Jul 22, 2012

Rock Instrumental First for Naga Rockers

This is for the data addicts: Manen Jamir becomes the third Naga musician following the Nagas’ own classical guitar pioneer Renthungo Merry (or more popularly ‘Ren Merry’) and recent acoustic guitarist Imlitemjen Imchen, to produce a full instrumental guitar music album.

Also, for winning the ‘third prize,’ Manen gets a bonus: He becomes the first rock guitarist from Nagaland with a rock guitar instrumental album. The axeman released his debut album ‘Days of a New Dawn,’ on Saturday, July 21 in Dimapur. Now he has got two bragging rights. Bragging is good for belt – if it’s where achievements are hung, actually.

The quietly confident, Speak-2-Words-Every-One-Hour and 5-inches tall Manen Jamir has come a long way – a distance farther than most hand-to-mouth rock musicians in “Rock Capital of India” could possibly ride, in fact. On Saturday evening, the highway to musical hell finally got pissed at the determined young man and threw him into Café Destination.

So there it was – Manen Jamir’s big night. After years of lack, toil and muck, his teenage dream had finally come true. ‘Days of a New Dawn’ was released by a happily-grinning Additional Chief Secretary Imlitemshi Jamir (… ‘Jamir’ kin ya aika liramai a ja na…). Competing with chief guest Mr. Alemtemshi Jamir’s smile were Manen’s proud parents and friends, well-wishers and fellow musicians. 

(Photo: Guitarist Manen Jamir)   

In the beginning…

There was a lot of waiting. For an event that was all about speed and complex finger runs, the chief guest was all Tortoise this time. He came in nearly two hours late of the scheduled program, set at 5:30 PM. While waiting for the Additional Chief Secretary to arrive, discussions turned from music in Nagaland to political issues, from the price of pork in Kohima to extortion. Finally, everyone agreed unanimously that Café Destination had a great ceiling – so they all began to stare at it. Some counted the fans.
Then the chief guest, Mr. Jamir, arrived – apologizing profusely. He was in a meeting with government officials. All forgiven and forgotten, the evening began with Church leader Rev. Toshi Longchar who said The Invocation while another prominent church leader of the Ao community, Rev. Lanu Longchar dedicated the album.

Speaking to the gathering after releasing the album, Alemtemshi Jamir – also Development Commissioner of the State – recalled his youth. Those days, he explained, the guitar Gods were in the like of Blues legends Chet Atkins and Eric Clapton. He expressed happiness that Manen Jamir had marked a notched for the music community in Nagaland. “The best thing” about the album, Jamir explained, is that “it makes your heart glad.” 

According to Jamir, one of the State’s top officials, the industry of music and the culture of economics must ‘merge’ if at all Nagas are to make a living out of producing music. For the phenomenon to be, Jamir explained, there has to be peace and economic development at all levels: “We have to have economic development; we have to have peace; we have to have economics.”

Associating economics with industry founded from peace, Alemtemshi Jamir also emphasized on a relative factor – ‘freedom.’ For talented Nagas to prosper in their field and benefit from it, they must be nurtured in circumstances of freedom. ‘This freedom includes peace; freedom to free speech and expression; freedom of life and freedom to prosper,’ the Development Commissioner told the gathering.

Unleashing a teaser from his debut album (already on sale), Manen Jamir took a performance.

Remember the Asteroids?

For the note of readers, he used to lead a Dimapur-based rock group called ‘The Asteroids’ which blazed through some concert halls before fizzling out. In the 2002 edition of the then-Hornbill Festival Rock Contest, he won the Best Lead Guitarist prize. Following that he took to setting up a music school ‘Hills praise Music Academy’ located in Nuton Basti in Dimapur and a branch, in Diphu, Assam.

Humble, quiet and soft-spoken, Manen is preparing to face the dangers of being a father of two, very soon. We wish him luck. No, no, in his music career, that is. 

(Photo Credit: A guy called "Minus Pongen" was kind enough to dispatch the two photographs)