We have had EDM festivals, percussion concerts, but a festival dedicated to the guitar, was a first for Mumbai. Masters of Guitar, a unique concept with the aim to bring down international guitar heroes to collaborate with their Indian counterparts began on the right note when English Rock guitarist Bernie Marsden collaborated with Susmit Sen (founder of band Indian Ocean) along with Susmit Sen Chronicles, a band founded in 2012.
“The idea was always there, in our heads — to do something that salutes the guitar. And, when Susmit was invited to Festival Guitare en Scene (in France), he met guitar greats like Bernie (Marsden), Steve Vai and like us; these international guitarists also had a fascination for other styles of guitarists. They wanted to visit India. So, with Susmit’s contacts, Anirban (Ghosh, Bass Guitar) put it down in words, worked out on the project and walked into the room and said, ‘let’s have Masters of Guitar,’” reveals Nikhil Vasudevan, drummer with Susmit Sen Chronicles.
While Delhi had it’s round on January 22, the first collaborative gig for Mumbai took place on January 23 with Marsden. It was a testing ground to gauge the response to such a concept. “It’s not meant for mainstream audiences; this niche market hasn’t been exploited before,” says Vasudevan. However, the event received positive feedback, with a great audience for gigs in both cities, despite it being held in the middle of the week. The band was convinced that though not mainstream, there were people who were willing to stay up late, to show their dedication to guitar.
Though the global guitarists have given a nod to perform in India, what cannot be ignored is that it is an expensive affair. So, guitar lovers can keep their fingers crossed and hope for Jazz and Blues guitarist Scott Henderson to confirm his dates. The would-be list also includes Steve Vai and Joe Satriani.
Post Marsden’s gig, Susmit Sen Chronicles have also recorded a track with the artiste. “If each guitarist gets his band to the country, the costs would sky rocket, but our band’s music is not copy-paste style; it’s compositional, and what we try to do is add our element to the guitarist’s style,” says Vasudevan.