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All Star Blues

Warren Mendonsa, of Zero fame, releases new album, the second from Blackstratblues

rsiwebadmin Feb 11, 2010
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Bobin James

Euphoric is the best way to describe Warren Mendonsa, clad in a black shirt with blue pinstripes, as he walks the cubbyhole alley at Mumbai’s music spin factory, Todi Mills. The black Strat bender is playing his last Mumbai gig this night and post his short soundcheck, Mendonsa is taking a quick cigarette break in the back alley of Zenzi Mills, talking about his love for Mumbai and the blues guitar. There’s noise of consistent construction, car horns and chatter ”“ all the things that Mendonsa truly misses about Mumbai. “You have to love the city for its consistent inspiration,” says former Mumbaikar Mendonsa who now lives and records in New Zealand. All of December, Mendonsa was in the nation taking his solo blues project Blackstratblues on a nationwide (read rock-friendly cities) tour.

Known for his incendiary work on the guitar, Warren had pretty much heralded the guitar rock revolution of India with Mumbai’s Zero. Playing guitar for the band, he gave the modern desi rocker its first hint of the blues rock that would pretty much make a break from the classic rock covers and bleed into eventual indie alternative songwriting today. Meanwhile Mendonsa stands tall and takes a humble bow. “I started playing guitar when I was five and learnt everything about music from the family [Loy Mendonsa is his uncle], in studios and basically took it from there. Zero happened with friends and then when I moved to New Zealand, I discovered the finesse of blues and the power of mixing and recording,” rewinds Mendonsa who now sits as a recording engineer in Auckland’s Hill Street Studios. Besides recording for artists galore, Warren came up with his own little project called Blackstratblues. “I began working on my own solo instrumental material now that I was basically on my own. I was meeting new artists, engineers and profound inspirations in New Zealand. That’s how my first albums Nights in Shinning Karma was born. All in a recording studio, done in a few days flat after I had the songs figured,” Mendonsa reminisces.

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A few years and more insipid surrealism later, Warren found a tribe of collaborators for his second Blackstratblues album simply called The New Album. “For me it was new. I was working with new artists, finding a niche in blues, was using live sessions that recorded samples. There were lyrics, spoken word and a definitive theme,” explains Mendonsa who collaborated with artists from the Billie Land, Cole Goodley, Johnny Barker, Jared Kahi and Emma Walter over eight tracks that define his love for the blues. “I’ve realised over the years that I work best in collaboration with other people, and having these guys around just added so much more depth to the album,” Mendonsa adulates. For now though, the man has returned to New Zealand and there are aspirations of a record release as opposed to the free online download. In the meantime, Mendonsa is busy strumming ”˜Ode to a Sunny Day’ and ”˜Newness,’ his poetically happy tracks on The New Album.

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