PR: Grammy slide-guitar winner for SA collab (PLUS: audio interview)

Ragas of the Desert” sees Grammy-winning Indian slide guitarist Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt melding Indian classical and folk music, and collaborating with “Karoo Kitaar Blues” star Hannes Coetzee and his “slide-spoon” technique and SA Music Award winner Pops Mohamed

Ragas of the Desert: Vishwa Mohan Bhatt

Ragas of the Desert: Vishwa Mohan Bhatt

[[  Hear my interview with Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt on “Homeground Advantage”, my Fine Music Radio show (2013/06/11).  Listen now.  ]]

* Occasionally, this blog will post press releases about upcoming events, when they’re of special interest – or promise some unique musical moments, like South Africa’s own slide spoon-wielder Hannes Coetzee and multi-instrumentalist Pops Mohamed playing with Indian classical and folk slide-guitar master Pandit Bhatt. The following press release is from Inner Circle Entertainment.

When the Grammy Award winning Indian slide guitarist Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt takes to the stage in a two city tour titled Ragas of the Desert in June, local audiences will be treated to more than just Indian Classical and Folk Music by the master. A special feature on his South African tour are two collaborations with renowned musicians Hannes Coetzee and Pops Mohamed. Ragas of the Desert will feature traditional Indian Classical and Folk music segments,  as well as a convergence of African and Indian musical traditions. Hannes Coetzee will perform with Vishwa in the Cape Town concert and Pops Mohamed will perform with Vishwa at the  Johannesburg concert.

  • Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt

Vishwa Mohan Bhatt  learnt Indian Classical Music from the legendary sitar virtuoso Pandit Ravi Shankar. He traces his origin back to Miyan Tansen, a court musician of the 16th century Mughal emperor Akbar, and Tansen’s guru, the mystic, Swami Haridas.

  • Hannes Coetzee

Hannes Coetzee, from Herbertsdale,  met David Kramer in 2001 during the making of a programme on guitarists for local television.  Since that meeting Hannes, together with other musicians, joined Kramer in his  award-winning production Karoo Kitaar Blues, in which marginalised and forgotten musicians were showcased, playing authentic ‘ou liedjies’.  His right-hand finger picking style is called “optel en knyp” (pick up and pinch), and combined with his unique teaspoon slide technique, he ranks as one of the most unusual slide guitarists in the world. Hannes’ composition Mahalla became a rage on youtube and has since been included on an album by US folk group Carolina Chocolate Drops.

  • Pops Mohamed

Pops Mohamed is a well-travelled multi-instrumentalist, who has taken it upon himself to keep traditional sounds – from mbqanga to kwela and marabi – alive. He specialises in indigenous instruments; the Kora (a harp from West Africa), the Mbira (a thumb piano from Zimbabwe), the Didgeridoo (native to the Aboriginal people of Australia) and the Berimbau and the African Mouth Bow – developed by the South American Indians and the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert respectively.

His Kalamazoo and Sophiatown albums, released in 1991 and 1992 were both nominated for “Best Jazz Album” in South Africa’s OKTV Awards. Pops is also a record producer, who has travelled widely recording ancient music and producing what is now being labelled as “World Music”. Pops produced Moses Molelekwa’s double award winning album “Finding Ones Self”, which won both the “Best Contemporary Jazz Album” and “Best Traditional Jazz Album” in the 1996 FNB music awards. Pops toured Switzerland with Andreas Vollenweider’s band featuring Max Lasser and Busi Mhlongo. As a result of his travels, he is constantly developing new approaches to music and strives to preserve ancient musical instruments as well as ancient performance techniques.

  • Ragas of the Desert: Indian slide guitar with Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt

Vishwa Mohan Bhatt has taken his version of the slide guitar, also called the Mohan Veena, to audiences across the globe. He has attracted international acclaim and attention for his successful Indianisation of the Hawaiian guitar with his perfect assimilation of sitar, sarod and veena (traditional Indian instruments) techniques, by giving it an evolutionary design and shape. He added 14 more strings to increase its potential and then was born the instrument the Mohan Veena which is now recognised as a true Indian Classical instrument. With blinding speed and faultless legato, Bhatt is undoubtedly one of the most expressive, versatile and greatest slide guitar players in the world.

