Mad About Music


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…

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