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Jingle jangle night of melody

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  • Published 22.05.04

On Saturday night we will pay our respects to the man who has given so much to us and to the world, says Lou Majaw, strumming the guitar, sitting in his room at The Park.

“But on May 24, the actual birthday of Bob Dylan, we will celebrate in Shillong, as we have done for the past 22 years,” he is quick to add.

Saturday night, all Bob Dylan fans in Calcutta — and boy aren’t there aplenty — can celebrate the rock legend’s birthday at the Someplace Else in style. Majaw, the ‘Dylan of the Northeast’, will belt out a string of classics to pay tribute to The Inspiration.

And it’s not just Majaw. Also blowin’ in the May night wind will be Lou Hilt on bass, Nondon Bagchi on drums and Arjun Sen on guitar, as the Ace of Spades quartet gangs up to do a Dylan nite.

When we caught up with the musicians on Thursday afternoon, they were busy rehearsing for the big day, and we heard just a hint of the Saturday night storm they are set to unleash on Park Street.

“It was in Calcutta that I first heard Dylan’s songs. That was 1966. I was singing at the Moulin Rouge when somebody got me a record of his songs. And after that my life changed,” recalls Majaw. “Dylan opened so many doors for me, he taught me to be one with myself and the world. That’s one of the reasons I feel so attached to this city…,” drifts off the Dylan devotee.

While our man Majaw started Dylan’s birthday concert in Shillong way back in 1972, in Calcutta he has been doing this gig for the guru for the past four years.

“One fine day in 1972 when I was sitting with a few friends, we suddenly hit upon the idea of a concert on Dylan’s birthday where we would sing covers from his amazing repertoire. Since then I have been doing this with various groups, including the Great Society,” explains the long-tressed Majaw.

Since forming Ace of Spades “four to five years ago”, the tribute to the Tambourine Man is happening in a much more organised manner. “The good thing about Ace is that we all share the same respect and admiration for Dylan,” feels Majaw.

Hilt echoes Majaw’s voice: “Ace is Lou’s (Majaw’s) brainchild and he is the one who chose the name for the band. Bob Dylan is one important aspect of the band. Our music is not the normal pop that almost all bands sing today. We hold on to our roots of singing classics of the 60s and 70s which have been lost along the way.”

As Majaw, himself a bit of a musical legend in these parts, readies to take Calcuttans on a musical tour from 9 pm on Saturday, he will take to the Someplace Else stage a dream which is yet to be fulfilled.

“It’s my dream to organise a big day-long, open-air Dylan concert in Calcutta. For that, I want to invite students from various schools and colleges, and ask one representative from each institution to sing a Dylan song or recite one of his poems and give away prizes to the best performers,” he muses.

In the evening, he goes on, there could be a “normal concert” for the party animals. But for that, a lot of funds would be needed, he shrugs.

“I want to do this show in Calcutta because this is the best city for music appreciation. A lot of international-level concerts happen in Mumbai these days, but I feel Mumbai is all hype,” rounds off Majaw.