Monday, June 22, 2009

The Road (Part Four): Blues, Booze, Schmooze, Snooze

Being in Chicago and missing out on Blues is like being in Bihar and not getting kidnapped. From June 12-14th was the '09 Chicago Blues Festival. It was fun and it was free. And yes before I forget to mention, they allowed Nanga Fakir in!

Those who know him well, see through his carefully cultivated, fake, sophisticated exterior and smile (perhaps fondly?) at the country bumpkin that NF essentially is. They see a little kid from a sleepy B grade township who takes himself a bit too seriously for his own good (and has no sense of humour to boot) with fingers rammed deep in his nostrils observing carnivals, freak shows and big ass concerts with practised nonchalance. Don't let his noir-ish-Humphrey Bogartsy-sick-of-the-same-old-thing world weary attitude fool you though. The kid inside isn't dead yet. Sometimes he makes a sort of guest appearance. And each time this happens, he's snubbed hard and sternly told to go back to his room to study for the upcoming exams. Every now and then however, he sneaks out for an ice cream or something and has a blast. The Blues Festival is a case in point.

Grant Park overflowed with freeloaders and blues aficionados of all shapes and sizes. Just being in their midst and glancing at people whose names were stuffs of legends in wannabe lit circles back there in S'kal was reason enough for NF to wear a smug grin for the next few weeks and look down upon other normal people with the kind of patient disdain that benevolent Kung-fu masters reserve for their apprentices.

Usually NF is quiet, introspective, silent and keeps-to-himself kind of a guy. But then sometimes he gets pleased with himself for no apparent reason and if presented with a suitable opportunity, jumps on the beer-is-good-for-health bandwagon. And then those unfortunate enough to be around, witness what NF's roommate (henceforth referred to as Mota) refers to as "awakening of the inner mausi" phenomenon. There is an explosion of garrulousness and subsequent metamorphosis of NF into a pain-in-the-ass chatterbox.

And so it was that NF met AB (a closet smoker for 37 years), CD (a black dude who somehow reminded NF of Curtis Loew and kept muttering every few minutes or so "...the music man...the music" with an incredibly serious air that probably had more to do with ganja than with any serious guitar work), EF (a run-of-the-mill Obamaniac - they're so many of them!) among others.

He still thinks however, that Rudy Wallang and his Shillong based blues band Soulmate would've kicked some serious ass and are better than most of (nay, make that all) the local blues bands in the festival (which were a jarring note in an otherwise pleasant symphony). (For the uninitiated, Rudy Wallang's "Not Those Funking Blues Again" is the best Blues instrumental song NF's listened to...Okay, maybe not the best, but you should get the picture now.)

Other memorable encounters include the one with Lisa [the fat Blues singer in Bill's bar who so floored NF with her cover of Sinner's Prayer (Ray Charles original?) that he walked up to her (slightly tipsy one might add) and shamelessly announced that this was the best cover of the song he's heard {seriously, how many covers of the song had he heard?} and that she's better than many of those who performed at the Blues Festival a couple of days earlier. I think NF saw a slight amusement in her eyes as she smiled and took the compliment graciously.] and with the Unknown Philologist who was an expert in Indian languages and thought that Tams were a chauvinistic group. As someone with a good many close Tam friends, NF fought with the guy tooth and nail so much so that the Philologist asked "You don't seem to be a Tam. Or are you?"

The previous week has been spent listening to John Lee Hooker, Susan Tedeschi, Etta James, Duane Allman, Buddy Guy, Clapton and other serious badass musicians.

<*Wonders if all this Blues should make this post entitled to be labeled under 'Blues'*>
<*Nah, not really*>


The End


Wanda said...

Good to know you enjoyed the blues. Did you know that Clapton performed with Steve Winwood at United Center last week and from what I hear, Buddy Guy joined for the encore. Can't believe I missed it!

Nanga Fakir said...

<*in an incredibly serious manner*>

"...the music man...the music"

SatyaVrat said...

Let it roll

Arvind Krishna said...

From blues to Jazz...the Stanford Jazz festival starts today. So long suckers...

What is this guy talking about anyway? Tams are chauvinists??? I can sort of see that but maybe he is mixing pride with chauvinism?

And you defended Tams? I thought you would be the among the first to join in the jeering.

and what the hell is "awakening of the inner mausi" rotfl...

Nanga Fakir said...

Mota coined the term!