Jan 13, 2013

Nagaland sets a real Guinness World Record

Nagaland has set its first ever practical Guinness World Record. The tiny, hilly tribal Indian State nestled on the fringes of the subcontinent’s war-torn North East Region, has set a new Guinness World Record of the title ‘World’s Largest Electric Guitar Ensemble.’

An estimated 500 participants – including some of the biggest names in the Naga society, government, entertainment and fashion, Media and music industry – with their solid electric guitars thronged the Agri-Expo ground, at 4th Mile in Dimapur on Saturday, January 12, 2013 to set a record which Guinness World Record Official Nikhil Kishore Kumar termed “big” and “not a cakewalk.”

However, only 368 solid electric guitar players were officially confirmed for the official title count to qualify for the record. Citizens may note here that there was no current record in the stated title. Guinness World Record stipulated the minimum requirement at 250 participants.

(A section of the guitar players seen here during rehearsals to set a new Guinness World Record for the World Largest Electric Guitar Ensemble. We set the record, Yaya \m/ By the way you can seen me right at the top-center-standing lot, of the photograph, in a white Ibanez, hand on my knee.  Photograph: Manen Aier © copyright 2013)

Nagaland has two standing Guinness World Records (both are natural records) – tallest Rhododendron tree in the world and tallest paddy plant in the world. Nagaland most famous import yet, the pepper ‘Bhut Jholokia’ or ‘Naga Morcha’ held a Guinness World Record in 2007 as the World’s Hottest Chili briefly before it was toppled. However, the new Guinness record is the very first material record (meaning, involved human effort) Nagaland has achieved and may go a long way in consolidating Nagaland as one of the most musically-rich societies in India.

“It is a big number; you have to understand the efforts and facilities that went into it first and it is clear that the record was not a cakewalk,” officiating Guinness World Record rep Nikhil Kishore Shukla told The Morung Express at the Agri-Expos site. He alluded to the immense technical and managerial resources the event required and the mechanical corollaries it resulted in. “It is not a cakewalk,” Shukla, who has been in Nagaland since Friday, said.

The man behind the Guinness World Record idea, Yanren Kikon, CEO of chief organizing group Sky Entertainment had nothing to say except a huge wave of relief and a hug. Financial management services organization, the Sky Group, has been active in introducing entertainment variety in Nagaland. They are responsible for bringing in Nagaland American hard rock group Firehouse and artistes such as the assorted band ‘Los Angels’ comprising former Alice Cooper singer Eric Dover, Motley Crue John Corabi, White Lion drummer Patrick Farrell among others. The current event was organized with the support and sponsorship of the Nagaland Government’s Music Task Force and other business interests.

The scene at the Agri-Expo today was witnessed by throngs of parents, well-wishers, supporters and musicians and curious public members. A confusing tangle of electric cables meshed the ground as did the astonishing array of electric guitars that glinted in the arms of the hundreds of participants who have now rightly – and successfully – staked claim to having been a part of one of the most momentous moments in India’s music history.  

For those who enjoy details: Music Task Force’s director Gugs Chishi was there strumming away across the universe as were Nagaland’s own accomplished models the lovely Esther Jamir and Carol Humtsoe.

(Here is another one. The group of colorful youngsters to my left (I'm the one with the full white Ibanez guitar, top standing) were from Kohima. I was like 'Wow, Rainbow rocks! Super Rock Cool guys these kids were.  Photo credit: Unknown Facebook someone)

The two well-known models had an Ibanez each to strum on the Guns N’ Roses version of Bob Dylan’s iconic ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.’ Members from some of Nagaland’s best known bands were also there. Representatives from the army also came in with their guitars; so did a number of not-so-young music enthusiasts who reveled in the moment. For the record, a number of 7-10 year olds were also a part of the wonderful moment. It was truly an event worthy for the records.     

 The walk of life that attempted the Guinness World Record was as diverse and the about 400 solid electric guitars. Officials from the government of Nagaland, senior citizens, some of the accomplished Naga names in the entertainment industry, media as well as representatives from the army and music enthusiasts from Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh. 

