Rock music

The Midnight Riders: Pioneering Nepalese blues rock music to take it to the next level

Twelve years ago, the Deep Shamsher Rana, Sunny Mahat and Sanjeev BK trio, popularly known as Jimi Blues, met. They decided to fall out because they had a similar interest in music. They later chose to form a band and named it The Midnight Riders (TMR). The band was formed just for fun, but over time they started to take it seriously.

The band went on to play various genres ranging from 70s pop to rock and many more. But ultimately they decided to settle on blues-rock (or postmodern blues) because it was something the band members associated with. His sound appealed to them musically.

However, in the context of Nepal, there are relatively very few crowds listening to such music. Still, that’s no problem for The Midnight Riders. The band loves what they play, so they’ve been going for about ten years.

Blues in every sound

Jimi Blues, singer and guitarist of the Midnight Riders. Photo: Aryan Dhimal.

Sunny Mahat, bassist for The Midnight Riders, says the band are okay with everything they do. “Since there is a very small market for blues music and very few people understand this kind of music, there are only a handful of blues artists. But not everyone needs a listen to all types of music.

He also says that the taste of music changes with each generation. “In the context of Nepal, so far there is no generation that only listens to blues music, but I hope in the future things will change.”

Similarly, Jimi Blues, the singer and guitarist of the band, also presents his arguments behind the existence of a few blues artists. He says, “Those who previously played blues music couldn’t go on for long, and they were replaced by other artists with different styles of music.”

However, lately, according to The Midnight Riders, their listeners are gradually increasing. If you go to any pub in Thamel, you can see audiences of different ages enjoying blues-based music, adds Jimi Blues.

“The blues is the kind of genre that all other genres pursue in their music. The blues element can be heard in a lot of popular music these days,” says Mahat. “Music like rock and roll and the blues never goes out of style.”

Hope for renewal

Sunny Mahat, bassist of 'The Midnight Riders'.  Photo: Aryan Dhimal.
Midnight Riders bassist Sunny Mahat. Photo: Aryan Dhimal.

The Midnight Riders believe that today’s listeners are more musically mature, which is also one of the main reasons for their growing listenership.

The blues music craze has even spread outside the Kathmandu Valley.

“Surprisingly, the audience for blues bands outside the Kathmandu Valley is better. The sense of respect they give to our music is commendable,” says Mahat.

The group found its followers from distant regions and other countries as well. Therefore, they hope for the revival of blues music in Nepal.

“Nepal remains mostly behind in keeping up with global trends. Globally, in many parts of the world, people have started teaching blues music to their children. Similarly, in these countries, blues bands also began to make room in mainstream music.

The global music trend has made the group feel optimistic, the members say.

Unknown album

Jay Ram, drummer of 'The Midnight Riders'.  Photo: Aryan Dhimal.
Jay Ram, drummer of ‘The Midnight Riders. Photo: Aryan Dhimal.

The band with a current line-up of Jimi Blues on vocals and guitar, Sunny Mahat on bass and Jay Ram Karki on drums celebrates its 12th anniversary on Tuesday.

In a few months, the group will release their second album, which is now in the post-production phase. According to the group, the album sounds heavier than their debut album Baiguni Lai Blues Le Marnu Parchha released in 2019.

“This time we went the extra mile for the production work,” says Mahat. Adding: “The album is also an improved version of The Midnight Riders.”

This time the album includes songs that feature the heavy and funky sides of blues music and many more.

“The lyrics, composition and music are very different this time,” says Karki. “However, we haven’t named the album yet.”

The album is recorded and produced by Satish Sthapit. The band consider Sthapit to be their backbone, adding that the album would not be possible without his support.