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'It's awesome to be in India'

Grammy award winning Latin hip hop music band Ozomatli is thrilled to be in India and can't hide the excitement.
By Indo-Asian News Service | None, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 16, 2007 11:05 AM IST

Grammy award winning Latin hip hop music band Ozomatli is thrilled to be in India for the first time and can't hold back their excitement as the lead vocalist of the band Asdrubal Sierra says, "The youth here went nuts! It's awesome to be here".

On an India-Nepal tour sponsored by the American Centre and Span Magazine from February 12-22, Ozomatli gave their first performance in the capital on February 13 and went on to perform in Chandigarh the next day.

Commenting on the audience reaction, Sierra said: "We got a very good response. Both the young and the old folks went crazy listening to us and danced till the end of the show".

A Los Angeles based band, Ozomatli has won two Grammy awards, a Latin Grammy and two Billboard Latin awards. Defining their music as "the people's music", this 10-member band, creates an eclectic hybrid sound with a range of instruments from the guitar and drums to the saxophone and the synthesizer.

Interestingly, one of the band members, Jiro Yamaguchi, who is the percussionist, also plays the tabla. Sierra, Jiro and another member Mario Calire, learnt to play Indian musical instruments under the guidance of Amiyo Dasgupta at the California Institute of Arts.

"In fact we have recorded a piece where we use the Sitar and the tabla as the accompaniment," they say.

They also say that they are great fans of noted sitarist Pandit Ravi Shankar. "Actually we love the entire Shankar family!" they say after some thought.

En route to Nepal on February 16, the band will perform in Kathmandu and then be back in India to perform in Bangalore on February 19.

While in Delhi the band also visited an orphanage, Arya Anathaalay in Daryaganj and Prayas, an NGO which works for children in the slums and played for them as well.

Performing 250 days in a year is no mean task but as one of the young fans, Rahul, pointed out, "their strength lies in their live performances". So although you may not understand a word of their favourite Spanish number Cumbia" you would still tap your feet to their music.

Their next album Don't mess with the Dragon, is due to be released next month.

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