebrities hanging around, the highly overpriced beer, or possibly a combination of all of these that left me slightly puzzled at the whole shindig.
The presentation of awards began almost as soon as I entered, admittedly quite late. I was already miffed at missing out on Demonic Resurrection, Split and Tough on Tobacco who had already played some brilliant sets as I was told, and now it was Luke Kenny dressed in a bizarre ensemble, who took centre stage. Despite a rather earnest effort throughout the evening, he somehow didn’t manage to connect too well with the packed house, the only highlight probably being when he tossed out freebies to the crowd. The screens displaying video clips and the names of the nominees, were placed far too high and ideally should have been a little larger and more visible.
The ‘celebrities’ who were called up on stage to present the awards included a motley bunch of designers, television actors, VJs and models who generally had very little eminence in the music scene, and were in some cases nothing more than eye candy. I also found it rather baffling that the two most important awards of the night were presented by Aftaab Shivdasani, who looked rather pleased to have this privilege as he violently chewed gum with his mouth wide open in a pasty smile. I really wish they’d left Bollywood out of this.
On the brighter side, the performances that I did manage to watch, were very good, and quite admirably salvaged the show. Something Relevant was up after the first round of awards, and having never watched them live before, I was highly impressed. The band was a tight unit, with a very diverse set of sounds and influences, and had the crowd well and truly on their feet. Ankur Tewari And The Ghalat Family played right after Ankur won the award for Best Male Vocalist, and played a nice set of catchy hindi rock songs.
Scribe then took the stage for a short set and did well to live up to the cool haul of five awards that they’d won that night. The show wound up with Ashu’s Petri Dish Project, who dished out some pretty decent trip hop and was interesting if you like that sort of stuff, although im not quite sure how many people in the audience really got into it. The assorted bevy of female vocalists that accompanied them one after the other held their own, but turned out to be more of a distraction than of any particular value addition in terms of sound. Dhruv Ghanekar joined them for the last couple of songs and sparkled with some fantastic guitaring.
In the end, I couldn’t really tell whether the emphasis was on the awards, the performances or the celebrities, and I think that JD would do much better with a slightly de-glamourised show next year.
The Luke Kenny Mojo Jukebox at The Blue Frog
I love the Blues. I’ve been very recently, completely immersing my self in regular doses of Buddy Guy, SRV, Hendrix and Phil Sayce. So to say I was looking forward to watching the musicians in The Luke Kenny Mojo Jukebox really is an understatement.
Having already had a long day, I was eager to get to my favorite live music venue, The Blue Frog and sit back and soak in some long bends and cold brews. I managed to convince my famous Mallu friend Sujit to accompany me and so we caught a slow train from Malad station, party packs in our bags.
We entered just as the band was starting up. I quickly spied around and saw several usual suspects around the bar and quite a sizeable crowd. Denzil Mathais was on alone showing off his super sounding custom hollowbody guitar, wailing out some warm fuzz which suspiciously sounded like Beethoven’s Symphony No.5. Vinayak Pol and Chirayu Wedekar on drums and bass joined him to start off the song with a bang which turned out to be ‘Roll over Beethoven’. Luke walked out next to a warm welcome and danced the song out. It was a bit funny to see the whole band with scarves on; guess it was some kinda style statement that I don’t get.
After a couple of songs and a Willie Nixon cover, Luke eloquently invited his first guest out, Mahesh Naidu on blues harp, while giving us a serious face and a small history on the next song. The first few notes out of the harp assured me that we were finally getting down to business and doing a real blues number. Muddy Waters’ ‘Hootchie Cootchie Man’ tumbled out and had the crowd grooving immediately. The harp solo was off time for some reason, but the guitar solo really made up with long sweet bends and super vibrato by Denzil. Mahesh just didn’t find his groove as he spat out some odd sounding notes during the next song on the steel flute. I don’t remember what song it was but it didn’t go well, Luke’s dancing didn’t help much.
