Listen: Prakash Slim is ‘Living For The Memory’

"There are differences in blues and Nepali music but there are many similarities: Economic depression, discrimination, and social issues remain the same." - Prakash Slim

Prakash Slim Pokharel is a country blues musician, educator, and blues music history researcher. He was born in a field on June, 17th, 1980 within the small village of Lamatar, in the Lalitpur district of Nepal. The village saw its first electric bulb in 1983 and its first motor car in 1995. He was raised by a loving, loyal family that had very limited means. His father passed away at the age of 29, leaving his mother with three children to raise, one elder brother, a sister, and Prakash. What food they could manage to obtain was earned by their mother, who worked in their neighbors’ fields. Every year, he waited for their main festival to be celebrated. Annually, that would be when his uncle would gift him a pair of new clothes. He went to a public school where instead of desks and benches, they had mats made of straw.

When asked what his ambition was when young, Prakash Slim replied, “Ambition was a privilege for rich kids back then. The only ambition I had was sustaining life.”

 

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

Prakash has been interested in music since he was a child, when he made music by drumming against a water gallon and singing songs all day.  Music drew him to its world. When it called out to him he couldn’t resist. His most prized possession back then was a bicycle that his sister gifted him after she landed a job. Prakash wanted to learn and play the guitar but he didn’t have the money to buy one. He confesses that he bought his first guitar by selling his bicycle, telling  his family that a friend had taken it for a few days. 

For two years, Prakash gave up everything else to search for a mentor who could teach him everything he needed to know about music theory. He finally found a teacher, a legendary musician named C.B.Chhetri, though he lived 10 kms away from Prakash’s own home. His passion for music was so enormous that he never missed a lesson. Whether it stormed or rained, he always arrived ahead of time and ready to learn.

For years, after learning a working journeyman’s knowledge of the guitar, he accepted his mentor’s offer to join his band and gigged in a circuit of restaurants playing rock music and instrumental. At the same time, he started teaching music in schools and institutions. 

In 2008 he participated in a workshop entitled Teaching Music Effectively, conducted at Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory by the US  Cultural Embassy envoy, Dr. Gene Aitken. It had been fine playing in rock bands all those years. However, Prak’s thirst for musical knowledge and deeper musical experiences couldn’t be quenched. The aching hole in his soul healed when he heard his first BB King recording. Overwhelmed by what he heard, he began researching more and more about blues music and it’s history. He also took much of his existing repertoire and started experimenting by adding blues licks and blues grooves to them. There he gradually learned more expanded theory and a deeper understanding of how chords and progressions are formed both physically and numerically. From 2003 to 2015 he kept busy playing lead and/or rhythm guitar and bass, as well as contributing vocals for various bands throughout Nepal.

In 2015 he received an invitation to attend a musical retreat at Walden School of Music, San Francisco, California, USA. That same year a major earthquake hit Nepal. Buildings crumbled down to dust and Prak’s hopes too were shattered as he was unable to attend the retreat. The devastation hit him hard and personally. For the next several years an insurmountable fear and pain were a constant in his life. The blues became his solace and his very best friend. 

In February, 2017, he fell ill and was advised bed rest. While he was scrolling through his news feed aimlessly, he came across a facebook page named Acoustic Blues Pickers. He was intrigued on seeing a world of blues lovers like himself. There he listened to Robert Johnson’s “Me and the Devil Blues.” He practiced playing it for a week and shared what he played on the page. A Facebook friend offered to help him and generously sent him a resonator guitar and some slides.

For now, Prakash Slim is not only playing and doing research in blues, but also teaching BITS a.k.a. Blues in the schools. He’s recently finished a Blues exhibition for his school in Nepal. No doubt he’s living by example the axiom “keeping the blues alive.” In Nepal & beyond. He’s now a recognized, internationally affiliated artist and Educator of the Blues with the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund (Executive Director Dr. T. DeWayne Moore) Mississippi, USA since January 2019. Prakash is also active in a Blues mentorship program with T.J. Wheeler, a longtime pioneer, advocate, activist teacher/performer of blues, jazz, and related music. As a member of International Singer and Songwriters Association, Prak’s own original blues compositions are also gaining him further attention.

Listen to “Living For The Memory,” Prakash’s newest release, below.

 

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