LET’S PAINT BOMBAY BLUE

Pratz And The Saturday Night Blues Band

Pratz And The Saturday Night Blues Band

Beats And Roots presents Pratz And The Saturday Night Blues Band, the first in their list of ‘root’ music performances…


RISHI MAJUMDER

 Photographer: Rana Chakraborty



   The musical form that emerged from slave field shouts and hollers to expand into a style based on both European harmonic structure and West African call and response tradition was first copyrighted with Hart Wand’s Dallas Blues composition in 1912. Pratz And The Saturday Night Blues Band that gears up to perform in Mumbai for the first time tonight and two nights hence, stars Pratish “Pratz” Motwane (lead vocals and Harmonica) who holds several years of experience in the USA, and a memorable half hour of stage time with none other than Buddy Guy in India.
   It also presents Jayanta Dasgupta (lead rhythm and delta slide guitar, blues harp and vocals), Arunima Dagupta (vocals and percussion), Stuart Munro (aka ‘Stuie The Undertaker’, bass guitar and vocals) and Jeffrey Rikh (Kolkata’s living legend, playing the circuit since the 70’s, drums and vocals), who’ve made Some Place Else in Park Street, Kolkata a Blues aficionado favourite night stop for some years now. Shom Jagtiani and Motwane have chosen ‘Beats And Roots’ as their festival name for promoting relatively undiscovered talent and the concept of “live music” which is “root music” (Hence the next group to be given platform is a Spanish Flamenco troupe). They’re attempting to exalt, in this modern city of re-mixes, the value of the old and pure.
   The band’s ensemble comprises both well known classics like Howlin Wolf’s Smokestack Lightning and Little Red Rooster, Muddy Waters’ Got My Mojo Workin’, Jimmy Reed’s Bright Lights Big City, and lesser heard ones like the Statesboro Blues by Blind Willie Mc Tell. “There’s very little original Blues work happening in India,” agree Motwane and Jayanta. “But the thing is you can draw so much from this form to embellish in so many different ways. There’s so much to be covered, in new ways – it’s like wine in different casks.”
   Jayanta also builds custom hand wired tube amplifiers for electric and bass guitars. Arunima works as a freelance designer and fine artist. And Motwane is an entrepreneur with a Wharton MBA. “That’s what the blues are about!” Motwane protests on being asked how one balances alternate careers. “It’s about real people making and delivering real music.” “There are musicians in the Kolkata scene who make a living only out of their music,” says Jayanta. “But I like the fact that I can choose the music I perform.”
   For those who can’t make this choice, Jagtiani and Motwane plan on using the Beats And Roots label beyond live performances by archiving performers on audio and video to file reference and spread awareness. “We have audiences that extend from thirteen to eighty year olds,” the artistes assert before trying to arrange for a drum kit that hasn’t arrived as expected. “That’s because Blues doesn’t get as ‘intellectual’ as Jazz or classical – though it’s technically the root of modern music.” They then joke about the fact that Jazz has a couple of “posers” who pretend to be really into music they don’t get, whereas Blues doesn’t need this. Then they return to their drum kit dilemma, leaving in the air a message that’s perhaps easier sung than said, in the words of Blues musician Keb Mo who won the 2005 Grammy with Keep It Simple.
 

This article appeared originally in Mumbai Mirror, Times Of India: http://alturl.com/gzzq

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