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Acoustic Guitarist Joshua Thomas Debuts Originals Set

Mumbai-based singer/songwriter on two years of perfecting his art at open mic nights and early sets

Sharin Bhatti May 29, 2012
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Joshua Thomas  Photo: Caitlin and Andrew Webb-EllisÂ

If you have visited South Mumbai’s nightclub Blue Frog for an early set over the past two years, chances are you may have seen a lanky, pony-tailed, bespectacled guitarist with impressive smooth jazz vocals playing the acoustic guitar in a way that could replace a rhythm section. The sets belonged to acoustic guitarist Joshua Thomas, who has opened for acts like French band YAPA, Mumbai band The Mavyns and Rupa & The April Fishes fromLos Angeles. Between covers of Neil Young and The Who, Thomas would slip in an original.

The guitarist’s technique recalls the finger tapping, percussive handiwork of YouTube legends like Andy McKee and Antoine Dufour. The difference being that Thomas’ adds an Indian classical technique that he picked up when he trained to play the mridangam. ROLLING STONE India asked the 24-year-old guitarist how he found his own voice. “Let’s just say that I have been busy putting my songwriting in order. I am not the most confident lyricist and that is something that has taken me time to perfect. I needed to be able to sing to perform at my own night. Now seems to be a good time,” says Thomas.

In between his Blue Frog outings, Thomas tested his vocals at monthly open mic nights held in the city. “Open mic nights are great confidence boosters as well as great on feedback. I now know what works in terms of songwriting and vocal display and what doesn’t. Besides, my roots have always been in percussive guitar playing,” says Thomas.

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The roots, Thomas is talking about, refer to Thomas’s boarding school days in Andhra Pradesh where learnt mridangam for nearly five years before picking up the guitar. “My training in Hindustani classical music really helped in figuring out beats and rhythm patterns,” says Thomas, who discovered his guitar gods in London, where he took a three-year course in sound production and design at the Arts University College, Bournemouth . “I was listening to all sorts of stuff back then and playing regular open mic nights all across the city,” says Thomas, who also played a one-day campus music festival called Beach Break held in Wales in 2010. “There was another DJ and me who played the entire day. I played everything I was listening to at that time from Michael Hedges, Scott Walker and The Who. That was my first big solo set,” recalls Thomas.

Joshua Thomas will perform a one-hour original set at Notes in a Song, organised by Culture Shoq, at I-Bar, Mumbai on Wednesday May 30th, 2012, 930 pm onwards. Entry Rs 100. 

Here’s an exclusive stream of Thomas’ tracks

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