Raghu Dixit – the man. Microbiologist, musician and mastermind. All in one. And we caught him and his band, live, at Blue Frog. Check it out!
Wednesdays and Thursdays are generally great nights to be at Blue Frog, as recent times have show. This time too, they managed to bring in The Raghu Dixit Project. Word clearly must have gotten around, since the floor was packed with ardent fans. So much so that it was actually a bit of a challenge for those vertically challenged to get a full view of the stage… but somehow, we managed…
The instant Raghu Dixit and his band took to the stage, clad in traditional Kannadiga garb, complete with ethnic guitar straps, necklaces and footwear, the audience members started cheering and whistling. With a perpetual smile on his face, Raghu introduced himself and the others in his band. “No, we’re not Madrasis,” he asserted delightfully, “We’re from Bengaluru. And we speak Kannada. That’s pronounced Kunn-uh-daa. Get it right, you all!”
Amidst much amusement, an uproar went through the audience, and people started demanding him to play some of his classics. “NO WAY. We’re here to play a completely new setlist. Thats why the tickets are only Rs. 300 today,” he joked, and as people became more vocal in their protests, the Gaurav Vaz, the bassist stepped up and requested, “Hey guys, for once, please listen to us. After all, thats why you’re here, right?”
As people laughed again and the protests dissipated, Raghu made it a point to dedicate the night’s performance to their new sound engineer, who had been flown in specially from UK to help them around for the next couple of months. “We need to get Mr. Lee an Indian girl, so that he will settle here and stay with us for good!” announced Raghu, amidst a renewed round of applause.
Finally, the crowd relented, and they kicked off with a new song Raghu had collaborated on for the recent Dewarists’ documentary called “Sapne ki basti.” The youngsters on board – the 21-year old lead guitarist and the 19-year old flautist – shone through, showcasing their talents, and winning the hearts of everyone.
Considering the amount of applause and support Raghu & Co. were receiving, it seemed that they could have done without percussion that evening. Gaurav and Raghu were successful in getting most of the audience to follow their commands at whim – be it clapping, jumping, or even reciting songs along with them in Kannada. He explained the significance behind one particular song – “In Kannada it means – ‘Don’t worry, be happy, but if you do care, then go to hell.'”
Throughout their performance, everyone was in extremely high spirits, and why wouldn’t they be? The music was as upbeat as could be. Traditional and folksy rhythms were combined with funky and even metallic influences, featuring epic flute solos and skillful shredding / fingerpicking from the young turks.
There were times when the odd newcomer was a little recalcitrant to join in with the rest of the audience’s cheering, but nothing escaped Raghu’s watchful eye – he event attempted to take off his guitar in mid-song and playfully threatened one person to clap along. “Hey you, I remember your face! I will complain to your mom!” He may have been joking, considering the charm his smile exuded, but we concluded that this is one guy you don’t want to mess with.
Eventually, Raghu did play a couple of classics, most notably “Hey Bhagwan”, as well some other heart-rending poetic numbers. Every time, prior to going into a new song, he would mention the poets who inspired him, and after every performance, he wouldn’t move onto a new song without getting a round of applause for the other musicians in his band. Truly, the man believes in giving credit where credit is due. How can one resist his genuine charms?
About ten minutes before midnight, Raghu announced that the night’s performance had come to an end. Instantly, people started yelling furiously for encores, and Raghu joked again – “Have you people not been to many concerts before? You should know that all artists play at least one more song after they say they are done.” And his beaming smile resonated throughout the audience, as the last number infused the crowd with even more energy than before.
It was a real pity that The Raghu Dixit Project only played one more song during the encore. “Don’t worry folks, catch us at NH7 in Pune! We will be performing on Saturday, at 8pm, on the Dewarists Stage!” I guess we’ll just have to catch him there, now. Till then, we shall have to be content with having spent another great evening at Blue Frog.
Photo Credits: Parizad D.
Special Thanks: Aditi @ Blue Frog