Mumbai Blues

Posted January 31st, 2013 at 8:32 pm (UTC+0)

By Katherine Cole

I’m just back from two and a half weeks touring around India—wish I could have spent twice that long in that wonderful country. I didn’t get to any clubs or concert halls on this trip, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t hear any good music. Breakfast at our hotel in Udaipur featured a santoor serenade each morning. Please note the CDs for sale—some things are universal!

Our mornings in Udaipur began with a santoor serenade. (photo by Katherine Cole)

The santoor is a wooden trapezoid shaped instrument with steel strings. You play it by striking the strings with a pair of curved mallets, traditionally made of walnut. It’s also known as the “hundred stringed lute.”  I recognized the sound of the santoor when I heard it, but this was the first time I’d seen one being played.

And in Mumbai, my friends gave me a preview of next month’s Mahindra Blues Festival. Eight acts including the Los Angeles band Walter Trout and the Radicals  and Robert Randolph and the Family Band are featured this year.

Besides the concerts on February 16th and 17th, the festival will include a blues guitar masterclass by Michael Messer along with some Cajun and Creole food (the cuisine from the home of the blues, the Mississippi delta).

Guitarman Jimmy Thackery  has just been added to the lineup. He’s subbing for Jimmie Vaughan, who’s stuck stateside while recovering from a heart attack.

If you’re wondering what it would be like to see Mr. Vaughan in concert, check out this set recorded for KGSR in Austin, Texas a few years ago.

Get well soon Jimmie!

Host of VOA's Roots and Branches, and world traveler extraordinaire! When I'm not listening to music, I'm probably talking about it or thinking about the next band I'm going to see. Or my next interview! Join me every week for the best in folk, bluegrass and all other forms of American roots music!

2 responses to “Mumbai Blues”

  1. Bill Aldacushion says:

    Katherine – The mention of your daily encounter with a “santoor” player points out the universal nature and adaptability of this type of instrument in cultures around the world. I have seen it played by performers in China where it is called the “yang quin”, in Thailand as the “khim” and the “hammered dulcimer” in the Appalachian region of the United States. I imagine if you plot the countries that have adopted similar instruments, you we see an outline of the extended Silk Road. I would be interested is reading replies from other listeners about where they have seen this instrument and what it is called.

  2. Thanks Bill—very interesting and a very good question! OK folks…help us out!



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