For whatever reason (the bluesman implications, the rock-God implications, the phallic implications), history has not blessed music fans with more than a handful of female guitar shredders. Fiddlers, sure. Bassists, no problem. Saxophonists, trumpeters, accordion players—heck, even female drummers (Meg White, Rachel Tractenburg, Cindy Blackman) are easily called to mind. But when a female ace guitarist steps into the arena, it’s worth taking note.
Joining the ranks of Memphis Minnie and Kaki King, Indian slide guitarist Kuntala Ray is gaining attention for her axe prowess. However, Ray’s instrument may look unusual: the lap-held, sitar-like Hansa Veena “blends the tonalities of Vichitra Veena [a fretless, plucked-string instrument], Sitar and Sarod.”
Ray, who hold a degree in science from Calcutta University, apprenticed under Bengali guitar maestro Sri Uttam Chakrabarty. Press for the performer says she is also “recognized within the Indian classical music community for her ability to render light music and control the Hawaiian Slide Guitar.”
Kuntala Ray performs at UNC-A‘s “Celebrating India Day” on Friday, Oct. 24. The free 7 p.m. performance—including tabla player Dibyarka Chatterjee—in the Grotto (lower level of Highsmith University Union). Info: 251-6808. She also appears at the Flood Gallery Fine Art Center (located on the second floor of the Phil Mechanic Studios building) on Saturday, Oct. 25, 7-8 p.m. ($5 suggested donation. RSVP and info: Jolene Mechanic at 254-2166).
—Alli Marshall, A&E reporter