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The rock capital of India, Bengaluru, is now becoming the new hub of India’s indie music industry. Musicians here have left no stones unturned to get back to their roots. So if you are lost in its rustic folk realm, you could be possibly witnessing a rich Indian musical tradition brought alive by the bands here, trying to promote an indigenous form of music, the one that soothes your soul.

The Raghu Dixit Project

​ A bright kurta, colourful lungi and ghungroos around his ankles define Raghu Dixit. The ‘lungi’ man has performed at the British Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations with his band in 2012. Very recently, last year he broke into an impromptu gig with Coldplay front man Chris Martin in Delhi. The Raghu Dixit Project is the country’s foremost folk-rock band, started by Dixit. It is meant to be an open house for musicians and artistes from different genres to come together, collaborate and create a dynamic sound and impression. The multilingual folk band believes in creating music from scratch without lifting music from any other source. And they have made it to the top of the list for their music has a sense of freshness which grabs the listener with a new-found energy. Their unique combination of traditional Indian sounds mixed with western influences has brought them firmly into the spotlight of mainstream. With The Raghu Dixit Project, the unconventional balladeer sings about girls from Mysore (Mysore Se Ayee) and smokes away the blues with a pipe (Gudugudiya Sedi Nodo).

In April 2012, Raghu Dixit performed for Queen Elizabeth II of England and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip, at a spectacular Diamond Jubilee Pageant marking 60 years since her accession to the throne in 1952.

Swarathma

Swarathma

You delve on the topic of India’s economic regeneration, and you’ll realise, it is a Swarathma concert. The socially-conscious rock-folk band has taken up causes such as discouraging the use of plastic. The music is full of life and you will always find the rich flavour of India in the songs. What defines them is their energetic and engaging stage presence and various visual elements like using faux-folk horses and unique vibrant on-stage costumes. Swarathma set the stage on fire at the recently-concluded Jaipur Literature Fest. In 2008, a radio contest seeking India’s best Hindi band gave the Bengaluru-band, a nationwide break. Post that, it released two albums Swarathma and Topiwalleh and a number of singles. With influences as varied as politics, religion and environmentalism in their lyrics and songs like Pyaasi; Yeshu, Allah Aur Krishna and Topiwalleh, Swarathma has carved a niche in the Indian independent scene by blending Indian folk and Classical with Blues, Rock Reggae and Jazz.

Lagori 

Lagori

Lagori is the Kannada epithet for a traditional Indian game called saat-pathar (seven stones) or pittu, involving a stack of seven stones, a ball and a complex set of rules. With all members of the band having fond childhood memories of summer evenings spent playing lagori, the unhurried laidback feel of those evening games finds its way into the music of the band, Lagori. The band’s fascination with the musical time signature of seven plays a major role behind the name. The resulting mishmash of Lagori is an amalgamation of rock and funk, spiced up with Hindustani classical alaaps and Indian rustic earthy ingredients.

The band vocalist, Tejas Shankar, says their songwriting begins as a tune or rhythm, which is then expanded upon over meetings at the many watering holes in the city, followed by jam sessions and thus, the folk rock that Lagori performs. The band uses a mix of both Hindi and Kannada while singing on stage. Highly focused on the youth, Lagori songs deal with “love, life and nature”, Shankar elaborates. Their top chartbusters include Boom Shankar, Jeene Do, Saiyyan and Darbari.

Written by Megha Paul

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