Guest Column, LBB- 5 things to do in New Orleans for music lovers

In this article I write about the music of New Orleans, which is accompanied by dancing, at almost every corner. Here are a few things to do in New Orleans that’ll have you going back for more.

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Here's a transcript of the article

The Big Easy’ aka New Orleans, popularly known for being the birthplace of jazz, is a haven for music and dance lovers. Most of the best music can be found in The French Quarter of the city. With live music and dancing at almost every corner, there’s just so much to do. Here are a few things to do in New Orleans that’ll have you going back for more.

Move over Bourbon Street….To Frenchman Street

As time progressed, the vibe of New Orleans that emanated from the great music on Bourbon Street got lost. While the fame remains, the best music doesn’t. Most of the good music has moved to Frenchman Street. While some clubs charge a small entry fee, most of them enforce a one drink minimum rule. My picks from spending every evening on Frenchman Street would be Bamboula’s, The Spotted Cat Music Club and d.b.a. You’ll also find your fair share of brass bands and folk musicians playing on the street with no one competing for space. That being said, catch the bands playing at Musical Legends Park on Bourbon Street.

Watch The Street Performers At Jackson Square

Right in the heart of the historic French Quarter is Jackson Square which during the day is teeming with street musicians, palm readers and artists. With numerous styles from folk music, contemporary jazz, brass and rap, you’ll find more than enough top-quality music around the park at Jackson Square where you can easily spend all day. If you like what you see and hear, don’t forget to tip the performers.

Any Time Is Good For Dancing

New Orleans brings out the dancer in you, even if you have two left feet. You’ll find couples breaking into serious dance routines at the drop of a hat. Whether it’s a club playing swing music in the afternoon or a music festival, or even a simple brass band playing on the streets at midnight, you can be assured there will be dancing. This isn’t limited to a few clubs, but anywhere in the city where there is music. Feel free to join in. You should definitely check out Maison, Mimi’s in the Marigny and the Blue Nile for an awesome dance experience.

Vinyl Souvenirs From The City

The Louisiana Music Factory on Frenchman Street is a must-go for any music lover. Keeping the tradition of the old-school music stores alive, the folks at the place can help you discover some of the fabulous music that defined the history and present of New Orleans. Don’t forget to check out the $3 vinyl boxes which have an overwhelming collection of jazz, rock, blues and many more genres.

Food And Drink At The Late Night Eateries

New Orleans allows you to drink on the streets, as long as you use a plastic cup. So while checking out all the music, do have some of the fabulous local beers and cocktails give you company. Beer enthusiasts will have a plethora of choices when it comes to craft beer, so feel free to experiment. My pick is the Amber and Purple Haze, both from Abita breweries. Don’t miss out on picking up Hurricanes from the local stores, a strong cold cocktail guaranteed to light up your day. When it comes to food, don’t miss out on the food trucks that offer you way more options than your brain can process. My ritual to end every evening was to grab a bag of beignets from Cafe Du Monde that’s open 24 hours.

IndieMarch - Day 2

Day 2 of the IndieMarch festival offered another stellar line-up of bands. I walked in just as All the Fat Children had started their set. They definitely sounded a lot better than when I had seen them live for the first time late last year during the ‘Bangalore plays for Chennai’ gig. Heavy riffs and top notch energy on a sultry afternoon in Bangalore had a few folks reluctantly venture out of the shade of the trees to come up front to the stage. This band surely knows how to entertain a crowd with relatively easy to remember lyrics and familiar riffs. 

All the Fat Children

All the Fat Children
Right after the Fat Children was one of my all-time favourite bands – Parvaaz. The last time I had seen Parvaaz play was at a festival that had less people in the audience than I have toes. This eventually resulted in a lacklustre set. But today was a whole new day and the band delivered one of their best performances despite the sound from the adjacent stage creeping in. Folks present go to listen in to some of their newer material. Everyone who stood with me right on the barricade knew every word to every song (except the new ones) and unabashedly sang along.

Parvaaz

Parvaaz

Parvaaz

Parvaaz

Parvaaz
As I waited for THE band of the evening that I had come out to check, I caught a song from Dualist Enquiry and some from Agam, who seemed to be struggling to keep key and tempo thanks to the noise…yes, noise from the adjacent stage where The Cosmic Dead were playing. I’m not sure what sort of music it was that band played, but it wasn’t pleasing to my ears. Probably the only dark spot in the line-up for me.

Dualist Enquiry
Pangea! There really isn’t anything I can say about this band that hasn’t been said before. Powering through a tight set of all their classic songs including Women can’t Behave on buses to Epson Printer, and closing with Final Flight and a tribute of sorts to Creed with ‘Bread of Shame’. One of my friends who heard the band, and possibly heavy music of this nature for the first time was mesmerized and asked me where he could get their music. Pangea, time for that album we’ve all been waiting for!

