The country’s premier blues festival, The Mahindra Blues Festival is here with a solid lineup featuring the most pertinent blues talent from around the world. Since the last six years, The Mahindra Blues Festival has been a force of reckoning – by introducing blues music to India’s cultural conscience and by bringing to us the best of the genre’s talent from India and around, it has gone on to become Asia’s most pertinent blues phenomenon. With the festival about to hit international shores this year, it’s all set to welcome its 2016 edition with a most comforting lineup. One that comprises 6 genius, inventive blues acts that are all legendary in their own right. With the Mahindra Blues Fest all set to take shape this weekend at Mehboob Studio, Bandra, The Sherp is here with everything you need to know about its performers, and a heady little playlist to boot. Keb’ Mo’ The carrier of the blues sound from the far ranges of the Mississippi river is none other than the American legend, Keb’ Mo’. With a post-modern blues style that finds tonal influences from jazz, folk and rock, basically genres that have dominated the American modern music industry, Keb’ Mo’ is the proprietor of a sound that resonates best with American blues. His workmanship on an electric guitar is best experienced live. The three-time Grammy award winner is also a musician eager to make a difference, as he has, in the past, lent his support to several social movements ranging from opposition of nuclear power, as well as for ‘Vote for Change’. Along with being a singer-songwriter and an accomplished guitarist, he’s also an actor, who has had several popular credits to his name. Soulmate Soulmate is undeniably India’s best blues export. The band, comprising of Rudy Wallang’s masterful instrumentals and Bruce Springsteen-styled talk-singing along with Tipriti Kharbangar’s ethereal vocals that shift from soulful to absolute abandon, is one that employs the groovy vibes of ol’ blues while amalgamating it with the colloquial sounds of Shillong, where they hail from. For an Indian rock music aficionado, Soulmate is nothing short of being a cult phenomenon, responsible with having revitalised the blues scene in the country. Malina Moye The very famous brand of rather skilled guitars, Fender recognised Maline Moye as the first African-American left-handed upside-down female endorsee of the brand. Such is the skill of Malina Moye. Considered one of the best guitarists in the world, her ability to straddle rock and blues with seamless enthusiasm is matched by few other artists from the genre. Expect funky anthems backed by a voice full of vigour, and inimitable style. ‘The Queen of funk rock’ is one her way to Asia, ladies and gentlemen! Heritage Blues Orchestra Powerful vocalist’s Chaney Sims voice leads a beat that is as firmly rooted in the blues sound as is in the brass sound of New Orleans’ jazz. A truly American blues experience, Heritage Blues Orchestra meanders through gospel truths, joint pleasures, instrumental symphonies culminating to a sound reminiscent of the early era of the genre. With a strong African influence, the group employs stunning vocals, aided by member Billy Sims Jr.’s cappella brilliance. It’s a true marvel, then, that the group live can be found to be as audacious, as nostalgic. Joss Stone This breakthrough singer – songwriter from England has a voice that is as fierce as the music she associates herself with. Her sound is the blues sound of the contemporary generation, one that bears affiliation with the folk, percussional range of world music. But it is her ability to lend a bit of soul in every vivacious composition that sets her apart. Her music is a breathing testament to her talent. Watch out for her live performance, where she can often be found imbibing her organic senses by performing barefeet. King King There is a classic quality to King King’s music, one aided by the band’s rather strong rock influences meshed with wonderful instrumental skills as well as well a lead vocalist who channel’s the band’s life incredibly well. Their latest album is considered one of the very best in the blues genre and with good reason. The band’s rather gracious guitar play is one to love and indulge in, for it’s the sound of classic blues rock that is oft missed.