We recently asked KAN to write a guest tour blog for their recent trip to India. The band comprises of Brian Finnegan on flute (Flook), Aidan O’Rourke on fiddle (Lau), James Goodwin (percussion) and Ian Stephenson (guitar). You can find out more about them on their website here but in the meantime I’m handing over to Aidan O’Rourke:
We were asked by the kindly folk at Folk Radio Uk to write a blog for our tour of India. So we attempted a paragraph or so each day without reading what we each committed to paper. And here it is:
Day 1: SUNDAY
We arrive in Mumbai as fresh as you can be after an overnight flight and we were still pretty high after a great showcase at WOMEX. The winter winds put in an appearance as we left Cardiff and we were all looking forward to some well needed warmth. The three other lads have been to India before but this was to be my first experience. I’ve been told many times that India is like nowhere else and that Mumbai is the most dense and bonkers of all. I wrongly assumed that my many Tokyo visits would prepare me for the madness of a massive city, but no. This was all made clear even as we were driven from the airport. It’s not that we were actually getting anywhere fast but the driver jockeyed through traffic like we were in a James Bond car chase. I even had the theme tune in my head at one point. It seems the Mumbai Highway Code is a general free for all. There are no lanes or at least no use of lanes and there’s constant beeping and cutting in. But no obvious road rage. It all seems to be carried out with little eye contact and a general innocent ignorance. Dipti our lovely guide from the British Council who we met later at the hotel described it perfectly as a dance. But by the widespread dents on cars it seems more like a wild west highland ceilidh where toe stepping is standard.
On Sunday 27th October we arrived in Mumbai airport, mid morning. Last time I was at this airport I was literally taken for a ride by a greedy rickshaw driver who refused to stop unless I paid double the fare! Despite my trepidation we immediately felt the warmth of both the Indian people and the strong heat of the Mumbai sun, and after a brief few hours to relax in the beautiful Taj hotel (including flower necklace welcome!) we had a fruitful soundcheck and sweltered through a 90 minute set that evening in an open amphitheatre.
We arrive to a bright hot morning in Mumbai. The 40 minute journey by taxi from airport to concert venue is, for the most part, a crawl along one of the raised motorways that winds towards the Bandra Bay. Our Folk Nations tour manager Dipti has arranged for accommodation at none other than the 5-star Taj – a true luxury that renders the subsequent drive alongside South Asia’s largest slum overwhelmingly humbling. Nowhere on earth, it seems, is the gap between rich and poor both greater and so closely juxtaposed.
The gig: long, hot and sweaty but worth it.
What a rush! Back in Mumbai fifteen years after my first visit to this majestic city. Arriving on my own in 1998 to collaborate with two of India’s finest flautists, Rajendra Prasanna and Sunil Kant Gupta, I had the culture shock of my life followed almost immediately by the musical shock of my life! In India the god krishna is seen playing the flute, he’s called the divine player of the flute, whose song recalls home the souls ‘wandering in disillusion.’ Flute is everywhere in Indian music, from Bollywood movie soundtracks to Indian classical and folk recordings. If its inspiration you’re seeking, a larger life lesson in music, then as a flute player, India is where it’s at. Feels great to be back.
Read Day Two here | Read Day Three here
A reminder of why we love their music, here they are performing at Bath Folk Club (four tunes: Pádraig Rynne’s Lunchtime Boredom, Kepa Junkera’s Bok Espock, The Rusty Gulley and Superfly).
10/12/13 Tewkesbury at Roses Theatre
12/12/13 Driffield at Moonbeams
13/12/13 London at Kings Place
14/12/13 Gateshead at Old Town Hall