Pangea

Pangea

Pangea

Pangea

Pangea

Pangea

Pangea

Post the high-intensity gig by Pangea, I caught the last few songs from Avial, another of my favourite bands. Didn’t miss Nada Nada and Chekele, paisa vasool! I wasn’t too keen on seeing 65 days of Static, the closing act for the festival, purely thanks to my discomfort with most of the post rock/math rock scene. But I am happy I stayed and saw the gig. The band was quite alright and the gig was high on energy. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m a fan, but I wasn’t disappointed.

Avial

Avial

65 Days of Static

65 Days of Static
IndieMarch 2016 offered the best line-up of bands to suit everyone’s indie needs. Barring a few areas around the variety of food and extremely-over priced liquor and mineral water, the gig was top notch and sets the ground for becoming India’s biggest indie gig. And with names like Colour Haze on the roster, it’s a matter of time before this particular music property becomes something of a cult-event. Kudos to the folks from Counter Culture for putting this together.

Blushing Satellite at BFlat Bar, with opening set by Tea & Snacks

I had heard about Blushing Satellite towards the end of 2015, and knowing the credentials of the band members, I was keen to catch the band perform live after checking out their three-piece self-titled EP. As luck would have it, the band played at the BFlat bar this weekend. This was one gig I did not want to miss. The gig started almost an hour late, and opening for Blushing Satellite was Tea and Snacks

The three-piece band comprises of singer-songwriter Mana Contractor, guitarist Vijayganesh Panchandhan with drummer Navneet Rao. The band stuck to their own 'jazz meets pop' version of popular songs from artists like Sting (Roxanne) and Ray Charles (Georgia on my mind). While Mana's vocals lingered around the higher octaves, the part that made me cringe a little bit were the backing vocals that weren't able to match. That being said, the set was enjoyable. Hopefully we'll get to see some original songs from this band before one can pass judgement.

Tea & Snacks

Tea & Snacks

It was a short break before Blushing Satellite took the stage with the usually reserved and serious Ramanan Chandramouli requesting folks to try and truly experience the music rather than spend time on their cellphones or talking among each other The band immediately got down to business playing songs like Flow, Rhythm and You before closing the set with songs off their debut self-titled EP with Finders, Arul and one of my favourite tracks - Maya

Blushing Satellite

Blushing Satellite


Arjun Ramdas

An audience with some of the best musicians of B'lore looking on

Blushing Satellite are a tight band that need to loosen up. Executing song after song like clockwork, barring a few technical glitches in between, all the members of the band are extremely serious on stage. But if that's what it takes to put together the kind of music they've made - so be it. The music of the band doesn't fall into any strict genre and grabs at elements of jazz, electronica, grunge and much more. Blushing Satellite are clearly out here to bring a completely new sound to the scene. You'll either love it or not at first listen. 

Karthik Basker

Deepak Raghu

Ramanan Chandramouli

Comprised of Karthik Basker on vocals, Arjun Ramdas on bass, Deepak Raghu on drums and guitarist Ramanan Chandramouli, Blushing Satellite came together in May 2015 and have been making quite the mark for themselves in the independent circuit. The highlight for me was the absolutely impressive work on the bass by Arjun. Overall, it's a joy to see a band bring a new sound and style to the scene, and that too one that makes you want to go back for seconds. Do catch the band at their next gig happening later this week on the 12th of February at The Humming Tree.

PS: Please do not use the pictures on this blog without authorization from yours truly

Guest Column - iheartblr.com - Interview with Ramanan Chandramouli from Blushing Satellite

I got to interview Ramanan Chandramouli from the band Blushing Satellite  before their gig at BFlat Bar in Bengaluru. In the interview, Ramanan spoke about the band's  music, plans for the future and his thoughts on the scene in Bengaluru.

Read the entire interview here

PC: Blushing Satellite's Facebook page

Soulmate brings down the roof at BFlat. B'lore

Last night, folks at BFlat in Bengaluru witnessed probably the best gig till date that Soulmate has ever played in the city. Returning to the venue after over two years, the band was looking to make it a Christmas Weekend to remember and they came out with all guns blazing. With Tips' voice keeping pace with Rudy's guitar licks, the evening soon turned into one big party with everyone in the house singing and clapping along to every song. The crowd was also gifted a guest appearance by Gino Banks on the drums for one song. An absolutely wild night of blues and good old fashioned Rock N Roll.












