Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Girls Aloud’s Nadine Coyle on Her Solo Debut

October 15, 2010

Often hailed as the best singer in Girls Aloud, now Nadine Coyle is going solo – with a little help from Tesco’s. So is this the end of the band? Jude Rogers can’t quite tell

By Jude Rogers

In 2001, the 16-year-old Nadine Coyle told the best lie in pop: she pretended to be 18 to take part in the Irish version of Popstars. She was found out and thrown out – but then her luck began. Rather than becoming a member of Six – whose only album, This Is It, rather lived up to its name – she got close to judge Louis Walsh, tried out for 2002’s ITV series Popstars: The Rivals, and then became a member of Girls Aloud, who became one of the most successful British groups of all time.

Now, five much-loved albums later, Coyle is hoping for a new run of luck. She’s launching her debut solo album, Insatiable, which she has been working on in LA, her home for the last two years. Given her reputation as the best singer in Girls Aloud, all should be dandy, but the rumour mill suggests otherwise. First, the time it has taken for the record to come together has led Popjustice’s Peter Robinson to comment, rather drily: “[Nadine]’s been in enough studios with enough producers and enough writers … to have accidentally sung the entire works of Shakespeare.” Second, Coyle has also been distancing herself from Girls Aloud for some time – she was conspicuously absent from the 2008 Brit awards, when the band were up for their first best British group award. Third, there have been rumours that the record was turned down by every major label, including Girls Aloud’s alma mater, Polydor. Fourth, there’s the fact that Girls Aloud have already spawned one solo star, and her name is not Nadine, but Cheryl Cole.
nadine coyle girls aloud
One louder … Nadine Coyle

Nevertheless, her debut album of loud, gutsy pop songs – plus, it must be said, some rather weak and weedy ballads – is finally coming out on Coyle’s own label, Black Pen, next month, albeit via an exclusive deal that means you can only buy it in Tesco. “I’m so excited about it!” Coyle beams broadly. She settles down in a room in her publicist’s building, which is disconcertingly full of smartly dressed mannequins. In the middle of them, she stretches her long legs and primps her hair, looking like a more glamorous version of the showroom dummies. Every little helps.

Coyle was born in 1985 in Derry, Northern Ireland. Music has always been in her blood, she begins, her accent claggy and thick, although it now betrays a hint of Malibu Beach. “My dad was a singer. Old classic stuff like Brown Eyed Girl, or Delilah if he was getting really dramatic. And there was always a gig. All the men would go out and play, congregate back at our house, and I would be up with them wailing into the wee hours.” As Coyle got older, she would sing with them at little jazz festivals, and a local restaurant called The Drunken Duck. She never got an easy ride because she was younger, she adds. “If you weren’t good enough, your mic would be turned off. That was my training.”

Then she entered the Irish Popstars competition. In retrospect, was lying to get on it the best thing she did? “No,” she smiles, a little cautiously. “Not the best thing I did.” Coyle looks back on that period as an innocent time, though. “It was just an audition for a band. Those shows weren’t at the forefront of the media then. They didn’t say they could change people’s lives. But I guess, even then, you had choreographers and motivators …” She shakes her head. “I didn’t get that at all. I felt like saying, I’m here to sing, you know, not run for a marathon. I’m not going to last five minutes if this is how it is.”

But last she did. Before Popstars: The Rivals, Louis Walsh advised Coyle to go solo, but she says she was keener to be in a band. She was a frontrunner throughout the competition, largely because of her obvious vocal talents. But once the band got together and beat runners-up One True Voice, Coyle started to realise her skills were no longer necessary. “For someone with my upbringing to do another TV show, and hear people saying, ‘Oh, just, you know, mime to that … ‘” She shimmies under her jumper dress. “I couldn’t get my head around it. For it to be that easy. It became more about doing a cute routine that singing a song.” She sighs, a little over-dramatically. “It took a long time for me to realise, well, this is just what people do.”

From Girls Aloud’s debut album onwards, Coyle sang all the initial vocals in the studio, at the express wish of their producer, Brian Higgins of Xenomania. “From day one. Well, maybe not day one, but definitely week two. And that’s how it worked from then onwards. The girls just left me to it.” She nods. “And then they would come in and do their parts, and they would have their holidays.”

So Girls Aloud don’t always make records together? “Oh yes. We were very, very separate. We didn’t know it any other way.” Coyle speaks in the past tense about the group all the time – although she bats off questions about whether they have split, or are splitting. “After the last record, it was the right time to go and do our own individual things, and then come back together when the time was right, if the time was right.” Even when she is pushed, this is as far as she will go.

However, she brims with enthusiasm for her favourite Girls Aloud records – their second album, What Will the Neighbours Say?, and their 2007 single, Can’t Speak French. She liked dressing up in Marie Antoinette frocks for that video, she laughs, although “all that stuff” is far less important than the music. “But its funny – I would come home from work, and peel my eyelashes off. Then maybe take stuff out of my top, pads and little balls. Then the weaves in my hair, unclip these big things. And watching my sisters watching me, going, ‘God, what else, Nadine, are you going to start unhooking limbs?'”

As Coyle talks about her vital contributions to Girls Aloud, you become increasingly aware of an elephant in the room. When the band got together, Coyle was its Queen Bee, after all. You wonder if she ever entertained the idea that one of her band-mates would emerge like a butterfly from a chrysalis, become the darling of the press, and get the band’s first solo No 1.

