In a slow, groovy trance

Classic Blues

An Ode to the Blues’ festival, held recently at CounterCulture, commemorated the 102nd birth anniversary of blues legend Robert Johnson. It saw the usual sightings of any blues festival — harmonicas, groovy bass lines, jam sessions and the eagerly anticipated international act.

The evening began with Mumbai-based blues band, ‘Overdrive Trio’, who played their original compositions as well as songs by Jimi Hendrix including ‘Foxy Lady’ and ‘Shakey Ground’ by ‘The Temptations’. Fifteen-year-old guitarist Kush Upadhyay joined the band in their energetic set, while Warren Mendonsa of ‘Blackstratblues’ accompanied them for a few songs.

Local blues act ‘Chronic Blues Circus’ performed next. They were an instant hit with numbers like ‘Restless Woman’, ‘Sweet Nicotine’ and ‘Coming Home Blues’. They were joined by the talented 19-year-old guitarist Aayushi Karnik from Surat.

“Bangalore has the best audience in the country. We thought people would only enjoy covers but we played our originals and the crowd really got it. It’s easier to
empathise with Indian blues since we have enough stories to sing about,” says frontman Peter Isaac.

Among the newer acts was the recently formed electric blues act, ‘Hoodoo Gas’, who are already making it big in the Bangalore circuit. It saw the barefooted frontman Ananth Menon performing songs like ‘Blues Power’ and Gary Clark Jr’s ‘Bright Lights’ to a loud and responsive audience. There was also a short ‘Blackstratblues’ set by
Warren, with drummer Deepak Raghu and bassist Snehal Pinto filling in for
the band members who couldn’t make it.

But the highlight of the night was the set by 21-year-old Norwegian musician, Monica Heldal, who was accompanied by Cato Thomassen on guitar. With
a mix of blues, folk, roots and pop, she mesmerised the audience with her soulful voice, powerful songwriting and guitar skills.

The aim of the festival was to spread blues as a music form — and it certainly achieved that to a great extent.

“It’s great to see young talent enrich the soulful blues genre. Bangalore’s live music isn’t just about rock anymore. Even veterans like Warren and Ananth had everyone caught in a slow, groovy trance,” shares Praveen Balachander, who attended the festival.

The night ended with an all-star jam, with musicians from the different bands
taking to the stage to churn out some classic blues.

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