Tag Archives: Muddy Waters

Plenty of Hues at Day 1 of The Mahindra Blues


Skeptics became admirers, admirers became lovers and lovers became fanatics. All that in only a couple of days at the 2014 edition of the annual Mahindra Blues Festival at the fabled Mehboob Studios in Mumbai. After raising the bar for music festivals held in India, three times with three highly successful Blues festivals starting 2011, the Mahindra group had set its sight on doing just that for its 4th edition.

Plenty of Hues at Day 1 of The Mahindra Blues

The build-up was immense, accentuated heavily by the line-up for this year – Grammy awardees Tedeschi Trucks Band and Jimmie Vaughan, Blues stalwarts Zac Harmon and Li’l Ed and the Blues Imperials and India’s crème de la crème Soulmate and BlackStratBlues. Even the heavens had opened up to lull a city that was dreading the impending summer heat, with a pleasant chill. It was still ninety minutes to go before the start of the event, yet the crowd that had gathered at the venue could feel it in the air that they are in for a very special night indeed.

Plenty of Hues at Day 1 of The Mahindra Blues

Less is More

Stage 1 was where the event had started, right on schedule. BlackStratBlues, the solo project of acclaimed Indian guitarist and producer Warren Mendonsa took the stage along with versatile drummer Jai Row Kavi and precocious talents like Adi Mistry and Beven Fonseca on the bass and the keys respectively. The set predominantly featured songs like ‘Anandamide’, ‘Renaissance Mission’, ‘The Universe has a strange sense of humour’ and ‘Folkish Three’ from his eagerly anticipated third album while also sating the crowd’s requests for classics like ‘Blues for Gary’ and ‘Ode to a Sunny Day’ from his first two albums.

Plenty of Hues at Day 1 of The Mahindra Blues

Armed with a fat, monstrous tone that he derives from an arsenal of Fender Stratocasters, Warren’s incredible ability to base simple yet poignant melodies on rhythms derived from his surroundings – like the beat of a duff-dhol at a typical Indian procession or the muffled thud of a techno-beat – cements his position as one of India’s most unique composers. His phrasing and explorations of his head phrases were thorough making him a terrific live act. Although, the music wasn’t your conventional Blues music, the raw feeling that characterizes the Blues is still retained by phrases filtered through a lot of apparent contemplation. The sole focus of the artiste was to emote and the crowd made no secret of their appreciation by the end of his set.

Plenty of Hues at Day 1 of The Mahindra Blues

Jai Row Kavi throughout the set was a perfect foil to Warren’s guitar playing, highlighting phrases wherever perfect and never once overplaying. Adi Mistry tactfully employed a range of sounds from the bass, especially the powerful thumps in ‘Renaissance Mission’. Beven Fonseca neatly filled in the pockets that are often created by Warren’s unselfish playing. The standout track was ‘Ode to a Sunny Day’ where Warren, joined on stage by Kolkata-based multi-instrumentalist Tajdar Junaid on the acoustic guitar, absolutely caressed the composition to a dreamy ambience, bringing his set to a close.

Plenty of Hues at Day 1 of The Mahindra Blues

The Zac Attack

While Warren’s outlet to the Blues was in the form of simple expressions in an urbane, contemporary sound, Zac Harmon’s response to the Blues, on the other hand was simply this – if you’re feeling the Blues, come to me and I’ll show you a good time. The second act of the evening exploded into a funky blues start on Stage 1 and the towering frontman from Jackson, Mississippi was an absolute livewire throughout, so much that his energy on stage should have been illegal for someone half his age. Zac on the vocals and the guitar was supported by the adventurous Corey Lacy on the keyboard, the stylish Buthel Burns on the bass and the groovy-as-hell drummer Cedric Goodman all of whom were incredible backing vocalists too, giving the band its unique, expansive sound.

Plenty of Hues at Day 1 of The Mahindra Blues

Segueing seamlessly from a funky 4-4 beat to a 6-8 conventional blues beat where the band played the BB King’s classic ‘Rock Me Baby’, back again to a straight 4-4 groove to their next number where a sweet Blues interlude by Zac bridged over to another song in an altogether different key. In all these transitions, the band never lost its continuity, but thankfully just when the noise and the energy were threatening to take the roof apart, Zac seized the opportunity to slow it down with a gospel-like Blues number where he played a heartfelt solo with enough breathing space to let the crowd taste every note in the air.