Or to use another single-sex band analogy, is Nadine Coyle the Gary Barlow to Cheryl Cole’s Robbie Williams? “Oh no!” Coyle squeaks, suddenly cautious. For the first time today, she looks like she might lose control. Then she pauses, and thinks. “Well, you know, Gary is very talented. Just like that, she has saved herself. “No, I think that’s fine. But it’s not dog work, what I did for the group. I enjoyed it and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.” She also says that Cole has done “amazingly well”, having been raring to be a solo artist since their last tour. “Although I would have been exhausted doing what she did. I was exhausted just watching her, do you know what I mean? I needed time for myself and distance from the last album, too. To write about stuff that wasn’t just about the way my life had been. You know, I woke up today and got my hair and makeup done.”

Would Coyle say that she is more of a natural musician, and Cole more of a natural celebrity? “Yeah, I would say that would be an accurate evaluation.” She shrugs her skinny shoulders. “But Cheryl’s great, you know, and we get on. And I wouldn’t be good at stuff like judging the X Factor. I would be the worst. Partly because I would want to be the one up there singing, with the lights and the stuff. Also, I’d be going, that’s not good, never mind, let me do it. Just watch me.”

In the last few years, Coyle has also been writing more music herself. She has become “obsessed” with the computer program Garageband, recording vocal melodies and basslines on her laptop at home. She would then take them to songwriters and producers, among them Guy Chambers, who wrote the album’s punchy title track; Desmond Child, songwriter of choice for the US rock aristocracy; and Tony Gad, who writes for Beyoncé. “And William Orbit,” she glows, who worked on a song called Unbroken. “He said about my track, ‘I love it, how do you get that effect on your voice?’ And there am I going, ‘That’s the living-room effect.'” She says she wanted a huge sound for the record. “That’s what took most of the time, really. Getting all the musicians together, the drummers and the guitarists and the bassists. I just love a big wall of sound, and I really worked hard to get that.”

So given all that glamour and ambition, why release the album through Tesco? Coyle has prepared quite an answer. “If I was to sign to a major – which I was going to, you know – they would have to get Tescos to buy the records to sell in the shops. Now, there’s 4,600 Tesco stores and there’s 200 HMV stores …” She spins off into various spirals of logic. She says she had been choosing between Universal and EMI, but that an exclusive deal with Tesco would see the grocer stock enough LPs for her to go platinum straightaway. It would also let her direct operations herself, so she could choose her own video directors and marketing teams.

But selling a record as if it were a tin of baked beans – doesn’t that strip music of its glamour a little? “To me, it doesn’t matter,” she says, a little unconvincingly. “I just think of me in a supermarket planning what I’m going to cook for the evening, and buying maybe a bottle of wine, getting excited about putting on my new CD. That to me is, it’s a lovely, nostalgic feeling. Everybody needs to eat and live and shop, after all …” She runs out of steam. “And, you know, it’s realistic.”

As we wrap up, and further questions about her going it alone get batted away, Coyle talks about other artists she admires – rather unfashionable acts such as Jamiroquai and Michael Bolton, as well songwriters “with brilliant lyrics” like Lily Allen. She also mentions her concerns about the younger generations, worrying that they can be influenced negatively by pop. “I saw my nieces copying these grinding moves I’d done with the girls the other day,” she says. “That made me flinch. And now they’re copying Rihanna singing: ‘Come on rude boy boy, can you get it up.’ Sweet mother of God. Hopefully they don’t know what they’re saying, or doing – although I understand why people like stuff like that.”

As she leaves, Coyle hugs me with relish, adding there are no other big things in her life apart from the album at the moment. A few hours later, she goes into Radio 1, and announces her engagement live on air. A few weeks later, the video for her first single is banned from TV, on account of her raunchy, see-through dress, stockings and suspenders.

Whatever she says, Nadine Coyle still knows exactly what she is doing.



Iron Maiden’s ‘The Final Frontier’

October 5, 2010

By Aman Kanth

Iron Maiden The Final Frontier Thirty years and still going strong! Yes, the English heavy metal band Iron Maiden is back with its fifteenth studio album – ‘The Final Frontier’ after its last outing with ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ in 2006. Phew, what surprises me is the fact when most of its contemporaries are fading into thin oblivion; there is no stopping for Iron Maiden, as it is still considered to be one of the most respected names in the business of heavy metal. ‘The Final Frontier’ is dense, layered, faster and louder. Iron Maiden is the modern day prophet, whose otherworldly verses beautifully evoke the modern day dilemma of our civilization – a guttural cry for peace and humanity.

For all those Biebermaniacs, who just can’t get enough of the bubble-gum pop, a word of advice – set your system levels level a bit higher for ‘The Final Frontier’ and let the dramatic tenor of Bruce Dickinson, blazing guitars of Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Janick Gers, thumping bass of Steve Harris and drum roll of Nico McBrain assault your senses and take you on a whirlwind journey of a fictional world of war, death, spirits, occult, history and mythology. Okay, they might have some grey hair on their pate; so what, Iron Maiden rocks and it rocks really hard. What say headbangers!

The first song of The Final Frontier ‘Satellite 15…The Final Frontier’ begins with an eerie intro effect of heavy distortion, power drumming and Dickinson’s tenor for more than four and a half minutes and then breaks into Maiden-esque riffs and screeching solos which truly justify its lyrics – a far cry for survival.

