By Tom cat Colvin(Blues Asia Network)
Nepali blues-rock band Ashesh and Nekhvam successfully mounted its third European tour this summer, returning to its native Nepal on 24 September. Ashesh and Nekhvam performed in Norway, Scotland, England and Germany, participating in several music festivals and appearing at a number of clubs.
Ashesh and Nekhvam was established in 1994 by brothers Ashesh and Sibesh Dangol. “Nekhvan,” incidentally, means “crazy about music” in the local Newari language. The band has now established a firm reputation in Europe, first touring there in 2007. The German press reports that front man Ashesh is already popularly known in Europe as “The Himalayan Hendrix.” The band has recorded three albums: Free Spirit, Free Spirit II and New Spirit. During its tour, promoted as ”The New Spirit Tour,” the band performed selections from its albums, as well as songs from Hendrix, Cream and the Blues legends.
Ashesh and Nekhvam started this year’s tour at the Blues and Balance Festival in Husvaer, Norway, located on a very beautiful Island. This was their second time at the festival, and the band has already been booked to return again next summer. Their invitations were arranged by a fellow Nepali, now residing in Norway, as a tribute to his brother, who died in a mountaineer expedition in Nepal.
The band was in Norway on the day of the tragic massacre of many Norwegian young people by a deranged gunman. At its performance the following night, the band paid tribute to the victims with a solemn, newly-composed blues titled Sound for the Innocence, which was captured and shared on YouTube. The band also wrote a commemorative poem Sound for the Innocence, which was published in the local newspaper in Sandefjord, Norway.
A chance encounter in a Kathmandu bar led to Ashesh and Nekhvam’s performance in a music festival in Loxwood, Sussex, England. Festival organizer Ian became friends with the band during a recent visit to Nepal, and he immediately booked the band for this summer’s event. In fact, Ian introduced the band as “the main headliner of the show.” More than that, Ian served as band manager in England, booking additional gigs in venues around the country.
The band also played at the Edinburg Mela Festival, one of the biggest in Scotland. Ashesh and Nekhvam is the first Nepali band, in fact the first Blues Rock band from Asia to perform there..
Included in its tour of the United Kingdom were a number of charity performances:
Alter Ega Bar, London, for the education of children in Nepal
Charity Dinner, Reading, England, for the development of sports in Nepal
Nice and Sleazy, Glasgow, Scotland, charity for Botanical Garden for the Nepali in Scotland
It’s All Gravey Festival, Sussex, England, charity for the education of the African poor
Ashesh and Nekhvam concluded its tour in Germany. It is the first Nepali band to play in the big German festival/venue Fabrik in Hamburg, where legends like B.B King, Miles Davis, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and Nirvana have performed. This year’s appearance is the band’s second at the prestigious festival. Following its 2010 performance, Stafen, the press manager of Fabrik, reported that the band was a big surprise for organizers and audience, citing its amazing performance. This year Stafen said that the band’s performance was even more successful than that last year, with the audience shouting at the end of the set, “One more, one more, one more!” The band obliged with an encore, before yielding the stage to the next band. Reflecting later about this event, Ashesh said, “It was a great success in Fabrik, Hamburg. But to play in a venue like that is a tough job to do.” The band has already been booked for next years festival.
Added to the band;s itinerary was a performance at the Remember Jimi Festival in Fehmarn, Germany. This is the town where Jimi Hendrix played the last concert of his life. According to Ashesh, ”Being part of this festival, Remembring Jimi, and giving him a tribute performance made this the most memorable concert in this tour. We also went to see his stone marker carved with his name and guitar.”
With this tour, Ashesh and Nekhvam has proved again to the world that music can bring people together with Love, Peace and Harmony.
New Spirit Europe Tour 2011
23 July: Blues and Balance Festival, Norway
5 August: Leith Masonic Hall, Edinburgh
11 August: Nice n Sleazy, Glasgow
12 August: Alter Ega Bar, Balham, London, UK
14 August: UK NNRA Charity Event, Reading, UK
17 August: The Forester’s Arms, Kirdford, West Sussex
20 and 21 August: It’s All Gravy Festival, Sussex, UK
3 September: Edinburgh Mela 2011
4 September: Edinburgh Mela 2011
9 September: ‘Herzburg unterm Dach’ Festival, Fabrik, Hamburg, Germany