Plenty of Hues at Day 1 of The Mahindra Blues

The band was an excellent mix of tasteful Mississippi Blues and a very strong rapport with the crowd. Behind the sheer rawness of the music, the sections were very well-structured and every sound emanating from the stage was calculated for effect; not a single note was wasted. Zac’s vocals were powerful and endured in the air long after songs. A frantic set that had compositions like ‘Blue Pill Thrill’ from the band’s new album Music is Medicine along with the band’s own versions of classics like Bob Dylan’s ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’, Muddy Waters’ ‘Got my Mojo Workin’  got the crowd screaming for an encore and they complied by rounding it off with a neat cover of Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman, No Cry’.

Plenty of Hues at Day 1 of The Mahindra Blues

Run over by Tedeschi Trucks

Despite their reputation, the Tedeschi Trucks Band found themselves in an unenviable position of taking the stage after two blockbuster sets by the preceding acts. The challenge was made tougher as the final acts of both days were scheduled in the more roomy Stage 3. The Tedeschi Trucks Band however, would go on to blow that challenge out of the water.

A huge cheer greeted the band as the 11-member big band blues ensemble from Jacksonville, Florida took the stage and wasted little time to get going; their first number ‘Don’t Let Me Slide’ from their Grammy-award winning album Revelator, breathing ample freshness into the expansive indoor arena. The band went on to render the funky title track and the waltzy ‘Do I Look Worried?’ from their recently released second studio album Made Up Mind, a resounding cheer greeting the air tight ending that had culminated an explosive slide guitar solo from virtuoso Derek Trucks.

Plenty of Hues at Day 1 of The Mahindra Blues

After the contemplative slow-pop number ‘It’s So Heavy’, wherein Susan Tedeschi’s effortless adaptability to soul came to the fore, vocalist Mike Mattison took centre stage to croon their next piece ‘I Know’ which featured a spirited trumpet solo by Maurice Brown. Special guest Doyle Bramhall II walked in, like a boss, for the band’s own version of the Blues classic ‘St. James Infirmary’ and his deep voice evoked plenty a gasp from the euphoric crowd. Despite there being three guitarists on the stage, it did not take long to point out, even with your eyes closed, who’s playing what, such was the sheer uniqueness of their guitar playing – Doyle’s inverted bends and tremolo-picking on his right handed guitar played left-handed, Derek’s thick slide guitar voice, played with fingers and Susan’s conventional, voice-driven style. A carnival-like mid-section with Doyle and Susan exchanging solos and Derek’s glib licks made the classic one of the stand-out pieces of the night. A folky flute intro by Kofi Burbridge opened up ‘All That I Need’ and the song’s rhythmic hook provided the backdrop for a phenomenal Derek Trucks solo incorporating myriad styles, some Indian influences very apparent.

Plenty of Hues at Day 1 of The Mahindra Blues

The band went on to play ‘Part Of Me’ and this featured a neat duet Susan’s powerful and trombonist Saunders Sermons’ quirky high-pitched voice that gave the song its character. A Freddie King classic ‘Palace of the King’ was followed by a swamp raga intro by Derek Trucks supported by Mike Mattison on an acoustic guitar. The intro built enough tension in the air as the crowd awaited the next bit of magic from Trucks who by then was certified unpredictable and he seamlessly transitioned to the riff of ‘Midnight in Harlem’. This was again one of those many songs in the set where the backing vocalists Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers shone and the song took a romantic touch as Derek’s sweet slide solo appeared to serenade Susan, who beamed appreciatively.

Plenty of Hues at Day 1 of The Mahindra Blues

The band’s decision to allocate the longer solos to most of the Revelator songs like ‘Bound For Glory’ worked strongly in their favour and by the middle of the show, they already had enough momentum to let anything ruin an already fabulous gig. In the middle of a Derek Trucks solo set to a tribal rhythm, a guitar string snapped and Kofi grabbed the opportunity to mesmerise the audience with a surreal flute solo while Derek sat on stage to change his strings, like a boss. And then once he was done, Derek casually continued the brilliant solo without breaking stride. Just as Master Oogway said -There are no accidents.

Plenty of Hues at Day 1 of The Mahindra Blues

The band exited the stage only to come back on and oblige the deafening requests for an encore. When the band started the the groovy ‘Love has something to say’ after yours truly at the front of the crowd screamed his lungs out for it, Susan pointed at me with her guitar. SUSAN TEDESCHI POINTED AT ME!


