Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The DON of Education and Youth

Have you watched The Godfather? (or possibly read the novel)... Then you surely remember Don Corleone... While the title 'don' has come to be associated with the underworld (or what we in India call 'Bhai')... there is one good man who bears this title who has earned (and continues to earn) great accolades the world for his work with young boys (and nowadays even young girls)... I'm talking about DON BOSCO or St. John Bosco.

Just last month, was sitting on a pre-wedding meeting with this couple who had booked me to emcee their wedding who had planned to hold their nuptials at the Don Bosco shrine in Matunga, Mumbai... The mention flashed back all the memories of the weddings and the celebrations of family that we attended there... One of my aunts used to live in Parel and they were regulars at Don Bosco. She and my cousins were active members of the choir at the Shrine for many years... and obviously most of them got married in the Shrine... My only elder boy cousin also studied in the school... and from the stories that he shared it was really fun... During my time in Dubai, I encountered a group of alumni from Don Bosco's Matunga among past colleagues, my business clients as well as friends whose events I have managed.

During our childhood we'd spend most of our holidays at my grandmoms' place at Everard Nagar... and one May evening after the Rosary, they screened a documentary on St. John Bosco... and the Salesian movement and the incredible work they do in the community... mainly in encouraging education... And it all started with a call to Live The Dream.

As I entered college, my musical friends - the group that used to sing for inter-college competitions - used to belong to a Salesian parish, Our Lady of Dolours Church (Wadala). They invited me to sing with them as part of the special choir that used to sing for Wedding Masses and other occasions (many of them at the Don Bosco Shrine or at the crypt). This is where I got a first hand experience with the Salesians, and saw the work they did at the upliftment of young boys and guiding them into the right path. We've gone and spent time at Shelter Don Bosco - a home for children in need of care and protection. Many of the children at the home were ragpickers who needed to be kept not just out of the cold, but also away from drug addiction and other destructive tendencies... 

This is also where I learnt a lot of the music tricks I know now, including the encouragement to get back to the keyboard from observing the talent of our choir master. A few years later I was even part of the band led by Roney Gomes - who had studied at Don Bosco's School in Lonavala (a hill station close to Mumbai). Here's an account of the Don Bosco's Dream that inspired his mission (when he was just nine).

My first show singing with The Blending Stars was to celebrate the ordination of a Salesian priest at a reception conducted at the St. Joseph's Technical Institute in Kurla... Had a friend or two from the neighbourhood who had done their ITI diplomas at the institute... When I returned from Dubai though, three years ago, I found that this institute had grown to a full-fledged Engineering College - DBIT (being attended by a good number of boys - and girls as well - from my parish). There is also a School for Hospitality Studies (DBIHMCT) , and Institute of Management Studies and Research (DBIMR) and a Centre for Learning (DBCL) - where I myself got update on Digital Marketing prior to my current assignment at Publicis Media.

But my happiest association with the Salesians is to have a relative in their fold joining forces to make this world a better place... and take the youth Beyond The Horizon.

Happy Feast to all the Salesians, 
and all present and past Bosco-ites 
from any of their institutes 
in Mumbai, in India and across the globe.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Mahatma... The Martyr...

I'm proud to be Indian... and one of the most famous (and respected) Indians of all time would undoubtedly be Mahatma Gandhi for his ideology of non-violence that has inspired many great leaders around the world. 

Today on the 69th Anniversary of his death, I pay tribute to our great Indian leader here in this post, with what is said to have been his favorite bhajan... Vaishnav Jana To.

Right from early school, we were introduced to Mahatma Gandhi and his values... but it was in Grade 3 that we were introduced to history as a subject when the text started with Dadabhai Nowroji followed by Lokmanya Tilak, Lala Lajpatrai and then Mahatma Gandhi. Besides having to learn the dates of his birth and death, we were introduced to his battle against discrimination in South Africa... 

A few years later, in 1982 came the Richard Attenborough's biopic on the national (and internationally renowned) leader, played by Ben Kingsley. 'Gandhi' was running to full houses, and our entire family was seated in the first row of Regal Cinema in Mumbai looking up to 'Gandhi'. Another favorite bhajan that was on the background soundtrack was Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram.

