Autorickshaw at Lula Lounge in Toronto

Autorickshaw Delight Audience at Small World Music Festival

Autorickshaw delighted the audience at the Small World Music Festival with a show in which east met west at Lula Lounge Thursday night with special guest Gordon Sheard.

I was already won over by the vocal sylings of Suba Sankaran, after hearing her in Retrocity and at the Kate Bush Tribute concert last month.

Hearing her with this Autorickshaw five-year-old ensemble with tabla player Ed Hanley, bassist Rich Brown and percussionist Debashis Sinha gave me a broader appreciation of her talents as both a vocalist, arranger and performer. Her voice reminds me a bit of Sheila Chandra.

Suba Sankaran of Autorickshaw at Lula Lounge in TorontoSuba Sankaran and Ed Hanley of Autorickshaw at Lula Lounge in Toronto

Their show incorporated a melange of classical and popular music from India with contemporary jazz and funk. I must say the more Indian-influenced songs worked much better for me than the jazz stuff. Perhaps it was because of the venue, or my mood after the first few songs.

The band uses adaptations of Bengali and Tamil folk tunes, with often delightful results.

It's no surprise to hear that Autorickshaw's Heavy Traffic song won the prestigious international John Lennon Songwriting Contest Grand Prize in World Music, beating out hundreds of submissions.

The Small World Music Festival runs until Tuesday. If you're a little adventurous, perhaps you'll consider the Earthrise DJ Yoga Bhakti Beat Loft Party with DJs Derek Beres & medicineman tonight at The Yoga Sanctuary (2 College St., suite 306). Showtimes are at 4 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. $10.

Bassist Rich Brown performs with Autorickshaw at Lula Lounge in TorontoAutorickshaw at Lula Lounge in Toronto

If you missed Autorickshaw, here's a live sampler of that showcases their talents:

autorickshaw live sampler

Photos by Roger Cullman.


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