The Mahindra Blues weekend is something that I look forward to every year. But, this year I was feeling rather ‘blue’ myself because my brother, with whom I share my love for the Blues, couldn’t make it to the festival and none of my other friends were available. Nevertheless, I attended the Mahindra Blues festival at Mehboob Studio, Bandra.
The line-up for the evening included Sugarray Rayford, an American electric Blues singer and songwriter and the finale by “the ultimate female rock star”, the Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Beth Hart. The evening commenced with Sugarray Rayford, who effortlessly mingled with the crowd and interacted with them through his songs. He started his set with the amazing song ‘Big Legged Woman’ that spoke about his love for voluptuous women, making me feel rather good about my not-so-hour-glass figure. The band mixed it up, showcasing their musical geniuses by playing a reggae song and then the pianist along with the lead guitarist followed it up by playing ‘Comfortably Numb’. But, the best part of this set was when Sugarray Rayford sang ‘What a Wonderful World’ at the end without any accompaniments. His deep- gospel music voice just tugs a string in your heart. His music, even though upbeat, had a certain kind of serenity to it.
The evening got better and I started to feel a little less ‘blue’ while I hung out in the garden area with a glass of beer in my hand listening to Arinjoy Trio, the winner of the Mahindra Blues Band Hunt, 2018 and taking in the feel of the place. The band rang out some contemporary Blues music with some originals which I quite enjoyed.
But the highlight of the evening was definitely the Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Beth Hart. I was outside getting some more alcohol (as usual) when I heard her hit the first note and I was just mesmerised. Have you ever felt broken-hearted or betrayed? That’s the Blues for you. Beth Hart, through her voice, transports you to a different world. Her song ‘Baddest Blues’ was MY song. It was as if every word that she sang, was for me. Her rendition of the hit ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ made the audience crazy. She ended her set, solo on the piano, singing ‘My California’, a song she wrote for her husband who has always stood by her. Only a person who has hit rock bottom and has emerged victorious could have written such a soul-wrenching song.
There is a Blues song for every hardship in life. If you listen to the lyrics of the songs, they are filled with hurt and distress. But truly the Blues heal you. It helps you dig deeper and come in touch with your feelings further providing relief from strong or repressed emotions. It’s almost cathartic and the healing begins.
In the words of great blues icon, B. B. King — ‘Blues is a tonic for whatever ails you. I could play the Blues and then not be blue anymore.’ I went feeling blue and came back feeling blue no more…