The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Talent search powers moving rhythm train

Rock is on the revival route, with bands crawling out of the woodwork to venture onto the stage and make not just a name, but a living as well, by making music. And with Bangla bands going far and wide, across the oceans, to play their tunes to international audiences, rock music seems to be on the right track. To add steam to the moving rhythm train, Castrol India, with its brand Power 1, is set to provide a push to the ‘garage’ music movement by organising a national rock talent hunt contest.

The aim is “to revive a segment and create a national-level platform”. Castrol Power 1 Garage Rock has already had the semi-finals in two zones — west, in Pune, and south, in Bangalore. Due to the success of both events, the organisers have decided to make the contest an annual feature, “to allow amateur musicians to showcase their talents, and to help people enjoy some good rock music”.

For the moment, Calcutta will get the opportunity to hear some of the local talents from the eastern region on October 17, at Nazrul Mancha. After that, it’s Delhi for the semi-finals up north on October 24, and then it’s the final battle of the bands for the top spot on November 2, in Mumbai.

Of the 40 entries nationwide, there are nine for the east, which will be culled to four for the public performance on Friday. An added treat will be bands like Krosswindz also playing at the show. The judges represent a wide spectrum from the rock music industry, with names like Leslie Lewis, of Colonial Cousins fame, and Gary Lawyer. The judging criteria are originality in composition and lyrics, the band members’ competence as musicians, their showmanship and the interpretation of cover versions of old songs.

The winner will travel on to Mumbai for the finals, with four bands from the four regions. The top honour is a debut album and a three-year contract with a leading music company, and a cash award of Rs 50,000. The second prize is Rs 25,000 and the band in third place will win Rs 10,000. In addition, trophies will be given as consolation prizes to the best guitarist, bassist, vocalist and drummer, at the regional semi-finals as well as the finals, in recognition of individual talents. The experience in the first two rounds leads the organisers to expect a “big crowd” for the Calcutta contest.

What brought it all about was a market research survey equating bike riders with rock music. “Power 1 is an engine oil for motorcycles. A study by us found that most people who are hardcore bikers and passionate about their machines are invariably avid listeners of rock. So, although it is a niche market, we decided to hold the events,” says Sumeet Wadhwa, senior brand manager, Castrol India, from Mumbai.

And far as music-lover’s are concerned, it’s time to get into the groove.

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