Sunday, March 18, 2012
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.
Some joked that Blend no 3220 should have been named ‘Three and a half men’ but really what would Blend do
without its well-dressed drummer Sumair Zubairy? He sported a black studded jacket with flare and proudly held
his Mohawk head high even as local blues legend, David Mansey, 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
Boss 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 Mendoza’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 from 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,” says Arnob, who’s 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, yaar!
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
In a puddle I ponder
Of love, hope and wonder
If I could wash away my innocence
In muddy puddles of rain
Would it make me any more insane?
If I could drink an ounce of joy
And love that tramp for who he is
Would I know all the answers to the next quiz?
If I could cheat the wealth of an obstinate fool
After counting each blessed sin
Would I be allowed to evil grin?
If I could measure darkness
Of an empty room
Would hearts be filled with that much gloom?
If I could confide in a summer ray
And anchor hope on bashful pride
Would you bother to choose a side?
If I could thread sparked thought on a spindle
And weave enough to make a skirt
Would I still be dreaming here on earth?
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Anything outside of this realm seems unreal, unME!
There's a reason we're told to dream big, reach for the stars.
Tonight, there's a song called DREAM that refuses to leave my playlisted head.
It reminds me of this poem I made up in the eight grade. Five years after it was written, two lines got published in the school magazine.
Make the world the way you dream it
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
I played pretend between the trees, and fed my houseguests bark and leaves, and laughed in my pretty bed of green.
I had a dream
That I could fly from the highest swing.
I had a dream.
Long walks in the dark through woods grown behind the park, I asked God who I'm supposed to be.
The stars smiled down on me, God answered in silent reverie. I said a prayer and fell asleep.
I had a dream
That I could fly from the highest tree.
I had a dream.
Now I'm old and feeling grey. I don't know what's left to say about this life I'm willing to leave.
I lived it full and I lived it well, there's many tales I've lived to tell. I'm ready now, I'm ready now, I'm ready now to fly from the highest wing.
I had a dream
Saturday, March 7, 2009
I say that as if I'm leaving to the States next week. Ah! it just feels all distant.
Yeah, one week for college to end. good! get rid of this shithole place! move on!
I went to JWT job hunting the other day and felt very professional.
Colleagues still get to scream at me with smiley dirts from the backrows.
There's nothing like an inside joke in the middle of formidable CIAs.
Every breakdown I've had right here in this very classroom.
Every LOL moment I've shared in this very classroom!
And all those out-of-the-window DC moments.
There're endless memories, even the Asian paints ad agrees.
'I'm always right', says a know-it-all
'I have a doubt', says the rabbit toothed first bencher.
'I couldn't care less', says the window seat dreamer
Live - Poet's Society
now see this is the kinda thing I'll miss. Whatever the drawbacks, I'm an optimist to the core and believe, wholeheartedly, in change! Not exactly voting for Obama (they printed my name wrong on the voters ID!! That's story reserved for another night) I'm avoiding 'Oye! It's Friday' as my mom (who still packs sandwiches in my lunch box) will not let me play the Foo Fighters loud enough. Now that's a bracketed entry that would gaurantee admission into the club! (Watch Sydney White for insights)
'I'm a soul rebel'-Bob Marley
Yes, that's an odd list. I can't help it, my playlist is finally up and running. Skin n Bones kicks in.
Everlong...College felt endless, boring, mundane...
'Kill me! Kill me now', she yelled
"Watching Grey's Anatomy season 1-3 back to back!!"
"No, I mean after COLLEGE!"
"Oh you kids have so many options these days" They say it like we're fortunate, like we're ungratful little wretches who don't have priorities! They say it not knowing we're wishing for the little checklist that says 'Doctor'
Really! we'd rather live in the 60's at this point!
Ok I take that back! I have to admit it's my lack of a decisive mind and addiction to Blogger that's got me into this mess. But FEP really put my finger in too many pies and 'emmy mouthwatering ones at that! and now they tell me my pockets will still have to pay for them! :*(
Of course, he just meant it's a cool change from a 75% must-have-ness of our college attendence sheet. But it made sense. Wouldn't you rather be told 'You can't stand on your own feet' than 'I'll explain how gravity works but the rest's upto you' ?
Everyday of my life I've lived like there was something to live upto. Some days it was my peer group, some days my teachers, some days my own report card. But this kept me going. Past the red circled Blueprint, past the album cover anthology, past the malaria-infected radio show. There were times in the rat race when you'd prefer the inside of a cat's mouth. When you haven't learnt to bell the dork and open that cellphone only between breaks, you'd rather just swallow your pride and write that apology letter to the department of Psychology. Living it a day at a time, as if 3 or 4 days at a time was ever a choice! And every calender was only used as a countdown to the next semester! Every Practical hour was used as an excuse to play with fiddleworthy bracelets. Every party was used as an excuse for Class Reps to wake up and smell the cash. The tomfoolery of Keeda! ha ha! What would I do without Phrasebook!?
"The outcome of the result was that..."
For Puddled- It's not about being read, it's about being written. :)
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
it at prime time.
I have seen Slumdog Millionaire. Not as thrilling as everyone makes it
out to be. A very real portrayal of India. But only the slum side.
Some love it. Some see through the copycat. Did you know the story is
taken from a book called 'Q n A' by Vikram Swaroop? And the Indian
media has found so many Bollywood movies with the same storyline. I
guess it's getting this much attention only because of it's
international appeal. The music is brilliant though. AR Rehman
deserves his BAFTA. All the best to Danny Boyle too. :)
Haven't watched the rest of the nominees. Will wait for April, after I
graduate, they'll be released in India by then.
I'm on the look out for a job and the recession is making it hard to
get a good one easily. It would be nice to intern at a media house
for a short time. Options are open and the last few weeks of college
are packed with fun moments to treasure. I'm sure Alina would agree.
Give her my love. She's hoping we can make it for the wedding and so
am I. It's still a long way to go. Depending on what I'm doing at the
time, we'll decide what to do.
For now, my focus is on my studies and recruitment.
Wish me luck'
Boyle didn't need a bit of luck and neither did Pookutty!
DB+PK+AAR=India super shine!
Heath Ledger+Christian Bale+Hans Zimmer= Batman simmer
Button+Pitt+Fincher=Made up unoriginality!
Doubt+Streep+Nuns=lots of screaming
Changeling+Jolie+Green gems='U no have good black dress! thu!'
Hugh Jackman+Ann Hathaway=HOTNESS!!
I'm still reeling over the foot tapping sequence the werewolf conjured.
The most memorable acceptance speeches were 'I am berry berry happy' & 'Mere pass Ma hai' :) I also loved the way each nominee had a predecessor telling them how awesome they really are..makes it so special :) good night to be dressed up.
1st August 2009..my only cousins and first and hopefully only wedding! that's a day i don't wanna miss! Oh readers of blog! please job hunt for moi! find me smt that'll make Oscar dreams possible! sigh..
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
This is what my new orkut fortune says today.
Fortunately, I quote better sources.
I would add to that list. But privacy is a must have for some and the muddle learns from it's mistakes. I still don't believe in Blog rolls. It takes away the attention from MY blog!
Yeah, call me a glory hogger!