The second track ‘El Dorado’ has a crunchy bass along with harmonised guitar riffs and rhythmic drumming with Dickinson’s piercing vocals that evoke the present day world order – a capitalist’s haven through El Dorado, where ‘The streets are paved with gold’. A dense, layered and stimulating track, ‘El Dorado’ is another gem from the Maiden stable.

‘Mother of Mercy’ paints a grim picture of a war ravaged world – ‘A land of flowing blood and strewn corpses’, ‘Mother of Mercy’ is a cry for forgiveness. The song paints a gloomy world of lost cause in humanity – a very relevant theme in today’s time. ‘Mother of Mercy’ will surely shake up to your marrow.

‘Coming Home’ is another great track whose lyrics completely justify its composition; ‘Coming Home’ is a journey track, which Dickinson and brotherhood make it all the more alluring.
‘The Alchemist’ is a strictly meant for headbangers as its not just a power ballad, but a sneak peak why Iron Maiden is the ‘Iron Maiden’ – ‘The Alchemist’ is a typical Maiden number with juicy licks and entrancing guitar shredding by the troika of Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers.

‘Isle of Avalon’ is dark, broody tale that invokes the fertility myth of mother earth – an isle which stands for the realm of birth and death. ‘Isle of Avalon’ can easily pass off as a romantic, scary yet inspiring vision. Kudos to Iron Maiden for fusing life into beautiful words!

The seventh track ‘Starblind’ evokes a chilling vision of desolate world – a world of solar winds, devoid of any religion and meaning – ‘Religion’s cruel device is gone’ and ‘In your once and future grave you’ll fall endlessly deceived’. The songs reeks of sheer existentialism for it celebrates the emptiness of the being as it nudges you to think about the kind of life we all are living – ‘You are free to choose a life to live or one that’s left to lose’. ‘Starblind’ is stark for it mirrors our reality.

‘The Talisman’ is about a journey to a mythical land of unknown and human fate. The song has a soft acoustic start which melts away into metal mayhem that takes you on a shipwreck journey to a land of spirits, trepidation and death, with just a talisman to guide you in the hour of crisis. Deafening guitars and earth-shattering drums heighten the dramatic element of the song.

The ninth track of ‘The Final Frontier’, ‘The Man Who Would Be Kind’ again begins on a soft acoustic note and is soon taken over by virtuoso guitar shredding that hits the crescendo with a full-blown metal attack. Once again, the song reprises the theme of an eternal journeyman, a seeker fighting against his fate.

The final track ‘When The Wild Wind Blows’ is by far the best and the longest track of the album (to be precise, a total of ten minutes and fifty nine seconds!) – a fitting ode to end the album on a high. Beginning and closing on acoustic notes, in between, the song takes you by a complete surprise by its raw energy the moment it hits the climax. Iron Maiden presents a moving picture of a crumbling world order – ‘Now the days of our ending have begun’ into life. A superb track with anthemic hooks, I am sure that this one will be remembered for a long time.

Enjoy the Maiden experience!

Of Music, Poetry, Roots And Peace

September 11, 2010

By Ashley Tellis

rewben On an unusually rainy afternoon of an unusually long monsoon in Delhi’s beautiful Jawaharlal Nehru campus, a very unusual concert unfolded. What the state government of Manipur did not do and the central government in Delhi would not do, was done by a young man, Ronid Chingambam, with a guitar in his hand and poetry on his lips.

Since May 1, 2010 and the terrible standoff between the Nagas in the hills and the Meiteis in the valley of Imphal which led to terrible hardships for the Meiteis and deaths and violence for the Nagas in Manipur, the only attempt to bring the communities together was by a group of young Meitei revolutionary poets called Burning Voices, led by Ronid Chingambam.

That he is Meitei is important. Many feel that the step towards reconciliation and peace must come from the more politically powerful Meiteis, who dominate the state in political representation, economic power and territorial anxiety. It is perhaps too much to ask of politicians, for whom these things are way too important, to reach out, beyond self-interest, and hold the hand of the Other and

understand what it means to enter the subjectivity of the disenfranchised. To be sure, that is not impossible to do in the case of

Manipur because the Meiteis suffer a similar othering from the Indian state.  They know what it is to live with the Armed Forces Special Powers Act just as the Nagas, Kukis,

Mizos, Chins and others in the hills know what it is to be classified and re-classified out of their land and their rights by the colonial and postcolonial states.

It was wonderful that it took a poet and a musician to see that the common enemy is the brutal liberal nation-state, and marvellous that joint resistance to it took the form of music that evening. The afternoon opened with the premiere of the remarkable film Songs of Mashangwa, directed by Oinam Doren. The film is about cult folk singer

Rewben Mashangwa who was to be the main performer, closing the event. Mashangwa is well known in the region for his resuscitation of Tangkhul Naga folk music and his blending it with Western music and a contemporary set of influences to produce a unique sound that both does not let go of lost and dying traditions of singing, and looks forward to the world with a capacious and open new sound.

