A STAGEY BANK AFFAIR marks ARUN SHENOY’s first album in 4 years and a follow up to his critically acclaimed GRAMMY®-nominated debut Rumbadoodle. The highly anticipated concept album is Shenoy’s first collaboration with THE GROOVE PROJECT, a musical supergroup of Shenoy’s long term collaborators, each of whom bring a unique perspective to the music.
The Bansuri Funk Sound
Bansuri Funk is a sound stylized by the fusion of Funk, Jazz and Rock with a spicy hint of Worldly Pleasures, the latter being a reference to the blazing performance on the traditional Bansuri by acclaimed flautist Ravichandra Kulur. In 2014, Kulur, Duke and Shenoy released an eponymous debut single as a trio under the moniker Soul’d. The music on “Soul’d” introduced the Bansuri Funk music to the world.
The Concept Album
The album title A Stagey Bank Affair draws inspiration from a popular phrase in the North East of England that goes “a house like stagey bank fair.” The phrase is actually a reference to an agricultural fair at Stagshaw Bank, near Hexham, Northumberland. Legend has it that over the years, the farming side dwindled and the fair became more associated with gambling and drinking. Renowned for its rowdy and notorious reputation, the fair was eventually closed in the 1920’s, and the phrase “Stagey Bank Fair” passed into common parlance to indicate a mess in general. Fact or folklore, we do not know, but it has given wings to our imagination to create a concept album around fairgrounds.
A Stagey Bank Affair, is a metaphor for a place which used to be a fun fair, and now means a messy affair, kind of like adulthood is. Growing up just means we stop growing and stop having fun. Fairgrounds are where our inner child finds play and a place, where we can say ‘whee’ and spin around in circles, become dizzy and life’s worries don’t matter.
The music and visuals on the album are meant to represent the wonderland that we all have within us, along with the inherent sadness and chaos that we take up every day as adults. So yes, there is enough happiness in music, even when we’re sad, or are afraid of clowns.
The theme of the Sad Clown is another facet of the concept, and adds a slightly darker counterpoint to the funky fun sound of the album. To quote an excerpt from the pantomime clown Grimaldi’s “The Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi”, edited by Charles Dickens — during a visit to the surgeon John Abertheny dating back to the 1820s, Grimaldi hoping to find a cure for his depression, asks Abertheny for advice, and unaware of his client’s identity, the surgeon prescribes the diversions of “relaxation and amusement”. “But where shall I find what you require?” said the patient. “In genial companionship,” was the reply; “perhaps sometimes at the theatre; – go and see Grimaldi.” “Alas!” replied the patient, “that is of no avail to me; I am Grimaldi.”
Like Grimaldi, for many of us, laughter and misery becomes the balance-beam on which our existence is constantly weighed as every career triumph is paid for with a proportionate personal agony, and every moment of joy countered by grief.
This album is a journey of that sad clown, who goes through the randomness of being in a colourful fairground, which is life.
The album concept, thus, like the music itself, has many layers. It is about multiple influences, being full of joy, experimentation, taking risks, feeling scared, getting old, it getting messy, doing too many things in a short span of time, yet having so much fun that it leaves a lasting impression. Hopefully this album will too.
The visual aesthetic used for the fairground concept, conceived by Art Director Roshni Mohapatra, and brought to life by the team at Actuality Films NYC with Robert Capria at the team, is presented in the format of vintage poster illustrations, animation and packaging that serve to create an immersive audio visual experience.
The Groove Project is a new musical group/band created by Shenoy which currently includes many of the brilliant artists and friends who have worked with him over the years, along with a few new artists in the mix who bring their own unique sound to the project.
The group includes Indian flautist Ravichandra Kulur on the Bansuri Flute, Jeff Coffin and Nick Stefanacci on Saxophone, Ed Roth, Jonathan Anand Wesley and Dave Gross on piano and keys, Felipe Praino, Owen Gurry and Jim Kimo West on guitar, Ian Cameron on the violin, Don Hart on live String and Horn Orchestration, and last but not the least, the powerhouse groove section of Duke Purisima on Bass and Jerry Chua on Drums.
Uziel, a pianist and composer and a prominent musician in the Boston and Los Angeles area, lends his brilliant piano improvisations as a featured guest on the first single “Sugar Free (feat. Uziel)” while Jeff Coffin lays down a remarkable performance with a quirky saxophone sound on the second single and also the album title track, “A Stagey Bank Affair”. Both of the singles are supported by animated music videos created by the team at Actuality Films.
The first single “Sugar Free (feat. Uziel)” with a supporting animated music video was released on June 3rd via Narked Records. The full album A Stagey Bank Affair, supported by an animated music video for the title track, was released on July 1st.