Blues with a Lil Red

Sep 17, 2015, 07:59 IST | Dipanjan Sinha

Award-winning Blues band, Lil Red & The Roosters, will be touring Mumbai next week as part of its India tour. With their unique mix of roots and modern Blues, they seem set to make the fans of this genre tap their feet

  India’s Roots Blues festival, Simply The Blues, organised by StarKonnect Event & Promotion, is back this year with its fourth edition. They are launching the multi-award winning French Blues band, Lil Red & The Roosters, here. The band, whose members Jennifer Milligan, Pascal Fouquet and Thomas Troussier, are visiting the country for the first time, will be performing in Goa, Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi from September 24 to September 27.

Excerpts from an interview with lead vocalist Milligan.

(From left) Thomas Troussier, Jennifer Milligan and Pascal Fouquet(From left) Thomas Troussier, Jennifer Milligan and Pascal Fouquet

Q. Your music has been described as unique because of the way it connects modern Blues to its roots. Tell us about it.
A. Pascal (Fouquet) and I believe that in order to learn the Blues, you have to go back to its roots. Blues has come a long way since the early 1900s, when it rose out of the African-American culture’s struggle against oppression. Blues is healing. Wrapped in a simple 12-bar structure and pentatonic scale, lives an energy able to transport one from the struggles of their everyday life. Bending notes is the process of starting with a pitch and bending it just enough to capture the emotion of having to bend against oppression.

I approach the Blues with utmost respect. Contemporary Blues has been influenced by so many forms including Rock, Funk, Soul and Latin Folk, that it can be difficult for a new fan to understand the Blues. Our music begins with the foundations that these contemporary styles grew out of. We went back to the source and let this inspire us to compose with contemporary messages.

We play Electric Band Blues in a roots Blues format giving more space to the music, so the public can hear the nuances of these well-marinated soloists. In roots Blues, the guitarist is required to hold the rhythm of the bass and drum with the thumb while soloing with the other fingers. An electric band guitarist is free to soar on the groove of the rhythm section. Pascal Fouquet incorporates both styles.

Q. Is this your first visit to India? What kind of audience are you expecting?
A. Yes. A friend introduced me to Anil Mehta, the promoter of Simply The Blues. Anil shared what they have been doing to bring the Blues alive in India. I was amazed to learn and discover that there is a budding Blues scene in India. As this is a multi-city tour across India, I am looking forward to sharing our style of Blues with audiences across the country, as well as introduce them to the washboard. I’m hoping they will dance.

Q. How do you think the culture/politics of Blues music is relevant for India?
A. There’s a lot of struggle in India and where there’s struggle, there’s a place for the Blues. Women in Blues advocates for women’s equality and our music reflects his. I know this is a hot topic in India at the moment.

On: September 25, 9.30 pm
At: blueFROG, Mathuradas Mills compound, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel.
Cost: Rs 500
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