A man of honour, Mahatma Gandhi found the end of the assasin's bullet on this day in 1948, like others who stood for justice, peace and truth... Here's a tribute by country singer Kris Kristofferson... They Killed Him.

Martyr's Day in India pays rich tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and his non-violent struggle for Indian Freedom. If you are Indian by nationality or even origin, spend a minute of silence in tribute to the Mahatma.... JAI HIND.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Music Through the Centuries... from Mozart to Alvin

Have you been following #MusicalBirthday on this blog or on my Facebook page? 

Ever since I started managing my page - https://www.facebook.com/sunilpintoentertains/, I try to keep in touch with the musical birthdays of the day... A couple of websites give me all the updates I need. 

This morning when I logged in, Famous Birthdays prompted me of the birthday from around 250 years ago (261 to be precise) - that of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. A musical master, not only of his time but of all ages - he's got some great compositions to his credit. Here have a listen...

Or you can sample Mozart's Most Famous and Popular Music @ spinditty.com

Do you remember Alice

I'm not referring to the Alice of Smokie (or the more recent and obscene Gompie muse)... 

Somewhere in the 1800s, Lewis Carroll  (also born on this day in 185 years ago - in 1832) wrote a Children's story - Alice in Wonderland. She had some wonderful adventures that made it to a Disney Classic over a 100 years later and has inspired some great music from all genres including Rock and Pop... Check out 11 of the Best Songs inspired by 'Alice In Wonderland' compiled by Fuse TV.

Moving to the 1900s, born today in 1919 is David Seville (that's the stage name for Ross Bagdasarian Sr.) who's been famous in the past 10 years or so with the four movies in the series... Here's their biggest song in The Chipmunks sound - The Chipmunk Song.

A little late for last Christmas... but early for the next one... 

Having started with Mozart... came across a Chipmunk version of the greatest Rap Battle of all time... Mozart vs Skrillex...

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Republic Day... and more celebrations

Started the day as always at church... but today was different... Today being a holiday, I walked home after Mass, and both the schools I passed had gathering on their sports fields to celebrate India's Republic Day. And the program included music as well. Got a link to this song composed and performed by a friend of mine who has been rocking stages across India with the best of Western, Bollywood and Punjabi music - Rohan Sequeira (who sometimes can be mistaken for Rohan Singh sporting the turban).

Did you know, that India is not the country who has a national holiday on 26th January. Do you know which other country celebrates it day today... Here's a clue!

Yes! It's Australia Day today...

And my celebrations for Republic Day had a mix of India and Australia... at a family wedding...

Attended the wedding of my cousins daughter in Mumbai... to an Australian citizen (of Indian origin)... Was the first wedding in the next generation in Mumbai... the previous two being in Dubai and Auckland respectively...

A very special practice we look forward to at weddings is the bridal special... and today's selection was Real Love by John Lennon.

Moving back Down Under, one of the best love songs I've heard from Australia... has been by Savage Garden - Truly Madly Deeply.

That's possibly on the playlist for the wedding reception for Shefali and Neil in a few days time. 

What's your favorite love song from Down Under?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Birthday Boys Three

Was the year 1974. We had just moved to our apartment in Chembur. A few months later, the society around us with 6 building was complete, and families started moving in. 

There was a friendly doctor who moved in to the building across. And a few months later the young couple had a bonny baby boy. They named him Sean (pronounced Shawn). And when we visited their house one morning, there was this song playing... and someone mentioned that the song was for the little boy... Song Sung Blue sounded like Sean to this three-year old.

He celebrates his 76th birthday today... and just recently announced the dates for his    50 Year Anniversary World Tour embarking in April this year... He will be in Europe around September - October. 

Another musician with a birthday today doing the rounds of Europe as early as next month will lead his orchestra will kick of his series of concerts in Netherlands which is also called by his own last name... Presenting the Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra playing Double O Boogie.

Jools Holland has introduced hundreds of established and new musical artists, from solo performers to bands and larger ensembles since 1992. The show is still going strong even in its 25th year now. Here's a performance on Later... with Jools Holland, by yet another singer celebrating his birthday, possibly the most popular of the family band Neville Brothers,  Aaron Neville - I Am A Pilgrim.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Good Feeling.... At Last

Aw... Sometimes I get a good feeling... 

