Crisp mountain air caressing your face, a breathtaking vista where puffs of clouds play hide-and-seek, and riffs and beats of sweet ‘n’ sizzling renditions floating past you: This is what makes Kasauli Rhythm & Blues Festival magical, iconic and, increasingly, much-anticipated. Far away from the stress and worries of city life, the quaint, quiet town of Kasauli transforms into an idyll where the soul thrives on music, mountains, friendships, and most importantly, the joy of giving.
Bigger, better than before
Kasauli Rhythm & Blues Festival 2015 was no different in that sense. And yet, in many other ways, it was much more than that. It was bigger, better and went far beyond—to support the medical treatment of 15 critically ill under-privileged children, more than ever before.
The Festival, now in its fourth year, hit huge highs that included a heady concoction of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Pop, Folk Fusion and Sufi, had a whopping attendance of more than 650 people—a housefull—and won tremendous media coverage.
Magical performances on day 1
Day 1 of the event dawned with bright sunshine and a buzzing of anticipation, which only heightened when Barefaced Liar took stage.
They gave a rocking opening to the festival, setting the tone with a high-energy performance.
Then came SonamKalra, who reached into the very soul of every person in the audience, making them look inside and be joyful for the opportunity to be there and listen to her soul-stirring voice.
From soothing, the atmosphere when to electrifying as Kutle Khan and his group took stage, giving them a taste of the desert at the top of a mountain. And as if that wasn’t enough, Sonam and Kutle embarked on a jugalbandi that will go down forever as a special moment in life for everyone who heard them.
Whirling Kalapas came next, keeping the excitement and the energy up. Their very special Monkey Dance actually had the audience jumping around like monkeys!
The day ended with an electrifying performance by Swarathma, who took the excitement, the energy and the mood up to a crescendo. It was just the performance to end the day with, though nobody really wanted the day to end. What a Day 1 it was!
Day 2, and the rain couldn’t stop us!
The generous sun of day 1 hid behind angry clouds on day 2, and rain threatened to wash away the spirits of the music enthusiasts. But despite the downpour, the notes still soared high, the crowd still swayed and sang with the bands and above all, the purpose remained undefeated.
In the day, before the day gave in to the excitement of the evening, there was a session of CEOs jamming. The session brought out hidden gems of talent and had everyone joining in, celebrating music, friendship and just a happy time together.
When the afternoon was washed with rain, the day 2 performances began indoors with Do Dost, which had the rain-soaked day brewing with an all new crisp enthusiasm and energy. Do Dost was an ensemble with NirenChaudhary and Deepak Castellino, and they performed poems written by Niren’s daughter Aisha, who recently succumbed to an immune deficiency disorder and pulmonary fibrosisat the young age of 18 years. Aisha is an inspiration to everyone and her talent, spirit, optimism and sheer brilliance shined through every word her father sang. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room, and yet, there was a smile on every face. The audience joined in, celebrating Aisha’s life. Aisha’s memoir, My Little Epiphanies, is available here, and the proceeds go into the treatment of GF Kids.
And then it looked like the rain gods were letting up, and the stage was set again for the evening. The Supersonics took no time in getting the audience up and dancing, and ended their performance with a really unique version of RaghupatiRaghav. AkshayDeodhar was next, getting people on their feet and dancing along.
The Disparrows came next, upping the ante with some rocking numbers. Coming all the way from the US, The Disparrows chose the Kasauli Festival for their debut performance in India, and what a show they put up, braving the rain as it came down again.
When it looked like the rain was there to stay, the show was moved in again, with VasuDikshit of Swarathma setting up an impromptu performance as people settled in. Packed to the hilt, the hall inside Baikunth became the new venue as SuneetaRaoperformed her famous PareeHoon Main and AbkeBaras. The rain was forgotten and the audience was swaying in no time.
Finally, Rabbi Shergilltook stage and the hall reverberated to the tune of the audience singing along with him. Each number, each note hit the right chords, giving the festival a fitting finale and leaving everyone with a night to remember for a long, long time.
So long, and thanks for all the memories
On Day 3, the brunch at the Kasauli Club came with a serving of army bands performing lilting tunes that everyone joined in. And just like that, it was time to leave the mountain and music behind, and set course for home. But this time, with memories that will keep bringing back a smile—a weekend well spent, a chance to make a difference. The euphoria, the spirit and the level of participation, despite the rain, made this year’s festival one to remember and cherish for a long time.
A ‘trendy’ festival
This edition was the first time where the noise of Kasauli Rhythm & Blues Festival resounded across social media channels, which got in huge participation through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. The online contests supported by our sponsors and the bands helped in increasing the reach so much so that #KasauliRnB trended at no. 3 on day 1!
The festival was abuzz with a photos, with not just a selfie mania, but also with Samsung sharing framed photos taken with their new S6 and and GF photo stall capturing memories in a frame as well.
Also, to bring together as many people for the cause that the foundation supports, Genesis Foundation launched an app – GF Live (downloadable on iOS and android) through which one can have easy access to all the information and activities of the Foundation. You can download the app here.
You can catch all the updates, photos and videos here.
Making a BIG difference
The extravaganza and the entertainment at the event was unparalleled, but the most gratifying feeling that came along with its success was the fact that 15 little, under-privileged kids suffering from cardiac disorder, thalassemia, cancer and deformity; the cost of the treatment of which is prohibitive, would receive the medical care that their families could not have afforded. You can read more about the children here.
The two days of the festival at Baikunth Resorts, followed by an afternoon brunch had generous donors and musicians come together to Give Life a Chance. And with this festival, the chord that struck the loudest was that where there is a good deed involved, neither hail nor high water could seep in to dampen the spirits…