Oct 30, 2011

Zuchobeni takes home Kids for Fame-3

by Al Ngullie

Easily the most pitch-perfect of the lot, preteen Zuchobeni Tungoe of Dimapur crooned her way to the winner’s podium to demolish the singing contest for “kids,” the Kids for Fame Season-3, during the event’s finals October 30, at Dimapur Club tonight. 

For someone her age, a surprisingly polished Tungoe out-sang close finalists Meyinaro Changkija and Gifty Shitiri to win the third edition of the singing competition, which now doles a cash prize of Rs.2 Lakh and an “educational scholarship” to boot aside from other gifts. 

 Yet again, the lovelier ones had completely demolished the boys – all the three survivors were girls. Save for a number toward the end of the competition, the youthful but strongly professional and confident talents performed on soundtracks. Still very young, pretty as daisies, hugely-talented, nervous and silently dying in their high heels, the three contestants led the music enthusiasts to a treat. 

Dressed in a white frock, a shy Shitiri opened a pleasant Dimapur evening with American band Six Pence None The Richer’s 1997 hit “Kiss Me.” While not much of a stage performer and primarily clueless during interludes in the backing, Shitiri implored for a pucker or two from an encouraging audience – comprising parents, friends and of course insatiable Dimapur music fans. She won the kisses, cheer-wise of course.

The second finalist to perform was a charming Meyinaro Changkija. Dressed beautifully in black and wings yet looking as vulnerable as a lily, young Changkija proved to be an exceptionally brave fighter. She battled bad pitches and a stumble in the chorus to hold up Miley Cyrus’ ‘The Climb’ as any true professional would. “Ain’t what’s waiting on the other side… It’s gonna be another battle,” she sang as the audience encouraged her to the hilt.

Following Changkija for the countdown, the third finalist in-performance, a quietly confident Zuchobeni Tungoe sang Sherrie Austin’s ‘Streets of Heaven.” Easily the most poised and controlled of the singers, Tungoe flawlessly delivered – notwithstanding CD skips in the soundtrack – the Australian singer’s Billboard #18 2003 hit. With the natural, yet, polished timbre that she has, Tungoe set the standard for the evening’s second and final round. 

Prior to the final round, the Pheto Music Association event also saw performances from former Kids for Fame winners and finalists, including season two’s winner Asheni. Chairman of Khadi & Village Industry and Advisor to the Music Task Force Dr. Nicky Kire addressed the audience during the intermission to the performance. 

Not wanting to prevent the audience from enjoying the music, chief guest Dr. Kire explained that he would speak “only one word.” A music enthusiast and a devotee of the microphone himself, the legislator spoke a 5-minute long one word. Concluding his speech, the MLA encouraged Naga talents that only those who are serious about music, there is a living to be made out of it. 

Also in attendance, Deputy Commissioner of Dimapur Mrs. Husheli was honored with flowers “as she is the only woman among the guys.” The Dimapur administrator was the only woman among the slew of “male” dignitaries, the audience realized later.  

In the second round, besides individual performances, the three finalists performed a trio before it turned into a quartet – upcoming Naga musician Alobo Naga joined the stage to sing “What are words,” by former American Idol contestant Chris Medina, with Zuchobeni, Meyinaro and Gifty. 

(From Top: Zuchobeni Tungoe, Meyinaro Changkija and Gifty Shitiri during the final event of Kids for Fame season 3, DImapur) 

All photographs by Sorei Mahong

Oct 29, 2011

Metallica's Bangalore Concert Not Postphoned

by Al Ngullie

Ticket refund for Metallica's Delhi Concert; Delhi show on Saturday, Oct 29
Bangalore show not canceled; notices served to DNA Networks; Criminal case against organizers.     

India has pulled off a a metal CWG of sorts. Metallica will perform in Bangalore October 30 as scheduled even as the band's Delhi-Gurgaon show was postponed due to 'safety concerns.' You can't blame the fans for ripping off barricades and having a go at the music gear.

