Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers: Vocal Prowess and Ecstasy

Brooklyn-based Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers came head-and-body strong on stage. Formerly of the critically acclaimed Beat the Devil, with her immense vocal presence, Shilpa Ray enveloped the medium-sized performance space at the Mercury Lounge in the lower eastside of Manhattan on March 28, 2009. She pumped the bellows of her vintage harmonium, in glossy black paint with gold trims, generating a powerful harmonic pulse. [The harmonium sound, however, could be louder in the mix, in my opinion.] Playing the harmonium at a rock show, I learned, is no easy task. Shilpa’s harmonium kept sliding off of its platform. But this didn’t deter her and the rest of the band from putting on an ecstatic show. With a zealous vigor, Shilpa flexed her vocal cords while brandishing her arms, shoulders, and head to harness energy.

With a whimsical sense of humor, Shilpa entertained her audience laughing and telling jokes and stories between songs. She started talking about languages. “I wish it’s my second language but I was born here.” Someone in the audience asked, “What’s your second language?” She replied, “My second language is Bengali.” She chuckled and then went onto to explain, “Bengali are the people who would pick up their shoe and then throw it at the people they want to pick a fight with.” She then started telling a story of how her uncle taught her how to put a shoe in the face of a guy at a fish market. “And I was six!” With a playful ferociousness, gesturing the Bengali technique of shoe-threat, she growled at the audience, “You’re enjoying our music, right?” The crowd was sold on her stage charisma.

The band didn’t seem like they had a set list for the evening. Shilpa screamed, “Coward!” Then she launched into the harmonium intro of their song “Coward Cracked the Dawn.” A great song! The radio edit of this song can be downloaded from RCRDLBL_. Also, available as a free download is "Filthy and Free" on Brooklyn Vegan.

Shilpa Ray extend the capacity of both of her sounding mechanisms - voice and harmonium. It was BIG. I think the powerful sound of Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers projected far into the neighboring borough of Brooklyn on the other side of the Williamsburg Bridge that night.

Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers will be releasing their first album in the spring. The band just announced some dates for their Midwest tour. Go see them!

Here’s Shilpa Ray’s solo performance of “Beat St. Louis” on MTV Iggy.

No comments: