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To Sunday Shillong,
To Sunday Shillong,
Kudos to Willie Gordon Suting for penning down interviews with veteran musicians of Shillong. It is quite refreshing bringing nostalgic moments.
However, being an avid music lover influenced by my late elder siblings, who were artistes and performers and also being blessed with an opportunity to listen to favourite musical pieces from the age of hand-operated gramophones and vinyl records, may I be allowed to add some missing facts in the article. I can still recall the unimaginable changes in the musical scenario of Shillong from the mid-50s till date.
Jaiaw Orchestra was the combined efforts of musical stalwarts of those days (mid 50s), namely Webster Davies Jyrwa, Berry Well Kyndiah and other talented musicians of Shillong. Later, in the early 60s, we witnessed emergence of smaller groups of musicians playing contemporary musical pieces such as The Dynamites, The Vanguards, The Vaudevilles, The Rebels, The Alpha Five, The Beat Five, The Fentones, The Rolling Beats, The Hurricanes, The Finches, The Daffodils, The Odds ‘n Ends, The Swingsters, The Scorpions, The Living Dead, The Rumnong Brothers, The Agents, The Falcon Hordes, The New Era. From the 70s onwards, more advanced musical groups did the rounds in Shillong such as The Super Sound Factory, Blood & Thunder, Rock Galaxy, Great Society, King Apple, Highway Band, Snow White, Mojo, Soulmate, Living High and so on.
There were individual artistes who earned respect and accolades not only at home but in leading metros of the country. To mention a few names – Charlies Domes known as a husky-voice Rock Vocalist of the Vanguards, Aitimon Warbah, Marvellous Massar, Helen Giri, Bettymon Warbah, Bransley Marbaniang known as Pat Boone of the East, Toto Wahlang similarised to Niel Sedaka, Phendry Wahlang nicknamed Andy Williams of Shillong, Tyrol Bridge Diengdoh dubbed as Ricky Nelson of Shillong, Gilbert Synnah who sounded like Perry Como, James Khyriem who belted out Cliff Richard’s and Brothers 4’s numbers so well, Roland Dohling of the Fentones, another Roland Dohling of the Odds ‘n Ends.
Headingson Ryntathiang is popularly known by the local fans as Engelbert Humperdinck of Jaiaw, Phom Lyttan as Elvis Presley on stage. Not to forget great musicians like George Cajee of Vanguards, Sherlock Giri of Fentones, Norman Pariat who played with Anandji Kalyanji in Bombay, Richard Marbaniang a classical guitarist famous in major cities of India, David Rynjah front man of the Vaudevilles, Anthony Rest a matured saxophonist and band leader of the Swingsters, Eddie Rynjah a renowned vocalist who spent his early musical stint in Calcutta and later teamed up with the Super Sound Factory, of course the one and only Lou Majaw who has had a very long experience in the music field from Calcutta to Shillong and the rest of the country.
One thing for record, Shillong in the 60s and 70s was renowned for its export of live bands to various locations, be it Tea Gardens, Oil Estates, Hotels and Night Clubs all over the country and even abroad!
Mentions were made about the early artistes who have to struggle in showcasing their talents in their renditions of popular numbers merely by listening to Radio progrmmes such as Radio Ceylon, Voice of America, BBC Hit Parade, Radio Australia and Radio Indonesia in addition to musical programmes of Akash Vani (AIR). Binaca Hit Parade was a musical programme aired by Radio Ceylon (Sri Lanka) not All India Radio as mentioned in the write-up. The full form of JS is Junior Statesman, a musical magazine which was a special supplementary publication of The Statesman newspaper (Calcutta).