Remember in my earlier blog, I mentioned booking the organizers and wanting a Metal Anna Hazare? Well, according to CNN-IBN four organizers have been arrested by Delhi authorities for "cheating the public." The news anchor did not say what "cheating the public" meant. My assumption is, she meant the poor sots skimmed off some of the funds that originally was meant for safety infrastructure? 

Anyway, IBN Live said the arrested included the general manager of Operations and three assistant general  managers. Further, notices have been served to the owners of DNA Networks, the organizers as well.

Here is a video still from the IBN Live news report. The link to the full video is in the following part of this article:

Too bad for the fans and too bad for the opening act, Delhi-based metalcore band Guillotine for Metallica's show in Delhi.

For those seeking a ticket refund, you can do so from DNA, the TV report said, quoting DNA officials. Earlier, "technical reasons" were cited as the reason behind cancellation of the show. However, it was more do to with safety infrastructure and security for the audience attending the concert, I am told. My rationale is that although the concert is part of the F1 India, it is obvious that 300MPR cars won't be doing the rounds when the band is performing right?          

Bangalore Concert NOT Canceled - at least not now

Thankfully, DNA "sources" have said, according to the news channels I watched, that Metallica will be performing in Bangalore, October 30 as scheduled. You may want to watch the news on Metallica's Delhi-Gurgaon show at this IBN Live video here.

For full details about the tickets, prices and outlets for the band's Bangalore concert, you will find it here in this update I wrote earlier: Metallica India Concert Tickets Price List - Full

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Oct 28, 2011

Divine Connection's (yeah, that rock band from Nagaland) Pictures and images

by Al Ngullie

This is for all of you visitors to my blog who'd been nagging me for pictures and images of Divine Connection, Nagaland's biggest export to India's rock circuit in 45 years yet. The band recently won the MTV Kurkure Desi Rock. Members of Divine Connection, are Obed Kath (voice), Lichen Kichu (Guitars), Bandang Kichu (Drums) and Mhathung Odyuo (bass guitars). The band has an album 'El Roi' (2008) as well.  Read the album review here.

The pictures are mostly from Divine Connection's Facebook fanpage and yes, Mhathung Odyuo, was kind enough to give me the go-ahead thing with his own as well. By the way, why would you ask for Divine Connections' photographs here when there is a-plenty on Facebook? You lazy dweaks. Anyways, here they are, enjoy!

Note: All I did was ask and I got. I do not know who the photographers are. If there is a photograph of the band here you recognize as yours, please write to me at alngullie@gmail.com (or leave a comment) with the image URL of the photograph (s) so I'll mention you in the credit as the photographer. Thank you.

Mhathung is lost in his best John Myung Impression. Garnier Shampoo istymal karo, zabardast bajao. Take Care! 

Bendang just found out that these things don't sound at all like mom's utensils he used to play at home!

India's latest fingergod Lichen is all legs on this one. 

...and both of them are so happy to be playing under red bulbs somewhere far from Nagaland - them bulbs remind the dudes of Christmas, you see.

No, that's not a Gold Medal for winning the MTV Kurkure Desi Beat. Anyway, as you can see one of the four is obviously out of place both direction-wise and shirt-wise. No wonder. He's not wearing his glasses nah. 

And here's the famous first photograph of Divine Connection. Right after winning the MTV Kurkure Desi Rock Beat results were announced, this picture was the first to reach the Media - and I'm one of the very few to have seen it first yay!! Oh by the way, his exotic Pyjamas helped a lot - convinced the Judges to think that these dudes had been working without sleep na.  

And the winner is...DIVINE CONNECTION OF NAGALAND! The now-everywhere photograph of the band reacting right after the judges announced their name as winners of the MTV Kurkure Desi Rock Beat. 

Lichen looked up just in time to realize that his vocalist wasn't pointing at anything up there anywhere.


Oct 27, 2011

Naga Music: Grand Finale of RockAware

by Al Ngullie

On October 15, Saturday, Dimapur District Sports Council stadium gasped as the musical hordes thronged to confirm the truth that music is to Nagas what land is to Naga villages. The most hyped musical event of the fall, RockAware 2011 – a rock music-driven anti-HIV-AIDS campaign of the Nagaland State AIDS Control Society (NSACS) – had 11 rock bands grunting and growling angrily for the Rs. 1 Lakh cash prize. Noisemakers from Dimapur, Avantgarde metal band Avancer, finally killed the competition for good.

