Vh1 & The Humming Tree Present: Blackstratblues & By2Blues

After inching through two and a half hours of traffic (why do I bother even talking about this problem any more in B'lore?), I finally made it to the Humming Tree to catch By2Blues opening the evening for one of my favourite bands from Mumbai, Blackstratblues. This is the third time I'm seeing By2Blues play live. This band is a classic example of how you don't need fancy electronics and (no pun intended) all that jazz to put up a good show. Keeping it simple the band had a healthy mix of covers from Eric Clapton, CCR and other crowd favourites along with some own compositions. The band had Shalini Mohan (from Lagori) accompany them on bass; and set the mood perfectly for Blackstrat Blues to take over the rest of the evening.

Starting off proceedings with The Happy Billy Song, Blackstrat Blues had the crowd screaming out requests from the first note. The audience were privy to some new material including a soft ballad titled Northstar which Warren dedicated to the missus; and a very trippy untitled number whose bass a drum riff were absolutely trippy and addictive. I could probably listen to just those two instruments playing that groove in isolation and not be bored. There was also a tribute to SRV and the band’s take on 12-bar blues (Check out my Instagram feed for a sneak peek)

The band powered through popular hits like Anuva's Sky, Folkish Three and The Universe has a Strange Sense of Humour. Having seen Blackstrat Blues perform for the seventh (or eighth ) time, it's very clear to see that the band have become really comfortable with one another, joking around between songs and having a good time playing with one another. Warren Mendonsa himself has become relatively verbose and spent a good amount of time between songs talking to the audience and sharing stories rather than rushing through the name of the song and the occasional thank you. That being said, he should never sing 'Sultans of Swing'. (An inside joke with the band that I didn't quite follow beyond the fact that it had something to do with a gig in Mumbai with Zero)

Talking about how he was inspired by The Beatles' song Here Comes the Sun, Warren moved into the penultimate song of the evening, Ode to a Sunny day followed by a very smooth transition into Renaissance Mission, the last song for the evening. This was yet another stellar gig from the band. Going by all the new material that was played, I’m looking forward to the next album whenever it’s out. 

Gig Pix: My top ten favourite pics from gigs of 2014

Since 'Top Ten Lists' are the in thing right now, I thought I'd put together my top ten favourite pics taken at gigs in 2014. A big thanks to all the bands who put up brilliant gigs and the folks managing the brilliant light and sound that made the gigs so much better.

10. Fidel from Parvaaz during the launch of their album - Baran, taken at Counter Culture

9. Nolan Lewis from Kryptos during their gig at Counter Culture

8. Dinosaur Pile-up at Indigo

7. Motopony playing at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender in Pune

6. Warren Mendonsa of Blackstratblues at Counter Culture

5. Ministry of Blues at Counter Culture

4. Luke Sital Singh at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender in Pune

3. Tips from Soulmate at Counter Culture

2. Monica Dogra's solo gig at Bacardi NH7 Weekender in Pune

1. Skrat at Bacardi NH7 Weekender in Bengaluru

Gig Review: Blackstratblues and Soulmate, HRC Bengaluru - 100 Pipers VH1 Sound Nation

Since I had done a very recent review on both Blackstratblues and Soulmate, I'll keep this brief. Both these bands were playing as part of the 100 Pipers VH1 Sound Nation campaign going across the country.

The evening began with Blackstratblues playing to an almost empty house thanks to Bengaluru's traffic that came to a standstill owing to the rain. The set was tight with Warren Mendonsa running through favourites like Ode to a Sunny Day and material from the upcoming The universe has a strange sense of humour album.

By the time Soulmate took the stage, the house was full. Rudy set the tone for the set with a superb solo and Tips took over with her ever-so-mesmerizing vocals. The band played a lot of material from their soon-to-be released album Ten. The evening belonged to Soulmate whose music clearly drove up the sale of beer at the Hard Rock Cafe as everyone got into a really good mood thanks to the music.

Smoke on the Warren.... Blackstratblues

Jai Row - Blackstratblues

Rudy Wallang - Soulmate

Tips - Soulmate

Tips - Soulmate

Gig Review: An Ode to the Blues - Blackstratblues and Guitar Shorty, Counter Culture (Pt. 5 of 5)

The closing act of ‘An Ode to the Blues’ at Counter Culture was Blackstratblues featuring Guitar Shorty (or was it the other way around????). Warren Mendosa played what I thought was an insane set because of the pressure of having to play alongside an experienced blues man in Guitar Shorty. Blackstratblues ran through some of their popular numbers including the crowd favourite Ode to a Sunny Day before Guitar Shorty joined them on stage.

Jai Row Kavi on drums was his usual power house self, but even he was unable to keep up with Warren Mendosa, who got carried away and started rushing through his leads. and needed to be reigned in. 

Guitar Shorty made quite an entry, and joined the band on stage for the rest of the gig. I’ll be honest in saying that this was the first time I have heard him play and I was supremely impressed at how a man at the age of 74 was playing such fantastic leads. Thanks to some wireless tech, Shorty walked off the stage to mingle with the audience and continued to play guitar as he walked around the venue. That drove the crowd completely bonkers. Shorty and Blackstratblues brought the roof down with their renditions of Hey Joe and Born Under a Bad Sign. It was the most insane end to an evening of superb blues.

Mendosa from Blackstratblues
Jai Row from Blackstratblues
Guitar Shorty
And the crowd goes wild..
Blackstratblues with Guitar Shorty