Introducing the #RDPTribe & Mr. Raghavendra Kamath

Mr. Raghavendra Kamat and his sons at our concert yesterday

Mr. Raghavendra Kamat and his sons at our concert yesterday

Starting a new feature on our blog. Each gig, I want to introduce you to someone that means a lot to the band. This could be a fan, a well wisher, a collaborator, or just someone that has helped us in that little way to get where we are!

Introducing the #RDPTribe

The first person, and deservedly so to be featured is the amazing Mr. Raghavendra V Kamath - The man whose words are behind some of the most iconic songs we have ever made. His impressive lyrical capabilities are seen in songs like Munjaane Manjalli, Parasiva and even on the brand new Preethiya Hesare Neenu.

Completely unassuming and ever smiling, it was an honour to have him in the audience yesterday as we played and have the entire audience sing every word that he has written at the top of their lungs!

A tribute to Kevin & Valerie

Kevin, and his wife of 28 years, Valerie, have been fans of ours for a couple of years now, ever since they saw us perform at the Rhythms of the World festival in Hitchin, in 2011 and then subsequently on BBC’s “Later … with Jools Holland”. Valerie had written to us a couple of times with love and admiration and we were thrilled to have such lovely fans!

When we announced our tour to the UK this summer, I got a message from Valerie who said she was thrilled we were coming back to her home town, Hitchin, but what she then told us, came as quite a shock to us. Kevin was diagnosed with COPD, and it was terminal. The doctors had not given him very long to live, and being the amazing family that they are, they were very open about it and wanted his time to be filled with happiness and things he loves.

And among those things was him wanting to watch our concert at the Rhythms of the World music festival in his hometown, Hitchin!

Just reading that message brought tears to our eyes and we were overwhelmed, to say the least. We definitely wanted to do something special for Kevin and planned an intimate concert in his living room, for him and his family. So yesterday, after we played at the festival, we went straight to Kevin and Valerie’s house, where we were joined by his son and son’s family as well as his daughter and son-in-law.

Amidst some good banter and a LOT of cakes (Thanks Val!), we got to spend time with this incredible family and hear about their stories in Goa, and their love for India and our music. Every minute spent there was inspiring for us and by this time, the entire band were big fans of Kevin and Valerie!

We also played  a couple of songs and Kevin’s favourite song, “No Man will ever love you, like I do” to him and his wife, was in for a repeat request!

We still can’t imagine the enormity of the situation they are dealing with, but seeing them so positive and beaming with joy through this very difficult time makes us incredibly happy and we are blessed to know that our music can bring such a positive influence on people’s lives. Thank you Kevin and Val, you guys are phenomenal and we will carry you with us every where we go.

Best of luck with everything and take care of yourselves. Until next time!

UPDATE: Kevin fought bravely till the end and succumbed to COPD in early 2017. He is survived by his lovely family who are still big fans, well wishers and friends of the band!

Believe, the rest will happen!

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.

Jag Changa – Making of the Music Video @ the Dewar’s Distillery in Aberfeldy

We’ve been trying to do this for close to 2 years now, we’ve worked with different people at Bacardi India to try and get the band to travel up to Aberfeldy, the home of Dewars Whiskey in the Scottish Highlands. And it must have been something special in the stars this time round, that it all fell into place at the last minute.

We were heading to Glasgow after our show in Leicester and had a date on the tour cancelled, so it left us with a couple of days free and around Glasgow! So Manuj Munjal, our champion at Dewars made a couple of calls, a whole bunch of emails sent, and some magic dust sprinkled and everything was booked and set up for us to get over here. We put out an SOS on our Facebook Page asking for film makers in Glasgow who could travel with us and chanced upon Euan Ryan, who as it so happens, is a big fan of the band as well!

Daisy Costello, the best production manager you can find, completed the merry party, and after an excruciatingly long journey from London to Glasgow, we were on our way back to the highlands!

The next morning started with a specially organised tour of the Dewars distillery and George, who took us on the tour made sure we came away with the utmost appreciation and respect for Dewars Whiskey and everything that goes into making it. The distillery itself is a quaint little place half way up a hill, and as you walk around the place you are engulfed with this amazing mixture of smells, right from the grain, the pot ale, the cafe and of course some of the best single malts you can have, right from a 25 year old cask no less!

