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Upcoming talent: Sushant Divgikar

FOR those wondering why I hadn’t posted a new blog in the past two months, the reason was: acute spondylitis. Of course, I had other writing commitments for Rolling Stone magazine, Mid-Day, Hindustan Times and Absolute India newspapers, which I fulfilled. But typing was a bit painful, and I avoided it wherever I could – namely, writing blogs.

During the on-and-off break from work, there were times when I just couldn’t make it for concerts. Over the past three months or so, I missed the Alan Parsons show, the February season of the Symphony Orchestra of India, flautist Rajeev Raja’s gig at Blue Frog, the Ronu Majumdar-Rekha Bhardwaj show at Nehru Centre and Nandu Bhende’s Beatles tribute at D’Bell, Lower Parel. The last miss will be a regret forever as Nandu, a dear friend, passed away on April 11.

There were some shows that I managed to attend, despite some level of physical discomfort. In late January, I caught Rakesh Chaurasia & Friends at the Fine Arts Society, Chembur. Featuring Rakesh on flute, Gino Banks on drums, Sheldon D’Silva on bass, Sangeet Haldipur on keyboards, Satyajeet Talwakar on tabla and Sanjoy Das on guitar, the group played some good, classical-based fusion.

Next was the Abbaji Barsi at the Shanmukhananda Hall on February 3, held every year to mark the death anniversary of tabla great Ustad Allarakha. As usual, Zaklr Hussain spearheaded the show. Violinist N Rajam’s rendition of Ahir Bhairav and Carnatic vocalist Abhishek Raghuram were the highlights of the morning session. The afternoon had its share of solo percussion recitals, and the evening had a jam session with Zakir, drummer Lil John Roberts, members of the Gipsy Kings and an array of Indian musicians.

On February 4, the country outfit Bellamy Brothers played at the Willingdon Catholic Club, Santa Cruz. The show has been earlier reviewed on this blog.

Mid-February, and the Mahindra Blues Festival comes to town. This year’s highlights at the Mehboob Studio, Bandra, were the outstanding guitarist Derek Trucks, who played with wife Susan Tedeschi and special guest Doyle Bramhall II. The second day witnessed the well-known Jimmie Ray Vaughan, brother of the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan. Another performance worth mentioning was Shillong band Soulmate, clearly the best Indian blues band around.

In early April, one had the pleasure of seeing the amazing jazz guitarist John McLaughlin with his band 4th dimension, featuring keyboardist Gary Husband, bassist Etienne M’bappe and drummer Ranjit Barot. The show at Bandra’s St Andrew’s auditorium was memorable, as what they played was tight, energetic jazz-rock.

The following day at St Andrew’s, one attended a pop show with a difference. What’s special about Mumbai-based Sushant Divgikar is that he sings falsetto, in a female voice. Thus, he sang hits by Adele, Beyonce and Barbra Streisand with effortless ease, hitting the high notes perfectly.

On the Titanic song ‘My heart will go on’, he was joined by Auxilla. Popular singer Rekha Bhardwaj made a guest appearance on the 7 Khoon Maaf song ‘Darling’. The winner of many karaoke contests, Sushant is a bundle of talent. A voice to watch.

That, then, was a quick summary of shows attended in the past two months. One, of course, missed many classical concerts, and some fusion shows. Hopefully something brilliant will come up over the next few weeks.

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