Nov 27, 2011

Nagaland Music: Naga Orpheus Hunt’s 7 finalists

by Al Ngullie

Six finalists and a wildcard have scrapped through the last round of eliminations from the talent hunt Naga Orpheus Hunt 2011. Backed by live rock group, Incipit, 11 contestants had a shot at a vernacular and an English round.

From 11 contestants the evening initially brought down the contestants to six. Imtisenla, Sungtinaro Zarina Longchar, Athrong Sangtam, Kokliba Jing’s and Vetulu were the six contestants who made it to the finals based on the votes received and the Judges scores. 

After the round’s  performances Tsapila Anar, who was among the five eliminated contestants wooed the judges and made her way back into the show joining the top 6 finalists  finally leaving the show with Top 7 finalists. 

Top 7 Finalists

Athrong Sangtam                      

Tsapila Anar                                

Vetulu Curhah                          

Sungtinaro Zarina Longchar    


Kokliba Jings
The event was Judged by well-known Media personality and designer Bambi Kevichusa, musician Tali Angh and lead guitarist of one of India’s most prolific bands, Rudy Wallang of the blues rock group Soulmate.

The Top 7 finalists will be performing at the Hornbill’s achievers night on December 1 before they finally perform at the grand finale on December 15 at the M-fest in Mokokchung.

The final round of Voting starts on November 27. Voting cards are available at Crescendo Music Store Dimapur, Virtual Point Kechuchar Building in Mokokchung and Lineage Enterprises, Opp new Nst bus station in Kohima. 

(All photographs: courtesy Naga Orpheus Hunt 2011)

Nov 9, 2011

5 Minutes of True Blues with Rudy Wallang

by Al Ngullie
Once Upon a Time around 2001 AD when India was ruled by the Bhangara Raj, a warrior rode out from the east and stood on a lonely mountaintop. Armed with a mighty Fender axe, his long, brown locks probing the wind inquisitively, the lone warrior took in the wide expanse of the noisy kingdom below. 

What he saw filled the heart of this eastern warrior with sadness. The thunder and clang of barbaric axes of the metal warrior tribes were subjugating every aesthete in sight; the tin and boom of the Dohl and Bhangara warblers were torturing every tongue in this besieged kingdom. 

The hairy warrior had seen enough! The eastern breathed in deep and with a mighty battle cry, rode hard down towards the kingdom in distress.

Or somewhat like that.

And oh by the way, he was accompanied by a fair but equally mighty warrior princess from the green hills of Shillong.

Soulmate is easily one of India’s most well-known bands today, driven as much by their no-nonsense Blues as for their grit to stand out from a population struck down by metal – or “desi music.” Former member of two equally celebrated bands from the North East, The Great Society and the other, Mojo, Rudy Wallang of blues rock band Soulmate has come a long way. But he is unconvinced when you tell him he’s done a great job. 

“We are going to play with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers in Jakarta this December,” he explains quietly. The way he dropped the bomb, you might as well disclose that President Obama is your brother and not expect jaws around you to drop.

For a man who is known across music lovers in India, a date with one of the biggest bands in the world seems a casual proposition. Rudy Wallang, guitarist and songwriter, was interacting with The Morung Express at Niathu resort tonight. Wallang is in Nagaland as one of the judges of Naga Orpheus Hunt (formerly the Naga Idol).

“I was with Mojo nine years and The Great Society 12 years. With Soulmate I have realized many of my dreams; performed abroad; released albums; when Soulmate started playing the Blues everyone was critical; we have proved a lot of people wrong today,” Wallang explained as his cream coat shouted from amongst brown leather chairs.

Becoming Rock Hogs

Indeed the man has fought some dirt to where he – with Soulmate singer Tipriti “Tips” Kharbangar – is today.  Soulmate played its first concert at the ‘Roots Festival at the Water Sports Complex in Umiam. That was ages ago. Today, the band’s tour credentials are comparable to the amount ink needed to fill a small note book. From Katmandu to Bangalore, Delhi to Nagaland and of course from France to Singapore to good old United States of A, Soulmate is a road hog.   In 2007, Soulmate represented the country in the 23rd International Blues Challenge organized by The Blues Foundation of America, in Memphis, Tennessee, USA.  Oh, make that twice.

“We are not making a living out of it; but we are certainly making a life out of it,” Wallang explains as he discloses that Soulmate would be playing Jakarta International Blues Festival 2011 with legendary John Mayall’s bluesmen.  

In Good Company 

Tell us your history with Nagaland? “I am no stranger,” the affable Wallang confesses. “In fact,” he drops another bomb, “I have played concerts in Mokokchung, Wokha…” The man narrated how in Shillong when he was in college, he and his Naga pals concentrated more on jamming than on grabbing the results of education. Playing with music rigs which are today equivalent to dinosaurs, Wallang and his friends from Nagaland laid the foundation for a stint with Nagaland and her music fans. He played Dimapur in Nagaland in 2009, by the way.
Do you know any band or musician from Nagaland? No, not any. But bruised egos have a saving grace. “There was a musician called Kuku Haralu. He played fine, fine classical guitar,” Wallang said. 

The man is grateful for everything that continues to come his way. “There are money problems and sometimes it is hard; we are not making a living out of it but we are making a life out of it,’ he explains. “If that is not a blessing and God, I don’t know what it is.”
Soulmate has two albums ‘Shillong’ and the other ‘Moving on.’ 

Soulmate is currently working on a third output where he and Tipriti share songwriting duties. “I am a Musician,” the hairy warrior adds with a smile.

Photograph by Musician and Photographer Abhimanyu Ghoshal