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Soweto Kinch, Dharavi Rocks, and the Blue Frog

Mumbai      One of the more unusual, and innovative, of the programs associated

ACORN's Vinod Shetty on far left, Soweto Kinch, and the ACORN Dharavi ragpickers

with ACORN Inte

and ACORN India’s organizing of the Dharavi Project with ragpickers in this huge mega-slum has been a partnership called “Dharavi Rocks” between our ACORN Foundation (India) and the Blue Frog jazz club in the central part of the city. Vinod Shetty, ACORN’s director in Mumbai, was able to fashion the partnership out of the imagination and persistence of linking a friend of a friend of his brother (who also runs a new jazz club in Bangalore!) with one of the principals in the Blue Frog club which has become prominent in the music scene in the several years since in opened. The heart of the deal is that six times a year, the Blue Frog will provide the artists and ACORN will supply the audience and the venue in Dharavi. The idea had begun with a group of Tamil rappers and then advanced with the Blue Frog to include the Boxettes a lively women’s band from the UK and a Norwegian rapper when they visited the club, and the rest, as we say, is rock n’ roll!

Vinod is careful to give ample credit to the French-native who manages the club for having the energy and understanding of the impact, particularly on our young ragpickers, but also getting the fact that it would

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Blue Frogs and National Geographic in Dharavi

66304.pngMumbai Inevitably one cycles back what what hears that is new back to what one knows that is old from your own experience. The more I kept looking at the poster for the bands from Norway and the United Kingdom playing for people in Dharavi in honor of ACORN’s work with recyclers there, I assumed Blue Frog was a concert promoter. Seemed to me like Blue Frog would be a totally appropriate name for a rock promo operation in the States. Catching up with Judith Francorsi, one of our long time and super volunteers and helpers-in-all-ways, she laughed when I mentioned that and finally drew the picture more clearly for me.

Turns out the Blue Frog is sort of a jazz club / music club in Bombay, and quite popular. They fill the very popular and hip niche in the big city as a venue for European groups to come play. Judy says the cover is not too high but once in, eating and drinking is pricey, and they pack them in, because they are such a one-of-a-kind venue in Mumbai. European groups of all shapes and sizes want to come to India and are attracted to playing here, and though the place is not that large, they often also book into Bangalore and elsewhere in other venues. Though Vinod has a brother who runs a great jazz club and restaurant in Bangalore and some of the groups bounce over to the One Note when in India, that was not the connection, but somehow in the magic of of relationships a connection was made. No small amount of it in Judith’s analysis, since she’s also involved in music among other things, is that the groups themselves want to have some authentic experiences in a more real India than another darkened club. The notion of playing at the Nature Park for our recyclers was a coming together of various strands that worked. The event on April 29th turns out to be one of six throughout the year that the Blue Frog has now promised to do for the ACORN Foundation (India), so I was delighted to get to have an “aha” moment and figure it all out. Next time I’ll have to save up and see if we can go see the Blue Frog face to face, so to speak.

If there were blue frogs around Mumbai, the National Geographic would be just the outfit to track them down and get them on film. It turns out that in a coming episode of the National Geographic television show they are doing a whole segment on Dharavi and our recyclers! They followed one of our main leaders around for days and spent weeks with our people on the ground, literally. They even followed her children to school.

Fingers crossed, but I get the feeling this is going to be powerful, and could be a huge boost to our operation in Bombay!