Al Ngullie
(Published: The Morung Express, January 12, 2013)

No Music award, but Alobo Naga & The Band wins hearts

Once upon a time in the great land of the warriors, war cries, war songs and warring UGs, there emerged a gawky teenage kid with spiky hair, a Tee-shirt that licked the ground, a 4-kg medallion around his neck and pants that resembled something similar to a parachute.

This teen was performing with a Patkai Christian College outfit called ‘Nice & Ugly’ in a rock music competition in Dimapur one summery night of 2003. You see, the gawky adolescent was good in making some really dirty grunts that made the girls in the audience somewhat weak in the knees. This band with the Shaggy-and-Rap-singing singer won the contest hands down.

Today, Alobo Naga has grown in wisdom and has wisely decided to shed his medallion, bed sheet pants, the dirty grunts and seedy groans of Shaggy and Rap. He has more important responsibilities – like landing songs on TV music charts or showing Indians that Nagas don’t eat snakes for breakfast or go naked but create amazing things like music. Today Alobo Naga leads Alobo Naga & The Band, one of India’s most newspaper-friendly rocks bands since Indus Creed (ex-Rock Machine). 

In 2011, an unknown group called Alobo Naga & The Band found a ticket on the music charts of music channel VH1’s Top-40.  One of the band’s songs called ‘Painted Dreams’ took to heavy airplay (God bless enterprising producers!) and many Facebook likes from Nagas flooded in. The band could barely manage to release their EP. Numerous concert appearances, shows and a slew of Media hype in Nagaland and across India followed although they don’t even have an album (Alobo Naga released a solo alum ‘Road of a Thousand Dreams,’ 2010). But they have come a long way – to the point where they just barely, caressed the life-changing MTV European Music Awards for Best Worldwide Act just a day ago.

After the feverish months’ campaign, the MTV EMA went to someone else. Yet, one thing the music-crazy Naga knows well – AN & TB may have missed out the awards, but they have won many more hearts. 

Hello guys its sad to announce that we could not win the MTV EMA Best worldwide Act but we are very humbled and grateful to each and everyone of you for your love and support, also not forgetting your valuable votes, helping us to reach thus far and letting us win Best Indian Act,” Alobo Naga said on his Facebook profile, October 30, Tuesday.

The Morung Express interacted with Alobo Naga, the singer, earlier and got a first-hand account of his journey as an aspiring singer in school, the recent accolades and the road to a thousand dreams he has. Here are some exclusive, no-holds-barred excerpts: 
Morung Express:  It’s interesting because just a day ago, Nice & Ugly guitarist Bendang was at my place. Alobo Naga & The Band has come a long way, isn't it? What did you hope and expect when you started out?

Alobo Naga: Yes indeed. The way God is working is beyond imagination. He has been good to me till date­­. When I started out, my dream was to go international and make a name out there­­ one of my wildest dreams still date is to hold that Grammy award and give my speech and I tell you...that speech is ready (smiles)! I dream big because I know that I am serving a big God­­. But on the other hand I am not overconfident. My mantra in life is ‘no expectation’ – just work hard give my best and go with the flow. Leave everything to God.­­

Morung Express: At a more practical level do you think you can hold on your own in the international arena? I have an idea what it takes to make it. What makes you believe you can do it, aside from God’s blessing, that is?

Alobo Naga: I believe in myself and I know for sure that if given a chance I can hold it. If they can do it why can't we? And moreover, I will take something Naga in the market. So I guess Dream Theater can't play Naga music­­! (smiles)

Morung Express: Music is about creativity not comparison, your take? What defines you to be different from the other bands around?

Alobo Naga: Well, you are right I can’t play Dream Theater. For your info, even the chorus in the song ‘Painted Dreams’ is a chant from Sumi folk­­. So I guess my strength will lie in Naga touch, in a contemporary style­­. When I sing I sing from my heart. I know there are many people who are better than me but I am honest and true to myself when I sing.­­

Morung Express: I'm glad you reply in that way. ‘Painted Dreams’ is a mile away from your solo album ‘Road of a Thousand Dreams’ (2008). And it certainly wasn't ‘safe’, what made you take the change of direction?