When discussing the shoot with Manuj, I remember him saying, you will find picture perfect sceneries in any direction you turn and look in the highlands, so it was only a matter of where we wanted to shoot. I swear, we would have shot music videos for all our songs in Aberfeldy because every single place we went to looked better than the one before!

We tried to pick locations that established quite clearly, the fact that we were in the Scottish highlands. And with a makeshift PA which was essentially my laptop on full volume, we started shooting the video, improvising the shoot as we went along. Euan was right on the money, a couple of takes beside a gorgeous Loch, and we drove up to an incredible golden yellow field, and we knew we had to shoot there, and we did.

Raghu always wanted to shoot in the woods in the highlands and magically Daisy knew exactly the place to take us to. That was our last shot of the day, and as we were filming it, a couple of people going on their evening walk through the woods stopped to watch what we were doing, and led us to doing a quick impromptu concert for them!

After looking at the footage, I can’t wait for the video to be ready!

A huge round thanks are due at this point and it starts with mighty thanks to Manuj Munjal and everyone at Dewars who made this happen, and for completely trusting us with this. I wish every brand worked with artists like this!

To Euan Ryan, for firstly checking your Facebook at the right time, reaching out to us, and coming along for this shoot. We know we have a LOT of work to do together now 🙂

Daisy Costello, the one (& only one required) woman production crew who just made it all work. From ensuring that we were on time for everything to knowing just the right places to take us to, and also for these awesome photos.

We finally have our first music video in the bag and I think it had to be this one to start it all off!

As I sit here in the valley with the hills around me, with a steaming cup of tea in the morning chill, all I can say is Live True and follow your heart, those things are definitely worth doing!

Best Band @ Live Quotient Awards 2013

Thanks to each and everyone of you who voted for us, we won the award for the Best Band at the Live Quotient Awards 2013.

Since we couldn’t go to collect our award in Delhi in the middle of our tour, we sent one of our biggest fans in Delhi, Natasha Agarwal to collect the award on our behalf!

Natasha Agarwal with the award

Natasha Agarwal with the award

This was her acceptance speech –

Hello and Good Evening! I have a message to read from The Raghu Dixit Project.

Hello everyone! We are extremely sorry that we couldn’t make it to this amazing awards night. We won this award because of our amazing fans and that’s why we thought it would be perfect for Natasha Agarwal (That is Me!!! Yaaaaayy!!!) – our biggest fan in Delhi represent us and receive the award on our behalf. We are thrilled that our fans love us so much and we would like to let them know that we love them back

Thanks for the continued support and this award is much appreciated for that reason alone.

The Raghu Dixit Project.

Jag Changa – Album Launch Show

Jag Changa, our 2nd studio album, is a collection of our travels and dreams and inspirations over the last half a decade. We always wanted our album launch to be special and when Vijay and Anuj from OML came down to Bangalore and told us they wanted us to put together something no one had seen before at NH7, it was perfect!

Bangalore, at our favourite festival, with a free canvas to paint our dream picture. It was just perfect.

The last time we launched our album, it was in 2006, at the Bandra Amphitheater, with OML managing the show, and we had to call each and everyone we knew and get them to come and we managed to fill that amphitheater and were on top of the world when we did launch the album. We had to top that this time!

We’re making a documentary about the making of our album launch show because there is way too much for us to say and a LOT of work went in from so many different people to make this possible. But I would personally like to thank everyone who came together to make our dream come true.

The band – Raghu Dixit, Gaurav Vaz, Bryden Lewis, Parth Chandiramani, Adarsha Ramakumar, Anthony Kamal and Vinod Bangera.

Our musical collaborators – Darbuka Siva Prakash on the percussions, Jason Zachariah on the Trumpet, Praveen D. Rao on the Pakhwaj, Shruti Kamath on the Sitar, Daevo Khan Manganiyar on the Khartal.

