City band rocks the blues away

  • Apoorva Dutt, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Feb 16, 2015 00:30 IST

A crowd of over a thousand thronged the steps of the Asiatic Library on the last day of the Hindustan Times Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, waving glow sticks in the air as instrumental band Blackstratblues performed on Sunday evening.

The Mumbai-based blues-rock music project led by musician Warren Mendonsa performed songs variously about growing up in Dadar, his pet puppy, a three-legged cat he used to feed, and finally an ode to his wife titled ‘The universe has a strange sense of humour’.

The concert was organised as part of the Pepe Jeans music section of the festival.

In addition to their most popular tunes, Mendonsa and his bandmates — Jai Kavi on drums and Adi Mistry on guitar — sang cover versions of popular rock songs such as Cream’s ‘White room’ and The Allman Brothers’ ‘Jessica’.

“We had always wanted Blackstratblues to perform at the festival, but the dates never worked out,” says Arpana Gvalani, curator of the music section. “Warren is one of the best guitarists in the country. He and his band play such melodious music, it is just the kind of magical performance that complements the ambience of the Asiatic Library.”

The band, whose last album, The New Album, came out in 2009 to positive reviews from fans and critics, is planning to release its next album, which is as yet untitled, on March 15.

“I love performing at open-air venues. The audience response is always fantastic,” said Mendonsa, a guitarist, composer and record producer, and nephew of musician and Bollywood composer Loy Mendonsa of the Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy trio.
At the end of their performance, the band took a selfie with the audience in the backdrop. “This has been a great time. Thank you so much,” said Mendonsa, as the crowd screamed for an encore.

In the audience, Parul Singhania, who has been following Mendonsa’s musical journey since he was part of Indian rock band Zero, said what she loves about the band is the passion they have for their music. “Their no-frills approach to just focusing on making good music is what has kept me a fan for so many years,” said the 31-year-old homemaker.

“This was simply a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” added Chinmaya Ghosal, 28, an IT executive from Santacruz, as the sun set and the glow sticks lit up the sky. “You forget what a beautiful and atmospheric city Mumbai can be.”

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