An Ode to the Blues returns to the city with some of the country and the world’s greatest blues and blues-inspired musicians
Featuring a dazzling array of international stars from the worlds of blues, soul, jazz, R&B and beyond, An Ode to The Blues, now in its fourth year, celebrates the 103rd birthday of Robert Johnson — the father of the Blues. This year will see two stages at the grand finale at CounterCulture on April 26, while the Blues Around Town run up begins today at Church Street with a busking performance by guitarist Ananth Menon. “At An Ode To The Blues, we have always showcased young artistes, and will continue to do so. The festival is designed for audience of all ages — kids as young as three to proud grandparents at 75 and everyone in between,” says Guru Somayaji, festival manager.
The highlight of the finale next Sunday will be the debut performance of American blues guitarist, Guitar Shorty, followed by a line up that brings in the most indelible Blues artistes of the country. Soulmate from Shillong, BlackStratBlues from Mumbai, Ministry of Blues, The Chronic Blues Circus, Velvet Mojo and Sylvester Trio will all celebrate their own distinctive sounds and styles, but with credit to blues as the start of their musical journeys. We catch up with some of the artistes.
Rudy Wallang and Tipriti ‘Tips’ Kharbangar made waves when they performed in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge
organised by The Blues Foundation of America, in 2007 and 2010 but their journey began in 2003 in Shillong. Since then, not only have they released two albums but even opened for heavy-weight Carlos Santana. The musicians tell us more:
Influences and inspiration
Tips: Ella Fitzgerald, Koko Taylor, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Mahalia Jackson, BB King, Van Morrison
Rudy: The three Kings… Albert, Freddie and BB in that order. Then Carlos Santana, Peter Green, Buddy Guy, Frank Zappa, Johnny Guitar Watson and my late father — Toto Wallang.
The process of creating music
We are both inspired by things that happen in and around us. We write lyrics first then compose a melody to wrap the words in. Rudy does the arrangements and fine tuning before we present the song to the band. Then we let the musicians add their feel to the song before we take it out on the road and play it — all the while letting the song grow till it takes on its own identity.
The future of Blues
Everyone has the Blues, so it is here to stay! It is the foundation of western popular music one hears today. EDM is just a fad and will pass with time. But as long as there are human beings around there will be live music. For us, live music is food for the soul! One of Stevie Ray’s albums says it all — Soul To Soul.
Jamming with Carlos Santana
Out of this world! That blessing will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
We’re expecting a lot of our friends and fans to turn up. We haven’t played here in a while so we’re really excited.
At Whitefield. Tickets (Rs. 1,000 upwards) at bookmyshow.com
Warren Mendonsa, founder of the solo electric Blues band, on his love affair with the genre
The future of Blues
It is the root of Rock and RnB. The root is always the purest form, and can be used as a stepping stone to find many new sounds. And I think there will always be an audience that appreciates the Blues.
Blues VS EDM
The trump card for Blues is the raw emotional impact contained in the music. It’s a beautiful form to base improvisation and innovation on. It is always good, honest music — much like my gig!
All-time best Blues guitarist
Priority in Bangalore
A meal at my in-laws’ place.
Guilty pleasure song
Guilty Of Love by Whitesnake.
Most prized guitar
My black Fender Stratocaster.
— Aakanksha Devi