Alobo Naga: Road of a thousand dream was the dream and ‘Painted Dreams’ was one of those thousand dreams­­. May be it’s the market that changed me but on the other hand I will stick true to my genre when I go solo (smiles). But now my focus is with my band­­. But at the end I give credit to God for all the change.­­

Morung Express: ‘Painted Dreams’ was more British Rock than a ‘Naga’ item. Do you mean you wanted a more commercial sound to be viable to the market?

Alobo Naga: Yes, I did study the market and I composed the song and my band members contributed in and that’s how we made It.

Morung Express: Did you always want to be a musician or is music something that just took a passionate turn out of an interest?

Alobo Naga: I think I was into music from the first stage of my life and I was very sure that I wanted it to be my life. I started singing very early; was performing by the age of 8 years, started composing and writing songs by 12. But I always wanted to finish my academics first, so by the grace of God, I studied whatever I wanted to, did my graduation, masters and then management then I came into music.­­ I don’t know what a musician was when I was a kid but I always wanted to be a singer and perform on stage.­­

Morung Express: Interesting. Tell me about your early musical activities, bands, Nice & Ugly etc., the works and how they have nurtured you into the person you are.

Alobo Naga: Since I started very early. I had many bands. When I was in school we called ourselves ‘Flying Machine’ and we toured even some parts of North East, then performed for Doordarshan and played in many churches and small gigs. By the time I was in higher secondary, I was in the band ‘Nice & Ugly,’ we did many shows and even won the first ‘Summer Jam 2003.’ 

When I joined college I was still with Nice & Ugly. After my graduation I went to Delhi for my Masters. Even there I was musically involved with many bands. Apart from the band activities I was always helping the church whenever I was, in Praise & worship. From all those experiences I gained and learned many things which helped me grow as an artist. 

After my Masters I came back home and formed a ministry band called ‘Spark’ and did many shows and ministry. Then in 2010, I released my debut solo album ‘Road of a Thousand Dreams’ and here I am today with ‘Alobo Naga & The Band.’ All this transitions made me grow as a person and as an artist.­­

Morung Express: You have an interesting background to match where you are today. I still remember you doing the Shaggy grunts. :)

Alobo Naga: (Laughs) you have a very good memory. It’s been so long I guess. The last time was in Delhi in 2006.

Morung Express: I see. Alobo, if it is alright with you, could you share about you and your family?

Alobo Naga: Yes, I have wonderful parents who have been supporting me in my music career from day one till today. I am so blessed since I know that many of my friends were discouraged and stopped by their parents because they thought music has no future and killed the dreams of many talented artists. But my parents were totally cool with my music. They used to say ‘If you know God and do anything we are cool.’ I have 2 younger brothers and 1 younger sister. I am the eldest in the family.

Morung Express: Let me rephrase the first question: Are you a celebrity at home or you still have to wash your clothes?

Alobo Naga: (Smiles) Well, we’re so cool at home. I am just another son and a brother to them at home!

Morung Express: One more thing, there are many in Nagaland who dream of the success you are having now. What would you say to them?
Alobo Naga: Bro’, I still feel I have not reached there and fit enough to answer this question, but certainly God has been blessing me a lot. Anyways, my advice to all those who dream like me is ‘just work hard’, believe in yourself and the talent that God blessed you. Just be yourself and work hard and leave the rest to God but do the publicity and networking yourself! 

(The Morung Express, Tuesday, October 30, 2012)

Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on Guinness door

So there you are, many hundreds all poised to knock down the doors of musical history. From Saturday, January 12, in Dimapur city, the world will hear of a tiny, hilly Indian State called ‘Nagaland’ and how her multitudes of music-blooded (mixed with pork), guitar-wielding generation knocked and knocked hard to knock down one of modern world’s greatest symbols of human endeavor, humankind’s indefatigable spirit to conquer new heights – the Guinness World Record.

