Mad About Music

The Balladeer’s Flashback


Much of the content for the thought-provoking shows performed by Sanjo The Balladeer is classic and retro – a showcase of some of the greatest songs long forgotten in the mists of time, revived and rejuvenated. For those in the audience who remember these gems from their childhood or college years, the entire show is a fascinating flashback.


But this time around, it is Sanjo who goes into flashback mode – travelling back in time to re-release some songs from his very first album. The tracks, duly remastered for our current digital music times, include the all-time favourite of so many of his fans: Barson Huey. Many of us, who do not live in or visit Delhi, have never had access to the CD. I have had the opportunity to see Sanjo perform Barson Huey live on stage with a three-piece band – and it was awesome! I have a mobile-captured video of the performance but naturally the audio quality isn’t much to talk about. Hence, for people like me, the online release is an opportunity to finally have the songs in my collection.


Lend an Ear:

Barson Huey:

Palkon Pe Tha:

Sapno Ka Ek Shahar: 


Buy it!

Download Available at:



Yakeen… In Concert
March 12, 2011, 4:45 am
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Some stalwarts of the Delhi live music scene have come together to form a band called Yakeen. In recent times, they have created their fair share of waves. They have this innate ability to sense what the audience wants and then serve it up with style and zing. Typically, a concert by Yakeen tends to be a rollercoaster ride through classic rock, contemporary pop and Bollywood sizzlers.

So what is it that makes this band a powerhouse of musical energy, excitement and vitality?

Attending a practice session of Yakeen provides some excellent insights into what makes them such great entertainers. First, they set themselves an oeuvre that can please any crowd, no matter how diverse their tastes may be. Then they play the song in a manner that makes it come alive in terms of how it is performed. There is a certain raw energy and a definitive presence that makes each song memorable.

Samir Saxena, who manages Yakeen, says: All of us in separate capacities have been doing live shows for years, so we understand our audience. Typically for the shows that we do, the audience are not there for an evening of laid-back music or an intellectually stimulating music. They have come to let their hair down and have fun. And we deliver that fun… every time.

It isn’t just a tall claim from Samir. The audience have the same thing to say. To them, a Yakeen concert is a chance to listen to a non-stop line-up of hit songs, a chance to groove on the dance floor, and a chance to get a large dose of something that is in short supply in New Delhi: good live music!

Jam-boree: A Business Plan
October 15, 2008, 5:54 pm
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It looks like the live music scene in New Delhi (India) is all set to go places like never before. Those of you who have read the comment posted by Mr. Ajay Mahajan in response to my earlier post will know that the highly innovative, very exciting live event known as Jam-boree is all set to produce it’s first music video! I have already mentioned earlier that Jam-boree could emerge as a successful television programme in the near future… now it looks like Mr. Mahajan is taking the first step in that very direction.

Personally, as an avid music industry watcher, I see huge business potential in the concept of Jam-boree. I have said this before, and I’ll say it again. It could well be the next level of music promotion that the currently beleaguered music business is searching so desperately for.

Here are the basic nuts ‘n’ bolts of what I envisage the Jam-boree Business Plan to be.

I see Jam-boree as a very special, intimate, small-format live music event, the complete antithesis of the stadium concert. Jam-boree is all about being seated just a few feet away from the performers, talking to them, interacting with them… getting closer to them, and their music. For the artistes, in turn, it is a more powerful promotional channel than the huge impersonal gigs they play across concert halls, stadiums, smoky pubs, etc.

The revenue model would be a two-pronged one — the first, a nominal entry fee or cover charge (depending on the venue); and the second, sponsorships and advertising at the venue in terms of backdrop, stage, signage material, promo offers, etc. With the growing importance of marketing to the youth, Jam-boree presents a unique format for engaging young audiences, and I see the Cokes, Pepsis, Reeboks, Dominos, Levis, et al showing enormous interest in getting involved in such opportunities.

Promoting the event will also be quite easy. A section of the audience will include invitees from the press (for publicity) and corporate big wigs (for sponsorships). The rest will follow.

The difficult part, as I see it, would be to build up a roster of talented performers. But Mr. Mahajan has a distinct edge here. You see, since I know Sanjo from a not-so-distant past, I know that he mentors a lot of musical talent. With Sanjo on the Jam-boree team, building a pipeline of musical talent does not seem all that daunting.

