As many as 12 bands and a few individual musicians of Vypeen will host the Vypeen Music Festival on December 4. The event will be staged at the amphitheater on the walkway from 4 p.m. onwards. It is being held to draw attention to the area’s traditions and culture.
Separated by a channel that brings ships to the city, Fort Kochi and Fort Vypeen on either side of it have lived different fates. While Fort Kochi has drawn the attention of the world with major art festivals like the Kochi Muziris Biennale and a carnival of its own, Fort Vypeen, of “the same parent” Ward No. 1 of the Kochi Corporation, has remained neglected.
“This area has strong Portuguese remnants and heritage buildings like Fort Kochi. It had a very vibrant music culture. There were stalwart musicians from here, like Rodriguez, a jazz saxophonist from Goa and Uncle Winny known for his yodeling,” says Sarath K. Menon, organiser and participant of the festival.
In an impromptu act, in 2018, the musicians of the area entertained their friends at Kuzhupilly beach to find an amazing response. It led to the founding of the Vypeen Music Biennale.
“Unlike Fort Kochi that has changed due to development, Vypeen retains its look of the 80s,” says Mr. Menon, adding that the group began popularising its initiative by performing music gigs across the city - at Pizhalla bridge, in Marine Drive, in Fort Kochi, and Fort Vypeen. Last year, the group performed at the underutilised stage on the walkway. Several volunteer music artists joined us. “We were in need of funds for sound and light equipment. Several artists from West Bengal and the Northeast evinced interest in joining hands with us, but we could not pull it off in the way we had planned. There were no sponsors,” recalls Mr. Menon. He adds that they gave up the idea of a music biennale and altered it to a music festival to be held annually.
This time, the musicians have united once again, some who have spent 40 to 50 years of their life in music, like Noel Aruja, from Kalanasheri who has been teaching rock music for the last 40 years. Unni Kannamali, who heads Chellanam Media, has been a musician for two decades. Sanu Dharan runs a music college in Thrissur, while Collin D’Souza and Baburaj are known musicians from the area, with the former, a known face at the city’s five-star hotels. Dudz rock band from Vypeen too will perform. “This is our core culture and we need to preserve this,” says Mr. Menon. (For details, contact 7558096731)