So many different things happening that it is time for a news roundup.
1) Prince is no more - what a colossal loss to the global music industry to lose such an iconic figure. There can only be one Prince and he is not living and breathing anymore. Crying purple tears.
2) Our own melody queen, P Susheela garu entered the guiness world records for singing 17,695 songs in twelve indian languages. What an achievement and what a spirit she has for an 80-year old person. My mom met her at a cultural event recently and she mentioned to her that she apparently never kept track of all the songs she sang. So this achievement is a pleasant surprise to her and a well deserving one too. Mom said that she was extremely down to earth and pleasant to interact with. So many good wishes to her!
3)It is concert season in US and Shankar Ehsaan and Loy will be touring various cities in US. See your local listings for tickets and purchases.
SEL #AMERICA2016 Concert
- April 29 - San Jose
- April 30 - Seattle
- May 1 - Phoenix
- May 6 - Dallas
- May 7 - Austin
- May 13 - Fort Lauradale
- May 14 - New Jersey
4) Thaman Shivakumar is touring the US from April 17th - May 22nd. He will be performing in ten cities, San Jose, Dallas, Maryland, Los Angeles, Charlotte, Chicago, Columbus, Tampa, Houston, and Atlanta. I could not find a link that explains the show locations and dates for the individual performances. Guys, if you are marketing the musicians and going through the effort of organizing a show, can you at least do a decent job of posting the show locations, times, and ticketing options on the internet? Please check your local listings if you are interested in a show closer to your hometown.
Farhan Akhtar is touring in US from May 20th - May 29th. Tickets are available on Sulekha.
Dallas, May 20th - 9.00 PM - Curtis Culwell Center, 4999 Naaman Forest Blvd, Garland, TX
San Jose, May 21st - 6.30 PM - Santa Clara County Fairground, 344 Tully Road, San Jose, CA
Houston, May 22nd - 7.00 PM - NRG Arena, 1 NRG Park, Houston, TX
Chicago, May 27th - 9.00 PM - Odeum Expo Center, 1033,North Villa Avenue, Villa Park, IL
New Jersey, May 28th - 8.00 PM - NJPAC, 1 Center St, Newark, NJ
Washington, May 29th - 8.00 PM - EagleBank Arena, 4500 Patriot Circle, Fairfax, VA
Zakir Hussain and Hari Haran are touring in US from May 6th - May 14th. Tickets are on Sulekha.
San Jose, May 6th - 8.00 PM - City National Civic, 135 W San Carlos St, San Jose, CA
Portland, May 8th - 4.00 PM - Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland, 1037 Southwest Broadway, Portland, OR
Houston, May 14th - 8.30 PM - Brown Theater At The Wortham Center, 501 Texas Ave, Houston, TX
That's it for now. More Later!
Going through hectic day filled with commitments and some unexpected additional time hogs with the hope that I can get to this one last commitment that I made, albeit very reluctantly. See, I am a chronic YES person. Those that don't have this problem, do know that it really is an illness akin to cold. You just cannot shake it off. However, hand on heart, all the good things in my life (every last one of them) happened because of this dreadful illness. Does it make it easy to live through the yes's, NO? Is it all worth it in the end, YES or at least that is what I would like to think.
where was the track? Oh found it!.... Last commitment. I said yes to my violin teacher that I would come watch her performance in a concert hall located about an hour away from my house, on a Saturday. I almost canceled it because of the said hectic day but somehow made it. What an experience it was. It was a jugalbandhi of violins, cellos, and flutes and it was extremely well done. But more importantly, the performance started right on time at 7.30 PM. Sorry, if you do not respect your art enough to be there on time, I lose respect for you.
This performance was given in a smallish concert hall in a smallish music school in a smallish neighborhood in a smallish (okay, not so smallish) town in the US. There were about 30-40 people attending, mostly friends and families of the performers, If I were to venture a guess. There was no drama or buildup to the show. The performers showed up, in all black, performed for an hour, took their bow, and left. Yet, it was the best hour of my week. I feel so rejuvenated, so refined, so cultured, so filled with art and what not.
This made me think, why do we not have this culture back at home. We are extremely good at churning out an army of fully-clenched-robotic-follow-the-path-that-every-one-takes-make-money-get-married-make-some-more-money-buy-house-have-kids-make-some-more-money-do-not-get-married-ever-again. Why isn't a career in music an appealing track for the regular John Doe walking down the street? Why does a career in music always have to mean participation in random shows on television or movies?
Is it because there is not enough money in it? Average small town musicians performing in university concert halls do not make a whole lot of money here either.
Is it because of the lack of talent? Uh... I don't think so. There is enough talent both in terms of teachers and shishyas in India. No doubt about it.
