November 2016 saw Simon Thacker's Svara-Kanti debut in Bangladesh at the biggest festival in the region, Dhaka International Folk Fest, for an audience of 60 000 at the Army Stadium.
The lineup was the trio of me on guitar, Raju das Baul (voice and knomok) and Sarvar Sabri on tabla, and the programme featured my often radical reworkings of songs from the mystical Bengali Baul folk tradition, my instrumental music and the world premiere of two new songs I reimagined featuring special guest singer Farida Yasmin. To showcase the work i have been doing with these incredible songs in to such a huge audience in their heartland was very special.
Farida is one of Bangladesh's very finest Baul singers who I found after trawling through hundreds of Youtube videos over weeks. It seems divine providence that this happened at all, in that there was up to then only one (completely wrongly labelled!) video online of her, which actually cuts out half way through, and initially I was told it wouldn't be possible to get her for the Festival (she was confirmed on the day I flew). So between the randomness of the video even being put online, me finding it and the Fest finding her and coordinating everything to make it happen, maybe it was just meant to happen? Despite a slightly insane time frame to prepare (meeting Farida 48 hours before the concert, having been travelling for 24 hours!), experience and inspiration took over and the magic happened.
The reaction of the huge audience was fantastic, as the videos below attest, the new lineup with Farida worked beautifully (watch this space for more) and we had a fantastic experience in Dhaka, making so many new friends. We certainly hope to return soon. Kudos to Dhaka International Folk Fest for a great event that celebrates folk culture of the region and thank you to Made in Scotland and Creative Scotland for their support,
"The Scottish classical guitarist with a deep interest in the music of Bangladesh's folk bards was a refreshing element...There was no attempt at 'fusion' -- something that urbanite and westerners often try with our folk music -- but just a seamless amalgamation, and the khamak and nylon-string Spanish guitar sounded beautiful."