The fact that a Meitei made the film was perfect, the fact that Rewben spoke in Meiteilon in much of it, was even better. But what was most extraordinary about the film was the way in which Mashangwa used folk tunes and sounds, instruments and folklore to keep alive and in motion songs and sounds that most of his contemporary Nagas have forgotten, that have died with the old Nagas of the villages.  No pious sentimentality from Mashangwa, no dead ‘tradition’ sought to be preserved and memorialised, no reverence for the Christian influence that beat the life and vitality out of the folk traditions and sanitised them. This is why, when he speaks of the inner thighs of women smelling of chicken legs, it is not sexism but cocking a snook at the desexualised Church.

This energised, secular, chthonic vitality marked the rap music of the super young and super cool H Kom and the raw, politically

angry rock of the group Imphal Talkies and the Howlers, one of the most radical bands in the region of the Northeast (with Ronid Chingambam as lead singer). As if these two acts were not electrifying enough, there was some stunning guitar to follow by HR Experience, and the god-level lead guitarist Vikram and the even more stunning because more understated bassist Raju.

But the show belonged to the warm, friendly bear-like Rewben Mashangwa and his plucky, little son who could barely pronounce the word ‘reconciliation’ but ably accompanied his father on stage. With local Naga instruments which he makes himself, a guitar and clad in traditional Naga garb, Mashangwa brought another world to the stage in creating magical moments. In Rewben’s own words from his page on myspace: “Being from the Tankhul tribe, the music I play is called Hao music and the main instruments I use when performing are the ‘Tingtelia’, a traditional violin type instrument which took me seven years to modify to suit what I was doing musically and the ‘Yankahui’, a long traditional bamboo flute which I have now modified to be more consistent tonally.’’

Growing up like any Northeastern boy, Mashangwa imbibed a lot of influences from the West from reggae to the Blues, from rock to folk rock. As he grew older, an engagement with his own musical culture — the Tangkhul Nagas have songs for everything and, increasingly, they were dying — compelled him to

record all of it. Rewben went on an ethnographic mission and collected all the folk songs he could find, especially from older people in the villages. He learnt to play the particular flute he plays from an old man in his eighties. His anthropological work did not stop at merely creating a new sound mixing Naga folk music and Western blues. He also guides students in the Anthropology Department at Manipur University.

Thus was born Rewben Mashangwa’s particular sound. Even his rendition of Forever Young made it sound more like a Naga folk song than one by that mad Minnesotan with his scratchy voice. Rewben feels very strongly about the issue of the preservation of folk culture, the relationship with one’s language, landscape and roots. Yet, he does not buy into the binary of folk vs modern or folk vs popular. He is not close-minded about influences from outside, and recognises that all musical forms evolve through history, and folk was popular at one point and is in the very texture of the community’s articulation of itself.

Multilayered as it is, it is nevertheless a delicate sound, this sound of peace. Mashangwa and most of the Meitei musicians that evening spoke in general terms of peace, reconciliation and brotherhood. Nothing else would have been possible in this first, tentative move

between two communities brutally polarised by the Indian state. As the last of the sounds wafted out of the auditorium, one wondered if they ever would reach the ears of Parliament in the city or be carried on the wind to Kangla Fort in

Imphal. But as long as voices like Ronid Chingambam’s and Rewben Mashangwa’s exist, there is hope, hope for us all.   

**Ashley Tellis is an academic and can be

Bangla Bands Rocked by Economic Slowdown

September 1, 2010

Kolkata, Sep 1 : The economic meltdown has hit almost every sector of the economy and the Bangla rock band circuit is no exception. These bands, with their catchy combination of rap and rock sung in folksy Bengali idioms, have enjoyed considerable popularity among both domestic and overseas Bengali audiences. But with everyone short of cash, they’re finding themselves increasingly out of tune with the times — financially, if not artistically.

Bangla bands rocked by economic slowdown

The problems started in 2008 when the slowdown was at its peak and several college fests were called off because corporate sponsorships dried up. “We did not do brisk business during 2008-09. The number of shows went down to 40 or 50 from about 100 per year and there were hardly any calls from abroad. In spite of this, we did not slash our rates,” said Gaurav Chatterjee of Lakhichhara.

Bangla bands rocked by economic slowdown

The problem is compounded by the fact that audiences from the US are still not inviting the bands. Last year, Lakhichhara had to cancel its US tour owing to new visa regulations and another band called Cactus cancelled its US trip for this Puja because they had confirmed performances from only three or four cities.

Bangla bands rocked by economic slowdown

Bangla bands became a part of college fests in the 1990s and attracted corporate funding for promotional performances on product launches and related activities. “We do 80 to 100 shows in a year of which about half are for college fests.

“We charge around Rs. 70,000 to 80,000 per show,” said Sidharta of Cactus. The approximate yearly turnover of a Bangla band is around 5 crore.

Bangla bands rocked by economic slowdown

The journey of the Bangla band started with Gautam Chattopadhyay’s band Mohiner Ghoraguli (Mohin’s horses) in 1960 but it turned out to be an idea ahead way of its time.

The real alternative music evolved in the 1990s when Jibonmukhi songs (songs of life) became popular with their everyday concerns that established a direct connect with the common man. Solo artists such as Nachiketa and Suman Chattopadhay were to be credited for this unique musical experiment.

It was around the late 1990s that bands like Fossil, Cactus and Lakhichhara started a new musical movement by blending rock music with Bengali lyrics and rose to instant popularity among the youth. Bands like Bhoomi and Chandrabindu carried forward the legacy of Bengali folk. Their popularity transcended borders and they were invited to perform at various music festivals and events.

