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This Desi Band Rocked and Raised Lot of Dough for Charity

The Houston Fusion Band performing classic rock n’ roll items at the Rock for Charity concert last Saturday, April 9.

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: For the past few years, an occasional concert or private event has shown that the desi community is just itching to get out of its mold of Bollywood or Classical music entertainment and get into unabashed Rock n’ Roll. The concert last Saturday evening, April 9 did just that and broke the myth that a bunch of local desis can’t put out a powerful enough set of songs to bring the house down.

The Rock for Charity concert held at the Cullen Auditorium at the University of Houston allowed the Indian Institute of Technology Alumni of Greater Houston to present The Horizon Fusion band to about 400 people who had never seen them perform on a large stage before and the audience wasn’t just desis. “We happy that there are lots of people from the mainstream here tonight too,” said IITAGH President Witty Bindra as he stepped out during the 30-minute intermission.

As an organization, the IITAGH has recently took on a more organized and aggressive stance among the other community groups in the Bayou City, to focus on education, mentoring and networking. “This event allowed us to focus our sights on raising funds for the Indo American Charity Foundation and Child Rights and You,” said Bindra when he opened the event, “with the proceeds from ticket sales going equally to both.”

During intermission, the Indian Consul General Sanjeev Arora came onstage to congratulate the organizers and marvel at the energetic first half. “We have some very talented musicians here,” he said, “all performing for a wonderful cause.” He then presented oversized checks of $5,000 each (presumably the banks will accept these for deposit!) to IACF and CRY Board of Directors.

From left: Artist Neil Sen who made the auctioned painting, Indian Consul General Sanjeev Arora, band performer Mukhul Singhee and IITAGH President Witty Bindra during intermission.

The concert was a 3-hour long tribute to classic rock favorites that took you back to the ‘70s and ‘80s and brought back memories of college days for many. But it also showed the lure of the genre on those in the audience who weren’t even born when these 30-year old hits came out.

All the nine musicians on stage – two on drums, 1 on keyboard, a percussionist and five guitarists – have day jobs but have committed themselves to the HFB and their range of songs shows that they play together often.

The first set started off with Hotel California, followed by a solo by Dr. Subrata Ghosh, a neurosurgeon who plays mean drums, singing a song – Child – by Filipino artist Kanty Aquilar. After two more energetic songs, Mukul Singhee took up the piano and sang a great version of The Beatles “Let It Be” to much screamed support from the backrowers. The was followed by a spirited version of Dire Straits “Sultans of Swing” with wonderful drum riffs at the end, and the set was closed out with Santana’s “Black Magic Woman”.

The second set was devoted to Pink Floyd, one of the premier rock bands of the era, and songs from their albums Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, with the title songs forming perfect bookends to the eight-song set. The children’s voices in the finale The Wall were sung by five teenage girls – the daughter of drummer Ghosh and her friends. The Pink Floyd set brought out the heavy singing and deep chords from the entire group and control over some of the more intricate pieces of rock music ever penned.  “This all seems so different from the music nowadays which is performance based,” said one person in the audience.

Part of the proceeds for the night came from an oil painting in red tones with black silhouettes made by Neil Sen, a Houston artist, of the band playing together. It was displayed in the lobby and was auctioned off for over $800. Outside the building, snacks were catered by Kiran’s restaurant and complimentary wine and beverages were served before the event started.

The IITAGH can be reached through its President, Witty Bindra at 281-303-6319 or wittybindra@yahoo.com


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