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John Mayall Brings his Blues to India

The veteran musician promises his performance at Mahindra Blues Festival will have “something for everyone”

David Britto Jan 16, 2018

Multi-instrumentalist John Mayall will perform at the eighth edition of the Mahindra Blues Festival next month. Photo: Courtesy of Mahindra Blues Festival

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The first time English blues musician John Mayall set foot in India was when he was serving in the army in the early Fifties, en route to Korea. He says, “We didn’t get to see as much as we’d like.” Now 84, Mayall will visit India once again next month, only this time his experience in the country will be wholly different. The multi-instrumentalist will perform at the eighth edition of the Mahindra Blues Festival in Mumbai between February 10th-11th. “[I’m] looking forward to this trip,” says the Blues Hall of Fame inductee.

Late last year, Mayall released his 65th album Talk About That, which also features the legendary Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh on two tracks: the plaintive “The Devil Must Be Laughing” and the bustling walking blues offering “Cards on the Table.”

A working musician for over six decades, Mayall has been part of a bunch of bands that he founded during his time in college and in the army. In 1963, he formed the Bluesbreakers, which after a series of lineup changes, inducted ex-Yardbirds guitarist Eric Clapton in 1965. The band has released over 50 albums till date.

By the Seventies, Mayall had moved to the U.S. where he altered his sound to add female vocals as well as funk, pop and jazz elements. The veteran musician spent much of the decade working with local musicians, prolifically cutting records on various labels.

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In 1984, Mayall reinstated the Bluesbreakers with a new lineup and brought on board the renowned American vocalist-guitarist Coco Montoya (who will also be playing at Mahindra Blues Festival this year). Mayall says, “Coco was the first choice to play lead and a little later on, I added Walter Trout too. The chemistry and fireworks erupted every night on stage.”

On whether Montoya will join him on stage in Mumbai, Mayall says, “It will be nice to play… perhaps he will sit in with us in the finale. We’ll see; these things are never planned.” Ask him about his setlist and he says it’s “way too early” to know what songs he will be picking. “There will be something for everyone. I hope the fans will enjoy our performance and the festival as a whole,” he says. Not one to lose momentum, Mayall will release his next album, the live compilation, Three For The Road, on February 23rd. It features long-time bassist Greg Rzab and drummer Jay Davenport and includes tracks from two concerts in Germany the trio played in 2017.

Hear the title track off Mayall’s latest record ‘Talk About That’ below:

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