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Four folk musicians from Scotland, Sri Lanka, Australia and Colombia are on their first tour of India, kick-starting their shows at the Jodhpur RIFF.
As the full moon bathes the ramparts of the majestic Mehrangarh Fort on the first day of Rajasthan International Folk Festival in Jodhpur, also known as the Jodhpur RIFF, the wrinkled walls will come alive with the drones of a didgeridoo — a wind instrument made from the bark of a tree that is played mostly by the surviving aboriginal groups of northern Australia.
Mark Atkins, a world-renowned didgeridoo player and a master storyteller, is among the "good folk" at this year's RIFF.
A descendant of the Yamijti people of Western Australia, Atkins grew up living on the fence (he is half-Irish and half-aboriginal) and finding it difficult to mingle. He immersed himself in music and fulfilled his dream of taking the didgeridoo and the traditional art of storytelling to the world. He has collaborated with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, and lent his indigenous Australian musical style to their hard rock. Equally noteworthy is his work with American composer Philip Glass and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Apart from playing a few sets and narrating interesting stories of the aboriginals, the maestro will also match the harmonics of the didgeridoo with the rustic rhythms of khartaal and dholak of the Rajasthani folk musicians.
Harp on It
Joropo is a waltz-like music that filters through the streets of Caracas, Venezuela, on special days. Grammy-nominated harp-led band Grupo Cimmarron, from Colombia, layers this soft music with catchy Colombian tunes and vibrant rhythms as it narrates stories from the grassroots.
Next month, the Blue City will play host to Grupo Cimmarron at the Jodhpur RIFF. Divya Bhatia, Festival Director, says that the group's music comes from the cattle herders of Northern Colombia and their traditional songs.