It was 2001. Debashish Bhatta-charya was playing his slide guitar at a world music festival in Quebec, Canada, when he met René Lacaille, a musician from the Réunion Island. “His music was pure, just simple melodies that were a mix of African and Malagasy folk,” says Bhattacharya, recalling how, as they were living in the same hotel, the musicians bonded over music and food—with jam sessions and Lacaille’s Creole curry.
Since then, they’ve played at several concerts around the globe. “Indian rhythm goes well with Creole music and I’ve always wanted to bring René down. Finally, I got a chance this year,” he says.
After performing at the annual India International Guitar Festival, which Bhattacharya curates in Kolkata, the quintet—including son Marco Lacaille (singer, bass) and Subashish Bhattacharya (tabla)—are touring the country, and will perform in the city on Monday. “I love coming to Chennai. It’s a very welcoming city and a lot of my music friends live here,” says the guitarist, adding audiences can look forward to both solo and fusion sets. “We will present Hindustani music, with classics like Koyaliya kook sunave, while Rene and Marco will present Creole songs, like Andio, a favourite of mine. Besides Rene’s accordion and our instruments, you can also expect to listen to the ukulele, djembe and the Creole shaker,” he adds. With every song introduced in English—the Creole lyrics are simple, talking about living a good life or a farmer selling fruits in the market—Bhattacharya says that the music “with a rhythmic group that is neither three or four, but has a special swing to it, will set the stage on fire”.
January 18, at 7 pm, at the Alliance Française. Free passes on eventjini.com
—Surya Praphulla Kumar