So we are on our way for the 6th summer tour to the UK since 2009. We had skipped a year in 2013. It’s been a long, eventful, frustrating but largely satisfying journey so far, ever since I started believing that my music is worth getting heard around the world. In 2009, 4 years after forming The Raghu Dixit Project, Gaurav Vaz, my manager, and I shifted our focus towards making inroads into the world performing circuit.
It made sense then to save all the money we earned in India and spend it all and more to travel to the UK, the hub of world music. The first year was meant to be a 2 concert trip to London. One was at The Love Box Festival at Victoria Park and the other was a showcase meant for the industry people in the Gibson store. I remember being excited like a child going to Disney land for the first time. I think I still have a large part of that excited child left in me even to this day!
We were amazed how beautiful the festival site was despite the annoying persistent rain. We were to play on the 2nd stage – the one that is NOT the main stage! And, we were the opening act with many bigger acts to follow including Noah and the Whales!
It was raining when we went on stage at 2 PM. But as I went on stage, my heart full of enthusiasm was punctured when I saw only one lady with a large umbrella in the audience and her two kids clinging on to her knees. Did I come all the way for this?, I wondered.
The stage manager shouted from the side wing that we have 10 minutes for line check and we had to start our set. Line check. Done. The stage clock started knocking off the seconds and minutes and I was still trying to untangle my deflated heart.
Gaurav whispered loudly for me to start and I put my head down to do what I had to do. The first few bars of the guitar intro of Hey Bhagwan were thrown into the wet air and to that lady and her kids. My voice reluctantly started the aalaap. I closed my eyes and I started to drift within. The intro seemed to last forever and I wondered why I was not in the warmth of Bangalore rocking my local crowd in Basavanagudi. Why did I have to spend so much money to come all the way just to play for one lady and two kids in this silly British weather!? Before my heart could dive deep further down, Siva kicked in with the reggae groove and Gaurav boomed along on his bass. Joseph Vijay on the corner of my left eye was already moving his generous body and smiling as he played his wah-wah. Jithin Roshan on Violin was just happy to be up there with all of us. The beef in the morning breakfast kept his spirits happy! The chorus hit its spot and out of nowhere I had snapped out of my deflated heart and started dancing and singing. I had closed my eyes just to avoid the sight of the empty ground in front of me.
Somewhere during the second verse I opened my eyes and I couldn’t believe what was happening. They were running towards us!!! The crowd from the main stage were running towards us! Ones, twos, tens and hundreds of them! And all of a sudden it was a party! By the last song – Mysore Se Ayi, I was wet with sweat in that rubbish weather and my heart was bursting with joy. The crowd was jumping up and down to my command and the rain only got heavier. There I was in the corner of Victoria Park on Stage 2, being exactly where I was meant to be, doing exactly what I was meant to do and I was that happy kid on a joy ride in Disneyland. There was a 1000 odd crowd – all of which we had stolen from the main stage! We loved every bit of the fun we had with the crowd and the crowd loved us back!
I had a stupid grin on my face all through the rest of the day. That gig had just put all the faith back in our hearts. Both Gaurav and I knew this was just a beginning and what a start it was! Suddenly everything made sense and we knew we were in the right direction.
That night I was just about to sleep but Gaurav woke me up! With that killer smile and excited voice he said ‘we just got booked to play at WOMAD Charlton Park day after’. I couldn’t believe what I had just heard! That show, is another story for another day.
Since then, we went on to play nearly 200 gigs in the next few years, hit Number 1 spot quiet a few times on the iTunes World Music Charts, had a full fledged management team, gave several interviews and performances on BBC and many more channels, were featured on Later with Jools Holland along with Robert Plant, Adele, Arcade Fire and Mavis Staples, bagged an exclusive publishing deal with Sony ATV, played at some incredible festivals like Glastonbury, Larmer Tree, Latitude, Womad, Rhythms of the World, Belladrum, Alchemy and many more, were awarded the Best Newcomer Artist Award by Songlines Magazine, Best Live Act Award at the British Asian Music Awards, earned several loyal British fans, got a few couples married at our gigs as we played ‘No Man Will Ever Love You, Like I Do’, met and collaborated with some incredible musicians, made several friends for life and also performed for the Queen!
Believe! The rest will happen.