I get a feeling that I never never never had before...

Heard those lyrics before... Sure you have if you love Flo Rida...

But that line comes from a 1962 hit for Etta James - Something's Got A Hold On Me...

Five songs on this post to remember this versatile singer with a powerful voice... who left us for her heavenly home, five years ago today... Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

Highly acclaimed, the celebrated producer Jerry Wexler once called her "the greatest of all modern blues singers". Check this out... It's A Man's Man's World 

Soul, blues, jazz, pop—put it in front of her, and she could sing it- even Rock n Roll Music.

Was lucky to find that live performance with Chuck Berry to celebrate Chuck's 60th birthday. He's 90 now...

"My mother always told me, even if a song has been done a thousand times, you can still bring something of your own to it. I'd like to think I did that." - Etta James

And the last song for this post is a true tribute to this great singer. Has been performed by Beyonce as a tribute to the legend Etta James.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Hello Dolly

She's just a simple Country girl... that has a Theme Park named after her...

She's also the first artist with Top 20 Hits on the Hot Country Chart in each decade since the '60s...


Had just entered college... and shown intent for participation in inter-college music competition. Was requested to meet at one of the classrooms... and when I walked into the room, a couple of my seniors were working out this duet... Islands In The Stream...

She loves duets - so she says -
"I'd love to do a duet, always wanted to work with Madonna, but she never asked."

The first time I remember hearing the name Dolly Parton was when my parents went to watch the rare movie with some of their friends... the movie was 9 to 5.

Usually a flashy dresser... when asked about her conservative attire in the movie, she replied,  
"It's really a totally different look for me … I loved the movie and I enjoyed doing it, but I couldn't wait to get out of those little suits and get into my trashy stuff."

While on looks, 
"People ask me how long it takes to do my hair and I say, 'I don't know, I'm never there.'"

In which case you may wonder how many wigs she owns,
“I don't know, I've got better things to do than count them. But I wear one every day of the week, so probably 365.”

And her image
“Now people are always asking me, What do you want people to say about you 100 years from now?' I always say I want them to say ‘Dang, don't she still look good for her age’.”

She possibly would like to be remembered as the Backwoods Barbie.

Was listening to that album and was quite surprised to find her singing this cover from the Fine Young Cannibals - Drives Me Crazy.

The biggest cover version of one of her songs is possibly also the biggest hit single for Whitney Houston - included it in my tribute to her on this blog in the post 'Whitney - A Musical Birthday Remembrance'

Talking about LOVE... 
"I love to flirt, and I've never met a man I didn't like."

But she's been married to the same man for more than 50 years (since 1966) to Carl Thomas Dean.

Just last month she was part of the Tennessee Wildfire Telethon to support people who suffered losses from the wildfires. This performance of Here You Go Again is from an earlier telethon.

2016 was a big year for Dolly Parton, since that's when she managed to get a Top Hit on the Charts for this decade. The song was one that she has a hit with back in the 1970s, but this time put together with a capella group Pentatonix - Jolene.

DOLLY PARTON is 71 today

And our wish for her is that she continues making great music like she has in all these many years... and a host of new collaborations like this one... Forever Country.

"My songs are the door to every dream I've ever had and every success I've ever achieved." 

HAPPY #MusicalBirthday 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Peaceful Easy Feeling

"I just love singing with other people, finding harmony parts and blending..."

Absolutely True... I would not have been able to say it better... But those are not my words... That line was quoted by one of the very best...

Classic Rock Legend Glenn Frey... who's took a trip to his heavenly above, this day last year... 

Was introduced to the Eagles in my late-teens, around the same time I started as an RJ at the radio station in Mumbai... and thoroughly enjoyed the music especially their fantastic harmony... Having grown up with harmony myself, I'd never ever miss the chance to harmonize either in the choir, or anytime I jam up with the band at my various events.

Back to Glenn Frey, this blog had a post on his last birthday - 6 Nov 2015 - titled Saxy Guitars including some of his special songs... The biggest song ever from the Eagles has and possibly will always be Hotel California - the dream song that every guitarist would like to play... 

