Dallas Smith's Blog

The Bucket List

Music in Mumbai

This photo was taken at a corporate event in Mumbai, where we provided music for the banquet.

Susan and I are spending seven weeks in Mumbai, India, fulfilling our bucket list. 

Two years ago we celebrated the sale of Healing Healthcare Systems with a four-month Viking World Cruise.  Thirty years ago, we had worked as entertainers in the cruise industry.  Thus, we were comfortable with the cruise lifestyle…great food, continual room service, and visits to exotic ports.  In 2023, we took a very enjoyable cruise from Tokyo to Bali, including ten extra days in Bali after the forty-day cruise.

Now to fulfill our bucket list in 2024, we are spending seven weeks in Mumbai, India, playing music, seeing dear friends, and enjoying every meal as an adventure.  This trip was originally supposed to include a week in Hong Kong, to perform in a concert to be organized by an Indian-born concert producer.  Unfortunately, this concert was postponed due to the producer’s inability to secure a suitable venue for the concert.  He promises to try to reschedule the concert for this coming November.  If so, we will perform in Hong Kong as well as visit India again.  November is the beginning of the traditional concert season, whereas March and April are warmer months that follow the conclusion of the traditional concert season in February.

In spite of March and April not being as conducive to concert schedules, there is enough activity to give Susan and me ample opportunities to perform.  For the first time, Susan shipped her harp from Reno to Mumbai, with the help of India’s “harp guy,” a wonderful man who has facilitated the shipment to Mumbai as well as transporting the harp from our apartment to our various concerts/gigs.  His wife is India’s best working harpist, and Susan has been teaching her online from Reno regularly for the past year.  Now, she comes over to our apartment for a lesson with Susan every other day or so.

We are residing in a fantastic apartment which Susan booked from Reno on Air-B&B.  It is air-conditioned and located close to two dear friends who live on the same street.  But there was a “small-world” connection with the apartment’s owner.  Unknown to us in advance, she is a jazz singer.  The day before we checked in our hostess looked at Susan’s Facebook page and discovered that she and Susan have seventeen mutual friends, all Mumbai musicians. 

I have a long deep relationship with India.  I visited the first time back in 1971 as a back-packing hippie.  That was when I discovered the Indian bansuri bamboo flute as well as the world of Hindustani (North Indian) classical music.  Three years later, I visited California and San Francisco for the first time in my life.  When I learned that there was a college of Indian music in Marin County, California, I resolved to move from Georgia to California in 1975.  I’ve been a West Coast resident ever since.  I studied at Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, California, for many years while simultaneously establishing my jazz-performing career.  Attending classes with Indian master musician Ali Akbar Khan was like having classes with Beethoven.  Ali Akbar Khan (along with his guru-brother Ravi Shankar) was at the pinnacle of twentieth-century Indian classical musicians, a virtuoso performer on the sarod, a multi-string instrument.

In the intervening 49 years, I’ve visited India at least fifteen times, almost all of which were musical tours.  This year’s visit is a continuation of this tradition.  Susan and I have been performing together in concerts and commercial events.  I am also playing in jazz clubs with my longtime Indian jazz buddies.  We have five more weeks of bucket list activities before we return to Reno.  We are treated like musical “stars” at every performance.  Every meal is an adventure.  The fresh fruits and vegetables are excellent.  It’s the beginning of mango season.  And we have great friends here, some of them from my first India trip in 1971.  I met Louiz Banks, the “godfather of Indian jazz” in 1982. 

The gallery accompanying this blog contains flyers promoting some of the concert events during our residence in Mumbai. 

I hope to write more blogs while we are here.  So stay tuned.  Your comments are welcome.  You can email me at oscardallassmith@gmail.com.





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