Staying in a lake palace, playing the sarangi with Rajasthani folk musicians, 'surviving a crazy' road trip from Udaipur to Jodhpur and of course, spending hours and hours rehearsing… life has been moving at a frenetic pace for Jeff Lang ever since he arrived in India a week ago. The Australian slide guitar legend is on his first trip to India along with Australian tabla whiz Bobby Singh to participate in the The Hindu Friday Review November Fest. It has “been an exhilarating and enriching time. Meeting so many people, visiting beautiful cities and playing to enthusiastic audiences… what more can a musician ask for,” says the folk and blues virtuoso during a phone-in.
“I am amazed at and humbled by the technical knowledge of musicians here. They are open to everything and quick to adapt to something new,” says the Melbourne-based guitarist, expressing his gratitude to the Australian Embassy and The Hindu for making his dream of touring India a reality.
Talking about his concerts at Delhi and Bangalore, “I enjoyed playing at these venues. The audiences have been very receptive and encouraging, which gave us the chance to play without much restraint. Our set list has songs which have a structure but give us scope to improvise,” explains Lang. “Our aim is to take audience with us on a journey to unknown planes, and also build a musical bridge.”
Lang, who is looking to work closely with folk musicians from Rajasthan, among others, says, “There are very few musicians who have been able to match the high level of technique that you have here… somebody like John McLaughlin, who can play with Indians effortlessly. I too want to do something with them,” says Lang, an independent producer who has been coming out with an album every year since 1994!
On his music, which he has often described as 'disturbed folk that marries folk, blues, rock and much else', Lang is candid. “I have a story to tell, and I do it my way. I do not pretend to be someone I am not. I want to perform and connect with my listeners. Music is a transcendental experience for me, and I hope that quality of my playing reaches my listeners.”
Lang is also all praise for his collaboration with Bobby. “In the past six years that we have played together, Bobby and I have connected beautifully as musicians; we are in perfect sync and that comes through in our performance.” The award-winning Bobby Singh, who has trained under Aneesh Pradhan, is much sought-after in Australia, and has worked with the likes of Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and Karaikudi Mani.
Lang continues, “Bobby has introduced me to different genres of Indian music, especially old Hindi film scores. Thanks to him I've discovered the genius of Sunil Ganguly (whose Hawaiian electric guitar lent a special touch to old Hindi and Bengali film song), Pt. Brij Bhushan Kabra, Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and Pt. Debashish Bhattacharya.” In fact, Lang played with Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt at an Adelaide concert and now hopes to collaborate with the mohanaveena expert on an album.
Lang is looking forward to performing to Chennai-ites. He and Bobby Singh will celebrate Australia's musical diversity at The Hindu Friday Review November Fest on Monday at 7.30 p.m. at The Music Academy.
Keywords: Friday Review November Fest