French music band covets harmonium


"We have been listening to Indian instruments like sarangi, mridangam and the harmonium. I think the harmonium has very strong acoustics and the music is great. We are looking to acquire a harmonium,"  guitarist Stefan Moriarty told PTI.

The Bohemian troupe whose members come from French, English, Swiss, American and Vietnamese parentage, recently performed in India as part of the Bounjour India Festival of France.
The six member band initially formed when the sons of two American expatriates in Paris met and began singing traditional blues music. They were later joined by a few others who wanted to stay connected with the English language.

The group members - Rosemary, Arthur, Thomas, Charles, and Stephan- have all taken on the surname Moriarty from their mutual love of the central character in American writer Jack Kerouac's novel "On The Road."

"We started out in a small basement in Paris singing for family occasions. Later, we moved to performing in parks and on streets. After some time Thomas and Arthur in 2001 went to western Africa in search of roots of blues music," says Stephen.

During the trip, the duo lived with natives and recorded their music. Later they continued to Mississippi and found guitar players who taught them the forgotten blues music.
"Our music evolved considerably after that trip and we are always looking to expand it. Thomas is very fond of classical carnatic music and makes it a point not to miss a concert in Paris," says the guitarist.

Band members play xylophone, thumb piano, spoons, tambourine, scotch-tape trumpet, double-bass, acoustic guitar, music box, suitcase drum, chromatic and diatonic harmonicas, kazoo, drilling machines and the Jew's harp among other assorted instruments.

"We are like a theatre group and  gauge the mood of the audience before playing, swap instruments and constantly keep improvising," says Stephen, who adds that their India trip is one of the last stops of a two-year long tour with 270 concerts in Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Taiwan among other places.
This is the first time they have visited India but members are familiar with musician A R Rahman and the Oscar winning film "Slumdog Millionaire" and say they are keen on collaborating with musicians here.

"We are inspired by what we hear and are not very commercial minded. Maybe that is why we are so slow in cutting albums," says Stephen.
The band's first album "Gee Whiz But This is A Lonesome Town" released in 2007 sold more than 50,000 copies in a few months and was certified gold a year after its release.

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