Peddled hard by the NSACS ever since the competition took off months back with the district-level auditions, the final event was as noisy and entertaining as it was hilarious and often ridiculous. The bizarre joy only Naga crowds know how to do best.

As usual, the Nagas’ rich cultural tradition of late timing inaugurated the show. Scheduled to commence by 4:00PM the event took to the decibels only from around 5:30 PM. Hosted by the easygoing entrepreneur and veteran musician Theja Meru, the evening’s formalities commenced with the all too worn-out appeals of “are you ready, Dimapur?” The Are-You-Ready-Dimapur would, later on, turn out to be The Dream café proprietor’s most powerful instrument to keep the impatient crowd occupied momentarily.  Just momentary enough for sound technicians and stagehands to escape with their endless sound-checks in between sets.

Who’s Who 

The trickle of people into DDSC stadium surged into a flood. ‘Music lovers’ of all sort and species began strutting in, making the best out of something that cost them nothing more than an auto-rickshaw ‘bhara’ to reach the venue. 

As is a common sight in Dimapur, underwear was the unofficial dress code for the evening. Chattering confidently and looking undefeatable, hundreds of enthusiastic youths walked into the venue dressed in their best underwear – boxers of all shape size and color.

Closely following the boxers, the stiletto addicts came. This lovely lot floated in – or rather wobbled in – braving the odd wolf whistling from somewhere in the crowd. Drudging through inches of dust, the lovely ones endured their spine-killing heels like true pros would – but clearly looking self-conscious wondering if some naughty areas of their thighs may have escaped the strict jurisdiction of their skirts.

As the grounds filled, the cream of the evening, perhaps, finally arrived. Dressed in bright yellow, Grammy winner Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt arrived, accompanied by  a  white-clad Nagaland Minister for Health, Kuzholuzo Neinu. The youths were interested only in the swanky black Chevrolet they drove in.

     (A glimpse from the grand finale of the RockAware concert in Dimapur, October 15, 2011)

Welcome to the Show  

By 6PM, the show was already grinding any ear that came within 1 mile radius of the stadium. Metalcore rockers from Dimapur, Melodrama, were one of the several guest artistes lined up to warm the crowd up before the roasting.

The band whipped out from the word ‘go’ in a 3-song set. Of course, Melodrama’s 5th member – the police siren – also performed in the band’s original ‘Restrain.’ The gathered youths head-banged their Koreans off as ‘Restrain’ unleashed their months’ worth of frustration at not having tasted any major entertainment freebies in Dimapur. Easily one of the finest and more professional-sounding metal bands in the state, Melodrama roasted an ear or two that evening.

After the roasting, came the strawberry cream. Lovely Naga Idol Renbeni Odyuo took the stage to soothe every smoking and burning ear. With two songs – one unidentified flying number and the other, Katy Perry’s ‘Hot n Cold’ did the youths in. The Naga Idol was accompanied by another of Dimapur’s finest groups, Incipit.

What she lacked in stage fire was more than compensated by her incredible vocal performance, especially on the Katy Perry hit. The crowd – mostly noise lovers – for once set aside their musical differences and did their best to join Odyuo in the chorus at least. After the hot and cold set from Melodrama and Odyuo, Theja Meru walked back on stage flashing a 100 watt grin that outshone the stagelights. One couldn’t blame the former Blood & Fire man for being joyous at the crowd’s response. ‘It’s a good start,’ the “Believe” songwriter thought as he grinned his ears to  shreds.

The growing population of boxers and Nagamese-warbling Korean youths added to the general chaos at the show. As part of the show, two youths, Temjen and a Nungshinaro also took time to share their experiences and push across their message of responsible sexual behavior. It was only then that realization dawned on  the crowd – no matter what noise,  they were still in an anti-HIV-AIDs program. The confusion was understandable considering one of the two persons actually began by saying “although it is not a very good moment to talk about HIV and AIDS…” In response, a confused Nagamese sentence rocketed out from somewhere in the crowd – “Ehhh? Itu HIV AIDS laka awareness program no hoi?”