The final piece featured an out-of-control solo by the tenor saxophonist Kebbi Williams before normal service was resumed and the entire band with Doyle Bramhall II upped the energy to set up a grandstand finish.

Plenty of Hues at Day 1 of The Mahindra Blues

Summing it up, as a front-woman, Susan Tedeschi with her magical, unerring voice and her charisma had the entire crowd adoring her, worshipping her even (I know I was). Derek Trucks took on the silent and often under-appreciated role of orchestrating the large band with nods to move sections, while also enthralling the crowd with his unparalleled musicianship. Doyle Bramhall II added a unique dimension each time, with his voice, his finesse on the guitar and his radiance. Despite the size of the band, they were always a tight unit responding accurately to every signal that Derek gave.

Plenty of Hues at Day 1 of The Mahindra Blues

Special mention goes to the organisation of the festival; the acoustics of both stages were of an extremely high standard and the lighting, camera work and F&B was superbly handled. Moreover, all the acts started on time and the artistes even had the freedom to walk among the fans to pose for photographs. All eyes on Day 2!

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Ganesh Viswanathan

Ganesh Viswanathan is a musician, a designer and sometimes both at the same time. Caffeine is known to derive its energising properties from him. Nobody knows the exact moment when he dismantles an idle mobile phone or steals food from another plate.


Blend No. 3220 at Cafe 1730, Pune


On the Holi/Women’s day weekend, I decided to catch up with a couple of old friends at Koregaon Park and watch Blend No.3220 live at Café 1730 Beans & Booze last Friday. It happened to be an important gig for this newish blues band, which was welcoming its new lead guitarist Pratyush Pillai and bidding farewell to its faithful bassist Sajib Biswas. Named after a blend of Old Monk rum, Blend no 3220 plays blues rock with provocative lyrics, repetitive chords and the idea of reaching out to people rather than chasing commercial success.

Quite appropriately, Blend’s first song ‘Mean Trouble Woman’ was about members of the band who have come and gone. Losing band members can be hard, especially if you’ve been jamming for some time and realize you’re good at it. Earlier this year, Sandro Sadhukhan left Blend No 3220 to fulfill other music dreams. The backbone of the band was his partnership with lead singer, Arnob Chouduri. Tonight’s tragedy was Sajib Biswas, their bassist, returning to his homeland – Bangladesh.

Attrition forced the band to look out for fresh talent and through Biswas’ contacts they were able to procure the Best Guitarist of MTV Rock On fame – Pratyush Pillai. This shy 25-year-old is not only technically precise but also immensely humble after his desi-fusion band, Khilaugh finished second at MTV’s rock music reality show. Nicknamed Shredman because of his metal/hard rock influence, Pratyush is evidently still learning to complement Blend’s passionate Bengali blues soul. As a recent addition, he has been practicing with the band for just a week and you can tell that the blend is not as perfect as it should be. When Arnob went “Pradyush, baby you know how you make those dirty sounds on the guitar,” he seemed to think it was probably part of the lyrics and there was no response from Shredman.

The well-dressed drummer, Sumair Zubairy, sported a black studded jacket and proudly held his Mohawk high, as local blues legend David Mancy took over for a guest performance. Somehow his demeanour and showmanship made him slightly unapproachable and I only attempted a handshake at the end of the show, as I was told he’s the reason the band doesn’t require an agent or a recording label.

Continuing with their soft rock intro, the band played ‘Somebody Else, a warning to any lover in a mediocre relationship. Next up was ‘Highway’. Introduced as “deep and pervasive”, this one was about getting high – “one of the greatest feelings in the world”. Some audience members smiled and whistled in recognition while others left in search of the metaphoric highway.

Then came the soulful ‘I’m coming to get you’ which was based on Arnob’s experiences while working at a forensics lab. “I felt like a rat hiding in your house,” he commented when asked about the back story. Forth on the list was the explicit ‘Down Rite Dirty, talking about things that are otherwise taboo. ‘Crying Still’ was about a 45-year-old insomniac who was so frustrated with life that he took his shotgun and killed his entire family. Lucky number six was ‘Beeswax’ a standard folk song from Mississippi – a typically fun-to-perform 1800s song. The thing about blues is that it’s familiar. Even if you’ve never heard these particular songs before, you can relate to them. Especially if you’ve listened to enough old rock music, everything begins sounding like home.

