“Just take those old records off the shelf...
...I like that old time rock and roll”
The lyrics to Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band’s Old Time Rock n Roll are indisputably the essence of Kolkata’s reedy ensemble — Crest.
Six talented musicians — Jeffrey Menezes, Subhalakshmi Sen, Sudipto Sarkar, Nigel Gomez and the sibling duo of Steven and Stafford Rebeiro — have regaled revellers in the city with tunes from the golden age of music on countless occasions.
Little River Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Pink Floyd, The Doobie Brothers, Stevie Wonder, America and every other notable old-school act is on the playlist at a Crest tour de force.
My Kolkata caught up with the timeless troupe to discuss the good ol’ days, the magic of their music and possibly dabbling with ’em Bollywood tunes.
Crest is (L-R) Steven Rebeiro, Jeffrey Menezes, Sudipto Sarkar, Subhalakshmi Sen, Nigel Gomez and Stafford Rebeiro
The first-ever line-up of Crest came into being towards the end of a particularly tumultuous era — the ’80s — when a band of five aspiring musicians joined forces. “When we first began, we were just looking to play good music, have some fun and maybe earn some money along the way. We used to primarily play for college fests, house parties and a few gigs here and there. It was a blast,” said Jeffrey.
During Crest’s inception, only Jeffrey and Steven were a part of the band. Over the years, the band’s lineup has shuffled around quite a bit, but the present six have gone steady for the last 10-odd years, rustling up jaunty pop tunes, old-school blues and riveting rock ballads.
Play that funky music!
Crest’s ensemble includes Jeffrey on the piano and vocals, Subhalakshmi (Mishti) on percussions and vocals, Sudipto (Johnny) on bass guitar, Nigel on the drums and Steven and Stafford on vocals and guitar.
Crest performs at Hard Rock Cafe
There’s something special about Crest’s sound. It has nothing to do with their ambitious, almost audacious, variety of music which ranges from Frank Sinatra to the most recent pop sensation or how every show has a place for a more refined selection of songs from Hall & John Oates’ I Can’t Go For That to The Doobie Brothers’ Listen To The Music.
It may have a little something to do with the nuanced four-part harmony the band strums up while singing It’s a Long Way There and Happy Anniversary by Little River Band or Pretzel Logic and Rikki Don’t Lose That Number by Steely Dan. “We love playing this kind of music because it’s far more challenging. We usually play soft rock for the first half of a show when the crowd is getting warmed up,” said Jeffrey.
From Billy Ray Cyrus to Camila Cabello
At a Crest show, you’ll find yourself jiving to Billy Ray Cyrus’ Achy Breaky Heart and Connie Francis’ Stupid Cupid one moment and the very next you’re shaking a leg to Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass and Dear Future Husband. Adam Levine’s Sugar and Camila Cabello’s Havana are also popular songs that regularly bring the house down at a Crest gig.
“Our favourite song to play is It’s a Long Way There by Little River Band. Jeffery’s favourite of course is, I Can’t Go For That by Hall & John Oates. Actually, we love playing soft rock more than anything but we rarely get a chance to play the genre,” revealed Steven.
Makers of the melody
A common thread that weaves the six members together is the fact that every one of them inherited their musical brilliance from the generation before. Jeffrey, Nigel, Steven and Stafford are the sons of renowned musicians in Kolkata — Tony Menezes, Preston Gomez and Royston Rebeiro. The four boys grew up listening to classic rock, so it’s only natural that the genre would hold a special place in their hearts.
Jeffrey’s love affair with music began at the tender age of five. He did his music grades on the violin during his school days, went on to play the trumpet professionally after college and then played the ivories with Nondon Bagchi on Pop Secret in the late ’90s.
Steven and Stafford were largely influenced by their dad’s sound, and we’ll have you know that Royston Rebeiro was quite the whizz on the strings. “My first ever gig was when I was 14-years-old. It was the 31st night (bringing in 1983!) at the Calcutta International Club. My dad’s band, Split Identity, was playing and I had joined them,” beamed Stafford.
Crest jamming at the CCFC
Mishti and Johnny found their way into western rock ‘n’ roll solely out of love for the genre. Mishti is a classically trained singer whose jingles have been on everyone’s lips at some point or the other. Remember Cadbury Silk’s advertisement Kiss Me, Close Your Eyes? That’s Mishti! Johnny, on the other hand, is a metalhead and has produced a lot of Bengali music in Tollywood. His most noteworthy appearance was with the film Kitchu Na Bola Kotha.
Nigel’s first interaction with music was when he was enrolled at The Frank Anthony Public School. “I’ve always had a flair for percussion instruments. I was the lead drummer in class eight and used to represent my school as the lead kettle drummer at the Republic Day parade on Red Road every year. Even now, I train marching bands in school,” shared Nigel
Collectively, the members of Crest have played in the city’s top bands — from Bruised Cactus, Pop Secret, High and Blue Mist to Shiva, New Horizon, Wise and Ace of Spades — over the last 50 years.
One for the road?
My Kolkata unearthed a few fun facts about Crest:
Who’s the best dancer?
Steven doesn’t only rock out on the guitar, he’s a mean dancer. And his favourite step is Tollywood’s OG disco dancer, Mithun Chakraborty’s signature step.
Any chance of a few Bollywood bops this season?
You never know! Mishti is pretty great with mixing Bollywood music and Johnny produces as well. Steven and Stafford love Hindi tunes and sing them regularly, so we may just look into it.
What’s the secret behind Crest’s music?
A shot of the good ol’ water of life!
Crest will be performing at Allen Park on Park Street on December 22. Follow their Facebook page for live updates.