Bangla bands rocked by economic slowdown

But faster economic growth has not improved the college fest scene significantly. The shortage of funds is forcing colleges to hire individual performers or opt for electronic music, both cheaper options, said Arnab Banerjee of True Colours, an event management firm. “As a result, most band members are stepping into new ventures of music production and compositions for serials and films,” he added.

Not that the bands are losing heart. In the words of Gautam Chattopadhay, “Onek kichu korar ache (There is a lot to be done).”

Source: Business Standard

Indian Band Girish N The Chronicles At Suncane Skale Music Competition

July 7, 2010

A Gangtok based rocked band ‘Girish ‘n the Chronicles’, has become the first Indian band to compete in Suncane Skale a music festival in Herceg Novi, Montenegro. The festival is celebrated every year during the summer.

The five member band, which is now in New Delhi, will participate in this three day festival, starting on 7th July 2010. They are preparing for the prestigious competition and clearing the visa and other travel formalities. ‘Girish ‘n the Chronicles’ band will be performing on the final day of the festival on 9th July. The three days of the music festival are categorized in three divisions- 7th July will be ‘the night of the “Prince awards’, 8th is for ‘unknown singers’ and the final day i.e. 9th July will be ‘the Grand Finale’.

Girish Pradhan is the lead vocalist of the band, who also plays the guitar. Noel Karthak Lepcha can be seen on the bass guitar, Nagen Mangarati on drums, Yogesh Pradhan on keyboards as well as guitar and Suraj Karki is the lead guitarist. Ronald Pradhan is managing the band.

Dr. Janice Darbari, the Honorary Consul General of Montenegro Consulate General Office, sent a letter to inform ‘Girish ‘n the Chronicles’ that they are the first band from India to be invited for this competition round of Montenegro festival. This opportunity has also given a musical recognition to the state Sikkim.

The Honorary Consul Generalof Montenegro in India has informed that the three day festival receives more than 200 hours of live air on Radio and television in Montenegro, which is watched in more than 50 countries of Europe and throughout the world.

The Consulate of Montenegro conducted a nationwide talent hunt in Guwahati a few months back in association with the Eastern Zonal Cultural Committee. The ‘Girish ‘n the Chronicles’ band’s ‘Angel’ won the talent hunt and thus got selected. The number was penned by Girish and arranged by his brother Yogesh. The organizers were very much impressed by the composition and invited the band to compose a fresh song for their performance in Montenegro.

The band is very confident of doing well in Montenegro. Hope they get a good recognition in the international market and come back home after being a success!

Bob Dylan, Hop Farm Festival, Kent, Review

July 6, 2010

At 69, Bob Dylan sounds more comfortable performing songs from later in his career.

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan Photo: PA
Bob Dylan concerts should come with a public warning: if you attend expecting to hear the young man of Blonde on Blonde or Bringing it All Back Home, his powers undiminished by cigarettes and time, then you will leave disappointed. If, on the other hand, you come to see Dylan at 69, in the middle of a late flourish of creativity, then he will still have the power to transfix you.
Since 1997’s Time Out of Mind, he has used themes of middle-age and mortality as inspiration, and he appears now as an ageing troubadour trying to process his new experiences into song. The breathy growl that his voice has become is backed by a supportive blend of rockabilly, rock ’n’ roll, blues and swing that emphasises his love for the American musical tradition. It’s this newer Bob who arrived at the family-friendly Hop Farm Festival for his only UK date of 2010.

Though opening with a collection of Sixties tracks (including Rainy Day Women #12 & 35, Just Like a Woman and Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright), Dylan refashioned them as if they were taken from a more recent album. Simple Twist of Fate – from 1975’s Blood on the Tracks – now sees his broken voice exposed as the band hushes, providing the most affecting moment of the evening.

With a delivery somewhere between crooning and storytelling, he adds a moving sense of world-weariness to its heartbreaking end-of-marriage narrative.

Dylan sounds most comfortable performing songs from later in his career, and a quietly anthemic Working Man’s Blues and pacy Thunder on the Mountain show just how creative the past 13 years have been for him.

Here we get to listen to the songs as Dylan intended them to sound and, although the lyrics may not be hard-wired into fans’ memories, the passion of his performance made them unlikely highlights of the evening.

It was the slower, harmonica-fuelled Ballad of a Thin Man that was the evening’s stand-out moment, however. As he repeated the refrain ”…do you Mr Jones’’ with bitter clarity, it was impossible not to feel that the protest singer from Minnesota still has a hunger to attack the establishment and its hypocrisies.

The encore – the almost inevitable Like a Rolling Stone – was the one song where Dylan’s discipline slipped and he strained to sing like his younger self. The song is a crowd-pleaser, and both old and young fans were happy to assist as his voice was left horribly exposed by the rousing melody. It was ironic that the final song was Forever Young – Dylan seems to be at his weakest when he tries to keep up with his youth.

Having first seen Dylan in concert in 2003, I’ve witnessed how a lack of intonation and a lazy stage presence can make him a disappointing live performer. Here in the Kentish sun, though, he proved that he’s still more than capable of holding thousands of fans in thrall and – unlike many his age – restlessly refuses to imitate his younger self badly.

World Music Day Celebrated In Nagaland

June 22, 2010

Dimapur, Jun 22 : The Fête de la Musique or the ‘World Music Day’ is celebrated all over the world on June 21.

