As hot winds lash through the Thar desert, the metallic twangs of a moorchang merge with the wooden clapping of a khartal in a tender melody Bole toh meetho laage.
In Ramsar village, Barmer, Rais Khan, Maange Khan and Magada Khan — the Barmer Boys — are at rehearsals. “The rehearsals are for a concert in June. I have been told that some famous musicians will also be there,” says Rais. On July 3, the Barmer Boys will be performing a set at the Roskilde Music Festival in Denmark, hours before The Rolling Stones take another stage in the same venue. But what’s endearing is that the three are oblivious to the import nor do they care.
“We hope it’s a good performance and we can entertain people who will come to see us,” says Rais, about the Danish festival that will be dominated by a slew of headbangers, rock lovers and EDM enthusiasts. So a couple of hours before the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band — Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood — takes the Orange stage to give those present some of their illustrious aural snapshots, Gloria stage will echo with Kesar tilak lagaavo, vaari jaaun.
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“We are still explaining the idea of a band to them and how to go about performing like one. They are used to unstructured performances and are always sort of jamming on stage, which is okay, but as of now we are putting things into a structure,” says Ashutosh Sharma, co-founder of Amarrass Records, who got in touch with the organisers of the festival and is helping the musicians perform there.
The Roskilde Festival has been around since 1971 is one of the largest European music festivals in the world. It has seen bands such as German electronic outfit Kaftwerk, psychedelic legends Animal Collective and pop diva Rihanna as headliners in the past.
As for the Barmer Boys, they know of The Rolling Stones frontman Jagger. A patron of the Jodhpur Rajasthan International Folk Festival, he attended the festival last year. “So Mick ji is Rolling Stones? Ye toh pata hi nahi tha. Ab thoda dar lag raha hai. I hope Allah is around when we perform,” says Rais. We can promise him the presence of the gods of rock ‘n’ roll.