Sunday, February 19, 2006

Doozy, bluesy night

I am probably the most defunct member of Pune Jazz Club. When I joined the club, I intended to attend all their meetings (every third Sunday of the month, at Max Mueller Bhavan at 11 AM) to learn more about Jazz music, to meet people who did and to have a good Sunday in general. However, I never got around to attending even a single meeting, though I do attend all the shows organized by them. I went to Soul restaurant when Lumahama played there, and I read all their newsletters very keenly for announcements of upcoming events. Therefore, when I got a mail which mentioned (rather passingly, I must say) that Dana Gillespie and a whole bunch of blues artists were slated to play at the Athena/Merlot bar (right here, in my beloved Koregaon Park), I jumped of my seat with Joy. Why, you ask, my sweet child? Here's why:

  1. We don't get to hear much blues music in India. We don't get to hear any live blues music in India.
  2. I can't even find CDs of blues artists. I have been searching for a CD of Buckwheat Zydeco for ages, to no avail.
  3. When I go to a blues concert I am most likely not to have heard the songs being belted out, unlike when I go to a rock concert and I can sing along to all songs (Summer of 69, Sultans of Swing, Hotel California, and so on) being played. There is a sense of surprise and awe when listening to blues musicians; when I hear a song for the first time, I listen to it more intently.
  4. It is my seat and my prerogative to jump out of it with whatever emotion grips me at that particular time.

Anyway, I also knew that Gina would love to go to the concert as well. So I booked a couple of tickets for the event. Then I broke the new to Gina very casually, asking her to come back from office early on Friday. She asked me who was playing and I mentioned the name Dana Gillespie. Gina was extremely happy to hear that because Gina knows a lot of things about a lot of thing and one of the things she knew was that Dana Gillespie was a very good singer. So, we had a date. Then we decided that a date was no fun alone, and we must invite a couple of friends to enjoy the music and get drunk with us. So we called up Arjun and Shrik and told them that they were coming to this concert with us.

On Friday evening, we reached the venue very much in time, and occupied seats in the second row, from where we had a great view. Then, right before the show was set to start, I realized that I had forgotten to bring along my camera, which according to me a violation of one of the important commandments, thou shalt take pictures whenever a scene presents itself before you, along with thou shalt not miss an opportunity to watch Roger Federer play and thou shalt not miss an opportunity to call Senthil a schmuck on your blog. So Arjun, my good old friend Arjun, drove me back to the apartment so that I could pick up my camera.

Then the music started. I will not go into too much detail about the music, but present some of the highlights of the evening.

The show started with Dino Baptiste (above) playing singing and playing the piano, to an accompaniment of drums. Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the drummer. It was wonderful. I would never have thought that just piano and drums could make music sound so full.

After that, Dana Gillespie and her troupe came onstage and sang many beautiful songs. I decided to finish my roll of film so that I could concentrate on the music. Photography was difficult since the lighting was not suitable, and I don't like to use a flash (it kills the atmosphere by making the whole scene flat), so I got very few pictures worth sharing. In the picture above, you can see Mr. Pace (I hope I got his name correct) playing the sax, and Dana Gillespie singing in the background.

One of the musicians whom I liked a lot was the bassists, whose name I don't remember (blame it on Chivas Regal) and whose photo is produced above. He had a very expressive face and he was totally involved in his own music.

One of the main components of blues music is guitaring. The evening saw two excellent guitarists perform. I will not even apologize anymore for forgetting the name of the gentleman above, who was one of the guitarists. The other one, Zach Prather from Chicago, was an excellent showman -- he came down from the stage while playing and walked through the seating area while continuing to play.

Here's the sax player once again. He also played the harmonica the way I had never heard it played before. I was totally mesmerized by his skills.

Finally, here's Dana Gillespie, singing. I must say that she is very beautiful and a very good singer. She has a powerful voice and a lovely British accent. I hope we get to see a lot more of her and her troupe in the coming years. They plan to play here once every year, and I look forward to the next concert.

In short, a terrific evening. We imbibed a lot of music, and alcohol, which is always a good combination. The last performance by the band was a jamming session, which had the crowd on their feet in no time. Oh, I wish I could go to such concerts every weekend. Sigh!

I apologize for the poor quality of the pictures, but that's the best I could manage.


At 12:47 AM, Blogger Senthil said...

In spite of being a schmuck, I like photo #2 of the Sax player. Or maybe it's because I'm one. A schmuck, not a sax player.

There, now please keep some of the Red Label till I return...

At 3:18 AM, Anonymous shrik said...

So you finally started liking sax... Probably you should have more Chivas Regal and less beer. Senti, being called a schmuck is better than being called a dick.. or is it? It was a nice evening... I liked Sax Player Photo #2 as well, though I wish you'd conserved a couple of snaps for clicking Julien and Zach. They had such friendly, fun-loving expressions.

For those who weren't there, here's more info on the show.

At 3:32 AM, Blogger Anurag said...

Senthil: I like the second pic also. It is fuller, better composed, and more moody.

Shrik: Thanks for the link. I have added it ot the post.

At 11:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

arre anu maybe i shud give u some blues music
hopped on to ur blog after a while... nice read.... as always

cheerz mate


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