HIGHWAY 61 – Sufi Ethnic Rock Music

Band Highway 61
Band Highway 61

Music finds you, its not the other way around…..” says Mohammed Muneem lead vocalist, for the band Highway 61. At 7 pm on a Friday evening last week, 3 musicians took the stage, played music and sang their hearts out, winning over a sceptical audience and creating a permanent fan base of young, old and forever young at heart, alike. That is the power of music and Highway 61. A city based, 6 member Sufi ethnic rock band, of which 3 of them; Hardik Vaghela (keyboard & vocals), Mohammed Muneem (lead vocals) and Rohit Vasudevan, (guitar & vocals) were present that evening performing their unique brand of music at Gyaan Adab.

Over 90 minutes this trio of young musicians not only sang their original compositions like Fitna Futoor, Mazhab, Sahibo (which incidentally is part of an upcoming bollywood soundtrack), Charkha among others from their repertoire but also gave the audience a peek into their soul through their lyrics. A range of emotions from the current political scenario, religion, the love for one’s land, to the longing of a lover when parting for the day, unfolded in front of an eclectic mix of around 150+ people who weren’t expecting such a mellifluous amalgamation of poetry, thoughts and music. Even though some of the songs were in languages like Urdu and Kashmiri they resonated with the audience and prompted a young mother among them, to stand in between a performance and mention that her 10 year old was enjoying the music even though she had no clue as to what the words meant. A glimpse of the lyrics for Fitna Futoor which go something like…

Ik Fitna hai ye duniya
Kya kya tu sahega
Bikhri Shama mein hai roushni chuur
Jalnay de isay roushni ko
Beshak haan hai tu
mera pyaara guruur

The uniqueness of the evening didn’t just stop with the band’s music but revolved around the 3 artists; Muneem’s, Rohit’s and Hardik’s ability to interact with their insatiable audience. The 3 of them took turns to let the audience peek into their backgrounds, their aspirations and what they want their music to communicate. They also answered questions that the audience threw at them as to how they pen their songs, the hidden thought or story behind a song, what inspires them. The 3 youngsters also shared interesting tit bits that transpire during their weekly/sometimes daily, jamming sessions at Muziclub.in. A city based music school in Baner that the 6 of them combined, run to teach, as well as encourage and train around 350 aspiring musicians. This gives a glimpse of how the band members not only give back their knowledge to the community but their focus in wanting to propagate music as a career choice among youngsters. As Rohit mentioned, that evening, he hopes that many more parents encourage their musically inclined children to take up music as a profession as opposed to a vocation.

Highway 61 started their journey in Pune, 6 years ago and each of the 6 members although from varied cultural backgrounds & far flung states of India, found that their common love for music and their need to express themselves binds them together. Their soon to be released album “Alif” is the first milestone in their journey of self discovery, expression and creating an identity for themselves through their music. So far their music has been reaching their audience through their many performances at various music festivals across India like, Bajaa Gajaa, Kashmir Fest, as well as opening the act for international artists’ shows like the Bryan Adams Concert in Pune. The band also recently performed and recorded Sahibo for “Leapfrog to Coke Studio” a well-established platform for upcoming artists and exceptional talent and the said performance can be found on the YouTube channel as well.

Gyaan Adab wishes that the band achieves many more milestones, garners success, and keeps enthralling audiences, all the while creating an ocean of a fan base just like they did that Friday evening in the near future. One can reach these musicians and the music of Highway 61 through Facebook.

Mohammad, Hardik Vaghela and Rohit Vasudevan from the Band Highway 61
Mohammad explains the essence of Sufi music and elaborates on the meaning of their lyrics
Hardik speaks about his journey as a musician
Highway 61 performed to a packed house
Nityaasha Foundation