Battle of the Grunts 

Eleven bands representing their respective districts performed a set of three songs each, including a rendition of the NSACS theme song for the campaign ‘I Care.’ The competing howlers grunted, moaned, groaned and ranted – almost all were metalcore or avantgarde bands (at least their songs sounded so). Backed loyally by huge guitars and even bigger drums, the excited Dimapur crowd never had a louder menu of rock music in the past 9 months. They leapt and hopped – adequately dressed in their metal fingers and gestures; grunted and shouted along with the choruses and made sure they also built human pillars and pyramids.

Fans at the front climbed on each others’ shoulders  before crashing down into the crowd, much to the delight of the gathered sweating mass of humanity.  Sprained ankles and twisted necks from the fall   is a totally  different story.

Another interesting aspect of the event was stage-diving. Fans cheered and romped as the more adventurous climbed the stage and dove into the crowd. Stage-diving  is  a tradition during rock shows across the world. In Nagaland if a fan bobbed his head or raised a metal salute during enjoying a song, there is always a danger of being thought you may be either a drunk or ‘Bosti.’ But now that RockAware has officially inaugurated  stage-diving, Naga fans can now do more than just bob heads without fearing if someone would ask them how many bottles they’d downed.

(A glimpse from the grand finale of the RockAware concert in Dimapur, October 15, 2011)

Condoms & Atomic Kittens

Adding to the joy of the evening, Bryan Adams and Atomic Kitten also performed for the crowd  – during the lengthy sound checks.  As Brian Adams sang “Those were the best days of my life,” blown balloons floated. It  delighted  the more liberal men but sent the women running for the nearest cover if one of the ‘sexy’ things landed on their  heads. The Atomic Kittens “Tide is High” brought out even more blown condoms, much to the chagrin of the irritated womenfolk.

Overall, the entire show was one of  high spirits –  bottled spirits,  that is. Notwithstanding the festivities, many youths were  seen lugging around the brown-red liquid in  nice   bottles. Many a Bleary-eyed and Nagamese-shouting warbler could be seen with cans of beer or bottles with contents that clearly indicated they were not black  tea or coffee.

Free and open use of alcohol during entertainment events remains a concern. In fact, just before the Dimapur edition of RockAware was lunched, a Media commentary in a local newspaper had pointed to the common, abundant and open use of alcohol during concerts.  Also, fulfilling the rich tradition of picking fights during concerts in Dimapur, a fight reportedly broke out at the gate of DDSC stadium. Security cleared people and vehicles from the area of crisis.

Anther highlight was Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt’s performance. Floating in with Indian classical and playing poetry on one of the sub-continent’s most celebrated musical instruments – the Mohan Veena – Pandit Bhatt had the crowd singing along – literally. For an instrumentalist, he successfully encouraged vocalizing the words ‘I Love You’ on one of his tunes.

And of course, as the Pandit rigged  his second song, the crowd turned to ‘Baba Black Sheep’ for comfort from the soundcheck. At one point the soundcheck was so prolonged that many fans even reached Christmas – they all started singing ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Merry Christmas.’

After the festive chaos, fans returned home happier while winner Avancer, of Dimapur, 2nd runner-up Tears of Judas of Tuensang and 3rd runner-up Anti-Trust of Zunheboto, went home richer and heavier with the rupees.

(All photographs by Sorei Mahong)

Oct 21, 2011

Metallica India Concert-Tickets Price List - Full!

by Al Ngullie

Check out the retail outlets from where you can book or grab one too
Hello all you ‘llicaheads still growling about Metallica’s India concert tickets and where to buy them – Gurgaon and Bangalore. Look no further! Here’s the complete concert ticket price list for the band’s Gurgaon and Bangalore show and where to buy their tickets too – via online or retails outlets!

I’m mega-sorry for being unable to update my blogs on Metallica’s India concert tickets. I was busy – my girl nah. Enough blah. Alright, it’s tad overdue but here are the prices for Metallica’s concerts.