Like his guru Pandit Ravi Shankar, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt is also a composer and innovator. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt won the coveted Grammy Award in 1994 in the category Best World Music Album for his album “A Meeting by the River” with Ry Cooder. He has also collaborated with artistes like Taj Mahal, Béla Fleck, Jerry Douglas, and performed in the 2004 Crossroads Guitar Festival, organised by Eric Clapton.

Vishwa Mohan Bhatt is accompanied on the tour by the Manganiyars, a group of folk musicians from the desert in Rajasthan, who perhaps have the richest legacy of folk music behind them. With a characteristic vocal technique, full throated singing and an eclectic blend of rare folk instruments, their music is nothing short of magic. Among them, Anwar Khan and Firoze Khan along with their troupe have brought Rajasthani folk music out of its closeted existence into mainstream acceptance. Their performances with the tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain’s Masters of Percussion tour have brought them international acclaim. The Manganiyars have popularly toured Europe and the rest of the world as the “Divana Ensemble”, performing at Musica Populi in Florence, Garnier Opera House in Paris, and La Villet. They also performed in the “From Sitar to the Guitar” evening created by Ravi Shankar and Yehudi Menuhin, in Brussels and performed for a week at Sydney Opera House. Their recent performances with Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt at Womex, FMM Sines Music Festival in Portugal, and Ethno Port Poznan Festival have been highly acclaimed.

Slide-spoon guitar master Hannes Coetzee performs at the Solms-Delta Oesfees

Hannes Coetzee (image supplied)

  • Ragas of the Desert: In Cape Town and Johannesburg

Ragas of the Desert is a meeting of the masters inspired by the vast expanses of the Thar desert of Rajasthan, India.  The spiralling sounds of the mohan veena intertwine with the vocal harmonies of the Manganiyars, the melodies of the kamancheh, and the ecstatic rhythms of the tabla, dholak, and khadtal, like a long-distance message passing through the vast desert.

Ragas of the Desert is produced by Inner Circle Entertainment, the premier producer of Indian Classical music concerts in South Africa. Inner Circle has also produced the world’s first musical collaboration between India and South Africa, called Raga Afrika (which debuted at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 2004), and has created a platform for many South African musicians to collaborate with musicians from India in both countries.

  • Concert Dates:

Cape Town

  •  Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt  featuring Hannes Coetzee

Saturday 8 June; 7.30pm

Cape Town International Convention Centre

Cape Town


  •  Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt featuring Pops Mohamed

Sunday 9 June; 4.00pm

The Lyric Theatre

Gold Reef City


Tickets are available from Computicket.

Read more:

Pops Mohamed at the Cape Town World Music Festival

Pops Mohamed (Image supplied)

Issued on behalf of Inner Circle Entertainment, Cape Town, 8 May 2013

More on:

Inner Circle Entertainment is the premier producer of Indian Classical music concerts in South Africa. Inner Circle Entertainment’s productions have been noted and acclaimed by leading UK based world music magazine, SONGLINES. Previous productions include Celebration of Sitar (with Ustad Shujaat Khan), Celebration of Santoor, (with santoor legend Pt Shivkumar Sharma and Rahul Sharma), Ragas of Romance (with flautist Rakesh Chaurasia and Tarun Bhattacharya), Jagjit Singh Live in South Africa, Raga Afrika (the world’s first musical collaboration between South Africa and India),  Two Shades of Raga (with sitarist Ustad Shahid Parvez and flautist Rupak Kulkarni), and Three Shades of Raga with vocalist Pandit Jasraj, violinist Kala Ramnath, and sarodist Ken Zuckerman.


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