As my Mother sips her evening whisky while rifling through the newspapers… And I down my Rum & Coke topped with ice while fiddling with my phone… She mumbles that the Yoga fever and obsession is getting to her. And how these celebrations are a bit much on the exchequer. She mentions June 21 and I quip back about it being World Music Day and all that jazz. ‘Ignoramus Moi’ is told that it is also International Yoga Day! Hmmm… So not cool I think to myself with a frown.

I am not quite sure how many know the significance of 21 June. Firstly it is the longest day in the year… This day usually marks the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, which is the day of the year with the most hours of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere and the fewest hours of daylight in the Southern Hemisphere. The event has been celebrated for centuries across the globe by pagans who visit Stonehenge to watch the sun rise among the stones. The celebration is often accompanied with bonfires, dancing and general merriment. Secondly, as I’ve recently learned that this day is now marked as International Yoga Day which is fine but since am no yoga fan I tend to not give it too much importance especially since it is being ‘thrust’ upon us whether we like it or not.

And thirdly… Well last, but not the least under any circumstances and which gives me great joy is that this day is also known as World Music Day. Also known as Fete de la Musique or Make Music Day, this is now an annual event celebrated on 21 June across the globe. Kick started in 1982 in France, it was popular as Fete de la Musique (meaning festival of music in French) by then French Minister of Culture Jack Lang. Musicians across the globe hold free concerts in parks, museums, and even train stations. The idea of the event is to promote peace and in the process make quality music available to all which I think is the very essence for what music stands for.

So this year, the 34th International Music Day takes place the world over. This is truly something special worth celebrating, as the annual event has spread its wings far and wide since its origins in France, where it continues to delight villages, towns and cities all over the country. It’s a great opportunity for musicians of all ages, amateur or professional, to play. This has become a worldwide phenomenon as countries across the world rejoice in their own unique way to celebrate the day. According to another theory, American musician Joel Cohen in France, in 1976, proposed an all-night music celebration to mark the beginning of the summer solstice and since then the entire world celebrates World Music Day on June 21. Over 32 countries across the world celebrate the day in their own way where musicians perform for free in parks, museums, train stations, castles etc. World Music Day is celebrated in Argentina, Australia, Britain, Luxemburg, Germany, Switzerland, Costa Rica, China, India, Lebanon and several other countries.

Since India is a land of diversity with varied cultures, every region which has its own unique musical form celebrate the day to continue the eternal tradition of music. Which brings me to my all-time favourite band, since college days - Indus Creed. They are undoubtedly India’s front-running band and are considered the pioneers of rock music in the country for over 25 years. They blazed trails across India well before the advent of satellite TV into the country’s airwaves, setting the stage for today’s fertile Indie scene. From rock shows in Goa and Bombay that I attended to small gigs in my college auditorium, their path breaking albums are still considered an inspiration.

The lead singer and founder of India’s leading rock band Indus Creed, Uday Benegal began his journey in the mid-80s with one of India’s earliest groups, Rock Machine. With those two pioneering bands, he was a rage across India and abroad through the 90s, won an Asia-wide MTV Video Music Award for the Indus Creed song “Pretty Child,” performed live with Guns ‘N Roses guitarist Slash, shared the stage with Bon Jovi, and played at Peter Gabriel’s prestigious WOMAD festival in the UK.

My love for this band and its music goes back to ’89… Stuffed into my packed college auditorium…sweating it out…dancing away to Rock ‘n’ Roll Renegade with adrenalin pumping and sparkly eyes are a warm, happy memory. Then the quest in reaching rock fests and gigs and crawling under barbed wires and jumping over barricades just to hear Uday croon… And the band members pelting out hard rock. The multi-award-winning band first put India on the international rock map from the late 1980s to the late 1990s with achievements that spiralled out of control thereafter as they toured India, the UK and the Middle East extensively. To name a few:

  • playing at Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD festival in Reading, UK
  • performing with Bon Jovi to over 40,000 people in Bombay
  • playing on stage with Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash for MTV India’s launch
  • being the first Indian band to feature on MTV
  • winning numerous video music awards including the Asia-wide MTV Viewers’ Choice Award for their song “Pretty Child”
  • being named Best Indian Band by Channel V
  • being awarded VH1 India’s first ever Hall of Fame Award
  • being inducted into the Indian Recording Arts Academy Hall of Fame

The band’s debut album Rock 'n' Roll Renegade (CBS) was the largest selling rock album in the country. Their second album, The Second Coming, spawned their hit “Pretty Child”. The third album, titled Indus Creed, was recorded in Los Angeles in 1994 and released worldwide by BMG-Crescendo. Their video "Trapped" was nominated by Channel V for a Billboard Viewers' Choice Award and by MTV for its Asian Viewer’s Choice Award. Their fifth video, "Sleep", was nominated for MTV’s Indian Viewer’s Choice in 1996. In 1998 Indus Creed were named Best Indian Band by Channel V and in 1994, MTV produced a Rockumentary on Indus Creed, the first they had created on a non-Western act.

When Indus Creed regrouped in 2010, after a 13-year hiatus, they went on to carve new trails yet again, headlining festivals across the country and winning a bunch of awards, including:

- Best Band at the Jack Daniel’s Rock Awards in 2012

- Best Rock Artist at the Radio City Freedom Awards in 2013

- Vh1 India’s first ever Hall of Fame award in 2014

Uday had moved to New York in 1999 with his new Indo-rock band Alms for Shanti, with whom he performed extensively across New York City’s vibrant club scene and at festivals in the US, Canada and India. In 2008, Uday moved back to India and re-entered the country’s newly exploding music scene with a bang. As soon as he created his acoustic trio Whirling Kalapas, they were invited to perform at Celebrate Bandra. Shortly thereafter, he re-formed Indus Creed and released their newest album “Evolve” (he wrote and composed all the songs, including the hit track “Fireflies”), which was mixed by the Grammy-nominated engineer Tim Palmer, renowned for his work with Pearl Jam, U2, Ozzy Osbourne, Mark Knopfler and Tears for Fears. In 2012, Indus Creed opened for legendary rock band Santana in Bangalore, India which was one of those unforgettable moments. Their videos “Fireflies”, as well as their latest single, “Thief”, are favourites on social media platforms.

Uday produces music independently of his bands as well, and has sung and composed innumerable advertising jingles and sang a song for the Bollywood movie “Wake Up Sid.” Most recently, he was featured as a guest producer on all three seasons of FOX Life’s music series Soundtrek, and was invited for two consecutive years by Ray-Ban to be a mentor on their talent discovery series called Ray-Ban Never Hide Sounds. In addition to his illustrious music career, Uday is also a prolific writer and has written for a number of publications in the US and India, including The Village Voice, Time Out New York, Midday, Man’s World, GQ, ForbesLife, Tehelka and Rolling Stone India. Extremely popular on Facebook, with a huge fan following, his updates are not only rib-tickling but his serious sarcasm is a reflection of his great sense of humour.

In Uday’s opinion, his journey has just begun; the dynamic musician isn’t planning to slow down anytime soon. Indus Creed are working on a new album, Whirling Kalapas have been on a hectic concert tour and he will be releasing his own solo work this year. Meanwhile, he continues to write, record and perform with equal if not greater enthusiasm than ever. Uday is definitely one of India’s most influential independent musicians and one of the nicest people to chat and interact with.

~ When I hear that rock and roll

It gets down to my soul

When it's real rock and roll, oh rock and roll ~

- Rock It (Prime Jive) – Queen -