Metallica India tickets Gurgaon price

For the F1 Rocks show in Gurgaon Delhi-NCR, the price is Rs. 2, 750 (Front) and Rs.1, 560 (Back). My estimating was correct (ahem ahem) that the concert organizers wouldn’t be hard on our pockets. I’m convinced that some of the Delhi ticket-price committee people come from poor families. My initial thought was that the price for the Delhi Metallica concert ticket would be pretty steep – after all it is to be sold primarily to snobby-nosed NCR wallas nah, dimwit. Here’s the bad news: All online tickets are sold out on both www.dnanetworks.com and www.ticketgeknie.in . The good news? Find the retail outlets listed below, from where you can buy grab the tickets in flesh and blood tantanaaaa! I’m your hero, dude.

Here’s the Legend:

Event:  F1 ROCKS featuring METALLICA - GURGAON
Date:  Friday, October 28, 2011
Time:  04:00 PM

Ticket price: Rs. 2, 750 (Front)
                     Rs.1, 560 (Back)

Metallica India tickets Bangalore price

The price for the band’s Bangalore show is the same as Gurgaon’s. The problem? There is only one category, General Admission – Rs. 2, 750. Daylight robbery! We need a metal Anna Hazare to have the Bangalore organizers booked! Somebody tell them that Bangalore is also home to serious metal heads who like to mosh from back gallery!

Here’s the legend for the Bangalore show:

Sunday October 30, 2011
Palace Grounds, Bangalore
Ticket price: Rs 2, 750 (general admission) 

(Photo: Metallica Guitarist Kirk Hammet)

By the way, all Metallica India tickets on DNA and Ticketgenie are sold out! That’s why I thought to list out for you the…

Retail outlets in Delhi and Bangalore for Metallica’s concerts! Now go catch an auto rickshaw and grab a ticket. You can also book your tickets through these retails outlets.

New Delhi outlet:

Cafe Morrison,
South Extension Part 2
New Delhi

Bangalore outlets:

Planet M

Kalyan Nagar,
# 96/3 4th Cross, HRBR layout, 2nd Block, Kalyannagar, Bangalore-43.

Planet M Retail Ltd, No. 29/ A BBMP No.115, 9 th Main, 4th Block, Jayanagar, Bangalore 560 011.
Nagabhushan C

Esteem Mall,
Planet M Retail Ltd, F20, Esteem Mall, First FloorNo: 127 & 128, Hebbal Village Bellary Road, Bangalore - 560024.
Kariappa C P

Garuda Mall,
Planet M Retail Ltd, No:219, Garuda Mall, 2nd Floor, Magrath Road,
Bangalore 560 025.

Brigade Road,
Planet M Retail Ltd, 9, Curzon Complex, 1st floorBrigade Road, Bangalore 560001.
Razzak Hasan Wadkar

Mantri Mall
Planet M Retail Ltd, Anniamma Arcade No:280/1, 2nd Main Road,18th Cross, Malleswaram, Bangalore - 560003.
Chetan KUMAR.A.M

Total Mall – Kempfort
Total Mall - Kempfort, Ground Floor, Shop no. 7, # 97, Old Airport Road,

HeyHo Village
Planet M Retail Ltd, Shop No.39, 80 Feet Road,HAL 3rd Stage Bangalore - 560 075.
Chetan R


The Forum
Contact Manager: Mr. Aravind
21 Hosur Road, Koramangala, Bangalore – 560 029
PH: (080) 4240 4240

Garuda Swagat Mall (Old Swagat Theatre)
Contact Manager: Mr. Harish
Tilak Nagar Main Road, 4th Block, Jayanagar, Bangalore – 560 041
PH: (080) 65771227


# 83, 7th Cross, 4th B Block, Koramangala, Bangalore.
Karnataka, INDIA. PIN: 560 034
Ph: 080-42842424
Mobile: 9845015183
Phew, so much metal – it’s quite heavy. Enjoy, man.