If you’d like to get in on a piece of the Jam-boree marketing/brand promotion action, you can contact me through the Comments section of this blog, or write to me at

And yes… keep reading this blog for more updates.

It’s Jam-boree Time, Folks!
September 26, 2008, 4:41 pm
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Those who have read the comment at the bottom of my earlier post will know that Mr. Ajay Mahajan himself has invited me for the next edition of Jam-boree that is slated for tomorrow evening! Unfortunately, for me, the Jam-boree happens in New Delhi, India… and I am oh so far away in Sydney, Australia. So I could have been there… but I won’t. That’s life.

Anyway, I have avidly been discussing this whole Jam-boree “model” with numerous acquaintances and contacts in the music industry, and all of them agree that the potential of the concept is h-u-g-e! Therefore, more than being a member of the audience, I would rather be on the panel of prospective investors for Jam-boree. It’s a phenomenally good business idea. What’s more, it’s the kind of idea that has immense potential and yet, requires very little investment to kick off. A dream proposition, in the true sense of the word.

If I were Mahajan, I would quickly do the following:

1. Register the copyright for the Jam-boree name

2. Create a distinctive logo for Jam-boree and register the trademark

3. Collaborate with a television channel to make Jam-boree a live broadcast

4. Get sponsors and advertisers to pick up the tab

5. Laugh all my way to the bank!


On a more sombre note, I am truly regretting the fact that I won’t be able to make it for what could have been my first ever Jam-boree. I’ll have to miss the much talked about performances by Sanjo, the blazing mind-blowingly complex guitar riffs by Samir, the rocking performances by Sashi, the creative outpourings of Tejas… and all the other attractions of this truly unique event.

All the best for tomorrow, Mr. Mahajan — and remember to cut me in on a share of the action on the business front when you soar high on the wings of Jam-boree Inc.

Jam-boree: Another Dimension
August 21, 2008, 9:38 pm
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Hey! There’s another extremely important aspect of Jam-boree that I seem to have, inadvertently, missed. In fact, it is this aspect that sets it apart from what typical jam sessions are like in other places.

The essence of Jam-boree as envisaged by Mr. Ajay Mahajan is that it blends both entertainment and art. Entertainment because it features exciting acoustic covers of old favourites ranging from The Beatles to Eric Clapton. Art because Jam-boree is a platform for original music.

A significant slice of each session is devoted to showcasing original compositions. The young lady visitor from the US who first told me about the Jam-boree also performed some of her original material at the sessions. Later sessions featured another American man singing several of his self-composed pieces, and another young keyboardist, Tejesh, sharing his creations. And of course, Sanjo focuses predominantly on his own compositions, both in English and Hindi, accompanied by some dazzling, scintillating lead guitar played by Samir.

All this makes Jam-boree a great place to catch music that is original, creative and refreshingly different.

Jam-boree: The Next Big Thing?
August 21, 2008, 6:01 pm
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I met a couple of people from the music industry today over beer and lunch. As usual, I was on my current favourite topic of conversation — Ajay Mahajan and his innovative new music concept: Jam-boree. My guests, one, a marketing manager with a music label, and the other, a VP with a large event management company, were thoroughly impressed with the whole concept.

As we downed our beers, the conversation veered off in an interesting direction. In a situation where the music business is going through a bad patch with no signs of things getting any better in the foreseeable future, we suddenly realised that Mr. Mahajan’s Jam-boree model made enormous business sense.

We did a quick back-of-a-paper-napkin calculation that evoked some very interesting possibilities. In a place like Delhi where the live music scene and gigging circuits are almost non-existent, a concept like Jam-boree is sure to attract music-lovers in droves. Charging an entry fee of Rs. 200 would be very reasonable. After all, these folks are used to paying cover charges of 600 bucks and more, and paying 150 bucks for tickets at multiplexes.