Next up was Shilpa Rao and I was really hoping the bar would now shift upwards from the ground. She looked a little nervous to begin with but when she started singing she displayed undeniable power there. ‘Nature boy’ was the first song I think, but the impressive singing came only in the next song which was an original. ‘Romeo was in love with me’ is a cool ditty although the solo interludes were basically just Denzil bailing them out. Nice work by the band.
The next song had Luke back on vocals for a nice cover of Dire Straits’ ‘Money for Nothing’ although it still didn’t qualify as blues. I saw a couple of women jiving in front and they stole my attention. Luke decided to not care about pitching anymore in this song.
The funk version of Queen’s ‘Stone Cold Crazy’ was marred by a little sloppy bass playing by the young Chirayu Wedekar and completely off key vocals. The ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ line that Denzil injected a couple of times really didn’t work. Nice tone in the guitar solo though. ‘Baby you can drive my Car’ was dismal. Tight drumming but ironically the only song about driving that night just crashed and died.
Next up was Vasuda Sharma and her Loop station. Nifty device and she managed really well creating a whole section of percussion and backing vocals in all her songs which got the crowd clapping along. Although she had pitch perfect vocals, they were a bit uninspiring. All songs had the loop station build up but she apparently decided that passing off covers of folk and country songs as the blues were good enough as long as she sang some blues notes at the end. I must mention that Neil Gomes who joined her later on ‘These boots were made for walking’ has improved a lot on the violin. The Sax playing was not upto the same mark though. The version of ‘Roadhouse Blues’ really made me sad. They ended with a shoo-be-do version of ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ but I guess I was alone in my opinion because the end of her set brought on loud applause from everyone else. My friend Sujit remarked how she reminded him of singers in Goan restaurants with minus one tracks.
The next set saw Trumpet player Paul Rodrigues on a killer version of Prince’s ‘Kiss’. Great wah tone on the guitar, nice vibrato on the long trumpet notes. Tight song. Luke’s next offering was an original that made me wonder if I was fooled into thinking this was a blues gig. It was more of a soft rock song where he sang about how he always confides in his feelings.
I was really not looking forward to Sunidhi Chauhan. I mean anytime you hear a Hindi playback singer attempting blues is bound to make you gag. But boy did she prove me wrong! She looked HOT and she sang with amazing power, soul and feel. ‘Cry me a river’ was a lovely jazz blues number with a nice time signature change inserted a couple of times. It finally seemed like the gig was warming up. Then she blew the roof of the place with Dhruv Ghanekar joining the band onstage for the best performance of the evening. Janis Joplin’s ‘Piece of my heart’ was a great version that displayed some lusty and on purpose off time vocals and super guitar work by Dhruv.
Dhruv then stepped upto the mic to sing a Gary Moore classic, ‘Still got the blues’. I had never heard him sing before but that’s just as well as his singing was nothing to write home about, sounded like he had a bit of a cold maybe. The guitar tone had a nice delay wailing after his solos. Listening to him was a treat until he suddenly started shredding all over the place.
Luke was back after Dhruv exited the stage with a chunky riffed original called ‘Hard Loving Woman’. Very Deep Purple sounding and the band was tight. Great drumming by Vinayak. The last song of the night was Should I stay or should I go,’ a cover of The Clash’s punk anthem. The song had decent vocals and a killer solo courtesy of Dhruv who joined the band again for the last song of the night. Highlight of the song was the conversation between Denzil and Dhruv’s guitar. Denzil managed to more than hold his own displaying for the first time that blues band leader mentality, easily conducting the band as they jammed the song out.
All in all it was a disappointing night of music only because I felt we were served small portions of what was promised as the main course. The musicians on stage were all great and Luke’s band is pretty entertaining. I had earlier asked Rishu Singh whether Luke was a good singer and he mentioned that he has his good and bad nights. I hope this was a bad one.