(Photo: Metallica. Lar's Ulrich just found out that James' tattoos are a bit salty)

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Oct 19, 2011

TC Hawkins: God’s own Travellin’ Bluesman

by Al Ngullie
For a man whose name takes after one of America’s most fabled hunting rifles, opened for some of the most iconic figures of entertainment America ever had, and later on survived the horrors of the Vietnam War and emerged to travel the world singing the Blues, he is as close to the real beat stuff anyone can have.

Blues veteran TC Hawkins has travelled hard but travelled well. “I know there are better singers, better musicians out there but no one is more sincere than me. (This sincerity is) from God,” the man, who once opened for The Jackson Five, told The Morung Express during an interaction at Aier’s Mansion in Dimapur, Sunday.  

A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, TC Hawkins performed Saturday in Dimapur as part of “international culture-mix,” an inter-culture variety, held on October 8. The Christian ‘bluesman’ is described as a singer, songwriter, choir director, producer and international performer. But this affable man, standing somewhere 5’7 has also a scarred side to him, one he politely declined to talk about. Hawkins is also a veteran of one of the most devastating and most controversial wars in modern history – the Vietnam War (1955-1975).
The mere details he can share you is these: He enlisted in the US Army 1966 and was dispatched to Vietnam in 1967. In 1969, he returned home after military service.  

Right: TC Hawkins in performance in Dimapur, Nagaland
on October 8, 2011 (Photo by Sorei Mahong)

From Vietnam to Praise                                

“When I came back from Vietnam, everybody was singing rock and roll,” Hawkins reminisced. Hawkins already had an incredible track record even before he commenced military service, in fact. He led a now obscure band that opened for The Jackson Five and then Tina Turner herself. Hawkins would go on to open for the great bluesmen of the day Al Green and BB King among others. In fact, his career was taken on the tops when he sang the Star Spangled Banner the night Muhammad Ali took on Jimmy Young.

Hawking said he resumed his singing even in the military. But, apparently, the war took a toll on him. When he emerged from serving in Vietnam, Hawkins no longer wanted to pursue career in “secular’ music. There was no power in his music before he committed to God, Hawkins said between sips of coffee. “When I committed to God, then,” he said, “the power came.”

TC Hawkins had finally found what he wanted to do in life. He travelled the world performing in Norway, a host of other Scandinavian countries, Russia and Canada. He then wrote and produced his first solo album entitled “I Gave It Up”.

The Blessed Vagabond

Yet, in all irony, the veteran bluesman has no record label even after 40 years. ‘I have been waiting for somebody to come along, to sign me and say, show me what you got,’ Hawkins said. In a world of rock and hip-hop, record labels have yet to find time for a Christian blues singer, who aside from all practical purpose, is 63 years old now. “There has been no label for me for 40 years. But I am successful in the eyes of God. I am successful because I attempt to succeed in what I do,” the man, whose namesake is a hunting rifle, said. ‘Was it successful because you have reached the top? Or was it successful because attempt was made to reach the top? In God’s eyes, I am already successful. I’m certain of it,’ he explained. “I have never lost hope. I believe that one day the phone will ring…” the man said.

Writing and producing his music, Hawkins took out a second CD “Forever”, and a third recording which was a single “There’s Nobody.” His latest release is “Totally Committed” which has a set of more than a dozen new songs ‘for the record labels.’  

It is said that TC Hawkins is a household name in Europe and Scandinavia. In fact, he is quite popular there that he’d travelled to Norway for about 40 times to perform.  “He is mentioned in the same breath as BeBe and CeCe Winans, Andrae Crouch and Richard Smallwood,” a resource on Hawkins says. God has been his guide and provider, he acknowledged. ‘I had never heard of Nagaland, now I am in Nagaland,’ he said, explaining that God is the one who offers him work. He has a dream though – a record label that can offer him a platform to share his message of redemption and God’s love to the people.

In 1990 Hawkins joined the Scandinavia leg of BeBe and CeCe Winans European tour In November of 1993 he appeared in Oslo, Norway, with Richard Smallwood. “Whatever God has in store for me I will take. If you keep believing, faith will work.”

Hawkins has a page on MySpace at www.myspace.com/hawkins1