The numbing weeks of preparations to Nagaland’s maiden attempt to set a practical Guinness World Record for the prospective title of ‘World’s Largest Electric Guitar Ensemble’ will be tested when multitudes of guitar players converge at the Agri-Expo ground in Dimapur’s 4th mile to impress Guinness World Record officials.

The subcontinent’s Guinness World Record representative Nikhil Kishore Shukla, representatives of principal organizer Sky Entertainment and sponsors-partners such as the Government of Nagaland’s Music Task Force (MTF) met with journalists today in Dimapur. The Guinness official and the organizers briefed the Media on the proceedings for the main event on Saturday, one of the biggest music buzzes in Nagaland in the recent times.

According to available records at the time of filing this news report, there are about 800 guitar players who have registered to attempt the record and numbers are expected to rise on Saturday when registration (free) would be open at the venue till around noon. Guitar players from Assam, Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh – aside from across Nagaland – are expected to arrive in Dimapur by Saturday for the big event. The song for the attempt is American hard rockers Guns N’ Roses’ version of ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.’

Guinness official Shukla said the minimum requirement to setting the stated title record is 250 participants (there is no current Guinness record under the namesake category). ‘What we would be critically looking at would b performance,’ he said, ‘particularly synchronization and (technical) performance. For instance there would be a supervisor each for a stipulated group of participants. Those playing out of sync or have dysfunctional instruments would not be counted for the record.

More on the rules and minimum requirements, the record should be of some professional level at leas. For instance, a record would be counted on the essence of quality, synchronization and harmony and “not a jumble of sounds.” Likewise, every participant must have his own guitar, readied with all the required electronic facility (amps, cables, checked-in etc). There shall be no improvisations in the official attempt. All improvisation, if any, should me decided on and readied during the rehearsals itself, he said.

Also present during the pres conference Gugs Chishi of the government’s MTF said there would be additional guitars and amps for those who “can play but have no electric guitar” especially students. The trick here is not only about knowing how to play the guitar but being in harmony with other players and the musicians guiding the participants.

The organizers have informed that registration will continue expectedly till around noon. While the exact hour the official attempt would begin has yet to be decided on later on in the day (technical details such registration and entry, guitar tuning, placements and arrangements, rehearsal, tending to the details of amplification, sound and power etc would have to be complete first). However, organizers agree that the official attempt should have begun by 2:00PM.

After the attempt, all record and statements of invigilators and supervisors would be collected for the Guinness official to scrutiny. The result would be announced the day itself, it was informed.

Other highlights to the event would be exclusive stickers for the participants’ guitars, Guinness-record T-shirts and of course, a certificate. Organizers have appealed to all guitar players “who can not only play but hold up a tune” to participate and be a part of musical history. For those who have no electric guitar, arrangements are on to provide one at the venue. For those who have the gear, they are asked to bring an electric guitar, a cable and amp. Those who have electric guitars but no amplifiers, the arrangements would be in place. Also all the participants are advised to bring “the longest guitar cable they can find.”

Al Ngullie
(Published: The Morung Express, January 11, 2013)

Jan 5, 2013

Guinness World Records: Join the 'World's Largest Guitar Ensemble'

Or something of that sort. It sounds like a very, very nice newspaper headline we all would serious time love, love and love to read by January 13, don’t you think? Well, all you need is an electric guitar – you could be on your way to becoming a part of music history.

Check out These Guinness World records 

In 2011, Japanese guitar teacher Fumiyoshi Kamo landed the Guinness World Record for the ‘world’ largest online guitar lesson,’ which featured 8,776 guitarists learning a one-hour guitar class from him. In 2009, Guinness World Records certified an event of the Thanks Jimi Festival in Poland as the ‘world’s largest guitar ensemble.’ The attempt drew 6,346 participants (including Steve Morse of Deep Purple himself). The event broke its own record in 2011 when more than 7,000 guitarists of all species — electric, acoustic, bass, classical — played American guitar hero Jimi Hendrix's rendition of the cult classic ‘Hey Joe.’

