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I have the Blues

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Excellent Tipriti from Soulmate at a performance
Excellent Tipriti from Soulmate at a performance

Take a peek at Soulmate

“We first got peanuts. But we’re still making music. We’re not rich. But we’re rich musically.” Sitting in a dimly lit Blues club, appropriately called Haze, Rudy of Soulmate describes his musical passions. Hailing from Shillong, Soulmate is Blues-guitar player, songwriter and singer Rudy, vocalist Tipriti, bass guitarist Ferdy and drummer Sam. This six-year-old group is often touted as the best Blues group of the country. Their first album “Shillong” did very well and now they are working on the second album. Some 15 songs have been readied for it. It should be out by the end of the year.

“The recurrent theme is love,” says Rudy, adding, “It is what you were before and what you are now.” The yet untitled album includes Rudy’s compositions besides a few instrumental pieces. He sees this album as a move away from “Shillong”. It is a move away from a “certain rawness” to the Blues rock style of Jimi Hendrix. “We try to sound like we are on stage, for this album,” he says.

This Blues rock style of Soulmate has enabled them to straddle both rock and blues. They were initially apprehensive about performing with a hard rock band like Them Clones. But the show ended up being a huge hit. “Blues speaks everyone’s language,” he says with pride.

Memphis Challenge

In February, Soulmate made history of sorts by performing at the Memphis Tennessee International Blues Challenge. Courtesy the Blues Club of India, they ended up being the only Indian Blues bands to perform at the venue. “I think it was a dream come true,” he says simply.

Shillong has often been identified as the English music capital of the country. It is host to the Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley festivals. “Walking down the roads in Shillong you can hear music from every window.Most people are familiar with English,” Rudy says, explaining the connection of the North-East with English music.

This time, Rudy and his band play only covers at the gig at Haze. But in the Blues it is never just covers, it is a tribute to the original artists. Blues is like story-telling. It is a tradition where each passing generation adds its own nuance to the narrative. “That’s the great thing about the Blues,” explains Rudy, “The expressions change day to day. You can improvise with the sound. It’s about playing from the soul.”

NANDINI NAIR

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