Slide guitar like you've never heard it! Indian virtuoso brings his unique style to 3SArtspace
Updated: Jan 6, 2019
By Christopher Hislop, Posted October 8, 2015 at 2:01 AM.
Debashish Bhattacharya, a world-renowned Indian slide guitar virtuoso and designer, will perform at 3S Artspace on Wednesday, Oct. 14.
Debashish Bhattacharya is a world-renowned Indian slide guitar virtuoso and designer. He's a Grammy-nominated artist who has also won a BBC Planet Award for World Music. Bhattacharya prides himself in his work to spread the virtues of his culture through musical performance and education. He'll be making his debut New Hampshire performance at 3S Artspace on Wednesday, Oct. 14. His appearances are rare in general, so this is an occasion you may want to mark on your calendar if you're looking for an otherworldly mind-melting musical experience.
EDGE had the distinct pleasure of catching up with Debashish to learn a little bit more about what makes such a revered slide-guitarist tick - from influence to initiation.
EDGE: Why music? Why do you seek it? Why do you create it?
Bhattacharya: I seek and create more music for more people, more music for more relaxations for people, more music for a better social bond, more music we all need to use as the outlet of human expression, more music for celebration, more music for development of human brain and attitudes, more music for positive thinking and more music for the art of living. The music I create has a definite goal in service of mankind.
EDGE: Was there a moment or experience in particular that led you to chase music as a profession?
Bhattacharya: I always felt I should earn through performance and teaching. My first tuition was at the age of 14, but first concert as at the age of four when I got a five rupees check, but of course I found the love of my parents and saw their struggle to sustain monthly expenses... as the elder child I felt compelled to give a hand and share with them - and you know, it was just the right time. I never worked or had to work to make a living doing anything else besides making music on stage, in studio, or by helping others to learn music and play.
EDGE: Did you ever envision becoming a world traveler? What do you enjoy most about touring?
Bhattacharya: World travelling with my music was my teenaged dream, but (the) opportunity came only at the age 30. I enjoy most of my touring. I love flying, adventurous food, new nature sights, and meeting new people with expectations they come to me (to experience). They dream about India in my music - giving them what they come for is quite great.
EDGE: Your style of music is defined as Hindustani classical music. But, you seem to push the boundaries with your playing (you know, with the whole slide guitar thing ...). Is genre of concern to you? How do you describe what you do to someone who may not be familiar with it?
Bhattacharya: See I have performed in many parts of the world where people have never seen an Indian guy or know where India is. It's kind of opening (the) gate of Indian culture and music to (the) remote world. I'm a senior Raga music artist in my country. I have to handle both the portfolios very carefully. It's very difficult. Just two weeks ago, I delivered Indian music and culture to more than 3,000 school kids ranging from preschool to 10th grade throughout six public schools in San Antonio, Texas, who asked us why (we were) in long shirts, why (we were) sitting on floor with legs crossed, or why (we) left (our) shoes before coming on stage?
The music I play is universal, rooted deep in thousands of years of (the) Vedic period. It has the essence of peace, harmony and bliss. But it's essentially modern, engulfing the mood of reggae, hip-hop, rock, jazz and blues. That's what my music is all about. People can expect nothing, but they can spend a good happy two hours with me and may never feel bored.
EDGE: What's the importance of educating and exposing people around the globe to the musical traditions you grew up studying?
Bhattacharya: Practice of music should start at an early age. A musical education helps a person to stay cool within him or herself. It helps to grow a taste of music and build the power of tolerance, of understanding life, of understanding the world, to teach how to share or to be able to love yourself and share the same with others. Self-realization, which is an integral part of being human, can be nurtured by associating with the discipline of my music that I carry with me worldwide. I hope to inspire.
EDGE: You're heading to New Hampshire for a show at 3S Artspace here in Portsmouth. Do you have any history with New Hampshire? What excites you about this performance?
Bhattacharya: Does Boston come in New Hampshire? I've heard it's very pretty.
A new evening with freshly cooked music to be served with new guests and beloved music lovers of that part of world. Entertainment full of celebration starts with the mood peace, joy and love and goes on to the world unexplored.
EDGE: Final question. You're on record as saying you would have loved to have had the opportunity to collaborate with Ray Charles. That's interesting. Why Ray Charles?
Bhattacharya: My heart-felt Indian raga expression could benefit if Ray Charles would be at my side to sing along.