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Calcutta finds ‘Soulmate’ in Shillong band
- Someplace Else grooves to blues group which will perform next in Norway

Calcutta, Aug. 7: It was a treat in blues for music lovers at Someplace Else, The Park, yesterday as Soulmate from Shillong belted out one enchanting number after another.

The journey began 10 years ago. “When we first started the band, people were very sceptical. The attitude was ‘Blues? No way!’ Hopefully we have proved our critics wrong and have made it as a blues band,” said Rudy Wallang, guitarist, vocalist, lyricist.

Rudy, arguably one of the best guitarists in the country, had started really young. “I don’t even remember how old I was. My dad was a musician, too. He used to sing at Trincas,” he said. Trincas is part of the same building where Someplace Else is located, on Park Street.

During this journey, the current five-member band has bid farewell to many and welcomed new ones into its fold. The one constant factor, however, has been the duo of Rudy Wallang and Tipriti Kharbangar.

A resident of Malki locality in Shillong, Tipriti considers Rudy her guru. “He is my inspiration. He even encourages me to write songs,” the guitarist and vocalist, whose entry into the world of music was through gospel songs at the local church choir, said.

After the albums, Shillong (2005), which is a tribute to the band’s home city, and Moving On (2009), Rudy, Tipriti and Co. are ready for Round III. “We are getting a good response from the audience. People have already started humming these new songs,” Tipriti said. The pretty vocalist has also written some songs, which will feature in the album.

Inspired by the roots and groovy sound and rhythm of the Blues, Blues-rock, Soul, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Funk and R&B, Soulmate has performed in more than 500 concerts all over India and abroad.

“Next month, we are going on a Norway tour. In December, we will be at the Djakarta blues festival and will perform with legends like John Mayol and Steve Hackot. We really look forward to the opportunities to be able to play music with these global greats,” an excited Rudy said.

Albert King, Albert Collins, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Willie Dixon, Roy Buchanan, Peter Green, Koko Taylor, Ella Fitzgerald, Van Morrison, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Etta James and Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson are some of the musicians who, the band members feel, have influenced their music.

Rudy’s son Leon has recently joined the band as a bass guitarist. Sam Shullai, a session player, has also been part of the band for some time now. The newest and a very good addition, according to Rudy, is Raveen Pandey on the keyboards. “After a show in Bangalore, a guy comes up and says he plays the keyboards and would like to jam with us. That was the beginning.”

According to the enigmatic band leader, at present Soulmate is at its finest in terms of musicians. “Right now we have the best set-up. My brother, Keith, is managing the band. We are just back from a two-month break. New songs, new spirit, ready to do what we do best — make music,” he said.

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