At Grammy 2016, his co-band members from the Eagles - Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy Schmidt performed a tribute to Glenn Frey along with Jackson Browne who co-wrote Take It Easy with Glenn...

Jackson Browne says, "I used to not sing Take It Easy because I just had the feeling when I was singing it that everybody thought I was singing an Eagles song. The truth is, that song, because of the Eagles' hit, and because of what Glenn did to that song, it's hugely popular – probably the most famous song I ever had anything to do with – and a complete joy to play."

And Glenn Frey said "Take it Easy was the beginning of country rock."

And speaking of country, here's a tribute to Glenn from the heart of the country - the Grand Ole Opry - Vince Gill singing Peaceful Easy Feeling.

Will leave you with a song, that I just heard earlier today... written by Glenn Frey and Jack Tempchin... and featured on the Eagles' final album - Long Road out of Eden. I found this song on the default page of the Eagles' website... a song titled It's Your World Now. If I weren't at work right now, I'd possibly have a tear rolling down my cheek in his memory.

How did you like this post? What's your favorite Glenn Frey song? Do share in the comments right here...

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Harvest Festivals of India

Two weeks into the New Year... and what a busy year it has been. 

New objectives at work, new assignments and show-filled weekend have kept me away from social media...

Had a holiday from work today, but was still out of home for most of the day... 

Started the day with the regular worship at the 7.00am morning Mass... Stopped for breakfast a little later at my favorite South Indian restaurant... and there was clearly a favorite order of the day... something  I haven't really tried to date... The name of the dish made with rice, jaggery and milk is the same word as milk boiled over... 

The dish has the same name as a festival celebrated today... A harvest festival down in the South of India... is called PONGAL.

If you're up in the North, the harvest festival is called Lohri... and when said in Punjabi, would be Lodi (लोहड़ी)

The first time I heard the song, I actually pronounced the name like the Punjabi name... but when I played it, it was Lo-die. 

As I played the song just now... one of the boys asked me, "What is Lodi?". My answer "I don't know..." And then whenever we don't know something... there comes Google to the rescue... Lodi to John Fogerty referred to a place where one 'does not want to be' using the name of the a small agricultural town in California that not many people know about...

We've been to North and South... In the East the harvest festival celebrated today is Bihu. In the west of India (Maharashtra) it is called Makar Sankranti and marked with the sharing of sesame balls (til gul). Got some of these sent to us earlier this week. 

If you're anywhere in the West of India, especially in the smaller towns of Maharastra, Gujarat and Rajasthan, you would see a lot of colour in the sky... the colours of kites... I know of families who specifically travel to their hometowns and spend the evening on this day with kite-flying competitions... 

As I look at the picture up there, I recall my own childhood days and most of the local shops would have this colourful display of all shapes and sizes of kites. We too would occasionally buy a kite... and head out to the terrace of our building to fly it... All the boys of the building would be up there and watching the kite as it rose higher and higher. And as another kite came close by... it would be competion time... on who had the stronger kite... The hero of our building was Dinesh... who lives next door to me now... 

The day is almost done... and I need to get out of here... with both my boys... Let's Go Fly A Kite... 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Motion and Gravity

Earlier this week, I wrote a post on this blog to commemorate the birth anniversary of Louis Braille on World Braille Day. Also born on January 4th, though two centuries earlier was another legend, a physicist who defined the Laws of Motion... did I hear Poetry in Motion.

I recall learning about Sir Isaac Newton's laws of motion in school - maybe Grade 9 - all about inertia, acceleration, force and more... and while he took a break, his sat under his favourite fruit tree - The Apple Tree... till the Andrew Sisters came along with this song... Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree. (Incidentally January 6th is Apple Tree Day)

And while he was getting ready to move, the legendary apple fell and that led to another law, this time about True Gravity - a treat for lovers of Southern Rock. 

There is so much more music about Gravity. Was lucky to come across this performance by lesser known American singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles with Sir Elton John.

Some years ago, I came across an album called Backwoods Barbie by Country Superstar Dolly Parton, and it included this particular song with the word 'gravity' in the title. Give it a listen...

Jesus and Gravity - that's all you need... more of the former though. 

