Creating meaningful music! | Page 2 | Daily News

Creating meaningful music!

Pictures by Sarath Peiris
Pictures by Sarath Peiris

Mintaka, is the westernmost star on the belt of Orion. It is a very bright and blue star and associated with very positive qualities. It also happens to be an ancient Arabic name for that star. It is a fitting name for such a talented band that is very versatile. Melodies speaks to Chris Dhason about Mintaka and its rise to glory.

“It had been a long time dream of mine to play in a band that concentrates predominantly on Soul, R&B, Blues and Funk for a long time. These genres were missing in the repertoires of all the Sri Lankan bands I had been hearing as most bands were concentrating on the “accepted dance songs” common to ‘paradise’,” said Dhason.

At the moment the band is Sheaam Dean and Terry Bertus on vocals, Viraj perera on keyboards, Nilantha “Coba” Ariyaratne on bass, veteran Revel Crake on guitar and myself on drums.

“Right now, we play together exclusively at the Kingsbury and that too only on Mondays. The reason being that Terry and Viraj (Both original members) now have their own band – ‘Rock This Country’, Nilantha and I have as our main gig, Wildfire. Revel is a freelance jazz musician and Sheaam runs his own studio,” stated Dhason.

Chris Dhason

Playing in Mintaka has been a phenomenal experience for all involved. It pretty much carved out their destinies. It set them on the path to stardom. Now they are successful musicians who have all benefited from playing alongside each other.

“Success is a subjective word. We started in March 2014 at The Qbaa Club. None of these musicians had experience with these genres before. I virtually handpicked them (Ramesh Nonis was the original guitarist) and threw them into the deep end. They were totally out of their comfort zone. They not only survived, but also dug deep and pulled out a facet of their talent they would never have realized was there, until they were challenged in this manner. Today I can proudly say that they all are better musicians because of the Mintaka experience,” explained Dhason.

Like the star Mintaka, Dhason and his band shine in the music industry. They have fast made a name for themselves as gifted musicians. Some of the songs he has done have made a huge impact on society.

“Most of my music is unreleased. However the 2002 Cricket championship trophy theme, “A rainbow out of sight” was written by me and performed live at the opening ceremony by Wildfire. I have also written the corporate theme song for Sri Lankan Airlines. In the aftermath of the Tsunami in December 2004, “We are Sri Lankan” was subsequently re-recorded as a tri-lingual version in January 2005. This was with the full support of many Sri Lankan musicians who appeared free. And the resulting DVD was sold on board Sri Lankan airlines and the entire proceeds went towards a Sri Lankan Cares Project to help children affected by the disaster,” said Dhason.

Dhason has got used to the pressure over the years. His personal brilliance and the top quality of the band make it easier to perform. Dhason has said that over the years, you tend to get used to it. Dhason just enjoy life and enjoys his music. Pitfalls can be avoided due to the band’s experience and the band’s strength as team. There is nothing to fear. Their star has been on the rise for a long time now.

“When writing lyrics I need to have a theme, a story to trigger me off. Or just a nice idea. Lyrics are really interesting to write when you have a story to tell or a message to get across,” said Dhason. Mintaka is all about Soul, R&B, Funk and of course the blues. Their repertoire ranges from Motown classics such as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and John Mayer to Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield and Al Jarreau. This incarnation also embraces jazz in its repertoire mainly because of Revel’s experience in the field as Sri Lanka’s foremost jazz guitarist. Dhason admires hard work and he admires greatness. Dhason who can immediately identify potential and talent in a musician appreciates good music. Music is this man’s life and music is meaningful to him.

“I love so many artistes that it is impossible to name them all. However those that proved to be pathfinders and/or overcame many hardships to become the great musicians they did become have a special place in my heart,” said Dhason.

Dhason and his band have entered the music industry because of this single minded devotion and love for music. They are committed because this is what makes them who they are. Music is what defines them.

“If you are a genuine artiste, there is an inner compulsion. You have no choice in the matter. You must then follow your passion. There are those who don’t for whatever reason and they end up being very frustrated and unhappy beings. When I started, there was no one to teach me and I had to find out things on my own. Those days we did not have access to the Internet or even videos and DVDs and I never even had access to a teacher, as I didn’t own an instrument,” pointed out Dhason.

Dhason has a powerful message to give out to a young guy or girl who wants to make it in the music industry

“To make a career in music is to start a journey that never really stops until YOU do! Formal education in music is actually a must today. Never stop learning and evolving as a musician. Follow your dreams and your passion but it is also important to study the roots and those who came before you. This is one of the reasons I continue with Mintaka. I wanted to give younger musicians an opportunity to do just that in a suitable environment,” summed up Dhason.

“A special mention has to be made of our second guitarist young Milinda Perera who is now in the USA. Mintaka was the very first band he had played using an electric guitar and he improved tremendously in the period he was with us. One thing he did was to listen extensively to the old Blues guitarists and practice.”


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