Nepal’s celebrated blues festival, Himalayan Blues Festival (HBF), held annually since 2007, makes its way to India this Thursday. It features three of the eight blues artistes, who’ll be performing at Kathmandu later this month. “It’s just the beginning. It’s a sort-of preview to the five-day festival in Nepal. We’re planning to take the festival across Asia soon,” says festival director Samik Kharel, who will also be staging shows in Bengaluru and Delhi.
Blues in India has been popularised by acts such as Shillong’s Soulmate. The Soulmate duo of Tipriti Kharbangar and Rudy Wallang, who have previously performed at Kathmandu’s Jazzmandu, however, will not make it to HBF this year. Even homegrown Nepali bands take a backseat this year, failing to make it to the stage.
“It’s an exciting line-up of artistes this year from all around the world. We’ve got people who’ve got the blues and will help spread the infection,” promises Kharel, who rummaged through over 100 entries before handpicking these nine artists.
This week, two young artistes, Owen Robert Campbell (25) and Jose Luis Pardo (29), offer the city a fresh taste of blues. Campbell, an Australian musician is ecstatic to make his comeback. “I performed at HBF in 2008 and it has been by far the most interesting and beautiful festival I’ve ever been to. The sight, smell and feel of the place is simply incredible,” says Campbell, whose music is a mix of folk and blues mashed to the beat of rock ‘n’ roll.
Another blues guitarist who grew up strumming a Spanish guitar, Pardo is an Argentinean who lives in Madrid. He picked up the music when he was growing up in the 1990s. “Those days it was unusual to see a boy playing blues. But it was a chance encounter when I heard Stevie Ray Vaughan playing ‘Ain’t gone and give up on love’ on television and I knew I had got the blues,” he recalls.
The highlight of the show, however, is the 63-year-old Dutchman from Austria, Hans Theessink (pronounced Tay-sink). The celebrated blues guitarist, who plays at least 200 shows in a year, will put up a one-man show. Theessink’s warm, emotive baritone is closer to the African roots of the genre. “Blues is a powerful medium that evokes emotions by its simplicity,” says the blues legend. “I hope I can make my audience in Mumbai high on a blue note this time.”
Catch the Himalayan Blues Festival on November 11 at
Blue Frog. Call 61586158