The music enthusiasts in the North Eastern state Nagaland have proved that they are not behind as they celebrated this festival of music at the Jumping Bean Café in the state capital Dimapur.

In 1976, American musician Joel Cohen first introduced the idea of celebrating music. He suggested having an all-night music celebration during the summer solstice. Later, French Music and Dance director Maurice Fleuret took up the idea and the first celebration took place in 1982.

The celebration of ‘World Music Day’ started in France and reached many countries all over the world.

The gala musical event at the Jumping Bean Café was attended by Dr. Nicky Kire, the NKVIB chairman, Music Task Force advisor and MLA, who was the chief guest. He said that the state has many Naga talented musicians but most of them fade away after a brief take on their music career. He asked the local artists to come out and show their talent in the music field within and outside the state.

Dr. Kire stated informed that the state government is sincerely trying to support the music industry in Nagaland through its ‘Music Task Force’.

He urged the parents to motivate their children if they have talent in music. He appreciated the endeavor of the Jumping Bean Café, which offered a platform to the local musicians to showcase their talents and emphasized on setting up such platforms all over the state.

In the meantime the ‘Music Task Force’ donated a sound system to the Jumping Bean Café to show their appreciation of its efforts. During the celebration of ‘World Music Day’, Dr Nicky Kire inaugurated the music system.

This first ‘World Music Day’ celebration in the state was made more exciting by the performances of different local artists and bands of all genres. Alobo, Kenei, XTC, Flags of Rebellion, Vincent, Tuden, Melodrama, Alem Alia Jr and Kimatsung were among many other performers.

The music lovers from all over the state, mainly Dimapur came to take part in the celebration.

World Music Day is celebrated in several countries like Australia, Argentina, Britain, Switzerland, Costa Rica, China, Luxemburg, Germany, India, and Lebanon. Musicians give free performances for the public on this day. All kinds of musical performances are held and the musicians pay their tribute to all genres whether tribal, film Songs, Remixes, traditional, folk, Fusion, hip hop or rock.

Miley Cyrus Strikes a Chord With Recovering Poison Singer Bret Michaels

June 19, 2010

he got her first taste of live music at a Poison concert years ago and yesterday Miley Cyrus got to rock out with the band’s frontman on stage.

In ripped black trousers, cropped black David Bowie T-shirt and several necklaces, Cyrus looked pure rock chick as she performed solo material before being joined by the Poison front man

Miley Cyrus

Rock chick: Miley Cyrus performs a duet with Poison front man Bret Michaels at a Good Morning America Concert in New York today

Miley Cyrus

Unlikely partnership: Cyrus and Michaels sing Every Rose Has Its Thorn

The one-off New York concert was part of a series of summer gigs put on by TV show Good Morning America.

The unlikely pair sang a version of Poison hit Every Rose Has its Thorn, which appeares on Cyrus’ edgier new album Can’t Be Tamed.

‘My first concert was a Poison concert,’ she later revealed. ‘That was an interesting night. I was probably about eight and my mum dragged me and my brother.’

Miley Cyrus

Contrast: Michaels and Cyrus look happy following their surprise duet

Cyrus is in the midst of a promotional tour for the record, the first of her albums which she claims is ‘completely me.’

‘You have to be who you are to the full,’ Cyrus said during an interview with the popular U.S. morning show.

‘There’s nothing that I’m holding back. And that’s what I want to give to my girl fans. Just be who you are’

Michaels, who looked in good health after suffering a life threatening brain hemorrhage last month, said that he and the Cyrus family had been ‘friends for a while.’

Miley Cyrus

Montana no more: Miley Cyrus’ new image is a far cry from her squeaky clean Disney past

‘She’s a great musician and she’s one of those people who will make that huge transition into remaining a superstar. She can rock it for sure,’ he said

With her Hannah Montana show coming to an end after one more season, Cyrus is set to film two new movies, one of which involves playing Demi Moore’s daughter in the comedy LOL.

‘It’s going to be good to be around somebody that I love and somebody I can look up to,’ Cyrus said. ‘She’s so smart. She’s had an amazing transformation so I think I can learn a lot from her.’

Slash Interview

June 15, 2010

Once the epitome of the hard-living heavy metal superstar, former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash has released a solo album, Roadrunner, and is now a tee-total non-smoker, who also happens to be English.

By Craig McClean



The Royal Variety Performance, Cardiff  Nov 2005. Queen Elizabeth II, Cliff Richard, Ozzy Osbourne and Slash.

The Royal Variety Performance, Cardiff Nov 2005. Queen Elizabeth II, Cliff Richard, Ozzy Osbourne and Slash. Photo: REX

Slash of 'Guns and Roses' and Michael Jackson performing onstage at the 1995 Video Music Awards in Los Angeles, CA on September 7, 1995.

Slash of ‘Guns and Roses’ and Michael Jackson performing onstage at the 1995 Video Music Awards in Los Angeles, CA on September 7, 1995. Photo: GETTY

Slash, the erstwhile Guns N’ Roses guitarist and the most rock ’n’ roll dude in Los Angeles, strides into the Sunset Marquis hotel and past the foyer’s Whiskey Bar – where he first met his wife, his friend and fellow English transplant Robbie Williams, and, no doubt, many others – and up to a first-floor room.

