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Hum and strum country

Country roads, take me home. Or actually, to a landmark hotel on Bistupur Main Road, Jamshedpur.

On Monday, at The Boulevard’s Chopsticks restaurant, two city old boys Edward Jennings and Aloysious Wallwork, who have named their band The Strangers, sang hillbilly music. So, you had Jim Reeves aplenty, Dwight Yoakam’s Put your Sweet Leaves and Cliff Richards’ The Young Ones.

A crash course in country for those who think it starts and ends with John Denver.

A rural American genre that started in 1920s, the sweep of country swept the nation with Vernon Dalhart in 1924 with Wreck of the Old and Lonesome Road Blues.

Then came Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter family, now part of Americana. Sounds changed in the 1950s when rock-and-roll and Elvis exploded. Country, influenced by rock, became edgier. Rockabilly — rock and hillbilly — was born.

Since then, from country rock, country soul, countrypolitan — country has travelled but stayed true to its roots.

The genre is almost like the life stories of Jennings and Wallwork. Theirs is a musical homecoming.

The duo passed out from Loyola School in 1969 and 1974.

Jennings, a former railway official, settled in Kadma after retirement. Wallwork, who went to London right after his Senior Cambridge, is a businessman and comes to the city off and soon. On an impulse, he met Ronald D’Costa, owner of The Boulevard. The two got talking about a common passion — music. Then, they contacted Jennings and the plan to revive country and folk numbers was born.

The Strangers — Jennings and Wallwork in cowboy hats and colourful scarves — will play every night for a week at Chopsticks from 7.30pm to 10.30pm. For now, they are going basic with tech — they use a pre-recorded track for a song. Diners get a chance to join them live — there’s karaoke.


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