The Chronic Blues Circus gives you a different kind of high. Peter Isaac, the founding member of this city-based blues outfit (formerly known as The Chronic Blues Band), was inspired to pick up the guitar after he heard English musician Hank Marvin’s guitar solos on the radio. It did something to him that he can’t describe to this day. And after his parents bought him a guitar, he spent much of his time trying to imitate his idol Hank Marvin. Soon, Issac made his place in the school band, playing and prepping for bigger things to come.
It was not until 1991 that Issac and a few of his former band-mates came together to start an English pop band called Touch. They played only original compositions and knew the music scene like the back of their hand. They opened with bluesy numbers like Sweet Nicotine and Restless Woman. “It was the first open air concert at Palace Grounds,” recalls Issac, adding “Unfortunately, there was a heavy downpour that ruined the show. We got to listen to only 12 tracks of the headlining act, but for us, a new journey into the blues had begun.” states Issac.
The other reason Issac started the outfit was because there were no regular blues groups in Bangalore. “In India, we suffer from what I call ‘The Tomato Syndrome’, where if one farmer plants tomatoes, everyone does, a glut follows, prices drop and the tomatoes are simply thrown away,” asserts Issac.
According to him, Bangalore was saturated with rock bands in the early 90s, and fewer and fewer people attended these concerts, except when outfits like Millennium or Indus Creed performed. It was a good time to play something different, he says.
The Chronic Blues Band was not just a group, it was a movement used by many musicians to experiment and express themselves through music. There are over 60 musicians who have been associated with the band over the years. It was always a circus of sorts with people quitting and joining the group, hence Issac changed the name to The Chronic Blues Circus.
With time, the band’s writing has also changed. The early songs were heavily influenced by the 70s and were about protests and breaking free. But, of late, the numbers talk about relationships, pollution, money and the environment. “Writing a blues song is relatively simple,” Issac says, adding, “You are telling a story of a woman or some incident that has affected you in a format that is usually centered around three or four chords, 12/16 bars, in 6/8, 4/4 or 2/4, so its not that difficult, but you have to feel it.”
The band has been around for over 23 years now, and you might find them jamming at venues like CounterCulture, bFlat or music festivals.