He’s ostensibly here to discuss his robustly tuneful debut solo album, which debuted at number three on the US charts (just behind the teenage heartthrob Justin Bieber, of all people) and which features vocals from Ozzy Osbourne, Iggy Pop, Lemmy, Alice Cooper – the kind of cockroach-like hard rock survivors that we’d expect to work with Slash – as well as Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas. But then Slash’s extravagant talents on the guitar have previously seen him work with everyone from Michael Jackson to Rihanna. In matters musical and recreational, he’s a rather catholic chap.

Slash is one of the most iconic and familiar figures in rock. Sunglasses? Check. Rock T-shirt and dirty jeans? Check. But today he is not rocking a top hat; his fuzzy black afro bursts wild and free and explosively around his Mount Rushmore face. And there’s something else. He doesn’t have a cigarette dangling from his lips.

‘I’ve been off them for a year,’ he says, gravelly, gravely as he settles into a sofa and stares down a bottle of mineral water.

What, I ask, was his motivation? ‘Well, you know, the missus was bugging me about it,’ Slash says with a chuckle. Having been born in Stoke-on-Trent and possessed of a British passport – he and his parents moved to the United States when he was six – the man christened Saul Hudson is perhaps the only LA rocker qualified to use the word ‘missus’. Anyway: ‘the first time I quit smoking was because we’d just had a baby and she claimed the baby smelled like an ashtray. So I thought, well, I’ll give it a shot. So I quit for a year and then I started again.

‘Then this time my mom died of lung cancer, and I got sick with pneumonia.

‘And after I got sick I had a cigarette in my hand and a lighter and I was about to smoke – and it just seemed really stubborn of me.’

Ola Hudson was a high-end music industry costume designer. She clothed Diana Ross, George Harrison, John Lennon and Yoko Ono. After she and Slash’s father – Anthony Hudson, a graphic designer who worked on album sleeves for Neil Young and Joni Mitchell – divorced when Slash was eight, she dated, among others, David Bowie. It’s through Bowie that Slash knew Iggy Pop when he was a boy. His mother was also a life‑long smoker.

‘One of the regular statements that my mom made all my life was: “I’m gonna quit one of these days.” And she never did. But it was actually a shock ’cause she was in great health. And she went to the doctor about a bruise that she had from bumping into something and somehow they diagnosed her with cancer,’ he says sanguinely. ‘It was the weirdest thing.’

As for her son, ‘I just always smoked. A lot of vices that I’ve had over the years were always to make up for some sort of character deficiency, one of them being shyness. So I used to drink a lot, or do drugs. It’s not been too difficult to give up smoking, apart from the fact that I’ve found that I use Twitter all the time to keep my hands busy!’

And what of his fondness for Jack Daniel’s, liquor of choice for heavy metal bacchanals? It seems Slash hasn’t had a drink for four years.

‘I quit doing drugs. But ’cause I’m a habitual kinda guy, if I quit doing drugs, then I drink. And then if I quit drinking, I do drugs – forever. So I quit doing drugs this one time, and I decided not to drink too. It’s been four years. And I really don’t miss it.’

Of all the things Slash has given up, what has been the most difficult? It’s certainly not Guns N’ Roses. He joined the nascent line-up, fronted by singer Axl Rose, in his late teens in 1985. Together they enjoyed 11 years of raging success. GN’R’s first album, 1987’s Appetite For Destruction, sold 28 million copies, propelled by the deathless rock anthem Sweet Child O’ Mine, which itself was propelled by Slash’s signature guitar riff. The band went on to gargantuan stadium-sized success, selling more than 100 million albums, and Slash became one of the greatest guitarists of his generation.

Last year he came second in Time magazine’s ranking of all-time electric guitar heroes (Jimi Hendrix came first).

But success went to Rose’s head, and to Slash’s veins. The singer developed a messiah complex, and the guitarist cultivated a full-blown heroin addiction. Rose ended up the sole original member of the band; in 2008 he finally managed to release Chinese Democracy, Guns N’ Roses’ sixth studio album. It took him more than a decade to make and cost a figure reportedly somewhere north of $13 million, which would make it the most expensive album in the history of time.

Post GN’R, Slash formed Velvet Revolver with bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Matt Sorum (also GN’R alums), in which the bad behaviour continued.

In his outrageously entertaining and candid 2007 biography, he depicts a life of rampant sex with groupies, coke for breakfast, guns for kicks, snakes for pets and the chaos that ensues when LA wild boys start earning millions upon millions of dollars.

You might call it picaresque, if the tales of shooting up coke/heroin speedballs and psychotic behaviour weren’t so alarming. At one point Slash’s conviction that there were little men following him everywhere – cavorting up his arm – even spooked his drug dealer. Slash writes of his dealer’s response: ‘You’d better go, man. You’re way too out there. You should go home.’ ‘Apparently,’ Slash noted wryly, ‘I was bad for business.’

Slash is a coolly honest and relaxed chap. He is robust, and alert, and self-deprecating. Maybe it’s his English genes but – sunglasses indoors notwithstanding – there is no LA swagger about him. He’s cuddly, almost, and hugely entertaining company, with none of the post-rehab piousness that can attend former addicts. Looking back, was he never frightened by the depths of depravity to which he sank? Seeing little men dancing on his curtains – was that food for thought?

‘No!’ he laughs. ‘See, that’s what was wrong with me. I loved all that s—.