The European themed Cafe 1730, I’m told, is more of an after party place. It’s just above Kivas and earns its patronage from the fact that it’s open till 4 a.m. It has nude paintings on the ceiling above the 40-inch screen and Bose speakers worth 2 lakhs. They didn’t have a sound engineer that evening, just someone to help set up the equipment and then the band members were left to “do their thing”. No one in the audience would have guessed that the piano was never meant to be incorporated into the gig. The way Arnob used the instrument after the intermission, felt as if he was familiar with it and had planned it that way. But I talked to him later and found that it was done on the fly.

Throughout the random jam-based set list, Arnob handled the harmonica with ease earning him the nickname “Blowman”. “Other people tune their instruments, I blow”, he joked. It’s this type of explicit references that got the crowd going and encouraged the band to perform old favourites. Arnob is a passionate writer but prefers to have sloppy jam sessions on stage rather than covering other musicians. This time, though, they did three covers and a few blues standards just to keep things going. Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B. Goode’ and Muddy Waters’ ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ gave the night a much needed upbeat familiarity, which was missing from Blend’s own compositions.

The audience consisted of friends and fans from the music community. Much to my amusement, someone with a Lamb of God t-shirt sat in a corner nodding away to the blues. At our table, a friend nursed his Vodka as a garrulous flirt charmed a pretty girl. I guess one could blame the sad turn out on the fact that most Pune people were at  Blackstratblues / Warren Mendonsa’s gig at High Spirits and given a chance this band would have been there as well. Arnob dreams that one day it’ll be possible to gather a few music enthusiasts and roam the city from one gig to another with just a guitar for company. This gig, however, ended with a tribute to Sandro Sadhukhan, their ex-vocalist and guitarist. Pink Floyd’s ‘Shine On you Crazy Diamond’ , with a little bit of ‘Wish you were here’ thrown in for effect, was a perfect fit for the end of the evening.

It’s not surprising that most of the audience stayed back to chill with the band over crappy cocktails (stay away for the ginger wine and never waste your money on ‘Chocolate Dream’) and wholesome dinner (Bolognese Spaghetti was a hit!) I got to talk to the band in the everlong intermission (why bother about time when things aren’t shutting down at 10.30?) and they shared their experience with the music scene. Newcomer Pratyush seemed to feel that Indian musicians can’t afford to make their passion a full-time occupation. He is the proud owner of a Gibson Les Paul Studio Edition (Ebony) thanks to MTV Rock On. “Even though we didn’t win, the show helped me pursue music as a hobby”, he says “Indian bands don’t get to perform like this unless they’re well connected.”

Personally, I hope Pratyush can dedicate more time to Blend no 3220. Especially because I’ve seen Biswas, Arnob and Sandro jam together and I know how tight their music is. In impromptu music that depends, almost solely, on the partnership between the vocalist and guitarist, you can’t afford to have anyone who is too passionate about his or her musical instrument. Here’s hoping that Pratyush will break out of his metal/rock mould that was created around his MTV Rock On fame and blend into the current blues rock scene.

Blend’s frontrunner, Arnob had a different opinion about the band’s future. “It’s not that difficult to market a band. We get mall and restaurant gigs quite easily but they expect us to be human jukeboxes and play commercial hits.” said Arnob. “We might record a live album”, he adds “But we’re against commercializing our music because that spoils a musician’s way of thinking.”

This was Sajib Biswas’ final performance as Blend No 3220’s bass player. “His forte was ‘thinking music’. He loved to experiment and learn from everyone around him,” said Arnob, who was sad to see another familiar face disappear. But they’ve wasted no time in finding a replacement. Another MTV Rock On participant, Keshav Iyengar, will be joining Blend’s line up. Along with all their fans, I’m looking forward to see how this new chapter of Blend No 3220 turns out. From the looks of it Blues abhi baaki hai!

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Parnika Reys Gamat

Parnika believes every song is a living person in an alternate universe she'd like to visit someday. You'll hardly ever see her without her headphones. Her other interests include travel, photography and poetry.


Sunday Jazz Sessions at The Plantation House, Bangalore


The poster read – Jazz Sessions at The Plantation House, Leela Galleria. It seemed all normal to me – a jazz gig probably at one of The Leela Palace’s posh restaurants, perhaps with a garden! On reaching the venue, I went up and down the Galleria looking for my posh garden restaurant, until I saw Aman Mahajan and Arjun Chandran in a clothes store.

I assumed they were buying clothes, and found the idea of purchasing clothes ten minutes before a gig rather bizarre, but that was only until I saw the keyboard and the amplifier in the shop. Turns out the clothes store was in fact the Plantation House! The store is a lovely little space themed as a sort of old-Bangalore shop with vintage looking wooden walls, soft lighting and surprisingly good acoustics. It has a lot of free space and one corner of the shop was dedicated to the musicians.

Sunday Jazz Sessions at The Plantation House, Bangalore

I walked in, apprehensive and feeling a bit out of place. The musicians plugged in their instruments, and with the first note itself they slapped the apprehension right out of my system and out of the store. Suddenly, the whole thing seemed to fit right in place and make sense! Visitors came in and left as they pleased, a few stayed for most of the gig and some even shopped for clothes. And let me add that this in no way seemed like a business trick to attract customers. It was clear that the focus was on the music. As Shalini Subramanian, the owner of the store explained, this was her little underground venue for musicians to play without the clatter of glasses and plates.

Sunday Jazz Sessions at The Plantation House, Bangalore

The gig started with Aman Mahajan playing the piano intro of ‘Blue Monk’, a very easily recognizable jazz standard by Thelonious Monk. Arjun Chandran kicked in with the most beautiful guitar tone possible. It was the perfect jazz tone, soft but with just the right amount of zing to accentuate all the nuances of his picking. As they both played solos and complemented each other with delicious walking basslines, it was clear that these guys knew their jazz!

This was followed by a few famous jazz standards including ‘Someone to watch over me’, ‘Solar’ and a fast paced rendition of ‘Oleo’. ‘Straight, No chaser’ had a really free and beautiful intro from Aman that went into a very soulful solo. All the songs had extended improvisational sections and both musicians showed tremendous command and also depth of emotion in their playing. Arjun Chandran played the archetypal jazz guitarist for most of the time, but every now and then, one could hear some BB King or Muddy Waters slip out of his fingers.

Sunday Jazz Sessions at The Plantation House, Bangalore

Many of the songs were spontaneous jams, bearing names such as ‘Let’s play something nice and then build it up and see where it goes’. What was incredible to watch was that the jams had many key changes and intricate rhythms that they effortlessly communicated with each other. There was great chemistry between the two which made listening to them all the more exciting. Their rendition of ‘Autumn Leaves’ was so filled with emotion that even the clothes seemed to be swaying to their sounds!

Apart from the music, I found the Plantation House to be a great venue for the quieter gigs. Though the gig was intended to be informal, it would be nice to see gigs here with more structured setlists that would make people linger around longer. But, overall, it was a good gig and an innovative idea that has the potential to turn into a popular concept for a gig in the Bangalore live music scene!

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Abhishek Prakash

Abhishek Prakash is a Bangalore based guitarist and is a third of local act Groove Chutney. He loves jazz, street food, Woody Allen movies and often pretends to be a writer.


Bourbon Street at Legends of Rock, Bangalore





Sunday the 7th of August was a cloudy, drizzly evening that had me trudging up the road leading to Legends of Rock, Koramangala. I entered to find the place packed and was told that I might have to stand to listen to the band playing. Legends of Rock seemed like THE place to unwind after a week of hard work at the office; it was also the place to be to share space with a smoking hot band, rather literally considering its cramped and smoke-filled interiors.

I somehow found a seat just in front of the bar and settled down to enjoy an evening of music with Bourbon Street. I was looking forward to hear them play, having sampled their music online, but was a little apprehensive: recording music in a controlled environment is quite different from how you carry yourself in front of an audience.

The band consists of Jerome Mascarenhas (Vocals/Harmonica), Chester Pereira (lead guitars), Fidel D’Souza (bass), Bharath Kumar (Keyboards), Sudhakar Prabhu (Drums) and Ian Castelino (Djembe). The band is often joined by Carnatic violinist Dr. Sangeetha, who performs with the band for the fusion set.

Bourbon Street opened their gig with a rendition of John Scofield’s ‘A go-go’, an instrumental which lent a jazzy feel to the evening. I was glad they didn’t start off with something heavy, having come across artists who’re too eager to please by playing stuff that upsets the mood of the place. This pleasant number was soon followed by Roy Buchanan’s ‘Roy’s Bluz’. Chester doubled up by lending vocals to this song.

Starting off with jazz, Bourbon Street slipped into the comforting sounds of the blues. Chester’s waspy vocals were accompanied by their vocalist Jerome performing harmonica duties. I found myself cheerfully tapping my feet to the music, and I wasn’t alone. The place was suddenly transported back in time and there was no looking back: the audience was hooked.

‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ followed next, with Jerome taking charge of the vocals. Bold and empowering, this song was a little heavier than the previous two songs. By this time we’d understood that this band was going to surprise us with every new number.

Just when we thought the event was going to be a one-sided affair with the band doing all the hard work, Jerome asked the crowd if they were sober enough to follow their music. Dave Brubeck’s ‘Unsquare Dance’ followed, with the audience clapping in tandem with the beat. It proved to be quite a challenge keeping up with a tune on a 7/4 and quite a few members of the audience falling out of rhythm before long. But was great fun to be part of the magic of the band.

Bourbon Street’s version of Herbie Hancock’s ‘Chameleon’ followed next, as the crowd grooved to the snappy funky solos that each member of the band churned out with an ease that made it seem like they were in their element.

After playing a flurry of covers during the first set, the second set opened with an original composition ‘Opulence’. Opulence is a progressive instrumental track written by Chester, making use of an odd meter sequence from 7/8 , 6/8 to 5/8 + 4/8. This number was also shortlisted at the Yamaha Asian Beats 2011 contest. This number took a myriad of turns, one blending seamlessly into another, taking me through a mesmerizing trip. ‘Opulence‘ certainly brought out the best in each of the band members.

The song that followed took us all by surprise. What started off with funky guitar and harmonica riffs ended up being Dr. Rajkumar’s ‘If you come today (tick tick tick)’. Now it takes courage to belt out a Kannada film number at a bar called Legends of Rock, but Bourbon Street pulled it off and got the crowd shouting out for more. An excited Ashish, (of LOR) took stage and commended the band for flawlessly syncing their genre with a Kannada number. My verdict- Incredibly ingenious!

‘Got my Mojo Working’ was the next track, and boy did they get the crowd’s mojo working! Much heavier than the numbers played before, the rhythm and drums in perfect sync, this Muddy Waters cover got the audience singing/screaming/shouting out what they could of the chorus with Jerome. They also moved on to cover Doobie Brothers’ ‘Long train runnin’ which kept up the crescendo that was built up through the show.

Bourbon Street wrapped the evening with Santana’s ‘Black Magic Woman’. A familiar number to most on the floor, it was the perfect way to end a show that was sure to leave a lasting impression on everyone who was there that night.

I was lucky enough to get some time with the band once their gig ended, thanks to Jerome’s invitation to have a chat with the band. The first question I had was whether they were comfortable playing at a small venue like LOR, with the band members seemingly jostling for space on the tiny stage. “We performed here the first time LOR reopened for live music after the whole ban thing.” said drummer Sudhakar, who’d been obscured from view for the most part of the evening. “We like the place and are comfortable with playing here since the crowd is very responsive as they’re seated quite close to the stage.”

On asking Jerome, where Bourbon Street stood among blues bands in Bangalore, he replied with a smile, “In this city, there are bands that play the blues, there are bands that play jazz, bands that play fusion and then there’s Bourbon Street which plays a bit of jazz, a bit of blues, Carnatic fusion and a lot more. It’s a mix of genres packed into one show.”

On being asked as to why they chose to play cover versions for most of the evening, Sudhakar said, “None of the covers sound like the original. In fact we lend in our own touch to every cover that we perform, so you’d never find two shows sounding the same”. A soft spoken Chester added that they’d like to expose the public to a broader spectrum of music primarily from the older days. The artistes of that period, he said, performed with such passion that it puts many of the contemporary artistes to shame.

The gig went well apart from uncomfortable seating and an annoying light that kept shining into the audience’s eyes. I wrapped up my conversation with the band thanking them for the chat, making a mental note to catch them live again next time.

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Sharath Krishnaswami

Sharath is a freelance journalist. When he's not working, he's either painting on walls, trekking, or writing short stories.


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.


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Howard Pereira

Howard is a guitarist with Mumbai based bands, Dischordian and Overhung. His other interests include drinking, comic books and occasional writing.