Team Nritarutya – Mayuri Upadhya who put this whole thing together and under whose creative direction, this production came to life. Madhuri Upadhya who choreographed the exquisite dance on Rain Song.
Vishwa Kiran, Preethi Bharadwaj, Varsha Iyengar, Sangeeta Iyer, Matangi Keshavan, Shruti Suresh, Latha B.S, Shweta V Hegde, Monisha B.N, Akshay Mandlik, Pia Bunglowala, Ruchi Raveendran, Rohan Raj, Ashwin Kumar, Abhishek Singhania, Niranjan H, Swapnashree Bhasi, Masoom Parmar, and Geetha Ballal

The Dollu Kunitha Team from GKVK – Vinod Lobo, Prasad S, Jyothi Narayana A, PrabhuDeva DS, Ramesh K, Yashodara B, Ramasubbu V, Sujay V and ChandraMohan J and their Professor, Dr. N Narasimha who made the collaboration work!

The hand shadow puppeteers – Prahalad Acharya and Poornima Acharya

The “Tall Man” boys – Sarvana, Ralph, Jairam, Peter, Raja KM, Anand and Anthony

The light designer – Arun Murthy

Our set designers and production crew – Sridhara Murthy, Krishna R, and Manas

Stage technicians – Dinkar Nayak and Kalidas Shenoy

The awesome video production team – Vishwas Avathi and Chiranth Wodeyar from FStoproThe video for Amma was one of the highlights of the show!

Madan Kumar and Harsha Venkatramu for for working tirelessly behind the scenes to make our album copies and merch happen!

Arpan Peter who stepped up at the last minute when we needed it most and came through for us spectacularly!

Vijay Nair, Anuj Gupta and the entire team that makes NH7 Weekender, the festival happen. It is the best thing to have happened to Indian music.

I can’t thank each and every one of you enough for the work you put in. This has been the best show we have ever put up and it will only get better from here. The entire band is privileged to have awesome people like you we can count on!

To everyone else, Jag Changa has launched, please go get the album and spread the word, this music deserves to be heard by the whole wide world.

PS: Thanks Vishwas for these amazing photographs!

It's all about love!

This one is a little bit of a blast from the past, but a story that I was reminded of this morning for some reason, and I realised that Raymond Soltysek had written in detail about it. But here is our take on the same story 🙂

Just before we set out on our tour of the UK this year, we got 2 emails, one from Mark and another from Dave, asking if they can propose marriage to their girlfriends, Suzy and Jaki respectively, at 2 different shows we were playing. Now, we had never received requests like this before, and I think the fact that they wanted us to be a part of such a special moment in their lives meant it was a BIG deal for us!

The first proposal happened at the Larmer Tree Festival in the Summer. We saw the couple Mark and Suzy right in front of the stage and to tell you the truth, we were quite nervous. It was a big moment and the last thing you want is for us to do something to mess it up :p

Half way through our set, it was time for Raghu to start “No Man will ever love you, like I do” and Raghu dedicated the song to the lovely Suzy and off we went. I couldn’t help stealing a glance their way every couple of seconds to see if it was time! And during the first flute solo in the song, Mark did it! he went down on one knee, and proposed marriage to Suzy who joyfully (and thankfully for us) accepted in an instant, and all was well with the world 🙂

We breathed huge sighs of relief and there was much cheering in the middle of the song which might have confused the people who din’t see what happened, but then like the good book says, all was well that ended well.

The second proposal happened just a couple of days later at WOMAD, where the couple Dave and Jaki had coincidentally planned this same thing completely unaware of what happened at Larmer tree. I am just picking out a section from Raymond’s blog post to describe what happened there and you can see a video of Raghu reading out Dave’s email to us in the video below as well.

“Then comes probably the sweetest thing I have ever seen at any gig, ever. Dixit calls for Dave in the audience, who has sent him an e-mail asking him to dedicate “No man will ever love you, like I do” to his girlfriend Jacqueline. And the man in front of me – literally, right in front of me – puts his hand up while his girlfriend covers her face in embarrassment.

Dixit reads the whole e-mail. Teenage sweethearts, they had drifted apart and hooked up again 40 years later after living on the fringes of the same social groupings. It’s like we’ve never been apart, Dave says.

Dixit himself says he always thought the song was a bit cheesy, but he’s glad it means so much to others; and, to be fair, it’s not exactly a classic song. However, in the middle of it, Dixit shouts to Dave, “You know what to do!” and I swear, right there six inches in front of me, Dave goes down on one knee and proposes, and Jacqueline, bless her, throws her hands in the air and accepts. Cue audience going nuts.

That moment alone was worth five stars, believe me. I wish them all the happiness in the world, and Raghu Dixit all the success he can handle for inspiring such a lovely moment.”