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It's all about the artist: The Humming Tree - New performance venue

Bangaloreans love their music and they appreciate live performances. However, most places that stage live music are nightlife establishments where gigs are a way of drawing an audience. The Humming Tree is where the roles have been reversed. It’s a venue where the main draw is the performance.

The Humming Tree is a live music and arts venue (operating as a bar and café as well), located in Indiranagar. Founded and owned by Nikhil Barua, The Humming Tree focuses on promoting music in general and live music in particular in a bid to promote hitherto unknown artists and performers. The concept also is to provide a place to Bangaloreans to shake off their day at work and appreciate music, with a drink. Explocity speaks to Bushra Shariff, programming head of The Humming Tree.

How did the idea behind The Humming Tree originate?
The idea was to bring the idea of ending one’s day's work with a good musical performance and a drink. It’s been in the planning for almost three years by Nikhil (Barua, owner). Active work on the planning, interiors and design started about six months back and we finally launched on May 29, 2013. We want to provide a platform for diverse artists to showcase their talent to an appreciative audience. We also want to bring in international acts. Presently, Bangalore nightlife comprises just pubbing or clubbing. We wanted to come up with an alternative. We are looking to curate good artists.

What sort of artists have you worked with? Can you name a few?
We work with expressive and good artists. We've had Your Chin (Raxit Tewari from the Mumbai band Sky Rabbit), Usha Uthup, A jazz band called Aura, Reggae Rajahs with a Polish Group Dance Hall Masacra, DJ Vachan (playing his funk set), Karthik from Blushing Satellite played an electro-swing set, _RHL (Rahul Giri from Sulk Station) with Frame-By-Frame from Delhi, Vedant Bharadwaj (classical musician) and DJ Axo.

The Humming Tree seems to be only focusing on music. What about other forms of art?
Our mainstay is music. We have completely music oriented performances on weekends. However, we don't wish to draw any boundaries around art because it's open to interpretation. We don't rule out the possibility of more art centric events wherein we can play with lights and visuals as well. With a diverse weekly program, we will try to cater to all interests.

You haven’t been charging at entry fees for gigs. How long do you think the dream period for music lovers will continue?
We would like to remain a ‘no entry fee’ venue. We have been very successful. Despite not doing any overt promotions or signage, we are packed to capacity every weekend and are currently covering expenses on food and beverage. Bangaloreans are culturally sensitive and always looking for a space like this. Of course, if we have a famous band performing here, we may be compelled to charge an entry fee for security reasons. We can have around 250 people standing and about 175 with seating - both with ample space to move around.

What plans does The Humming Tree have for the future?
We are all about supporting artists. We can provide audio and video recordings to those who perform here. The quality being high, they can even use it for a demo. We want this venue to become a place for creative networking. Want this to become a space where people socialise and network. We want to become a place where communities are built.

Socialising and networking?
Yes! Art brings people together. People meet other like-minded individuals and that's how friendships are built. That's how associations grow. You meet someone you have a wavelength match with and you decide to collaborate. We aim to become a community for creative networking.

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Profile: Nikhil Barua, owner of The Humming Tree

Three years ago, Barua watched an Indian folk band - The Dharohar Project - perform with Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling, during their India tour. He hadn’t heard of the Indian band and he felt the need to give talented Indian musicians, the exposure they deserve. That’s when he first thought of starting The Humming Tree.

Apart from music and art, Barua also wishes the venue (and the concept) to have a social angle. He wants some performances to create social awareness and help NGOs. Barua explained that they serve food from Herbs & Spice (a well known Bangalore restaurant) and Chinita (a new Mexican restaurant) at The Humming Tree.