The American Dream – 1
But I think this tour was meant to be.
The folks from the Kennedy Center had come to India and we were on their ‘recommended’ artist list. One night in Bangalore, we put together a hurried showcase for them and the deal was through. This was close to 2 years back.
At that time, it just seemed too distant to think about it! In the last quarter of 2009, when we were asked if we are free to perform in March 2011, in Washington DC, we did not know it would turn out to be this amazing!
The biggest hurdle for any artist traveling from India to anywhere in the West to perform is the visa and we had that sorted out for us because of the Kennedy Center’s prompt and efficient handling. The visas themselves were a breeze to get and by the time it was time to travel to the US, we were neck deep in so much work, that no one even realized it! In fact, we headed to the airport to catch our flights just as soon as we finished playing to about 20,000 people in Jayanagar for the Shivratri Celebrations that ended at 2 AM.
After a long long flight where we managed to get ‘some’ rest, we landed in Washington DC via London and were greeted by the very enthusiastic Ali, Girish and Vishesh who had driven down from New York and were ready for us at the airport. A scheduling problem with the cabs that were supposed to pick us up meant that we had to quickly hail cabs and head to our hotel which was a block away from the White House!
Jet Lag was a term that we had only heard in the past, but that night, our bodies were so used to the weather and the time in India, that none of us slept a wink! We woke up early the next morning and headed out on our rounds of Washington DC, where we passed the White House, which the whole band did not believe was the White House, their image of the White House largely being defined by ‘Independence Day‘
Maximum India @ The Kennedy Center
The Kennedy Center’s India focus festival ‘Maximum India’ was the corner stone of our short US tour. And this was where it all began. We landed up at the Millennium stage at the Kennedy Center just after lunch on Friday and with the expert help of the technical crew and some great resourcefulness, set up sound quite quickly!
A bit of a breather and we were on, to perform for the first ever time in the US of A.
It turned out to be quite an incredible performance, with close to a 1000 people getting together, packed into the long foyer that the Millennium stage was part of. I think everyone came prepared for a prim and proper concert before we changed their plans. Raghu was at his cajoling best, getting the audience to get off their seats, loosen their ties, and jump and dance and sing and scream along with us. And as you see below, we did quite well
You can watch the whole concert in the Kennedy Center Archives – http://www.kennedy-center.org/explorer/videos/?id=M4507
Ali and Girish, our US Management representatives, and Vishesh, their friend who had come along from New York were completely thrilled at the CD sales we managed that night :p It was a fantastic start to what would become a really memorable tour.