Over the years, death has snatched so many great musical souls early. From Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain to Freddie Mercury and Amy Winehouse, and a host of budding prodigies left an indelible mark on the hearts of music lovers with their untimely departure.
We are not trying to draw parallels here with the international music scene, but on Wednesday, May 24, right here in our own neighbourhood, one of the city's leading guitarists, lovingly referred to as Dubai's "Guitar Doctor," Aldo Rock, passed away peacefully in his sleep.
News of the 52 year-old guitarist's untimely death shocked and stunned the music community here. Well wishers from UAE as well as India expressed their sadness at the passing away of the maestro.
Aldo was a pillar of support for many budding musicians in town. He was a teacher beyond par, besides being a highly skilled luthier. He performed regularly on the local stage (over two decades) and a number of visiting artists would want to have him back them up.
His patience when it came to teaching young learners was remarkable which is why he was loved by his students. When it came to teaching, he would simplify complex music theory and break it down into simple-to-understand lessons. Many budding guitarists will stand testimony to that. His knowledge on music and his technical expertise would often see him getting into debates over music.
Our thoughts go back to Dubai's Music Room and the Seafarers Club in Al Mankhool, where the late guitarist was a regular feature. Music lovers will vividly remember his tearing lead solos as well as his hearty renditions of cover tunes and originals. He led his own band and also performed with many other artists. Aldo is survived by his wife and two children.
Needless to say it's not only Aldo's students who will miss him, the local music fraternity too is in grief over the loss of a valuable member. Now as a tribute to the guitarist, some of Dubai's leading rock acts are coming together for a show that aims to celebrate Adlo's life and music. This concert claims to be the first such tribute show for a local musician, and may perhaps become an annual event to support veteran artistes.
The Aldo Rock Festival on July 21, at Music Room, Majestic Hotel in Dubai will feature Point of View (opening act for Guns N' Roses), Vin Sinners, Moonshine, Asper Casper, Core 304, Uptheante and Ongmar.
Anyone who has crossed Aldo's path should make it to the concert where you will hear some of his favourite tunes.
Vin Nair of Vin Sinners talks about the festival
What is the Aldo Festival all about?
It's a tribute to one of the veterans of the local music fraternity who has played in the UAE for over 25 years. This is the first time leading Indie music promoters in the UAE are joining hands to co-host such a massive concert.
Why did so many bands come together for the concert. We hear they're doing it for free?
Aldo was very popular and almost all artists and music lovers here knew him. He represented a certain organic, clean and from the heart approach to music that many musicians were able to associate with immediately. So benevolent is the spirit of the local music fraternity that we had a huge number of bands wanting to be part of this show. In fact, we ran out of time slots for them... and they all want to play for free!
What type of music can people expect to hear. Will it be a sombre affair or rocking one?
The lineup for the night has an interesting mix of artists cutting across all genres and generations of music. It's going to be pop, alternative, rock and metal music! The bands on the night are Reunion (rock, Aldo's last band), Moonshine (pop rock), Core 304 (classic rock/blues), As per Casper (Alternative), Up The Ante (hard rock), Point of View (hard rock), Angmar (progressive metal) and Vin Sinners (hard rock/metal).
Is this the first time that such a tribute show is being held in Dubai for a local musician?
I presume so! We believe that the Aldo Rock Festival should be held annually to help veteran, full-time musicians.
What's special about this show?
The unique aspect is the fact that, for once, competing promoters have kept their personal interests aside and come together as a collective unit to celebrate Aldo's music and life.
Tell us a bit about your experiences performing with Aldo.
I met Aldo in 2012, a bit before he joined our band! Aldo brought a deep sense of deep commitment to our music. He added an incredible feel and a unique touch to our musical ideas because of his fluency and understanding of the guitar. We toured India as a band. Aldo's commitment to music set an example for my band and this pushed other members to excel and perform better.
Nikhil Uzghare, frontman of Point of View, remembers Aldo
Tell us bit about your experiences with Aldo.
He was the first guy I jammed with in the UAE. I first gigged with him at the Cactus Jack jam sessions that used to take place at the Airport Millenium Hotel, Dubai, back in 2004. We got acquainted and soon started a band called Vertigo and played a contract at Harry's Place in Renaissance Hotel, Deira (now called Crowne Plaza). Aldo was a seasoned musician and had his chops in place. His repertoire was massive and he was among the few guitarists in Dubai who did justice to rock music.
Any anecdotes you want to share?
One thing that Aldo and me always shared was our great sense of humour. Our 'bad' jokes were so funny, that people would keep away from us for fear of becoming subject to our ribbing. Talking about memories, I clearly remember during one gig, a patron repeatedly kept asking Aldo to play the 'Eno Nino' song. Needless to say we were lost. None of us had ever heard of a song like this. But to our amusement, we eventually found out that the guest was referring to something that went like 'Eno Nino Education' which was a line from Pink Floyd's popular song, Another Brick in the Wall.
How would you like to best remember Aldo?
As a musician who did justice to Deep Purple's music.
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