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Indian, Irish Music Blend in Harmony 

  • Lonny Shavelson

"Bouncy Bhangra leprechauns" is how the ethnically diverse musicians of Delhi 2 Dublin describe themselves and their band. Their sound is a free-flowing mix of Indian Bhangra and Irish jigs played on instruments including Irish fiddles, Indian tablas, sitars and electric guitars with computerized sound effects and vocals in English and Punjabi.

From classical acoustics to an electronic Indian-inspired sound

The group is based in Vancouver, Canada, but tabla player, Tarun Nayar, grew up in Montreal. Even though he was raised by a Punjabi father and an Irish-Scottish mother, Nayar said his first musical interests came from his Indian heritage. "I grew up playing tabla; from the age of seven I was trained in the Indian classical tradition."

A bit of Irish luck brings the band together

Eventually, Nayar added contemporary electronic music to his repertoire. In 2006, he had an opportunity to perform at a St. Patrick's Day Celtic festival in Vancouver. Since Nayar didn't know any Irish music, he found two Irish fiddlers and invited a friend, Sanjay Seran, to join them. Seran is a singer who was influenced by the American hard rock/metal bands Poison and Twisted Sister, and by the rock-infused Bhangra sound of English immigrants from Punjab, India.

The makeshift group's first performance featured Indian melodies played with Celtic riffs and Irish laments to a Bhangra beat. "We didn't really know what we were doing; we'd had about one or two rehearsals. But the crowd loved it," Nayar said.

One show turned into a series. The band added a dhol (drum) player and began making appearances at music festivals.

Irish and Indian music share a bittersweet flavor

Nayar resists labeling Delhi 2 Dublin either as a fusion or world music band, explaining that, "those are dated terms they do not apply to today's reality."

Instead he said a common thread runs through the band's musical roots. "There's kind of like this bittersweet thing that happens in both Indian music and Celtic music." Nayar characterized that shared feeling, as an introverted melancholy with overtones of happiness.

Delhi 2 Dublin has performed in Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia. The band's fourth CD is due to be released in November.

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