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Rock, reggae and raga

The sixth edition of the Sulafest promises an eclectic mix of upcoming and established bands

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The 35-acre Sula vineyards in is the picturesque venue for a this weekend — the , a testimony to how festival culture is gathering momentum in India. The organisers hope the mix of wine and music, will be a winner — visitors will unwind to the music as they are introduced to their wines.

In its sixth edition, Sulafest is splitting the performances into two zones. One will be reserved for performances from various musical genres, while an “electrozone” stage will who will play throughout the day, catering to those who like to dance. The acts, which will be held on February 2 and 3, between 12.30 pm and 10 pm, are being curated by Blue Frog, music partner of the event.

Performers include and artist from France, electronica producer , reggae group as well as Indian artists such as and . As the popularity of electronic and house music grows in India, the presence of these styles has visibly increased in Sulafest’s line-up but organisers are careful to distinguish the event from Goa’s Sunburn.

“We have a blend of rock, reggae and folk music too. And with four international acts this time, we are on our way to becoming a genuine world music festival,” says CEO .

The fest offers a chance to discover relatively unknown music acts while enjoying regular favourites, notes 22-year-old , an economics student and music enthusiast.

“The line-up with Deep Forest and IRIE FM is one which is popular, yet pretty old. They were a rage earlier and have been on the sidelines for a while,” , a radio professional and fest regular, says. Popular fusion band Swarathma are his favourite pick.

Sulafest, which had more than 8,000 attendees last year, does not want to draw a bigger crowd. “We are not targeting Sunburn’s 100,000 visitors. The idea is that everyone will have his or her place to chill out and won’t have to wait in long lines for food or a glass of wine,” Samant reasons. Travel company White Collar Hippie plans to ply some 50 fest-goers between Mumbai and Nashik in a groovy 60s-style, painted bus with Bangalore-based funk rock band Caesar’s Palace for company. The “Band on a bus” will allow travellers to interact and jam with the band, kicking off the festival from the beginning of the journey.

The company will also set up a campsite of about 50 tents with sleeping bags, mats, a leisure area, board games and sports. A barbecue, bonfire and post-festival music session are also among the plans to ensure the “full festival experience,” says White Collar Hippie co-founder Vikrant Chheda.

Grammy award-winning world music group Deep Forest is headlining the event. “I’m aware that a lot is expected from me and I would like to live up to it,” says Deep Forest composer Eric Moquet. “The set will be ethnic electronic mixed with dance beats, folk tunes and upbeat tracks which will sweep the crowd off their feet.” Moquet, who loves to improvise with his musicians, says the performance will flow according to “the atmosphere, energy or emotion of the moment”.

In tandem with the different kinds of music, the fest plans to offer a variety of food including Lebanese baba ghanoush, Spanish tapas, American roadside inn grub, Chinese, dosas and pizzas. Attendees can also shop at the Sulafest bazaar, get foot massages, tattoos or stomp on grapes. Sula’s Samant recommends that visitors taste wines from the fruity Rosé and sparkling ranges for about Rs 150 a glass.

“The weather is gorgeous and harvest is going on. There’s never been a better time to go into the vineyards than this weekend,” says Samant.

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