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Bob Dylans B'day in honour of AIDS

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Shillong (UNI): The Meghalaya capital turned its passion for Western music into a tool to combat HIV/AIDS, as the city celebrated the 65th birthday celebration of legendary English musician Bob Dylan with an evening of pulsating music. The audiences were in for some all time hits of Bob Dylan last evening, as celebrated musician of the region Mr Lou Majaw took the stage in his trademark T-shirt and jeans shorts. Other artists to perform at the celebration included India-based English musician Liz Cotton, Delhi-based music director and guitarist Arjun Sen, musician and painter Lew Hilt, drummer Nondon Bagchi and the father-son duo of Anjan and Neel Dutt from Kolkata.

Started in 1972 by a handful of music lovers, Dylan's birthday celebration was into its 34th consecutive year in Shillong this year. Mr Majaw and some of his friends conceptualized the idea of the celebration in the early 1970s. It was a balmy Spring day in 1972, when Mr Majaw and the late Eddie Rynjah cranked out a soulfully supercharged performance at the modest Assam Club here with a handful of music aficionados. The event, titled 'Folklore: Phase One', showcased folk music with Dylan as the central theme. Thirty-four years have passed and 59-year old Mr Majaw rocked the show once again last evening at the performance that he called a 'celebration' and not a 'concert'.

However, the most significant feature in the celebrations was an effort to spread awareness against the menace of HIV/AIDS through music. Mr Majaw and socio-cultural organization Great Society, with support from UN agency UNAIDS, joined hands with NGO 'Maitri', which is working here to spread awareness about the dreaded disease. Some of the proceeds from the two-hour concert at the State Central Library Auditorium here would go towards setting up 'Matrigram' - a village for the care and support of children below the age of 10 who have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS. ''We wanted to reach out to the youth through music. We have joined hands with the Great Society and Mr Majaw, as their spirit could be a guiding force in the war against AIDS,'' said Sanjay Sharma, director of 'Maitri'.

The NGO already has nine acres of land donated by a philanthropist for setting up the 'Matrigram'. They are planning to have 22 children in the village by the end of this year. The audiences at the celebrations last evening, however, were treated to more than music. A lucky audience was chosen as the ''Dylan Look Alike''. Besides, a spectator sharing her birthday with Dylan grabbed a watch from Longines. Special merchandise to commemorate Dylan's birthday celebration was also sold at the venue. Those included T-shirts, sling bags, scarves, stickers, coasters, keychains, baseball caps and posters.

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