Lou Majaw enthralled the audience with his energetic rendition of Bob Dylan numbers

Sporting long, greying hair, a short sleeveless white tee shirt, his signature skin-tight denim shorts, blue socks and white sneakers, the 62-year old Bob Dylan devotee belts out some of the legend’s greatest hits to a packed crowd at The Opus.

Lou Majaw and his band, Great Society, were in town recently as part of the Kingfisher Pub Rock Fest organised by Rock Street Journal and co-sponsored by Romanov Red.

Playing out some Dylan favourites Majaw had the crowds swaying to “Blowin’ in the Wind”, “Had a Dream About you, Baby”, and “The Times - They are a Changin’” among other songs.

Strumming a guitar, he moved around the audience, dancing and jumping with youthful bliss as he took the audience on a journey back in time.

Believing in living the life, the veteran musician from Shillong is without doubt one of India’s most accomplished musicians.

Expressing his devotion to Dylan, Majaw says, “There has been no one like Dylan. He has touched so many lives. The depth of his writings and phrasing are eternal and the kind of bonding that comes out through them is unique.”

Popularly known as ‘the Dylan of the North-East’, Majaw has been widely inspired by the music of other greats such as Bill Haley and Elvis Presley. Coming from the Khasi tribe, he moved on to Kolkata and played for various groups there.

In 1966, he was introduced to Dylan’s music. “After that my life changed. His songs lit up my life and gave it a lot of meaning,” recalls Majaw.

“Dylan inspires people like no one else and creates music that is powerful and revolutionary.”

Inspired by the counterculture icon’s music, Majaw later organized a Dylan birthday concert in Shillong on May 24, 1972.

Since then he has organized the concert every year on May 24 to pay tribute to Dylan, with the shows eventually gaining national and international fame.

As to why the group is called the Great Society, Majaw recounts how they all came from poor backgrounds and spent most of their lives on the streets.

“Our pockets and stomachs remained empty, but we had a lot of fire in our hearts. We often saw the rich people in their flashy cars. They are the high society, but we are the great society!”

“Dylan is quite popular on India and numerous States in the country look up to his music, especially West Bengal and its capital – Kolkata.

Stressing that Dylan is just as relevant today as he was earlier, Majaw adds, “The King of rock and roll made his contribution to music and that must be the aim for every musician. Those into music must play their part just like me and contribute to music.”

Encouraging upcoming musicians he says: “Be true to yourself and always go up the ladder of success with hard work and determination. The world is a small place and we spend a small time here. We all need to play our part.”

The Great Society has three albums to its credit including “Breakthrough” (1985) and “Forever Young” (2002).

The group comprises Sam Shullai on the drums, Lou Hilt on the bass and Arjun Sen on the lead guitar.