The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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On a roll, ever ready to rock

For connoisseurs of rock, blues, R&B and new-age music, there is only one place to flock to now. Someplace Else (SPE), the British-style Park Hotel pub that has become the live-gig hub of Calcutta over the years, is celebrating its eighth anniversary with a three-night blast, and everyone is having a ball.

“SPE’s birthday bash is really special to me, as live music was revived here by Abhijit Bose, then F&B manager of The Park, who had the vision to change Park Street forever,” says Jayanta Dasgupta, lead guitarist of The Saturday Night Blues Band. The outfit, also featuring Stewart Munro on bass, Chiradeep Lahiri on drums and Arunima Banerjee on vocals, kicked off the celebrations on Thursday night.

Jayanta, who did his music graduation from LA and worked as sessions musician in various pubs there, feels SPE ranks right up there in terms of atmosphere. “You can go to Chelsea or 42nd Street in New York and you’ll find the same energy,” he smiles, before going on stage to belt out down home delta blues of Robert Johnson and Elmore James as well as more modern stuff like Clapton, Cray and Hendrix.

Vikramjit Banerjee, guitarist of Krosswindz, shares Jayanta’s views on the unique atmosphere inside the pub. “There is a special chemistry here with the audience, since we are so close to them and it’s very intimate,” he smiles. The band (also featuring Chandrani and Neel on vocals, Nitin Mani on bass, Ratanjit Banerjee on keyboard and Chiradeep Lahiri on drums) did a set with more “off-tempo and high-energy numbers” than their routine fare.

Lou Majaw, who had rocked Trincas and Moulin Rouge in the Sixties and later founded The Great Society of Music, is thrilled to be at the bash. “Calcutta is the only place in the country which knows and appreciates Dylan and his contribution. That’s reason enough to come back,” smiles the ‘father of Indian rock’, caressing his guitar. Lou went solo on Thursday and then jammed with friend Nondon Bagchi’s band Hip-Pocket the next evening to take fans back to the swinging Sixties.

Hip Pocket (with Nondon on drums and vocals, Ananya Biswas on vocals, Sumit Ramachandran and Rishi Chanda on guitars and Samidh Mukherjee on bass), the first band to have performed at SPE, did a scintillating set of classic rock on Friday. They covered The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Hendrix and other Woodstock-generation icons. The Orient Express, comprising Monojit Dutta and his 10-member band, treated the audience to their trademark Latin versions of popular songs and percussion.

Skinny Alley, a mature band of accomplished musicians, is slated to open the last evening’s fare on Saturday. With Amyt Dutta and Gyan Singh on guitars, Jayshree Singh on vocals and Jeffrey Rikh on drums, Skinny Alley has an album ready for release and has lined up a “carefully chosen” set of originals and covers.

Mojo, an offshoot of The Great Society from Shillong, will bring up the rear. With Rudy Wallang on lead and vocals, Ferdy Dkhar on bass, Keith Wallang on rhythms/ drums, Sam Shullai on percussion/ drums, Ribor Kharsiing on keyboard and Tripti on backing vocals, they have a bag of 50 originals.

Say it with a smile

The words: Lakhhiti Aar Kheo Na (Darling, please don’t have anymore). The image: smoke spiralling from a cigarette…

They say it with a smile. They call it Khuror Kol, conjuring up a thousand-and-one images of a dream machine. But the fact is that it’s the latest brand name for greeting cards in town. Three young men — Indranil Roy Choudhury, Diptaroop Goswami and Sudip Ganguly — have started an endeavour in Bengali cards that are “interesting and saucy” and “surprisingly well-accepted”.

“The idea stemmed from the songs of Suman and Nachiketa. Burning the midnight oil, we came up with some wacky lines that we put down on paper,” said Sudip. The cards are available at major outlets all over the city. You might catch yourself smiling to Aachhey to haatkhani, majhey majhey ektu dhorteo to paro (The hand is there; why don’t you hold it sometimes). Priced at Rs 10 and Rs 16, the trio has initially brought out around 16 varieties, though plans are afoot to introduce “another bunch of the cheeky variety”. Competition from the English cousins is rather challenging and unaffordable. But what the three are banking on is the forthcoming festive season. After all, this is the time of the year for good ol’ Bengali humour to shine through — whether you date or you debate; whether you’ve loved or you’ve lost.

Trust him to hold sway over the industry, 22 years after his death. Uttam Kumar remains a “must” for all Bengali film buffs and television channels as his recent death anniversary proved. Since its inception on July 24, a website on the matinee idol — — has received “overwhelming response” from Bengalis all over, underlining the screen idol’s tremendous popularity around the globe.

September 3 is going to be special for those behind the website. “We have started a special message service for fans and admirers of Uttam Kumar on the day he would have turned 80. They can e-mail birthday greetings and messages at [email protected]before B-day. We will forward all such mails to the family,” said Kaushik Moulik, one of the entrepreneurs of the project. The best mail will get a special gift and his/ her photograph will be published on the website. So, take a break from watching the Nayak on small screen and log on.

Rhyme and rhythm

Here comes the rain — Brishti, a band with a difference. Instead of notes, they deal with a shower of words. “We perform poems of group sensibility, using a live instrumental background,” says Sobhansundar Basu, the prime mover behind Brishti. Four members recite the lines while another four are on various percussion instruments and the keyboard.

The birth of the band was inspired by Benjamin Zephaniah, a British poet who performed in Calcutta some years ago. “His team Pen Rhythm presented poems on global issues. I met him after the show and expressed interest in what he was doing. He later sent me video clippings of his band’s performances abroad. That is how we started out,” recalls Basu.

The band has performed at colleges, where it has been “extremely well-received”. Their first “public” show took place on August 7 at Sisir Mancha. The poems they chose included Satyen Dutta’s Durer Palla, Sankha Ghosh’s Babumoshai and Ladli Mukhopadhyay’s Hochchheta Ki.

Says Raja Sengupta, who is in charge of the instrumentation: “When we do rhythmic poems, the octapad and the thumba keep the beat and the keyboard and the guitar provide the back-up chord to the voice. Again, in places where there is scope for visual imagery, like the lines Kothay elo naukokhana in Durer Palla, we use the sound of ripples. Poems which do not submit to an easily-conceivable rhythm are tougher to orchestrate.”

Brishti believes music helps the listener grasp the mood of a poem. “Most elocutionists use recorded background scores,” they point out. So, it’s time for some rhyme, rhythm and reason.

Couture contest

A cut-throat contest over the right cuts. Couturiers will fight it out for the honours at Chic 2002, a designerwear contest for boutiques and designers of eastern India.

The competition will be in three categories — salwar suits, sarees and bridal ensembles. The prelims are slated for Sunday at The Park while the grand finale on September 1 will be hosted by Hyatt Regency. Top models Aditi Govitrikar, Naseem Shaikh, Brinda Parekh, Sushma Reddy and Fleur Xavier will brush shoulders on the ramp with city girls including Koena, Pinky and Joy. A jewellery show will add lustre.

Ibiza turns one

Ibiza, The Club has completed its first year of “an all-new clubbing experience”. The club on Diamond Harbour Road promoted by the Merlin Group, is organising Ibizanniversary, an exclusive all-day party for members on Sunday to celebrate its first birthday. Among the milestones in this one-year journey were the “biggest” New Year’s eve party in town last December and the 75-hour dance party aimed at putting Calcutta on the world map of partying.

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