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Jam 'n packed

Freedom Jam 2007 was a coming together of artistes of different genres. DEEPA H RAMAKRISHNAN reports

PHOTOS: T. SINGARAVELOU

FREE REIN TO IMAGINATION Artistes at their creative best at the Freedom Jam

We don't believe in listening to recorded music. CDs and cassettes do not satiate our appetite for live music. Be it any genre — classical, rap, rock, hiphop or jazz — there was something for every Pondycherrian in our annual music festival, Freedom Jam.

Though it started in a small way three years ago, this year the festival gained momentum and people now refer to it as just "Jam".

The event was held on January 27 and 28 at different venues — the Gandhi Statue, the new Gandhi beach, the Port, Alliance Francaise indoor auditorium, the Alliance's Maison Colombani and the Seagulls restaurant.

Sunrise on January 28 saw sarod artiste Pandit Debiprasad Ghosh playing morning ragas, Basant Bhukari and Bhairavi. Debiprasad's sister Deepshika sang a hymn from the Isha Upanishad and Siddharth, a student of JIPMER sang a Carnatic composition. A large crowd, comprising morning walkers and joggers gathered on the beach to listen to Debiprasad.

"The ambience was wonderful and I was happy to be playing the morning ragas at the right time for once. I was impressed by the different genres of music that were showcased at the festival," said Debiprasad, son of Pandit Nandalal Ghosh.

Creativity to the fore

His performance reflected the spirit of the festival — where the artistes are at their creative best.

At the Port on the same evening, Audiophile, a group from Bangalore played progressive music, which is a mix of genres including retro and rock and roll. They played mostly covers on popular demand and a few of their own compositions.


Most rock and roll groups like to play something original and this festival provides an opportunity to do this. "At a hotel or a college show, you cannot play your own compositions as people like to hear popular numbers," said a musician.

The musicians play for free at the Freedom Jam. As the motto is, "there is no bread here, only jam."

Bobby, who played the lead guitar, said, "We don't mind it as long as the response is good. We have performed at the Bangalore Jam and the Sec Sat programmes in Puducherry. We like the crowd in Pondy."

The more than six-year-old band has Bino Joseph on lead vocals, Tanuj on bass guitar and backing vocals and Rohan on the drums.

There were crowds at every venue — some die-hard music buffs and some curious onlookers. There were also several foreign tourists who enjoyed the music.

Puducherry with its regular Sec Sat programmes and annual Freedom Jams has been attracting quite a number of bands. This Freedom Jam featured bands such as LBG, 7even, Theorise, Stoned, Coverstory and D'pact. It is not the money that holds the bands together but the passion for music, the urge to play the kind of music they want to. Most of them were formed in colleges, but had to split for varied reasons. They reunite from time to time to make music.

Local talent

Eleven-year-old Vijayasri and 14-year-old Aravind Kaushik, students of mridangam artiste Gopakumar, played the arumuganam, a six-faced drum at Gandhi beach. "Last year, I had performed at the Jam but, this year, I wanted the children to play, so I didn't. The Jam is a wonderful idea that has caught on, it gives an opportunity to local talent," said Gopakumar. Others who played at the beach included Douglas Bell from the U.S. (banjo), Nemanja Rabec from Serbia (guitar), Suryan from Auroville (guitar and vocals). Sixteen-year-old Sadhika from Ranchi played country and blues with a guitar she had borrowed.

At the Alliance indoor auditorium on January 27, there were Hindustani and Carnatic music performances. At the Maison Colombani, it was classic rock by Quasar, jazz by the Matt Littlewood Trio from Europe and Brittany Rock by French band Merzhin.

Children's participation

Alan Rego of Bangalore, who played country music, was also MC for the children's programmes at Seagulls, where the little ones of Shanti Joy Nivas sang.

Siddhartha of Scene, which organised the show, said, "Musicians from Chennai, Bangalore, Serbia and even England participated in the Jam, but sadly there were not many local artistes. We hope there will be more local participation in the years to come."

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