Saturday, 27 March 2010

My Golden Bangla, Rich Mix, March 26th

Yesterday Bartimaeus and I trekked from Surrey to Bethnal Green on my insistence that we attend the above event, a showcase of British Bangladeshi talent to commemorate Independence Day. The line up was as follows:

  • CUTS - by Robert Streeter.
    An exhibition exploring a generation’s unique style.
  • STATE OF BENGAL & PABAN DAS BAUL: Tana Tani (Real World Records)
    "a folk culture over 500 years old meeting this digital soundscapes of the 21st century" Song Lines mag who nominated it as best global album of the year.
  • Musical Alchemy.
    featuring voclist Labik Kamal Gurob & Mithun Chakraborty (Tabla) These 3 rising talents, have been causing a stir in the contemporary jazz scene. All 3 are accomplished musicians with their own distinctive style, bands & acclaimed genre-defying albums, effortlessly journeying through Jazz, Afro-Cuban, dub & their Bengal folk heritage. My Golden Bangla brings them together for a collaboration featuring one of the rising contemporary stars of Bangladesh
    Original ADF line up come together in this one off event to perform their tribute to the revolutionary poet Nazrul Islam; Rebel Warrior.
  • DEEDER ZAMAN & DR DAS ( bass )
    Sneak preview of ADF’s original front man Deeder’s new album 'Pride of the Underdog', produced by the legendary Adrian Sherwood of On U Soundsystem. Dr. Das also features on 'Pride Of the Underdog' & is currently touring with his album / live show " Emergency Bass Sound System."
  • AMINA KHAYYAM - The Rebel ( Bidrohi )
    A Tribute To Kazi Nazrul Islam, The National Poet of Bangladesh. Choreographer & dancer Amina delivers a powerfully emotive piece set to contemporary music & reading, by actor & storyteller REZ KABIR, from Nazrul's infamous poem The Rebel (Bidrohi)
  • A GOLDEN AGE - Dramatic reading of Tahmima Anam’s award winning novel in a musical juxtaposition by actress LEESA GAZI and musicians SOHINI ALAM / OLIVER WEEKS. Adapted & directed by Leeza Gazi.
  • SARAH SAYEED - Spoken word artist & fierce lyricist brings her unique & quirky blend of powerful writing & vocals in a soulful, hip hop live set with Badeshi.
  • NAGA - BBC Blast & SLAMbassadors winning lyricist.
    Spitting from an Asian perspective, Naga performs his own beats & strong conscious lyrics outlining his life in the East End.
  • SH8S - One of the original (ex) founders of Desi Movement, Sh8s gives a 2-track sampler of his fierce lyrics rising from the streets of Brick Lane.
  • Dj BADESHI- "World wide & between the tempos" DJ / producer Badeshi mixes his blend from Dubstep to Baul Soundscapes.
  • + Video Installations by Hamja Ahsan 
I've been buzzing about this since I first learnt of it a few weeks ago. I've been a fan of Asian Dub Foundation since their second album Rafi's Revenge (which I used to pump out of my room as a fresher much to my corridormates' chagrin - who were into stuff like the Spice Girls and Bewitched at the time) and I was so, so excited to see them back together again. Unfortunately the event predictably ran late and I, like a Home Counties Cinderella, had to leave to get my last train less than half way into the event. Pout. If Southern deigned to do night trains it would've been an amazing night.

However, I did get to see a beautiful bamboo flute performance by an artist who's not on the lineup (this was very resonant for me because my dad played the instrument), listen to the first Badeshi set, Sarah Sayeed, watch the Golden Age dramatisation and the Amina Khayyam piece, check out the exhibit, as well as catch the first part of the Arun Ghosh/Idris Rahman/Kishon Khan collaboration. Not bad eh?

I'm so glad I saw the pieces I did. In particular, the dance piece and the dramatisation of an extract from Tahmima Anam's fantastic novel A Golden Age were incredibly moving. Sohini Alam sang songs used in the movement for Bangladesh as well as our national anthem beautifully, with warmth and grace, and moved me to tears. (I listened to these songs every day for months whilst writing about them in my thesis, and it left me with goosebumps to hear them sung so well live for the first time in years. I admit I sang along - very quietly!)

It was a perfect way to celebrate Independence Day, because it left me swelling with pride in my Bangladeshi identity. I was gladdened to see how many members of my generation, born and brought up in the UK, are enthusiastic, passionate participants and contributors to Bengali culture. It's not easy for us, with our stumbling, English-inflected Bengali, limited access to specialist music/dance tuition and sheer distance from the homeland.

An illustration of the challenges: I remember going to see Zoe and Idris Rahman perform their beautiful album Where Rivers Meet at the Purcell Rooms at the Royal Festival Hall, where I was dismayed to hear older members of the audience heckling Zoe for her poor Bengali pronunciation, despite her fluent musical interpretations of Bengali classics and folk songs. At that time, I felt that there was such a chasm between our generation and our elders and the homeland, that nothing we did would ever be judged as "good enough." Yesterday was the opposite: witnessing the richness of second generation contributions and the many cultural crossings-over taking place between London and Dhaka, I felt that if such a chasm exists, it can also be bridged, and in exciting, enriching ways.


  1. Hey, Sohini here. I stumbled across your blog and just wanted to say thank you so much! I'm really happy to know that you enjoyed the music.

    I was at Zoe's Purcell Room performance too. She is a friend of mine and a lovely person, so it's too bad that people want to make fun of her, but I think she does us Bengalis proud. No bias. :)


    Shaanti marks 11 Years in the Music Industry with the celebration of their residency at Cargo, feat

    LINE UP:
    Shri (Full Live Band)EXCLUSIVE
    Pandit G presents A.G.N.I (Angry Generation Needs Inspiration) Live
    Tim Whelan (Transglobal Underground – DJ Set)
    Juttla (Eastern Pressure Recordings)
    Fusing Naked Beats (DJ Set)
    Dulz (Bazna)
    Visuals by SKA

    Champion Sounds present:
    Universal Taal Project
    Trav 'saXingh' Panesar
    DJ, Fluid
    DJ Razor Rekta from Anti Social UK
    The Dhol Player Collective

    Hosted by Manga from Shaanti, more names to be confirmed!

    Time: 8.00pm til 4.00pm
    Address: Cargo, 83 Rivington Street, Shoreditch.
    London EC2A 3AY
    Price: Doors Open at 8, Free before 11, £5 before 12.00 and £10 after all night.
    Info: 07968 366878 07968 260276