'We play a form of expression'

'We play a form of expression'

'We play a form of expression'

Sure, the blues won't pack Palace Grounds with ten thousand screaming people, but smoky bars with a few odd grinning faces and plenty of warm vibes — that it will do!” feels Vasudev Prabhu, member of ‘By 2 Blues’, one of Bangalore’s unique two-member blues band.

With Ananth Menon on vocals and guitar, the musicians, who have been playing together for a little over a year now, recently performed at the ‘Fete de la Musique 2012’ recently.  Musician by profession, Ananth recalls how the two musicians started playing together.
“I’ve played with electric bands all my life,” he recounts, adding, “I wanted to try something different.”

When asked why they did not expand the band, Vasudev explains, “Well, this is the traditional blues format — just the harmonica, the guitar and the vocals.” Adding to this, Ananth comments, “It’s really odd that no one else does it this way in Bangalore.”

“In fact,” grumbles Ananth, “Nowadays music is too formatted and technical.” He then goes off into praises of legendary musicians and how some of their best works were created spontaneously.

 “If you look at all the blues greats, you will see that they had no real format,” informs Ananth. “They just made music according to what they were feeling,” he adds.

Vasudev takes off from where Ananth stops. “They’d even make up their lyrics on the spot!” he exclaims. According to the duo, a couple of examples of true blues numbers would be songs like ‘Rolling and Tumbling’ and ‘High-Heeled Sneakers’.

“Try finding the lyrics to these songs as research,” grins Ananth, adding “You will find a hundred different versions because there was no single version!”

With reference to a few of their inspirations such as Eric Clapton, ‘Muddy Waters’ and Junior Wells, the pair maintains that while they look up to them, they especially try not to emulate their styles. “We do perform covers, which we credit to our idols, but we do not completely imitate them,” reflects Ananth.

“It’s all about trying to find your own sound so that you can pay a tribute to your idols,” ruminates Vasudev. Then he adds, “What we play is a form of expression, a way of exploring different sounds – the bare-bones version of the blues!” Vasudev marvels at the popularity of the original form of music even in an era of electronic sounds and DJs. This, he credits to the fact that several genres such as  blues-rock, jazz, gospel and soul have sprung out of the mother lode of blues.

“So when you listen to these forms of music, you are, in fact, listening to traces of the blues. Youngsters may not have listened to the original music, but deep down, the sound is familiar.”

“Perhaps this is the reason why the spirit of the blues resonates even today,” speculates Vasudev.

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