Gig Review: Skrat and As we keep searching, 2 Stroke Tour @ Indigo Live

I’ll be quite honest in admitting that I was at this gig, the 2 Stroke Tour, predominantly to see Skrat who are one of my favourite Indian bands. There has been a lot of noise about the post-rock outfit from Ahmedabad, ‘As we keep searching’ (AWKS), who opened the gig for Skrat. Call it old school mentality but I’m not a big fan of the post-rock genre in general. I find the licks to be a bit repetitive in nature and is not something I would listen to by itself. I do however find most post-rock sounds to be well-suited for background scores of good modern cinema. That being said, AWKS didn’t do anything to change my opinion of the genre.

AWKS
The band does have high energy and has garnered a small fan base that will keep growing with the popularity of the genre in India. A Rolling Stone article named Bangalore as the unofficial capital of post-rock in India. This sort of held true with the near full house that had turned up for the gig and were head banging away. The sound of the band is a lot heavier than a lot of the other bands in this space. I attribute a lot of that to the drumming which was precise and heavy, and was the one big positive I would take away from this particular gig. 

AWKS

AWKS
I would have to call out one thing that did not sit well with me, which was the band’s post-rock cover of Avial’s  Aranda. Personally, to me it was definitely a chapter in the book of ‘How not play covers’. That aside, I’m neutral on the sound of the band overall, but a big thumbs up for the drumming.

AWKS
Skrat – need I say more? This particular gig of Skrat was the last gig of their 2Stroke tour with As We Keep Searching who was the opening act. Besides that, this was the last gig in the city with Satish Narayanan on bass for Skrat. Sats has decided to part ways with the band and move to Canada to pursue the great Indian dream of doing an MBA abroad. Almost all the regulars in the Bangalore scene had turned up for this gig. 

Skrat

Skrat

As always, Skrat delivered a high energy performance with the crowd going nuts and mosh pits erupting towards the end. Playing a healthy mix from all their albums so far, the band once again brought down the house. There really isn’t anything I can say that hasn’t been said before.

Skrat

Skrat

Skrat


We’re all looking forward to whom would replace Sats on bass and wish them all the best in continuing the Skrat journey. A big thanks and best wishes to Sats for all the gigs.

Gig Review: Amit Heri Trio at B-flat, B'lore

This particular gig featured the Amir Heri trio play at B-Flat. the trio comprised of  Amit Heri on guitars, Ranjit Barot on drums and Karim Elaboudi on keys. The house was surprisingly packed compared to other gigs of this nature. while the musicians seemed to have spent minimum time in rehearsing together (which they admitted), they had a blast jamming away on stage - such is the beauty of jazz and the mastership of music that every member of the trio possessed. What did get to me a bit on some of the songs was the lack of a dedicated bass player that would have taken those songs from mind-blowing to (as Russell Peters puts it) mind-blasting. There was even a guest appearance by Kartik Mani. This was a really fun gig to be at and at the end I was absolutely floored by the quality of music being made. Here are some pics from the gig.










Gig Review: Bhayanak Maut at Counter Culture

Last evening at Counter Culture witnessed a heavy duty performance by Mumbai-based band Bhayanak Maut. From the word go, the band had everyone right up front head banging and singing in chorus to every song. Like every other business, experience sets the men apart from the boys. And Bhayank Maut's experience in the circuit clearly showed. Very little time was spent between songs in idle chatter, tuning of guitars and long-winding public statements. The band hit the perfect blend of playing and interacting with the crowd who were left wanting more after a tight relatively short set.

Opening the evening for Bhayanak Maut was Cheisrah who ran through a short six-song set. Personally, I wasnt too impressed with anything the band had to offer as it's all been done before. This sentiment was echoed by a few people I spoke to. The small loyal fan base of friends might disagree with me, but Cheisrah has a bit of a distance to go.

And it wouldn't be Counter Culture without their protest against the recent beef ban in Maharashtra. There was an all-beef menu put up. I tried the Beef Kheema Pav and had a slice of the Bhayanak Beef Pizza. I enjoyed the pizza way more than I did the Pav. Here are some pictures from last evening.

Cheisrah

Cheisrah

Beef Kheema Pav

Bhayanak Beef Pizza

Bhayanak Maut

Bhayanak Maut

Bhayanak Maut

Bhayanak Maut


Bhayanak Maut

Bhayanak Maut

Bhayanak Maut

Bhayanak Maut

Bhayanak Maut

Bhayanak Maut

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 Pix: Aghor, Aloft Whitefield

As a part of their ‘100 days of music’ celebration, the Aloft Hotel at Whitefield had organized an evening of music featuring the fusion band-  Aghor. This was the first time I was seeing this band. Whatever I read online said that this is a five-piece band, but only three people played that evening. Their music was a mix of jazz, funk, hindustani, sufi and flamenco. Despite having recorded drumbeats (which I really despise in live gigs), the band was fairly tight. But there's only so much one can do without a drummer to keep the beat going. It puts too much pressure on the bass player to keep the beat instead of focussing on pulling off some good bass riffs. Here are some pictures from the gig.