Gig Pix: Ode to the Blues 2015, Counter Culture (Pt.3 of 3)

The penultimate act for the evening featured a very interesting performance by Madou Sidiki Diabte from Mali. Madou played a very interesting instrument called the Kora which had some 21 strings, all played by using just two fingers on either hand. While it was musically very soothing after heavy-ish gigs, I'm not too sure how it fit into the blues theme. But then again, I might just be being overly critical.

The final act for the evening was one of my favourite bands, Soulmate. As always stellar performance from Rudy on guitar and a mesmerizing vocal act by Tipriti who is one of my fav Indian female vocalists. They were joined by Rick Payne and Madou towards the end of the set for a very interesting jam session that made me really enjoy how Madou's Kora blended in with Rudy's electric guitar and Rick's acoustic guitar. It was the perfect end to an evening of blues.

It's going to a tough task to top this year's OTTB by the folks at Counter Culture, but I'm sure they're up to the challenge.

Gig Pix: Ode to the Blues 2015, Counter Culture (Pt.2 of 3)

Back to the outside acoustic stage, we had a clean set by our two esteemed foreign guests. Rick Payne started off the set with his version of the Rolling Stones classic 'Because I used to love her'. Three songs in and he was joined by Steve Treble. The duo put on on a very neat acoustic set that to me was one of the high points of this year's festival.

Next up on the main stage were Bengaluru veterans, Ministry of Blues. I was a bit disappointed with their set because it seemed very similar to the set from last year's edition. Tight gig nonetheless, but nothing really new that brought the wow factor.

Post a brief acoustic set by By2 Blues, we had stalwarts of Bengaluru's blues scene, Chronic Blues Circus take the main stage. They were accompanied by Steve Treble on lead guitars who kept profusely sweating and complaining between killer riffs about how his strings kept getting detuned due to the weather.

Gig Pix: Ode to the Blues 2015, Counter Culture (Pt.1 of 3)

The Ode to the Blues was back this year at Counter Culture with a bigger line up. While the number of people seemed to be way more than the venue could handle, there was absolutely no trouble whatsoever.

I arrived a little late. The first act I caught was The Hoodoo Gas. I've seen videos of them before, and have seen lead vocalist and guitarist Ananth Menon play with other acts. Here are some pics from the tight gig they pulled off.

The next act on the acoustic stage was White Mug. While I've heard of them before, I've never seen them perform live. While the acoustic set wasn't strictly a blues set but more of an alt rock set, Mathew on vocals was quite lively and kept the crowd going.

Back on the main stage, we had Windoze who put up a tight set with a very memorable rendition of the James Brown classic ' I feel good'. 

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

Gig Review: An Ode to the Blues - Soulmate, Counter Culture (Pt. 4 of 5)

The third band on ‘An Ode to the Blues’ was Shillong’s very own Soulmate. I fell in love with this band from the very first time I saw them way back in 2008. Tipriti’s (aka Tips) voice for the evening was simply awesome as the band powered through some older material and gave the audience a taste of new material present in their soon-to-be released album. Rudy Wallang was at his classic best playing through the leads with ease. Despite a forced interval thanks to a power outage, Soulmate gave another stellar performance.

Tips from Soulmate
Rudy Wallang from Soulmate
TIps taking a break during the power outage
Tips from Soulmate

Gig Review: An Ode to the Blues - Ministry of Blues, Counter Culture (Pt. 3 of 5)

The second band up on stage was the explosive 'ZZ Top-meets-Steve Vai' blues band from Bengaluru – The Ministry of Blues, or M.O.B as the crowd liked to chant. They began their explosive set with an original composition called ‘9 to 5 blues’ dedicated to everyone who had a day job and was sick of it. The rest of the set was just madness as Philipe and Rauf traded solos off one another with their respective instruments with absolute ease. Vinoo was responsible for keeping everyone in line with his mini-history lessons in between the songs which was actually quite entertaining.

Ministry of Blues
Ministry of Blues
Ministry of Blues
Ministry of Blues
Ministry of Blues

Gig Review: An Ode to the Blues - Chronic Blues Circus, Counter Culture (Pt. 2 of 5)

The first band on the main stage was Bengaluru’s Chronic Blues Circus. I've always seen them play a very safe set with the intent of letting the audience groove to the rhythm. Today was no different. There was a healthy mix of original compositions such as Coming home blues, with some more popular covers to keep the audiences grooving. The leads were nice, tight and slow and the band was appropriate to set the ball rolling on the main stage for ' An Ode to the Blues’. Peter, the front man, joked that the only guitar player older than him present that evening was Guitar Shorty (who would turn 75 this year).

Chronic Blues Circus
Chronic Blues Circus
Chronic Blues Circus

Gig Review: An Ode to the Blues - Counter Culture (Pt. 1 of 5)

‘An Ode to the Blues’ was the held at Counter Culture to honour the birth anniversary of legendary blues man Robert Johnson. As a build up to the  finale, artists from all over Bangalore had been busking in various venues across the city including Hysteria and Goobe’s Book store all week before. Khalid from Parvaaz even had to face some police intervention....must have been one heck of a storm he was raising. It was really nice to see someone finally thinking about doing a nice build up and setting the mood to such a festival. All that busking had my expectations set really high.

D-day at Counter Culture had two stages set up for the bands to play. The main stage boasted of (in my humble opinion) India’s best blues musicians. The menu included Chronic Blues Circus, Ministry of Blues, Soulmate, Blackstratblues and special guest – Guitar Shorty all the way from the US. The smaller stage setup in the backyard of Counter Culture had artists such as Velvet Mojo, Ananth Menon, Sylvester Trio and more keeping the crowd entertained with their acoustic sets.

The gig started with the small stage at around 6 PM , setting the mood for a night of crazy blues playing.


Sylvester Trio

Sylvester Trio