Monday, 30th October 2017

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Music to the ears, food for the soul

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  • Published 11.05.07

It will never be regarded as a defining moment in the history of the rock gig like Woodstock at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm near New York, circa 1969. But it can be said of the Roots Festival in Shillong last weekend that the event lent gravitas to the oft-misunderstood frenzy of an open-air gig.

An initiative of Shillong-based Springboard Surprises, the first leg of this festival brought together a gaggle of talented musicians, singers, composers and lyricists from the region and abroad to showcase an array of musical genres. Progressive rock, soul, folk and blues — you name it, music lovers heard it at the Malki playground.

The musical journey included acts by three international performers: Aurora Jane & Massive Change, Dubshack and Rachel Stone, the first two from Australia and the third from the UK. The regional contingent comprised Soulmate from Shillong, the best blues band in the country, Native Blues, Reuben Mahsangva from Ukhrul in Manipur and Warklung, a band fronted by Phu Ningding (Rocky Baba) from Karbi Anglong.

Reuben took the audience to “a different plane” with his singing and mastery over the tingtelia, an indigenous violin-type instrument that he has modified to suit his music. Apart from being a singer-composer, he is a music researcher and has been involved in the promotion of tribal folk music for over 15 years.

Reuben plays traditional flutes, cowbells, the acoustic guitar and harmonica with equal ease and has released two albums till date, Naga Folk Blues and Creation.

Peter Nongkhlaw, one of the eager listeners, described Reuben’s music as “differe-nt” and soothing. “This is one performance I will remember for a long time,” he said.

As the evening wore on, Aurora Jane & Massive Change took over, belting out Australian progressive fusion. The other Australian band, Dubshack, performed a unique blend of “Ska and rootsy Dub Reggae”. Like always, the home bands drew the loudest cheers. The Soulmate quartet — Rudy Wallang, Tipriti Kharbangar, Ferdy Dkhar and Sam Shullai — wowed the crowd with a pulsating rendition of original blues music.

The Roots Festival will next travel to Imphal, Kohima, Itanagar, Guwahati and Aizawl before returning to Meghalaya for the grand finale at Jowai.