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Mumbai Gets A New Venue For Gigs

Prithvi Theater opens up to acoustic performances on Sunday mornings


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Taufiq Qureshi

Last month, Mumbai’s iconic Liberty Cinema hosted an unusual gathering, with a bunch of musicians including Siddharth Basrur and Shefali Alvares, putting together a blues tribute gig on stage. Attendees to the Sunday event called Music Matinee, a new monthly music series organized by event management company Indigo Live, were wooed by a fine spread of wine and cheese.

The newest entrant to the Sunday wine and music club is Juhu’s popular theater venue, Prithvi, which kickstarted the Acoustic Sunday Jam on November 4th, as part of its ongoing annual theater festival. Kunal Kapoor, Director, Prithvi Theater says, “We just thought it’s a good way to start your Sundays,” about the musical event that started at 11 in the morning this weekend, featuring performances by artists such as guitarist and Blue Frog cofounder Ashu Pathak and singer Vivienne Pocha among others.

At Acoustic Sunday Jam, artists perform a 60-90-minute acoustic set, as the name suggests without mics or any other electronic equipment. After the performance on stage, the audience can knock back some sangria at the special Sunday brunch at Prithvi café. “The thing that most attendees appreciated was that they could get their children to watch this concert. Most of the music venues in the city are at bars that aren’t child friendly,” adds Kapoor.

For 29 years, tabla whiz Zakir Hussain has been performing his annual memorial concerts at Prithvi. However, this year, Kapoor hopes to embrace genres outside Hindustani classical. “The theater is designed for an intimate concert. When Zakir Hussain performed last year, Rekha Bhardwaj was sitting in the audience. Mid-way, she just stood up and joined him by singing. This is not possible anywhere else,” he recalls.

Apart from established artists such as Taufiq Qureshi, Niladri Kumar and Louis Banks, who are all scheduled to perform at Prithvi this month, Kapoor adds that they are keen to open the stage for emerging artists from genres like pop, folk, jazz and acoustic rock. However, unlike NCPA, which saw Bharatanatyam dancer, Rukmini Chatterjee,  perform to the music of Norwegian black metal band Vreid, Kapoor isn’t ready for heavy metallers yet. “They can perform as long as they leave their amps outside,” he says, adding that his venue isn’t a replacement or alternative to live venues like Blue Frog. “The only criterion is original music. The acoustics are so great here that you can hear a musician raw,” he adds.

Next Sunday, percussionist Taufiq Qureshi will perform at this monthly music series. Says Qureshi, “It’s a landmark place where the audience knows when to nod their head. It’s the one place where you can hear the artist for what he really is, since you aren’t depending on a mic and soundsystem.” The percussionist will kick off his show with an a capella set by his students, who will also beatbox along with folk singers from Maharashtra, Punjab and Rajasthan. “I’m also featuring an instrument which has never been played at Prithvi — sarod,” he says. Qureshi will end the show with a performance by his percussion ensemble, Mumbai Stamp.

 

Acoustic Sunday Jam will take place on November 11th featuring Taufiq Qureshi and November 18th featuring Louis Banks and Niladri Kumar among other, 11 am. Tickets Rs 300 available at Prithvi and bookmyshow.com 

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