2013 in Review

2013 was a great year for music at Amarrass Records with artist tours, the establishment of Amarrass Nights@Lodi series of events, Barmer Boys on MTV, international releases of the 'At Home' series of recordings of Sakar Khan, Lakha Khan and Barmer Boys (and distribution deals in the US/Europe), a major presence at WOMEX 13 in Wales, and at IndiEarth XChange in Chennai. It was also a sad year that marked the passing away of kamaicha maestro Padma Shri Sakar Khan. A recap:

Lakha Khan accompanied by his son Dane, made their first US tour in April 2013 with 11 shows in 9 cities spanning the breadth of the United States. The sindhi sarangi maestro performed to standing ovations in Salem MA, Bloomington IN, New York City NY, Edison NJ, Nashville TN, Chicago IL, Madison WI, Iowa City IA, San Jose CA. Watch out for details on his upcoming release in 2014 | Lakha Khan - Live in Nashville!

Video: Lakha Khan US Tour (live in NYC).

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Amarrass Nights at Lodi is a monthly music showcase series established in 2013. The concerts take place in the beautiful, lush green settings of Lodi-The Garden Restaurant, set in the heart of sprawling Delhi. In a short span of a year, Amarrass Nights at Lodi have become 'must-see' events for music aficionados, visiting musicians, and more. Artists hosted include international and nationally renowned artists including Lakha Khan, Barmer Boys, Madou Sidiki Diabate, Charanjit Singh, Tri-P, GFD, Menwhopause, Suhail Yusuf Khan, Reaching The Roots, Kendraka, Audio Pervert, DaSaz and Spincycle. There is music in the garden with an open-air stage, a sampling of world-class food and beverages, and amenities such as valet parking. 2014 promises to be an exciting year already with shows by Kheta/Joga, Ghewar Firoze Anwar, Reaching the Roots already lined up with more to be announced soon. Stay tuned!

Video: Charanjit Singh (HIT95 FM live radio broadcast | Amarrass Nights@Lodi Dec 2013)

Video: Reaching the Roots (Amarrass Nights@Lodi, 22 Nov 2013).

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Our very own Barmer Boys featured on Season 3 of Coke Studio @ MTV!. The song Pir Jilani was a collaboration with Bollywood producer Clinton Cerejo and showcased the vocal powerhouse that is Mangey Khan. The 'Boys' have been on a roll in 2013, criss-crossing the country with shows in Mumbai, Chennai, Guwahati, Itanagar, Dibrugarh, Delhi and more. Stay tuned for details on the upcoming US Tour in April/May 2014. Get Barmer Boys debut album "At Home: Barmer Boys" at the Amarrass SHOP, at your local independent store, or online on Flipkart , iTunes USiTunes UKAmazon.com

Video: Barmer Boys sing Pir Jilani

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Amarrass at WOMEX 13 We were busy on the international music scene in 2013 with Ankur serving as WOMEX Music Jury Member ('samurai'), a conference session and a decked-out Amarrass Records booth at WOMEX 2013 in Cardiff, Wales. The music showcases featured some amazing performances from artists such as Mitu (Colombia), Ganesh Kumaresh (India), Ghazalaw (Wales/India - and Amarrass Desert Festival alumni!), Ebo Taylor (Ghana), Jambinai (Korea), Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita (Wales/Senegal), Fanfarai, Sidi Toure (Mali)... and the list goes on. Some videos of what went down:

Video: Jambinai at WOMEX 13

Video: Ebo Taylor at WOMEX 13

Video: Mitu at WOMEX 13

Video: Fanfarai at WOMEX 13

Video: Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita at WOMEX 13

We look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones, and a world of music at this year's WOMEX to be held at Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. ...........................................