Now with a crowd capacity of 100 people (not difficult, since Mahajan is already doing private exclusive events that end up attracting 50 people or more), the takings for a single Jam-boree session would be Rs. 20,000. If the Jam-boree were to be held once a week (Saturday nights, just like they happen now at Mr. Mahajan’s studio), the monthly sales would be Rs. 80,000. Now if one were to do deals with the sound and light guys, and manage the rest of the finances carefully, one could easily restrict monthly payouts to a total amount of Rs. 30,000. That means a monthly revenue of Rs.50,000. When you annualise that figure, it adds up to Rs. 600,000 per annum.

Now think about this for a moment. Most music labels don’t manage to generate that kind of money from their artistes. Yes, you have the biggies who bring in the big bucks, but by and large the music business is in the boondocks today because revenue streams are drying up. With the Jam-boree model, they could well end up with a healthier bottom-line.

The possibilities are very exciting…

Jam-boree… Getting My Facts Right
August 18, 2008, 8:08 pm
Filed under: Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Okay, time to ‘fess up. My last post was a travesty of ‘investigative journalism’ — I got all my facts wrong. Made a complete mess of things. So here’s to setting the record straight.

The series of live music events that I talked of is actually an exclusive, by-invitation-only private event that is the brainchild of a technology geek called Ajay Mahajan (my apologies for getting the name partially wrong the last time around). Mr. Mahajan evolved the core concept for the event from a series of gatherings called Musical Evenings in his living room to a full-fledged live music event titled Jam-boree in his spacious studio in South Delhi. Over the years, he has perfected the format so that the entire event, which is known to span a marathon 6 to 7 hours sometimes (!), runs like a well-oiled machine, painstakingly choreographed down to the minutest detail. Mahajan takes care of every little thing from the decor, seating arrangements and themes to dress codes, menus and stage management.

Typically, a Jam-boree is held on the last Saturday (night) of each month, and is attended by a set of regulars… die-hard music fans who are there for the sheer thrill of the jangling guitars, pulsating rhythms and songs that are far off the beaten track. The flavour, I am told, is distinctly retro… classic rock, seventies rock ‘n’ roll, country, eighties pop, a touch of blues rock, some golden oldies from the golden era of Kishore-Rafi-Mukesh-Lata-Asha-RD-SD-LP-KA-SJ, and a smattering of more ethnic stuff like Punjabi folk and Sufi songs.

Believe me… the scene truly rocks! My contact showed me a dark, grainy video of a couple of performances taken with his mobile phone… couldn’t make out much, but was left with no doubt that these Jam-borees are very special musical events, absolutely chilled out and totally unique — there’s nothing quite like it in Delhi, a city that is, sadly, left way behind as far as the live bands scene is concerned, especially if one compares it with Bombay, Pune, Bangalore and Chennai.

Apparently, the highlights of these evening are a series of performances by Sanjo (who I’ve already mentioned in earlier posts) teaming up with a brilliant blues-rock guitarist, Samir. The two are intermittently joined on vocals by another singer, Sashi. Every Jam-boree also features a varying line-up of guest performers.

For the Jam-boree regulars, the real attraction lies in the 100 per cent live feel of the event. Unlike much of the so-called live music scene across pubs and lounge bars, Jam-boree refuses to tread the mundane path of karaoke songs and folks crooning to bland backing tracks or instrumental pieces. Mahajan personally sees to that. Without interfering overtly, he subtly controls the content of each session to ensure that it is memorable in its own special way.

How does one get into a Jam-boree? Let me tell you upfront that there’s no way to gate-crash the event. It’s a private gathering where everyone knows everybody. Sneaking in is not a feasible course of action. The only way to get in is by finding Friends-of-Mahajan or Friends-of-Friends-of-Mahajan or Friends-of-Friends-of-Friends-of… well, you get the picture. Eventually, you’ve got to prove that you are a true music maniac… that you’re not looking for just another cool place to hang out on Saturday nights. Tough!

But here’s a ray of hope. Mahajan is currently toying with the idea of broadening the audience base while sticking to the same format. He is exploring the possibility of shifting the Jam-boree to another, larger venue. The parameters would remain the same… live music… a music-centric audience… limited seats… private invitations. The total strength would, however, swell from the current head count of fifty to around 100-120 persons.

Personally, I foresee very exciting prospects for Jam-boree. It could become a series of television programmes or a to-die-for live music event along the lines of the garage band scene in the UK.

Guess I’ll just have to wait and watch…