‘Oh yeah! The near heart attacks, all the hallucinating, and the whole f—— thrill of chasing my dealers down – everything that was wrong about doing drugs I liked about it.’ Because you were a thrill-seeker, and a lonely man to boot?

‘I think you just summed it up right there – lonely thrill-seeker! But you know, I have no regrets about my drug stuff. People always go: “Oh, now you’re a role model for going straight.” I say: “I’m not a role model, I just got sick of it.”’

Slash initially met his second wife Perla at a Guns N’ Roses concert afterparty in Las Vegas.

‘We had our little fling for a second. I knew that I was seriously attracted to her. And I didn’t need that in my life, so we stayed apart.’ They remained friends, but then one night in 1997 they met again in the Sunset Marquis’s Whiskey Bar and have been together ever since. The love of a good woman didn’t exactly make Slash settle down, though.

‘She and I were hard-core partiers for a long time. When we walked into a room you knew there was trouble. She was more hard-core than I was!”


‘Yeah! And also, more – what’s the word for it? – more outspoken. A tougher all-round person. I’m sort of quiet. I don’t want to draw attention to myself if I can help it,’ he offers. ‘She, on the other hand, started trouble. So between the two of us, Sid and Nancy had nothing on us. We weren’t necessarily that stupid though. Although we did have a couple of rows that were, you know, serious. Cops coming and s—.’ You were the injured party? ‘There was one time when we both were. Anyway,’ he says brightly, ‘we’ve had an interesting existence. Then at some point somehow we both just mellowed out a little bit. We’re still a pretty rockin’ couple though, I gotta say.’

Slash, Perla and their rockin’ sons London, seven, and Cash, five, live at the top of a pricey hill in Hollywood. Their neighbour is Robbie Williams, coincidentally another Stoke boy made good. Now sober Slash and sober Robbie have regular poker sessions together. ‘He’s a good poker player,’ Slash says approvingly. One night all Williams’s ‘Stoke buddies’ were in town, so Slash had his father come over too. ‘It was a room full of Stoke guys talking about football.’ His father, he says, still has his Potteries accent. ‘I do consider myself British. I have very strong feelings about my British heritage. My first years were there, I went to school there, and I have seemingly endless family on that side of the pond. So I’ve always felt most comfortable in England.’

Slash doesn’t do regret, nor rancour. He calmly refuses to be drawn on the (de)merits of Chinese Democracy – ‘you know I’m not gonna give you the answer you want for that!’ He seems more tickled than anything by reports that Axl Rose has banned from Guns N’ Roses concerts anyone wearing Slash T‑shirts. ‘I don’t know if that’s really true. I like to give the benefit of the doubt. But some people swear it’s true.’ He’s not even bothered by Axl Rose reportedly calling him ‘a cancer’.

‘You know,’ he chuckles, ‘that’s sorta funny. The fact that he would go and say that – I started thinking about it: I’m around a lot so to him I probably am a cancer. And now the record’s doing really well, I’m even more cancerous! And apparently we’re gonna be touring Europe at the same time, which will put even more emphasis on the cancer thing!’

Slash says you’d have to be ‘out of your head’ to want a career in music, yet he wouldn’t have had it any other way. Not least because, for the man once given six days to live if he didn’t quit drinking, music saved his life. ‘On my own I’m very self destructive,’ he admits. ‘The only thing that saved me was music – my desire to play.’

  • ‘Slash’ (Roadrunner) is out now. He plays today at the Download Festival, and Glastonbury Festival on June 27

Naga Girls Tops Berklee College of Music Exam

June 8, 2010

Dimapur, Jun 8 : Nagaland has added one more feather in its cap in the filed of music.

This time, Sentirenla Lucia Panicker of Dimapur scored ‘A’ grade in all her subjects in Music from the most prestigious institution ‘Berklee College of Music’, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.

She did her major in ‘Performance’ and also won the annual award ‘The Sylvia Zunz Endowed Scholarship’.

It was a wonderful moment for her when she was selected to perform on May 7 at Berklee 2010 Commencement Concert.

Out of 862 students who had graduated, only few were selected to sing ‘Naima’, a sad song of the difficult days of the Blacks in South Africa, sung by the famous South African singer and producer, ‘Angelique Kidjo’, who herself was present at the concert.

It was to Lucia’s credit that Angelique walked up to her and hugged her in front of the audience saying “You brought tears to my eyes” and signed her autograph.
naga girl
Lucia Panicker (right) performing at the Berklee 2010 Commencement Concert, and left, being hugged by the famous South African singer and producer, ‘Angelique Kidjo’ after a touching performance.

Lucia started singing at the age of 9 and also sang for an English channel ‘No kidding’ for Doordashan, besides lending her voice for advertisements in various TV channels.

It was her luck that in 2006 while she was studying in International College of Music in Malaysia, a team from Berklee College of Music visited the campus to select students and Lucia was among the two selected under ICOM in 2006 with a scholarship for four years due to her excellent performance.

She was also among the 3 students who were selected to sing at the swearing in ceremony of the governor or Massachusetts in 2009, where President Barack Obama paid a short visit.

Lucia is the daughter of Bobby Panicker and Narola Nokden, and resides in Diphupar, Dimapur.
Lucia wants to build a career in music for few years in USA and sing gospel songs in memory of her late grandfather Padmashree Nokdenlemba Ao, and then to return to Dimapur to support young talented boys and girls in the field of music.

[ via Nagaland Post ]