GHEWAR + FIROZE

ghewar-firoze-khan

Brothers Ghewar Khan + Firoze Khan, the elder sons of the acclaimed musician Sakar Khan Manganiar, have been playing together since childhood. Today, the brothers are world renowned for their technical skill, emotional rendering and vast repertoire of traditional Managaniyar folk songs. Mainstays in Grammy-winning Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt's Desert Slide project, the brothers have also collaborated on projects in film, theatre and education.

Hailing from the village of Hamira, located just outside of the city of Jaisalmer in the heart of the Thar Desert of Western Rajasthan, India, Ghewar Khan plays the kamaicha, an instrument that distinguishes the Manganiars from other hereditary musician castes in the region. It is a bowed stringed lute, and was traditionally used to accompany voice. In recent times, with the instrumental innovation of musicians like Ghewar Khan, the kamaicha has become a solo instrument with its own unaccompanied virtuosic status. Firoze Khan plays the dholak, the double headed hand drum, and is the undisputed master of the instrument.

Musicians such as Ghewar and Firoze have been able to straddle two worlds - keeping a solid foot in the village life of traditional patronage relation and repertoire while also innovating musical imaginings through collaborations with artists and performers from all over the world. The brothers have toured internationally, most recently in Istanbul Turkey with Divana: Musicians and Poets of Rajasthan ongoing tour.

Tours/Events
Their touring experience spans over twenty years including performances at the Music Village (London, 1991), with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at an event organized by the Asian Music Circuit, in the "From father to son" program conceived and hosted by both Ravi Shankar and Yehudi Menuhin in 1995, the Sydney Music Festival held in Australia in 1997, a tour of France, the Festival de Musique Del Mon in Spain 2001, the UCLA program "Mirabai: Hindu Saint" in 2002, at the Theatre Viday in Switzerland in 2003, The Hong Kong Arts Festival in 2005, Light of Asia Festival in Paris 2011, The Folk & Fusion Concert at Saarang Madras 2012, Amarrass Desert Music Festival 2012 and various other internationally acclaimed concerts.

Ghewar and Firoze have received many honors and certificates for their participation and performances in festivals, workshops and education projects all over the world. The brothers music brings together great contemporary virtuosity with a sophistication deeply rooted in a legacy of performance. Their past experiences performing with world class musicians from around the world attest to a deep understanding of music and status as one of the finest musicians from India today.

Contact AMARRASS RECORDS ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) | 011-4666-1200 (Delhi) for artist bookings

Video: Ghewar and Firoze (from the Jan 2013 terrace sessions)

Video: Ghewar and Firoze with the late Sakar Khan (from the May 2012 'At Home' sessions)

Video: Ghewar and Firoze with Dara Khan (from the 2012 Amarrass Desert Music Festival)

BARMER BOYS/CLINTON CEREJO - Pir Jalani Video on Season 3, Coke Studio@MTV!

August 28, 2013: Barmer Boys/Clinton Cerejo's Pir Jalani video on Season 3 of Coke Studio @ MTV is now out! On TV screens this Saturday at 8:00pm India Standard Time. Folk with attitude! 21st Century Folk! A song to honour the great 11th century Sufi saint from Persia, Pir Abdul Qadir Jilani.

Video: Clinton Cerejo & Barmer Boys Pir Jalani, Coke Studio @ MTV Season 3 

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Get Barmer Boys debut album "At Home: Barmer Boys" at the Amarrass SHOP, at your local independent store, or online on Flipkart , iTunes USiTunes UKAmazon.com, OKListen 

Mohan Lal Lohar, blacksmith and woodworker

Mohan Lal Lohar is folk music’s equivalent of a polyglot---but with an added dimension. Not only can he play every wind, string, bow and percussion instrument native to his Rajasthan, he also makes them. His surname, ‘lohar’ (one who works with iron) denotes his caste and occupation: he is a blacksmith, from a family that has traditionally plied the trade.

