Rolling Stone India Festival Review: Mahindra Blues Festival, Mumbai

Billy Gibbons steals the limelight; Quinn Sullivan’s lukewarm show; Janiva Magness’s Grammy which wasn’t to be

By Sunil Sampat

We all certainly had the blues in Mumbai on February 11th and 12th at the Mahindra Blues Festival (MBF) at Mehboob Studio. It was a saturation of the blues sound for the seventh edition of this festival. It has now become an event keenly awaited and followed by people interested not just in the blues but also as a social occasion. In years gone by, Mumbai would gather similarly for the Jazz Yatra, multiple-day jazz festivals held regularly at Rang Bhavan from 1978 to about the turn of the century. Then too people would assemble in groups and revel in the picnic-like open-air atmosphere with food, drink, merchandise and socializing. Yes, there was also the music to enjoy! International bands have been the feature of both these festivals. Clearly, both have filled a void in this city’s live performance panorama.

Headliners The Supersonic Blues Machine–in their ten-gallon Texan hats, metal-studded jackets and pointed ‘Lone Star’ boots–made for quite a stage presence. They kicked off with the ever popular “Roadhouse Blues” and moved on to other standards and a few originals. Guitarist Eric Gales was added to the group and much later, they brought in Billy Gibbons (of the Texas rock band ZZ Top) as a guest. Earlier, bassist Fabrizio from the band had said to us about Gibbons, “He brings nobility to our band.” The caliber of the band certainly moved up a notch or two after Gibbons walked on stage. One wishes he had played longer.
Make no mistake; the MBF is here to stay. The great atmosphere, the bonhomie, the meeting and greeting of friends, the party atmosphere will ensure that. Oh! Then there’s the music too!

All photos are courtesy of Mahindra Blues Festival

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