Hats are porn for me: Taj Mahal | music | Hindustan Times
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Hats are porn for me: Taj Mahal

Says Grammy-winning artiste Taj Mahal, who performs on the first day of the Mahindra Blues Festival today, plans to visit the iconic tomb in Agra next year. In his 20s, when Fredericks decided to pick up the guitar, Taj Mahal was the only stage name he would settle for.

music Updated: Feb 11, 2012 18:03 IST
Megha Mahindru
Henry Saint Claire Fredericks
Musician-Taj-Mahal

Henry Saint Claire Fredericks was barely 10 when he first read about one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal. “I was going through the encyclopaedia when I came across this magnificent structure. It’s so awe-inspiring that it blew me away,” he recalls.

Later, in his 20s, when Fredericks decided to pick up the guitar, Taj Mahal was the only stage name he would settle for: “A lot of people asked me why I called myself Taj Mahal when I wasn’t even playing ‘Indian’ musician,” he laughs, adding, “The idea was to give my listeners something beyond their imagination.”

Ask the 69-year-old guitarist whether he has planned a trip to the iconic tomb during his debut trip of India and he says, “Sadly, no. I settled for Goa this time and it was great. But next year, I plan to cover Goa, Mumbai and Agra for sure.”

The American Grammy award-winning blues musician is in the city to perform at the second edition of the Mahindra Blues Festival, a two-day music gala organised by Oranjuice Entertainment. The festival will see a mix of old and young blues artistes ranging from five-time Grammy winner Buddy Guy to John Lee Hooker Jr and even Siberian blues musician and soon-to-be mom, Ana Popovic.

Sporting his hat and dark glasses in a hotel lobby, ask Fredericks about his love for hats and the student of agriculture, who gave up farming for music, he says, “We used to wear straw hats in the field. But these hats look suave. Like shoes are porn for ladies, hats are porn for me,” in his deep baritone.

Known for playing the blues that do not leave the audience feeling blue, Fredericks, who has worked with artistes like Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones, is set to keep his audience swaying. “I want them to feel what I can feel, ’cause we are in it together,” he says. Ask what he has in mind for his Mumbai audience, and he says, “I plan to wake them up and get them moving.”

Fredricks’ Taj Mahal Trio, that sees him juggle playing a guitar, banjo and keyboard, also features Bill Rich on bass and Kester Smith on drums.

The musician will perform with American blues legend, John Lee Hooker’s son, John Lee Hooker Jr on day one of the festival. “It’s such an honour to play with music giants like Taj Mahal and Buddy Guy,” says John Lee Hooker Jr, who is currently working on his album, All Hooked Up that releases this April. However, unlike his father’s sorrowful riffs, the young Grammy nominated musician plays upbeat and funky music. “I love the fact that my father allowed me to find my own style,” he says. Does he get bored with the comparisons though? “Noway! There’s no comparison. But if, at times, someone forgets to ask about my father, I turn to them and ask, ‘you know who my daddy is?’”

The Mahindra Blues Festival kickstarts today at Mehboob Studio, Bandra. Daily pass Rs 2,500.