Full Moon & Folk Stars

Naadro

The seventh edition of Jodhpur RIFF might have begun on a dull note, but it eventually went on to become one of the more discerning festivals this season.

When the brightest full moon of the year appeared overhead on Monday, bathing the ramparts of the gorgeous Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, it lingered on, and seemed to move in accordance with the various performances. The four-day Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF) concluded on Tuesday evening. The first day of the Jodhpur RIFF, now considered as one of the 20 finest music festivals in the world, began on a dull note, but the fest picked up pace by the time the second day began.

While Sri Lanka-based band Naadro was the star of the festival, the collaboration between singer Parveen Khan, tabla player Hamid Khan, Mumbai-based sax player Rhys Sebastian and Egyptian oud player Joseph Tawadros was extremely scattered. While Tawadros tried his best to lift the performance with some interesting melodies, Khan's vocals could not match up. Sebastian's sax strains were interesting and had brilliance in spurts.

But the actual stars of the festival were the Rajasthani folk artistes, whose performances at every stage were noteworthy. The concept of an all-night folk music session at Rao Jodha Desert Park, a new addition this year, was interesting. The intimate concert without any microphones and in the presence of lanterns struck a chord with the attendees. The acoustic experience with gentle melodies and simple beats was a great idea. And some of the acts surpassed all expectations. Here are some highlights:

The Drum Roars

Naadro was a refreshing rhythmic blast. As the boys from Sri Lanka, led by Rakitha Wickramaratne, clogged the stage with a range of rhythms in crazy time cycles, fans took to dancing. The dust created a haze on the stage and the kaleidoscopic lights played around, with the six of them playing a range of drums from the Indian subcontinent and Africa, layering most of it with a slew of Latin percussion sets. Fittingly, Monday's headliners delivered a brain-frying, elemental percussion euphoria of sorts, which had the audience on its feet for most part of the performance. "It is all about enjoying it on stage," said Wickramaratne. The 25-year-old has collaborated with many popular drummers including Pete Lockett and Brian Moore (drummer with Madonna and Janet Jackson). An esoteric delight, this one scored high on our list, especially the band's collaboration with Rajasthani musicians on khartaal, dholak, nagara and bhapang.

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