Slide guitarist Jeff Lang and tabla player Bobby Singh will celebrate the diverse music of Australia

Date: November 14

Venue: The Music Academy

Time: 7.30 p..m.

He is Australia's most respected folk and blues artist and has often been hailed as the ‘godfather of an Australia-based back-to-basics blues movement.' Jeffrey Lang is a masterful singer-songwriter-slide guitarist, who has been coming out with a new album every year since 1994.

With his startlingly original and self-described ‘disturbed folk' style that marries folk, blues, rock and even Indian sounds, the Melbourne-based artiste admits that his writing is inspired by American and British folk traditions.

Interestingly, Jeff is an independent producer. He has many award-winning albums to his credit, including the 1996 ‘Native Dog Creek' named ‘Best Australian Blues Album' in a readers' poll, and the 2002 collaboration with the American Bob Brozman which fetched them an ARIA award for Best Blues and Roots Music album. His writing skills come to the fore in ‘Whatever Makes You Happy'.

Jeff, who is partial to the guitar (“It's a really immediately rewarding instrument”) has also collaborated with Australia-based tabla player Bobby Singh and Malian kora player, Mamadou Diabate, to make the ARIA Award winning World Music Project ‘Djan Djan'.

Jeff and Bobby will let their musical imagination take flight at The Hindu's Friday Review November Fest.

Jeff Lang speaks on incorporating Indian sounds in his music, his idols and his future projects.

Is this your first trip to India? What are your expectations?

Yes, this is my first visit to your country. I must say that I am very excited to come and play music here. I don't know what exactly to expect, but the rich culture of Indian music is inspiring to me, so I can't wait!

Have you had classical training? How would you describe your music?

I think of my music as folk, but not in the strict definition, maybe a kind of disturbed folk style... I'm glad you feel my music has a distinctive sound to it. As for training, I have had no classical training… it's just that I have learned by ear.

Describe your collaboration with Bobby Singh. How did you meet?

I met Bobby at the Woodford Folk Festival (a six day-event held at the town near Brisbane), a wonderful event where music from all over the map is represented.

I learn so much every time I play with Bobby. He's a great musician, and I'm always asking him to show me new things such as various rhythmic patterns, which I can incorporate into my music.

There's a strong Indian sound in your ‘Djan Djan' project where Bobby also plays. Have you heard the music of Indian musicians?

I make no pretence about having the technical expertise of Indian classical musicians, but have been greatly inspired by many. In particular, I admire Hindustani slide guitar players Debashish Bhattacharya, Brijbhushan Kabra and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and the electric steel guitarist Sunil Ganguly who played on some movie soundtracks.

The legendary Pt. Ravi Shankar and the sarangi master Sultan Khan too have left a deep impact on my musical sense. That said, I realise that I am a rank beginner in comparison to any of these players.

Your musical idols are...

Bob Dylan has always been a big hero, along with Jimi Hendrix, Skip James, Bert Jansch, Richard Thompson, David Lindley, Ry Cooder, Neil Young, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Willie Clancy and Tom Waits. Actually there are so many more…

Future projects include...

I think it would be fun to record an album out in the desert in Australia, with the sounds just vibrating in the open air or reverberating off natural settings, like rock walls! Maybe I will do it someday.

Have you decided your play list for the Indian audiences?

We will be playing some of my songs and improvising within the framework of these songs.

It's going to be different and that's what makes for a fun experience for us and hopefully for the audience too.


MetroplusJune 28, 2012