India’s favourite roots music extravaganza, Jodhpur RIFF, is back at the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort. A veritable buffet of glorious musical traditions from around the world awaits you.
Come October 26 and under the brightest full moon of Sharad Purnima, Jodhpur’s stunning Mehrangarh Fort will reverberate with glorious roots music and dance by celebrated Indian and international artists. Yes, India’s annual roots music festival, Jodhpur RIFF is back with a stellar line-up of performances, and will be held across five days in the blue city of Jodhpur. An incredible auditory experience, fuelled by the distinguished history of the grand mediaeval fort, the festival brings musical explorations in a spectacular ambience and is a treat you would not want to miss.
A platform for musicians
For one and a half decades, Jodhpur RIFF has been able to achieve a positive impact on the folk communities of Rajasthan, serving as a platform for folk artists to present their music and for younger musicians to practise their craft. In its 16th edition, the festival will have a special focus on Rajasthan’s percussion instruments-the dholak, bhapang and khartal. Audiences will be treated to star-studded performances and insightful interactive sessions with lesser-known treasures from the world of Indian roots music.
As the norm, the festival will continue its tradition of the Bal Mela where more than 2,500 children from schools across Jodhpur will witness the breadth of Rajasthani folk traditions through interactive performances by several troupes specialising in ghoomer, kathputli, kachchi ghodi, teraah taali and a crowd favourite-Rajasthan’s very own Circus! In addition, they will witness other young musicians their age taking to the stage and delighting their peers.
Fascinating musical unions
This year’s edition presents exciting collaborations between international and Indian artists-Cabo Verdean drummer Miroca Paris, for instance—and collaborations amongst Indian artists, bringing together classical and folk traditions of India. The festival is committed to creating a platform where roots artists are recognised on par with artists from all traditions. This celebration of varied musical forms makes it one of the most acclaimed roots music festivals in the world.
An illustrious legacy
Over 15 years, the cultural festival has been discovering, supporting and providing a platform to the jewels of Indian and Rajasthani roots music traditions; while also bringing some of the world’s most toasted roots musicians to India. This year too, it is all set to leave an indelible impact on the revival of Indian roots music.
“Every year, folk artistes amaze us with their talent and skill and we remain deeply impressed by the regard they have for their heritage and their willingness to pass on this priceless oral legacy. We are happy to provide a platform like Jodhpur RIFF to these incredible artists so they may be recognised and celebrated for their artistry and exemplary musicianship,” says HH Maharaja Gaj Singh II of Marwar-Jodhpur, Chief Patron of the festival.
Festival Director Divya Bhatia adds, “We are excited to begin a whole host of new collaborations, especially collaborations amongst Indian artists to the fore. We have Rajasthani folk artists collaborating with contemporary Indian jazz musicians, and with percussionists from different roots traditions. We will also be bringing roots dance in a way one hasn’t seen before-kathak dance performances set to Rajasthani folk songs and percussion.”
The magical fest-that begins at dawn and ends well after midnight-weaves an intricate aura of music and dance into the awe-inspiring architecture of the fort and its history.
Highlights of the RIFF stage
RIFF Dawns: The dawn concerts offering an experience of witnessing sunrise listening to soulful, serene music will feature the legendary vocal quartet Sharma Bandhu, popular for bhajans and renditions of Nirguni poetry and renowned Carnatic vocalist Mahesh Vinayakram. Another performance dedicated to wind instruments is by young Idu Khan Langa on the algoza followed by the Estonian group Kuula Hetke on their magical flutes.
Zenana Courtyard Stage: Island rhythm innovator Miroca Paris will captivate the audience with his warm, raspy voice and native Kriol while offering a fresh take on the heritage of Cabo Verdean music traditions. Italian award-winning trio from Naples, Suonno D’Ajere, will collaborate to restore the dignity of the Neapolitan vocal tradition. Italy’s Ars Nova Napoli will be performing a varied repertoire—from the Pizziche Pugliese to Sicilian serenades, from the Neapolitan classics to the Calabrian tarantellas.
The Cool Desert Project—collaboration between the Rajasthani folk trio SAZ and Rhys Sebastian, India’s leading saxophonist-will offer bluesy riffs, desert vibes and off-beat dance grooves. There is a solo violin performance by Jasser Haj Youssef, a master musician of the Aga Khan Music Program. Jeff Lang, Australia’s accomplished slide guitarist, songwriter and singer, will perform with percussionist Greh Sheehan, in his unique blues and roots style.
Living Legends: Bundu Khan Langa, nicknamed ‘Kohinoor’ by the late Queen Elizabeth II for his remarkable mastery of the khartal, will perform with his sons Zakir and Kasam, and colleague Bhanwaroo. And there is acclaimed vocalist Bade Ghazi Khan Manganiyar, known for his soulful voice and mastery of compositions in Sorath and Khamaiti.
Indie Roots: Independent musician Harpreet Singh will perform the long Punjabi poem Khooni Vaisakhi as a tribute to the victims of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Raina Peterson will perform Narsimha-ManLion, a dance piece that draws on classical Indian dance (mohiniyattam). And there is acclaimed kathak dancer Tarini Tripathi in first-time collaboration with Rajasthani artists.
Dance Bootcamp: This includes Asha Sapera, renowned dancer and singer from the Kalbeliya tribe, who will teach the famous Rajasthani dance form of ghoomar; and kathak dancer Tarini Tripathi, who has developed a fitness routine involving elements from her kathak training.
Club Mehran: Afrobeat and Nkumba System and Latin American DJ Chonta aka Alejandra Gomez, each one are bringing their groovy dance music for a late-night party to the fort. The highlight is Dholworks-a collaboration which brings together the historical battle of the Rajasthani dhol drummers.
RIFF Rustle: For the grand finale, a smorgasbord of performers will come together in a ‘rustle’. It will be led by Miroca Paris, Australian percussionist Greg Sheehan and Bombay Brass’s saxophonist Rhys Sebastian.
So come, experience the magic of music like never before!