William Rodrigues is one of those young Goans, struggling it out back in Goa, stymied by limited opportunity, a small market, and the other negatives that go along with a small place. But I guess he loves Goa, and that's why he came recently with his Goan Boat Songs.
Needless to say, the charm of Goan music doesn't seem to be quite well represented in all its richness and diversity in cyberspace.
This Google.com search throws up some 700 entries related to "Goan music". Dulpod.com is an attempt at having a music magazine online. It could do with more regularity and inputs. (Look who's talking!)
But returning to my long-haired musician friend, William stumbled across me via the Net, and wrote in from some overseas location some months back. Hearing his 'Goan Boat Songs' (Sinaris, 2004, Rs 150) was quite refershing. It has a number of medleys that we would know, in Konkani, Portuguese and English.
There's the Goan folk song Santan Mauxi, the medley dulpod mix Come From England, the Portuguese Brazilian Maria Isabel, the Goan folk dulpod Aiz Etolo, the Portuguese Corredinho O Malhao, O Malhao, the Kunbi folk song Vauraddi, the mando and dulpods Surya Devun Gelo, Goan party medleys, Cadie Za Za, mando and dulpods Pauso Boglec Paulo, fuggdi song Gaddi Chalolea and the dekhni Aum Saiba Poltodi Vetam.
Some things don't change in Goa. Our musical prefernces stay frozen in time. Almost. Why complain? It reminds one of the days in the 'sixties, when Goa was undergoing severe transformations, and music perhaps remained one consoling constant.
Is this what the expat Goans would like to tune in to? Would the hype-chasing tourist who lands on the river boat cruise find a chord resonate in this music? What would the purist say at this packaging of Goan music?
William's CD puts it bluntly, when it says: "All songs are performed live. Ghumot (Goan drums) are played by William Rodrigues. No extra takes and fine editing is done, in order to preserve the feel of live music, with real performance and rustic nature."
William (36) says he's been playing since his school days in Fr Agnel's at Pilar, and has been on the drums, guitar and keyboards. He plays with Purple Haze, has his own one-man band, does solos and freelancing with other bands. Earlier he played with the Music Makers. This is his first CD, though he plans one of fuison music. Of late, he's been touring more often -- and has performed in Thailand, Singapore, around India, in Dubai, Portugal, and the UK. William's favourites are Latin music, Jazz, Country Western, and Goan.
What's the music scene like in Goa, a place of so much talent? "Just okay," he says, with a smile. "Technology is taking the place of music. There's a lot of confusion. Bands are sidelined by pre-recorded music. Some persons who don't know anything of music take advantage of it."
He feels the clubs are hardly cultivating suitable kinds of music. Not everyone is given exposure, and a chance to grow -- much is based on cliques.
Goa's musicians need a professional approach. Society should be quicker to recognise talent, he feels. Everyone should be given a chance to grow. "There is money, but people don't want to pay. They'd rather pay a musician from elsewhere than someone from Goa. Especially the hoteliers," he complains.
There's little or no support (specially for Western music) from the government and tax-payer funded institutions. Among musicians, the lack of originality stems from the fact that nobody's encouraging it. Of course, the small market of Goa also makes things further difficult for the musician. Musicians have to become producers here, and the small market in a small state means its unmatured too.
Maybe it's time for the musician from here to look at other channels of getting their work known. You can contact William at williamrodrigues1 at yahoo.com