"Bangladesh Cultural Forum" arranged a three days of "Baul Mela"(actual title: "Jatio Baul Mela 1417"/National Baul Fair 1417), started at 13th February and ended at 15th February of 2011. The location of this fair was "Shohrawardi Uddan". I was only able to join the party during third day. Missed the first two days unfortunately.
The basic idea of the Mela was to introduce the bauls from root level. Especially those who are completely unknown to the urban people. Most of the open air baul concerts are ornate by the known or selected bauls. No one wants to take the risk to call these poor bauls for the show. The mela authority did show this bravado by confronting these bauls. Along with those floating bauls, they have also listed few renowned balus for the audience.
Every performer for this show was given an opportunity to talk for few words. Trust me, by hearing from them, I felt how lucid their mind is, and how simple they are. I didn't see any craving for a city life inside them. Some of them were even too nervous to talk a single word.
I know you guys may not like this kind of shows. But I have a terrible fascination for these baul songs. Reasons are, their songs used to come from their heart, not from the mouth; pronunciation are very colloquial and agricultural(they don't care about good pronunciation). Finally their instruments, dhol, khomok, mondira, bansuri, ektara, dotara.
This show was mixed with singers having varying age ranges, gender, and location. It was lovely to see the bauls from every single corner of the country. Everyone tried to make a good impression by their performances, some of them were failed unfortunately. I think they were nervous.
Now come about the audiences. It wasn't that much crowed, may be two or three hundreds people only. Most of them were from middle class and below. Among those, most of them were the vagabonds and mobile sellers from the park. It was fine to see people bestowed money to the singers when they found it was satisfactory.
Here are the list of performers for the last day:
1) Anwar baul, Rajbari, Goalondo.
2) Bhogiroth Malou, Faridpur.
3) Rupai Dewan, Barisal.
4) Sathi, Mymensingh.
5) Anwar Dewan.
6) Jibon Dewan, Sariatpur.
7) Chitto Dewan, Kerani Ganj.
8) Kajoli Dewan
9) Akkas Dewan (creator of "Ami Chailam Jare, Bhobe Pailam Na Tare")
10) Nasima Dewan (wife of Akkas Dewan)
11) Mina Pagli
12) Topon Mondol, Barisal
You can find all the videos at this playlist http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=F4F115527D8CD8F7, I'll recommend you to go through the songs of the playlist. You may love it.
I believe next year, they will arrange this same fair, so don't miss your chance.