But Mohan Lal is different. He combines a talent for music with his craftsmanship. At his workshop in Jaisalmer, the rhythmic beating of a piece of metal gives way within hours to the refined percussion of a freshly made morchang — just cool enough to play. The workshop itself belies what is produced in it. In one of the town’s many open-sewered lanes, it is just a portion of a small courtyard, under a shed that leaks; as much a play area for his goats as it is a place of work.

morchangs-by-mohan-lal-lohar-photo-by-ankur-malhotra

Lakha Khan, Sarangi maker

Lakha Khan is an acclaimed Sarangi craftsman and musician from the village of Raneri in Jodhpur district of Rajasthan. It takes him ten days labouring away on a single block of wood to just carve out this complex musical instrument - a testament to the decades of craftsmanship, persistence and passion for music.

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Speciality: Sarangi. Lakha Khan has four sarangis, each from a previous generation in his family. This instrument is in his blood. Contact us to find out how you can get a Sarangi handcrafted by the master.

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Shankara Ram Suthar, Kamancha maker

There is a reason why the kamanchas on view at Manganiyar performances have a charming antiquity about them. They often come stained, patched up, with bits of inlay work missing—all signs that they are in regular use. But they are, almost without exception, also very old.

This is where Shankara Ram Suthar’s story as master kamancha-maker begins. In the early eighties, academics—and musicians—found that no one was making kamanchas any more. They imported a batch of about 16 from Pakistan, where artisans evidently had a bit if stock, and these made their way to collectors and musicians. But with no local craftsmen, there was a problem.

Like the one Sakar Khan had. Sakarji, the greatest living exponent of the instrument (Amarrass will release an album of sessions with him soon), discovered that the mango wood belly of his kamancha had developed a crack. But with no artisans making the instrument, there was no one competent to carry out repairs either. Shankara Ram Suthar, the carpenter by trade and caste, lived near Sakarji in the little village of Hamira, Jaisalmer. The instrument was taken to Suthar, who, knowing it belonged to a master, carried out the repairs meticulously. Sakarji’s kamancha was good to play again.

The fact that the carpenter’s work had passed muster with the redoubtable Sakar Khan drew other musicians to Suthar. He carried out repairs for them, but there seemed to be few fresh orders. This, despite the efforts of government officials sensitive to the fact that the art of making kamanchas was dying: Suthar produced some excellent prototypes for them, but that was about it. If you were just making kamanchas, you were not making a living.

Suthar fell back on carpentry. He would travel to Pune to make furniture for a contractor, as half-made instruments languished in his little workshop in Hamira. He still does what he has to to earn a living, but we are happy to report that he has received fresh orders through the Amarrass Society for Performing Arts. A discerning British collector of stringed instruments (and pensioner), received his kamancha last month and said he was delighted. A second piece will shortly be on its way to the United States. And a third one makes its way to Germany this summer. We are, we hope, seeing the beginnings of a renewal of interest in this unique instrument. (below: our first kamancha sold!)

kamancha-uk-ship550-photo-by-ankur-malhotra

The kamanchas that are produced in Hamira are special not just because of the high level of craftsmanship that goes into making them. They are also the product of a secular collaboration. The Suthar crafts the wooden portions of the instrument - the sound box, the bow, the neck and so on, but his Hindu religious beliefs forbid him from working with animal hide or gut. Once the skeleton is finished, the Muslim Manganiyars take over, attaching the hide, adding the gut strings and, of course, tuning the instrument to ensure it is perfect. When Sakar Khan is within earshot, nothing less will do.

Shankara Ram Suthar's speciality: Kamancha. This is the instrument that is at the heart of the Manganiyars's music. And the Suthar is the finest maker of it. All he needs is a block of wood of his choosing. To order this unique instrument, write to us or order online:

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Contact

Amarrass Records India Pvt Ltd
301 Skipper Corner, 88 Nehru Place
New Delhi 110019 INDIA
+91-11-46661200
amarrassrecords@gmail.com

US Office: Amarrass Records
2124 E. Main St., Madison, WI, 53704
+1-608-334-0583

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