For those who can’t hold the guitar but can convincingly pretend to play one, the Guinness World Record for the ‘largest air guitar ensemble’ went to an event in 2011 in California, USA, during which 2,377 participants pretended to play guitars.

Pork & Guitars

Now music-blooded Nagaland, a tiny tribal state in India’s North East fringes may have set a date with history when electric guitar players from the state and North East India converge in Dimapur city to attempt landing a Guinness World Record for the prospective title ‘World’s Largest Electric Guitar Ensemble.’ Wouldn’t it be wonderful – many decades later – to hear your grandchildren boast to their playmates – ‘ma grampa and gramma won the kinis whold lecodes wit electic guitas!’

Sky Entertainment, a sister of Dimapur-based financial management company Sky Group, is currently in frenzy to help Nagaland land a name in the Guinness World Record in something this state’s people is good at – no, not eating pork – music. And Guinness World Record has already nodded ‘yes’ and its officials would be arriving in Dimapur for the attempt on January 12.

Organizers of the record attempt, Sky Group, and its principal supporters held a press conference at hangout Café Destination in Dimapur today. Yanren Kikon, the CEO of Sky Group, explained that the idea of attempting a world record came to birth several months ago during discussions to bring in a world renowned American guitar player. The idea germinated into research when, Kikon said, they later found out that there were no current Guinness achievements pertaining to electric guitars. Interested persons may note that the song-for-the-record-attempt is ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ by 90s American hard rock group Guns N’ Roses (the song is originally by Bob Dylan).

The event’s publicist, Abalu, said the event would be one opportunity where the message of unity – musicians and music lovers of tribes and communities – could play as one, united and in harmony. The undertones of the record attempt could not be missed when she said ‘it is not only to popularize Nagaland but one where all the musicians and tribes can sit and play together.’

Chief Minister of Nagaland Neiphiu Rio is also reported to be “very much supportive” to the record attempt. Gugs Chishi, the Chief of Music Task Force – Nagaland government’s very own music pusher – was also present during the press conference.

According to Chishi, the chief minister and chief of the MTF Dr. Nicky Kire are supportive in any way they can to lend a hand. “The idea centers on music and we felt that it was where we can make an impact in terms of support; we are sharing ideas and experiences for now and we appeal to all the players in Nagaland and North East to come and join,” he said


Have Guitar, Can Play

Currently, several hundreds have already confirmed their participation – including from Meghalaya, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh – and more are expected to turn up before January 12. For a people to whom music is a necessity as basic as pork, at least 1,000 participants from Nagaland shouldn’t be that hard a task.

One has only to have a solid-body electric guitar and a speaker-amp. As for those who can hold a tune but don’t have the guitar/amps, efforts are underway to mobilize more hardware to increase the chances of a successful record attempt. Talking of hardware, Akum Jamir of musical instrument outlet Crescendo said that an event in the magnitude of a record attempt featuring at least 500 guitar players with an amp of 15 watts would require a power input of around 25, 000 watts. 

Guinness World Record’s representative in the subcontinent, Nikhil Kishore Shukla, is confirmed to arrive in Dimapur on January 11 to adjudicate the record attempt. So, many decades later, if you want an authentic Guinness World Record certificate hanging in your sitting room and be able to proudly declare to the world “I was there!” go get your thing then. And watch this space for more info on how to rock your way into the book of Guinness World Records.  

Al Ngullie
The Morung Express, January 5, 2012 

So long as you have a guitar and an amp - or can find one - you can join and be a part of history you can later boast about. For more information, please visit www.skygroup.org.in or email skyentertainment@skygroup.org.in 

You can also call or SMS with name, location and contact number added, to 8730957422, 9774412588, 9612373904 and 9436825085. If you know someone who is guitar-crazy and loves real time achievements, just share this info.