Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur was bursting with earthy flavour on day three of the five day long Jodhpur RIFF with unique musical instruments,folk sounds and local tribal communities singing bhajans. As Rajasthans famed Langa and Manganiyar musicians (in the picture) filled the evening air with their wistful strains,the traditional folk musicians caught the audiences attention with four flat pieces of wood clapping called khartal,and songs from caravan towns in distant Rajasthan. The team ranged from the experienced Lakha Khan Manganiyar on the traditional sarangi who began the evening with Ustad Sultan Khan on the classical sarangi and Anwar Khan on vocals.
The Ustads overcame the barriers between classical and folk music with ease and performed some traditional tunes,while the folk artistes held a folk meets classical concert. Folk music is more of a visual treat while classical music is a listeners delight, said Sultan Khan who is all set to work with Carlos Santana in California later this year. We are poor people who perform for livelihood. These kind of opportunities are definitely going to help us revive an art form which,if not preserved may not exist after a few years, spoke Lakha Khan. Earlier in the day Ustad Allaudin Khan Langa,a string maestro from the endangered Langa community of musicians of western Rajasthan played a rare instrument called Surinda,an instrument from Pakistan,only four of which are available in the world today. There is nobody except for my sons and nephews who know how to play this instrument. I wish it wasnt dying a slow death, said Langa,while Maharaja Gaj Singh and his family watched with pride.
The artistes sang a range of songs from Sufi music to Meera bhajans in Marwari. The finale of the day was taken care of by an American folk ensemble from the Old Town School of Folk Music,Chicago,who played some multi-ethnic folk tracks,Woodie Guthrie,blue grass,Honky Tonk and some old time rock and roll.