Music is an entity indefinable by words alone. It is not only something you hear but what you feel. It is something your soul can reach out and touch. Complex or simple, fast or slow, loud or soft. It is what you feel, or it could be your method of escape or it could just keep you alive. One such genre of music is Blues. It is the music of the heart. It comes straight from the heart and holds such emotions that touches the cords of the listener’s heart. All you music lovers, you get what I mean, don’t you, and if especially blues is your genre too, you’re gonna love this. Listening to good blues, for me, is something where I can have a heart to heart conversation with the singer itself. Sadly, there are very few pure blues band in India. But here’s a list of the top five Blues band that all of us should know:
- Soulmate: This one is my personal favorite, and also the best blues band in India by far. They are from Shillong, Meghalaya, which is also known as “India’s Rock Capital” owing to it’s inhabitants’ great passion for music. The band is primarily made up of Rudy Wallang(guitar/vocals/songwriter) and Tipriti ‘TIPS’ Kharbangar (vocals/guitar), although they frequently team up with session musicians when on tour. This band came together in 2003, playing their first concert at the ‘Roots Festival’ at Umiam. It also happens to be the only Indian blues band to have represented India at the 23rd International Blues Challenge organized by The Blues Foundation of America, in Memphis, Tennessee, USA, in February 2007 and 2010. Tipriti is considered as one of the finest female singers to have emerged from North East India and Wallang is considered one of the most respected blues guitarists of India.
- Smokestack: This band named after the legendary song by Howling Wolf – Smokestack, started off as a pretty purist country blues trio, singing mostly covers of the classic blues songs across all styles in 2006. They all hail from Pune. At present the band consists of five members- Anoop Kumar (Vocals, Acoustic/Electric Guitar), Michael Thompson (Harmonica), Vishal Gore (Vocals, Bass, Electric/Acoustic Guitar), Shreyas Iyengar( Drums, Percussion) and Vidula Andromeda (Vocals, Harmonica). They began experimenting with folk and roots music as well as rhythmic influences from around the world, soon after their formation. This led to expanding the band to include drums and electric guitars. The band is known to channelize raw, direct emotions through their music.
- The Saturday Night Blues: It is one of the only mainstream blues band in India, formed in 1999. The band, made up of some of the cream of Kolkata’s working musicians, performs frequently on Saturday nights at Someplace Else, the “Music Mecca” of India - The Park Hotel, downtown Kolkata - for over a decade The band members are Jayanta Dasgupta (Vocals, guitar), Arunima Dasgupta (vocals, percussion), Stuart Munro (vocals, bass guitar), and Avinash Chordia (drums). Be it the down home delta blues of Mississippi, the chic and groovy sounds of Chicago, the smokin’ jazz blues of New Orleans, the gritty blues of Texas or contemporary blues , this band plays it all! Their sound is lively, energetic and strongly groove driven and has won them a massive, steady fan following. Their informal and interactive approach towards the music and the audience always results in an evening that is pure entertainment. If you’re looking for some soaring slide guitar and smokin’ hot-rodded blues, this is the band you want to tune into!
- Big Bang Blues: This band started off in 2009, with the electric blues sound, hails from the capital city, New Delhi. They then evolved into a more Blues-Rock act. The band members are- Sushant Thakur (Guitars/Slide)
Ipshita Roy (Vocals), Shivam Khare (Keyboards), Rahul Rai (Bass), and Adhiraj Mustafi (Drums). The five-piece band creates its sound from the diverse influences from Led Zeppelin, Stevie Ray Vaughan to Aretha Franklin, Etta james. It is also known to create its sound from the diverse influences brought in together by the members who trace their roots to completely different backgrounds. It has brought to Indian music scene a variety of sounds with unmatched energy.
- Blues Conscience: Founded in 2008, this band hails from Chennai. It began with the intent of promoting blues in the contemporary rock and metal dominated Indian music scene. The band members are- Anek Ahuja (Vocals/Bass), Aum Janakiram (Vocals/Guitars), Neil Smith (Drums), Sid Kumar (Keys), and guest member Maarten Vsiser (Saxophone). As a three piece outfit, their roots go deep into some of the greats that have played the blues such as B.B.King, Jimi Hendrix, etc., to name a few. They provide a fully suited up act, retaining every essence of the blues, and doing renditions of their own. Often this band is called a ‘feel good band’ that constantly engages the audience with the right energy.
All of these bands perform across India and are very refreshing. I hope you like this list and may it inspire ya’all music lovers to listen to more of Indian blues and appreciate the talent we have in our own motherland.