Is it because of the uncoolness of being a music professional? Firstly, I don't think it is uncool but that apart, some music students are considered geeks here too.
I think it comes down to not having the culture of celebrating music. Most music listening is limited to film music which carefully limits itself to a formulaic set of constraints. This way, you are not experimenting with expanding your music horizons. How many people roll their eyes off when you mention a carnatic music recital? How many people actually show up when they are invited to a said event?
Every big city has a couple of venues that facilitate the cultural musical performances and that is about it. There is no need to bring up small towns because music concerts is an alien concept for small towns. There are not many people supporting the cause, not many venues being created for the cause, and not a whole lot of encouragement for the talent.
I cannot even get started on the plight of the instrumental music. How many flute players do you know of that have taken up a career of playing flute? How many sitar players? How many violin players? What does their career look like? How much unconditional love, support, and encouragement do they receive from their families and friends? How many music universities do they have to support their education and future employment? How many scholarship programs do they have? Other than the film industry, what other career options do they have that they can be really interested in?
How many people sit on a lazy Saturday and wonder if there is a concert at a nearby temple or concert hall that they can attend? Like a real concert, not the one played on the idiot box with all the soapy drama attached to it. Metros like Mumbai, Delhi, and Chennai are much better at creating that live music culture than some of the other places. But remember India comprises of whole lot of states with a wide variety of music styles and a whole lot of towns within those states. You can imagine how much change needs to take place for music culture to pervade through all these cities and towns.
My dream is to some day meet a random stranger on a local train in India, strike up a conversation and ask him/her what they do for a living and get this proud and contented response: "I learnt instrument XXX all my life and I teach it to kids at a local school in this small podunk town"
After meticulous planning, I was able to make it to the Vishal and Shekhar Concert in my town.
I am still pinching myself to make myself believe that I got to see them in person. I did not purchase the expensive tickets to sit in the front because I was not sure how big the crowd was going to be. Sometimes if the crowd is too large, an expensive ticket gets you the same view as a regular priced tickets. Thankfully, it was a small and cozy auditorium and I had a decent view.
The auditorium had circular seating arrangement with a rotating stage. This was quite convenient for the viewers but I am sure it was a little bit of an inconvenience for the performers to have the ground moving under their feet.
The show started with some local talent that does not deserve much page-space.
Neeti Mohan jump started the show. What an amazing performance it was. She was lively, perfectly pitched, genuine, and entertaining. She has very good stage presence and spontaneity to her that was very endearing. Some artists sound amazing in recording studios but don't live up to expectations in real life. She was not like that. She sang extremely complicated songs with super ease and kept the audience enthralled until the very end. If this wasn't Vishal and Shekhar and if I wasn't anxiously waiting for them to show up on the stage (especially Shekhar), I would have loved to listen to her throughout the show.
Vishal jump started the V&S portion of the show. He was super cool and extremely interactive. How he gets that much energy to interact with audience while performing is a puzzle!
Shekhar showed up, I fainted right there, and woke up at the end of the show. Ha ha .... just kidding. I was waiting anxiously for Shekhar's entry and he made an apt entrance with the song "Bachna Ae Haseeno". He got that right, Alright!
Both V&S went on to perform various songs from their oldish movies and newer movies. They were super energetic and made almost everyone in the audience stand up and sing. That is not an easy feat to pull off.
I really enjoyed Shekhar's solo performance to the songs "Gehra Ishq", "Zehnaseeb", and "Lag Jaa Gale". He used an instrument called Melodica at the beginning of Gehra Ishq song. I am a huge fan of V&S and especially Shekhar's talent. This was truly a memorable experience for me and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the show. Thank you V&S for the show!
Now for a rant. This is not a rant on V&S per say. But more of a rant on indian shows. People make all kinds of arrangements to attend a show. Those with kids and dogs have care takers watching them. Working people have things scheduled all over their calendar and attending a concert means taking time out of your schedule and making it to the show. If the show does not start on time, it does not end on time and therefore throws off everything planned for after the show. The actual show was scheduled to start at 8.30 PM and it started at 9.45 PM. V&S did not make it to the stage until almost 10.00 PM. You can see how this can be an inconvenience to people. We had to call our sitter and extend her stay by an hour just so we could catch a glimpse of the singers we came to watch. We had to leave the show half-way because of this. I was extremely sad to leave such an entertaining performance but it had to be done. Am I the only person that feels this way? I could see that a whole of the folks that came to the show just kept hanging out in the hallway and did not make it to their seats until 9.30 PM. Why do we assume that because it is an indian show that it has to start late? Why are we so blasé about respecting others' time? End Rant!