Got an assignment in a fund raiser to help renovate a 25 year old chapel in Kamaraj Nagar around Chembur/ Ghatkopar in Mumbai... Will be a music evening with some interesting performances... If you're free, do join me at the Holy Family Church Hall at Pestom Sagar, Chembur for more and more of music. See ya...

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Eyes Wide Shut

As I hopped off the train yesterday morning, I encountered a young boy in his early twenties holding a long white stick seeking the right place to stand. I took his hand and led him to the spot right under the board on the platform that read ' Handicapped and Cancer Patients'. As I continued on my way, I thanked the Lord for the gift of sight that he's bestowed on us... and for the opportunity to do a good deed...

Early this morning, as I picked up my newspaper and glanced at the masthead, I realised that it is World Braille Day to commemorate the birth anniversary of Louis Braille, the blind man who invented the script for the blind named after him - Braille.

The first time I encountered the word 'blind' was possibly in the nursery rhyme... I'm pretty sure that's the first time my sons too encountered the word. We worked this out sometime in 2010 - Three Blind Mice.

As I grew up, I came across the word 'blind' pretty often with reference to my brother, just a year older than me, who lost sight in his left eye in a domestic accident. I got into a conversation with a lady at a Silver Wedding reception I compered last week. As she drew my attention to her scarred eye, she related how my mother (a teacher) reacted emotionally at seeing someone with the similar condition as my brother. More than 40 years since the accident, my brother is a senior professional in the marketing communications industry in Auckland and his handicap never ever hampered him. 

Close your eyes for a moment and think of all the blind people you may know... who have conquered their handicap... How many names can you come up with?

High on my list is that phemomenon guitarist and Latino singer, José Feliciano. This post celebrates other musicians like him who have been seeing with the Angel Eyes (Jeff Healey).

From guitarists to the more popular piano. And having just got into a New Year, the first song that comes to my mind is this hit from 1983 by Stevie Wonder - I Just Called To Say I Love You.

That was around the first time the Grammy Awards were telecast to us on television, that sparked a new stage trend of miming the music videos. We used to put up Grammy shows at the Summer Camp and even at our own little neighbourhood as part of the Christmas programme. I've done a Stevie Wonder on stage on a couple of occasions. 

His classic rocking motion seems to be common among similar blind singer-pianists. I came across this really fantastic album of duets with Ray Charles called Genius Loves Company. But his all time Greatest Hit is I Just Can't Stop Loving You.

While the world lost Ray Charles in 2004, the next artist in this feature is from Italy and the song I have for you right here is one of my favorite Spanish Love songs. I love to play it with the Bossa Nova rhythm on my Yamaha keyboard - Besame Mucho by Andrea Bocelli.

While I'm racing against the clock, I've got just one more more blind artist to honour in this post... A different artist, but the fact that she's a lady... possibly the most famous blind woman after Helen Keller. I'm talking about the jazz pianist and singer - Diane Schuur. Here's adieu with a fantastic duet with the legendary Ray Charles (already on this list)... they're singing It Had To Be You.

A long recording but a perfect one to end this post with... How many more famous blind people can you think of? Go ahead, fill in the comments below...

Sunday, January 1, 2017

16 Going On 17

The messages on social media - especially WhatsApp have been pouring in much faster that I've been able to process them since early in the day yesterday. But for the musical mind in me - this picture actually got my attention...

That picture took me straight back to The Sound Of Music to the Von Trapp garden with Liesl and Rolf. (Charmain Carr who played Liesl in the movie was 16 going on 17 in the movie, but did not make it with us to 2017).

Which other songs do you know with the number 17?...

The first song I can think of is the 'Rock n Roll' favorite by the Beatles which forms an integral part of the Jive set I used to sing in the band... I Saw Her Standing There (Just Seventeen) by the Beatles - performed by an all musical starcast here...

Seventeen is an interesting age... I have my fair share of them being part of the Confirmation Catechesis team at the parish... the group includes really talented youth waiting to make their mark wherever they go... I sincerely wish them all the very best in this year 2017.

Also wishing all the readers and listeners of this blog post a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR 2017... While this year has been dedicated by the UN as the International Year for Sustainable Tourism For Development, I extend the invitation to make a little contribution to this effort...




YEAR 2017

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