Feelin' the blues

Multi-award winning French Blues band Lil Red & The Roosters were in India recently, for a series of gigs
Electronic music is a 21st century phenomena which has made musicians and music lovers take to extremes. While some have embraced the new age electronic sound (EDM, Drum n Bass and so on), others have stayed neutral and experimented (shoegaze, triphop, nujazz, etc), while purists have effused to have anything to do with it at all. French blues band Lil Red & The Roosters play only for the love of the blues they grew up listening to.
“We have an electronic set up but we play the ‘roots’ blues format,” said the band’s Jennifer Milligan. As part of the recently concluded blues festival Simply The Blues, the band toured across four cities in India — Goa, Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
For many blues lovers, The Red Rooster, could almost be like an anthem. The 1961 song composed by Willie Dixon was an immediate hit after Howlin’ Wolf’s typical slide guitar rendition in the famous Delta Blues tradition. “When I was younger, my grandfather used to called me ‘the little red’. ‘The Roosters’ are guitarist Pascal Fouquet and Thomas Troussier on blues harp. And the rooster is also the symbol of France,” said Jennifer, explaining the band’s quirky name.
Jennifer, who grew up in Ohio, has a background in musical theatre. “From early on, I had been touring across the US, performing musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair,” she recounted. Later, she shifted to France where she met her future professional and personal partner Pascal Fouquet.
“In 2010, I was singing in a nightclub in Paris when I met Pascal. And he and Thomas had been playing together since the early ’90s,” Jennifer told us.
When we spoke over the phone, Jennifer was in Normandy and the band was getting ready to leave for India. Pascal wasn’t around. He had gone to throw the trash! “It would also be very difficult for him to converse in English,” Jennifer said.
Apart from contributing vocals, Jennifer also plays the percussions, including the washboard — an instrument that played an important role in the history of blues and is played a lot lesser these days.
Though their music follows the traditional patterns, Jennifer adds that they often tweak the words a bit: “Unfortunately, the lyrics in those days weren’t very empowering to women, so we try to contextualise and bring our own interpretation.” Jennifer’s icon is Ella Fitzgerald, while Pascal, she says, “is mad about B.B. King.”
Since this was their first trip to India, Jennifer and her bandmates didn’t quite know what to expect from the audience. When we had spoken over the phone, she first said, “Hope they will dance!” But after their gig in Mumbai, when we spoke again, she was very happy with the response.
“Mumbai was an eye opener for us as we saw a lot of young blues fans who knew their music, even some of the lesser known tracks we played. The washboard was a curiosity... Our high was to see couples get onto the floor and groove the night away — just shows that blues music can be a fun experience!”
( Source : deccan chronicle )
Next Story