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Connecting with cross-border beats

One of them has been on the music stage for a quarter of a century with a single band while the other a year more, but with three. Setting these minor differences aside, Shafin Ahmed and Ayub Bachchu are both rock gods in their own country, as also names that music lovers on most college campuses in Calcutta swear by.

Ahmed is the driving force behind Miles (Phiriye Dao fame) while Bachchu founded LRB (best known for Shei Tumi), the two Bangla rock bands that have travelled from across the Padma for a concert where they would feature alongside local lads Chandrabindoo and Cactus.

'Miles has been coming to Calcutta since 1993,' said Ahmed, the vocalist and bassist of the band. 'Till recently, we were playing at campuses, but the trend seems to be changing now.'

The proof lies in Rock Jugalbandi, where the bands would perform at the Salt Lake stadium on Saturday evening. 'Sponsors are coming in and people are paying to see Bangla bands.'

As for LRB, 'it stands for Love Runs Blind and not Little River Band as is the common notion,' points out Bachchu. He was with Feelings for three years and with Souls for the next decade, before forming LRB in 1991. Nine albums, numerous live appearances and foreign tours have happened since.

'Band music' is huge in Bangladesh. 'Concerts easily draw 30,000 people who pay an average of 100 to 200 Taka,' says Ahmed. When the country received Test status in cricket, the government decided to celebrate with a gala rock concert.

Calcutta is going through the initial phase of Bangla rock, feel both Ahmed and Bachchu, something Bangladesh went through 'decades ago'.

Miles and LRB have some common influences ' Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, particularly ' but while LRB considers itself a '100 per cent rock band', Miles even plays soul, R&B and jazz.

Upcoming projects include new albums for both. Miles' eighth album, Pratidhwani, slated for a winter release, will have 'an early Miles flavour but new styles and sounds'. LRB's 10th is yet to be titled but should come out around December. Miles is planning a 'live' album compiled from its vault of live performances while LRB is firming up plans for its music school in Dhaka.

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