Herald: A rock musician with a sage soul

A rock musician with a sage soul

16 Dec 2017 03:57am IST

Report by
Joaquim Fernandes

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16 Dec 2017 03:57am IST

Report by
Joaquim Fernandes

Leave a comment

Roque Lazarus is a man with an entrenched passion for music. Having spent most of his life with music in different capacities, the man is synonymous with rhythm. Café takes a peek into his life

For many musicians, music is religion. For Roque Lazarus,

it is his genes. With musician grandfathers on both sides of his parentage, Roque hit the ground humming, or so his parents told him.

Growing up on catechism of music, Roque had barely entered his teens in 1988, when he wielded the electric guitar to play lead for… well, The Teens. Since then, Roque’s musical journey on the Goa music-scape has been noteworthy. In 2014, the Goa government awarded him the Yuva Srujan Puraskar (Youth State Award) for excellence in western music.

It was the late Fr Lourdino Barreto, former Director of the Department of Western Music at the Kala Academy, Panjim, who recognised his versatility and encouraged Roque to pursue studies in various musical instruments.

Today, the rare musical instrument – theremini – is just one of many he uses to make music. Slash, lead guitarist of the rock band Guns N Roses may be his idol, yet Roque’s heart beats to the rhythm of Konkani rock.

His recent single ‘Tuyam, Tuyam, Tuyam,’ a tribute to his birth place Tuem, and sung in the rustic-rural dialect of Pednem taluka, is a beautiful vignette of Goan culture, available on YouTube. Roque Lazarus’s other Konkani collaborations like ‘Hanv Noko’, ‘Mai ge Dhobitalao,’ etc, portray his angst against some of the problems bedevilling the state in areas such as environmental pollution, mining, etc. This angst is shared by much of Goa’s youth.

Roque produces searing lead with his electric guitar and many of the above songs are done in the fast, pulsating style of western rock. Yet Roque is perfectly at home composing the lyrics of the enchanting and gloriously soulful ‘Goemkarponn’ song, a hit among Goans worldwide. He also traipses on classical ground and his compositions have been performed by western orchestras. The Mahler Chamber Orchestra of Germany has performed his arrangement of the Konkani ‘O Rosa’ and Ensemble Suavis from the UK performed his ‘Sokallim’.

The groups he has played with in Goa are legion but a special place in his heart is reserved for two bands of his own – ‘Surya, Chondrim, Noketram’ (Konkani for Sun, Moon, Stars) and ‘Kantte ani Fullam’ (Thorns and Flowers). These two bands perform only for very special events.

Roque fondly recalls his friendship with another Goan music icon, Remo Fernandes, and his association with Remo’s band, the refurbished Microwave Papadums. He played with the band for almost five years and is clearly grateful for all the stagecraft he learnt from Remo.

Films happened accidentally, over 20 of them, in most of which he plays a musician. In the recent Konkani musical ‘Nachomia Kumpasar’, he is seen playing the ‘bonkao’ (double bass). ‘Enemy?’ is another recent film he has acted in and co-written two songs.

In his former years of rock rage, he was the lean-mean musician with long straggly hair, unruly beard, beads around his neck and such other paraphernalia. He is still lean, but now wears a close crop and is driven by a charitable soul that has drawn quite a bit of scorn from friends for his free music tuitions to youngsters. Roque describes that as his search for “musical prodigies in Goa”.

He says music comes naturally to Goans. “But we rely too much on that free gift. The right thing would be to enhance our natural talent with continuous learning and also live with good values,” says Roque.

He is clearly a man of many facets, and some contradictions. Despite an outward appearance of a rockstar, Roque is a vegetarian, non-smoker and teetotaller; only drinking deep from the fount of music – composing and arranging, singing and performing, playing musician in films, learning-teaching-recording and giving music recording classes. His current band is the Ventures from Ucassaim, Bardez, but he takes time out for Kungfu classes.

For sweet solace, he goes home to Santa Cruz and his wife, Alba Roncon. The two were married in 2000 and are blessed with two children – son Axl (16) plays the guitar, and daughter Axline (11) is learning the piano. On the home front, Roque “couldn’t be happier.”

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