Blackberrys Sharp Nights - Making Music a Style Statement

— by Vinod M Singh | Bangalore
Vieux Farka Toure at High Ultra Lounge, Bangalore

My musical preference is like an ‘all you can eat buffet’ – there’s room for everything. Therefore I eagerly agreed to cover Vieux Farka Toure’s live gig at High Ultra Lounge, while having absolutely no clue what I was in for. My editor in chief told me that it’s some sort of a music meets fashion event, produced by Blackberrys.

Blackberrys as most of you know is a menswear and accessories brand. This year its annual flagship event ‘Sharp Nights’ organized a five-city World Music tour, aptly named ‘Blackberrys Sharp Nights – Masters of World Music’. The Bangalore chapter of the tour featured Malian folk Fusion and Blues guitarist and singer Vieux Farka Toure.

Vieux Farka Toure at Blackberrys Sharp Nights, Bangalore
Often touted as The Hendrix of the Sahara, Toure’s bragging rights include being invited to perform at the opening celebration of the 2010 FIFA World Cup along with other performers including Shakira & Alicia Keys. His West African folk fusion combined with flamboyant costumes underscored how music and style have always been interlinked. The compositions surprisingly have a mild semblance to central Indian tunes (the kind you get to hear in Ram Leela, or Indian street theaters). Fuse that with bluesy strings and African percussion – that’s Vieux Farka Toure for you! A fine blend of world music that compels even the most uptight person to groove.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the opening act “Shoonya”, a Bangalore based World Music band, which I hadn't heard of, until yesterday. And just so you know, this is one band you must follow. They have plenty of videos on YouTube, which you MUST watch! (Here’s one)

Vieux Farka Toure at Blackberrys Sharp Nights, Bangalore
Halfway through the event, Nikhil Mohan, Managing Director, Blackberrys enlightened us on the objective of the ‘Masters of World Music’. This fashion and music tour aims at promoting local musical talent and institute a scholarship fund to help conserve traditional Indian music. Audiences were encouraged to donate for this cause and also participate in a fashion auction showcasing the Blackberrys AW '14 look, the proceeds of which will be used to nurture Indian traditional music schools, by providing scholarships for deserving students and funds for material support. To be honest the Blackberrys AW '14 collection is a great looking line of clothing, and people would have purchased them anyway, but it adds to the joy knowing that the money they've spent is also helping a noble cause.

The merger of fashion and music is nothing unique, especially for a city like Bangalore where music and style walk hand in hand; but what makes ‘Blackberrys Sharp Nights – Masters of World Music’ stand out is the mind blowing performance by Vieux Farka Toure.

Edited by Parmita Borah. Photos and videos by Vinod M Singh
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