Art & Entertainment

And In The End...

After the Scandinavian sojourn, our man travelling with Orange Street concludes his travelogue from good old Blighty after a terrific reception at Tallinn, Estonia.

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And In The End...
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Continued from AlmostFamous

Ah, it's great to be in Blighty. Today Baan sang his heart out. And the audience at the Cargo, a club atEast London, who were a mix of English and Indians, rocked. The band was performing for the second time in 24hours at a venue separated by a few thousand miles from the one they had jammed the night before in Tallinn,Estonia.

The Sundance Music Festival, as it was called in Tallinn, was like a mela with all the trappings; ferrieswheel, five-a-side football matches with American-style cheer leaders thrown in for colour, food stalls andtarget practice. Live bands performed from evening onwards to a sunny midnight. Orange Street was treated morelike the equals here, slotted at the prime time, prime stage.

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To our thrilling surprise, a white stretch limo waited for our reception at the airport. The white monstergot the better of Baan's composure. Bowled over as we were, he managed to leave behind the case that carriedthe 808-mixer at the airport. That meant the tour's premature end. We had heard repeated warnings at otherairports that any unattended baggage would be destroyed immediately. Butterflies in the stomach were put to arest as Baan retrieved the baggage. We were suitably grateful for the advantages of being in a relatively lessadvanced country. And, of course, we were put up in a luxurious 5-star hotel albeit only for a few hoursbecause we were scheduled for the Cargo show in London the following evening.

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Haans, our Swedish friend, had forewarned us of a friendly knock at the door, so we were quite lookingforward to excitements untold. Alas, nothing of the sort happened, or at least no one owned up to it. Wearrived at the mela in the limo, true to the style of a rock band. The preening eyes through the tinted glasswere a story on their own. And the band performed to a record crowd.

Now Dara is the showman of the band. Wherever Orange Street performed, Dara evoked the most enthusiastic,even lurid, response. In deportment, body language et al, hetruly looks like a rock star on stage. I was photographing the band throughthe tour and Dara as it turned out was on my view-finder most of the time. Baan, in contrast is drop deadserious about his business. He lives for the band and the band lives because of him. On stage Baan'spyrotechnics are fun to watch; his red corduroys keep falling, not deliberately though. Ashwin, the kiddodrummer, all of 21, is the musical brain behind the band. He has written almost all the music for Dharma.

The Cargo gig in London was a part of a 10-day festival, The Little Chilly, organised by one ViramJasani. Jasani imports Indian talent--Hindustani, Carnatic, Quawali, Sufi, Rock -- choley-bhaturey, rajma chawal,idli, dosa, sambar and just about anything for the Indian daispora in England. It is not just the LittleChilly he does, almost any chilly will do for him. Even gajar-muli is fine, as we found out in the Nottinghammela. Dregs by the droves turned up for a slice of India. The band quickly finished their act to an audiencewho were only interested to listen to The Nottingham-Dashmesh Musical Choir beat the dhol and Baby Happy andBaby Honey gyrate to Chhaiya-Chhaiya.

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The UK tour cannot be wrapped up without the mention of the crummy pigeon-holes the band was holed-up in (itqualifies to be in the classification of a hotel because it charged a steep hole-rental for a night's stay) inEaling near Southall. 

The tour has come to an end. The general feeling in the group is that it ended before it began. 10 gigs in all.Some record labels have shown interest, of course with major changes in the band's music. Orange Street mayjust be marketable entity in the European circuit. BBC was there at one of the gigs. The band may still get aninvitation to play at the BBC studio. And for all this the band is eternally grateful to Levis Strauss and its CEO C.S.Suryanarayan for underwriting the tour. Next year round, Levis will promote a different band on this circuitand Amit Saigal hopes to get more prime-time and prime stage for the touring band. As far as this tour wasconcerned, Orange Street may not have thrown their shirts away at the crowd as rock stars do, but they havenot, by any reckoning, lost their shirts either.

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(concluded)

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