Music

This Bengaluru musician has been jamming from his bedroom for 54 days straight

Carlton Braganza promised to do a one-hour request musical performance show every night

Carlton Braganza promised to do a one-hour request musical performance show every night   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Carlton Braganza promised to perform from his bedroom for two weeks of lockdown. However, as restrictions continue, so do his Jukebox Jammies sessions. One hour a day: 54 nights and counting

Carlton Braganza’s bedroom has seen a lot of action over this lockdown. In fact, there were almost 600 people involved last night. It began with just a group of his friends, but as word got out, more and more people began to join in. And the numbers grow everyday.

It all began with the first Janata Curfew held in India on March 22 to counter COVID-19, which stretched into an extended lockdown that is still in force today.

Over the phone from Bengaluru, Carlton, best known for launching the popular Opus music club, says he impulsively made a promise online when he heard about the lockdown. “I said, ‘till I get out of my bedroom I will do a one-hour request musical performance, in my pyjamas, every night. We will call it Jukebox Jammies, and I’ll be the jukebox’,” he says, adding with a laugh, “At that point, I thought lockdown would be for two weeks.”

It has been 54 nights, so far. And Carlton has kept his promise, performing for one hour everyday, taking requests from all over the world. The show is on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube from 9.30 pm to 10.30 pm IST, Monday to Saturday. On Sunday, it is from 3.30 pm to 4.30 pm to make it more accessible to Australia, from where a lot of listeners tune in.

Facebook, where Carlton broadcasts from the OPUS page, is the most popular, and that is where the charm of this whole project is evident. It has grown into a community of friends who gather every night to chat, make requests, and untiringly rib Carlton and each other. The music is varied, ranging from old-school swing and country to funk, pop, disco and even rap.

In pre-COVID times, Carlton travelled incessantly to perform at gigs, weddings and corporate events, so his repertoire is extensive. In one night alone, he moved seamlessly from Elton John’s ‘I guess that’s why they call it the blues’ to Dire Straits’ ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Then went on to sing ‘Guantanamera’ by The Sandpipers and ended with a Barry Manilow-inspired version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s show tune ‘Memory’.

Carlton Bragaza’s music varied each night, ranging from old-school swing and country to funk, pop, disco and even rap

Carlton Bragaza’s music varied each night, ranging from old-school swing and country to funk, pop, disco and even rap   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Featuring reassuringly familiar music, the show is engaging, thanks to Carlton’s ability to make a virtual evening feel like a relaxed night out with friends. Over just the past couple of days, popular singer Usha Uthup has dropped by to listen to him sing, as did tennis player Leander Paes.

“It was very rudimentary in the early days; it’s a much slicker production now,” says Carlton, explaining how friends chipped in to help as his following began to grow. “I am an entertainment solution kind of person. I help people organise everything from weddings to jazz nights in a bar,” he states, adding that broadcasting from home requires a different skill set from what he was used to.

However, it became necessary to learn as the lockdown kept being extended. “Every time I thought I could stop, people would remind me, ‘You said you will do it till this is over.’ And I said, ‘Okay. I’ll keep my word’.” He adds, “If you see the other side of my desk now, it’s like a proper studio.”

Songs from far and wide

He has friends helping him keep track of the playlists so they do not repeat songs, and has sung more than 700 so far. “I get requests on WhatsApp and email, as well as social media, so I collate them,” he says, adding “I’m doing stuff I have not sung in ages. I have noticed that people are using this time to connect to old friends, classmates and family... as well as the songs they heard when they were growing up, because it is comforting.”

This Bengaluru musician has been jamming from his bedroom for 54 days straight

Stuck indoors for almost two months now, audiences are also craving interaction. Which is probably why clubs are now tying up with Carlton for these evenings. He recently did a club night for Bengaluru’s Catholic Club members, and Mumbai’s Willingdon Sports Club is next, followed by Kolkata’s CC&FC.

How much longer will he keep Jukebox Jammies running? Well, that depends on the lockdown, but he promises to “figure something out soon,” adding that he has been overwhelmed by the warmth with which people have responded.

Listeners have written in with requests to connect via music with ageing parents and loved ones in the hospital, as well as cheer on doctors, nurses and other frontline workers.

“People tell me that this is helping them get through the lockdown,” says Carlton. “But I don’t know what I would have done without it. It has also given me something to look forward to every evening.”

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2020 1:06:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/when-your-juxebox-is-in-jammies/article31601118.ece

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