The Mahindra Blues Festival, known as Asia’s largest and finest Blues phenomenon, was held over the weekend at the iconic Mehboob Studios in Mumbai. The lineup featured international acts from the USA, UK and even Scotland while also some our own homegrown talent. For two days (February 13-14) the studios were converted into a festival venue with some intense performances to some groovy tunes.
Here are the top 5 acts from the 2016 edition :
(All Images Courtesy : Festival Sherpa/Shreyas Desai)
The Shillong based band has been instrumental in developing the blues scene in India and been the only constant act (except 2015) at the MBF since its inception in 2011. The powerhouse duo kick-started the festival with Tipriti Kharbangar on vocals and Rudy Wallang on the guitar in a performance with such sheer raw energy that the audience was unable to keep their feet still. They dedicated the performance to all the great musicians who had died in the recent past and sang about giving love to everybody (especially Tipriti’s cat Bulaw).
2. Joss Stone
Joss Stone is an accomplished British soul singer with numerous accolades including two Brit Awards and a Grammy. She was also part of the musical supergroup, Superheavy, alongside Mick Jagger, Damian Marley, A.R. Rahman and David Stewart. Stone donned traditional Indian wear and dazzled the audience with her charm and incredible vocal range. Singing ballads for her unconditional love and muse being music, she broke away from the traditional romantic fare that is usually served on Valentine’s Day.
3. King King
The Scottish band have been on a journey from Glasgow to touring the world in an incredibly short period of time (5 years). The dynamic Blues-Rock band took the stage with frontman Alan Nimmo (in a scottish kilt) ripping soulful solos and grungy vocals. Their music was tight and energetic and which had festival goers singing along to their tunes with no one having trouble understanding Alan’s Scottish accent as he himself joked.
4. Heritage Blues Orchestra
The blues collective from New York City brought the house down with their blend of blues, jazz, R&B and gospel. The standout was Vincent Bucher’s mind boggling harmonica which also added sound effects to the band’s story telling, taking us on a ride through the dusty back roads of the American South.
5. Lal And The People
The winners of the Mahindra Blues Hunt, Lal And The People kept festival goers entertained in the garden area on both days as they sat back and enjoyed a drink. They were also joined by Kanchan Daniel for a fun performance on the second day. The band managed to hold their own at their MBF debut even with super acts performing right next door.
The festival had some other things going on for it as well :
People swarmed out to get their hands on some gourmet food cooked by celebrity chefs in the beautifully lit up quadrangle.
While old school lovers and collectors headed to the Vinyl Store to get music on the classic medium.
As a tribute to India’s favourite blues bands, Soulmate and Blackstratblues, the second stage was dubbed the SoulStrat Saloon.
In honour of blues legend Buddy Guy, one of the festival’s favourite acts, and his polka dotted shirts, the Main Stage was renamed as the Polka Dot Parlour.
In the end, though the festival tried to introduce us to a host of talented blues or blues influenced musicians, there was something lacking in the lineup as it felt it was straying away from its roots. Being the biggest celebration of blues music in the region also carries a lot of expectations to maintain consistency and we only hope that it gets even better in the next edition!