A clear indicator of India’s diversity lies in its varied folk music traditions. The country changes as much in its landscape or food habits as it does in terms of localised song structures when you travel from Nagaland to Rajasthan. Paddy Fields, a music festival that returns for its second edition this weekend, celebrates this defining characteristic of our nation.
It’s one in a handful of folk music properties in a festive season that’s packed with rock and electronic shindigs. This time around, the festival will feature only female singers, with legends like Susheela Raman and Shubha Mudgal gracing the occasion, and younger artistes including Tipriti Kharbangar and Sona Mohapatra.
We spoke to Kharbangar -- who is arguably the most well-known blues singer in the country, thanks to her band Soulmate — but who, by her own admission, has no folk background. "The name, Tipriti, means to know one’s roots. And since this is the first time I am doing something like this on a professional level, I had to rehearse for months with Khasi musicians from Shillong [her hometown]. I feel more connected to my roots now, and I am actually living out my name, given to me by my great grandmother."
She adds, "We will try to layer blues over an ethnic folk sound at the festival." Asked whether it means she will pursue folk music further in the future, she says, "We will see about that. The music is very pure, you know. If it makes people feel good about themselves the way it’s making me feel nice, I want to spread it."
UK-based Raman, on the other hand, is a veteran who’s criss-crossed the globe for 18 years now, amassing a multitude of folk influences. Her next album, for instance, borrows heavily from Indonesian traditions, which is why it’s called Ghost Gamelan (gamelan is a traditional instrumental ensemble typical to Bali and Java). Has she faced any obstacles as a female musician traversing the globe? "I don’t necessarily think about things in terms of obstacles or opposition. I just quietly go out and do my thing. And somehow, I think, you win respect from musicians and people if you don’t back down," she answers.
Raman adds, "I am a strong believer in harmony. Men and women should work together and cooperate more. We should also respect the feminine in men and the male energy in women."
Such messages, then, will form the basis of Paddy Fields, apart from the unifying force of folk music, of course. So if that tickles your fancy, book your passes and head down to the venue in the northern suburbs.
On October 7 and 8, 6 pm onwards At Bombay Exhibition centre, Goregaon East.
Log on to bookmyshow.com
Cost Rs 600 to Rs 3,000 for tickets
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