For a fest that caters only to a niche musical genre, the Mahindra Blues Festival (MBF) pulls in quite a crowd. Having hosted two successful editions in the past, the fest has already established itself as the annual, one-stop destination for blues fans from across the country. Undoubtedly, the impressive international line-up has as much to do with its popularity as its smooth organisation.
Not to mention, the entertaining headlining acts by blues legend Buddy Guy in the past two years that made the fest worth the money.
Even though the Grammy–award winner will be missing this year, there’s a lot on offer for attendees at the fest that takes place at Bandra’s Mehboob Studio on February 16 and 17.
This year’s line–up includes American funk outfit Robert Randolph and The Family Band. Randolf plays the unique pedal steel guitar and his music has a strong gospel streak to it, thanks to the church projects he was part of in his formative years.
Last year, he performed at the MBF, as a special guest artiste, with Guy. Guitarist Walter Trout and his band, The Radicals, is another exciting artiste to catch. Other performers include blues-rock guitarist Jimmie Vaughan (older brother of the celebrated Stevie Ray Vaughan) with The Tilt a Whirl Band, featuring Lou Ann Barton Popa Chubby and Dana Fuchs Band are also part of the line-up.
“It was very tempting to get Buddy Guy again this year. But it’s a risk we have taken so that we can showcase other artistes as well,” says Jay Shah from the Mahindra Group.
Two Indian acts — popular band Soulmate and an upcoming outfit, Big Bang Blues — will also play at the two–day event.
VG Jairam, partner, Oranjuice Entertainments, which is organising the festival, says, “The beauty of this festival lies in the diversity it presents even within the genre of blues.
We have artistes, who perform different styles such as Chicago blues, New Orleans blues and Delta blues.”
Shah adds that besides aiming to create awareness about the genre and giving newer acts a platform, the Mahindra Group also has a strategic interest in organising the fest. “We sell tractors in the Mississippi Delta, which is where the earliest style of blues emerged.
So the fest is our way of making a consumer connect and telling them that we take interest in promoting their culture. We are trying to do for blues what Montreal Festival in Canada does for jazz. ”
What’s new this year?
A blues workshop
There will be a one–hour session by renowned slide guitarist Michael Messer. He will talk about the history of the slide guitar and teach basic techniques of playing Mississippi Delta and Chicago-style blues.
The ‘Gibson Through The Lens’ photo exhibition will showcase 77 works from world’s leading music photographers. The show is curated by music photography archivist Dave Brolan.
Sunday blues brunch
Attendees can also look forward to a special brunch while enjoying music by a live band. Messer will also perform here.