Last year saw Jacobs Ladder as the favorites to lift the Best Band category of TNL Onstage 2005, a contest the band has been regulars of over the years. They certainly had the most experience, and were said to have the strongest line up, but what went wrong?
Speaking to lead singer Sean on the band and TNL Onstage, he says, "Our music was really different to the other bands that took part, and I think maybe our range of music was a bit difficult to judge. I guess we can have a million reasons as to why we didn't win, but we're not sour grapes over it. Our aim was to be original, and not play gimmicky music, and I think we did pretty okay."
The band performed a set of originals at Onstage, songs like Heart of Stone, Jacobs Ladder, and Speak to me received great reviews. He also says that being in a band can be very expensive, from recording songs to setting up gigs, it all costs an incredible amount of time and money.
"Getting your music out there isn't that easy, but TNL Onstage is a great forum for expressing originality and even though we didn't win, we know the crowd really appreciated the stuff we played, lots of people came up to us saying they loved the originals, and that itself is good enough".
Asked about who he thought really shone at Onstage this year he said, "Well I think Sylph was really fresh, I almost felt old standing next to them! I think they were one band that was really in touch with their audience."
An on the music scene in Sri Lanka, Sean says that it's great seeing lots of younger people involved today. "It's all for the love of music that makes you do, it's just not practical to be in a band full time because the money isn't exactly great, you can't survive off it, but it's encouraging to see more young people putting in effort."
"Events like Rock Saturday (held by Rock Company) and TNL Onstage are great, it's a good thing that they're doing and it's a good platform for getting your music out there".
The members of the band are taking a break from each other at the moment, and are currently working on putting their album together. Dragonfly that touched the sky is due to be released later on this year, with 13 songs on the album, most of which are written by Sean.
Bands that have influenced Jacobs Ladder over the years range from Metalica to Coldplay, Pink Floyd, 3 Doors down Led Zeppelin but Sean says, "We play a filtered version of music that influences us, we're not 100 % original, I don't think any band is today, but being original doesn't always mean playing only originals. A band plays covers until they find their own sound, depending on whether they find they're
own sound that is."
A for plans this year, Jacobs Ladder is taking a break after their Onstage stint, and all the guys have carrers of their own. Sean's a doctor and works at the ICU at the Sri Jayawardenapura hospital, and the other members are involved in management.
"I'm lucky because I get great job satisfaction in helping people. But music is more of a personal part of me, and being able to get up there and express thoughts and feelings and what you believe in through music, and being able to connect with people is absolutely great".
And TNL Onstage again? Sean says, "I think not. I feel we've been there and done that enough now. Maybe a couple of gigs this year, but we're going to take our time and see how things go. At the moment we're focusing all our energy on our album, Dragonfly that touched the sky, which we really need to get out soon, and I guess we'll just take it from there"
Will-power and self discipline
By The Thinker
Many have been the times when we have read numerous testimonies of people and their inner strength. The strength that has been a driving force at the most unimaginable times. The strength that has delivered people from terrible adversities to a state of bliss.
Inner strength, also known as willpower is what helps people survive. Great examples of inner strength were witnessed when the country's southern and eastern coasts were struck by a tsunami in December 2004. It was a bitter battle for survival for the victims who survived.
After losing everything in their possession, most of the survivors were left only with the clothes they were wearing at the time. They lost everything from loved ones to their houses and everything material.
Battle for survival
They lost all hope of living, but after the tears, what happened was simply amazing. Everyone began a battle for survival - they found for themselves temporary shelters to live in and then began looking out at ways to find money and hence began returning to livelihood development projects.
Amidst this entire trauma, it was amazing to see them greet passers with a smile. Pay them a visit and although left with nothing, they would try to make you feel at home and offer you the best cup of tea you could ever have.
It has been said that willpower is the inner strength and the inner engine that pushes towards success and achievement. It is the power that pushes into action in every area of life.
Willpower is also known to be one of the most important and desirable inner powers, and its lack or presence determines whether you will fail or accomplish your desires and ambitions and attain success.
Willpower is erroneously considered as a quality belonging only to highly successful people, who depend on strength and force to achieve their goals.
The truth according to scientists is that it can be developed by everyone, and it is important, useful and desirable in the small affairs of life, as it is in the achievement of major goals.
All in the mind
As they say its all in the mind and where there is a will there is always a way. The wonders of the human mind can never be comprehended by a layman.
The first power of the mind was one such concept that has come a long way as well.
The philosophers of ancient Rome, both the Phrygian slave Epictetus and the emperor Marcus Aurelius, have spoken of this first power of the mind toward our emotional life.
What defines us as human beings, they said, is the capacity of our mind to deal consciously and intentionally with the impressions and experiences that life brings us.
These teachings of the philosophers have often been misunderstood as advocating a sort of indifference or coldness. But a more careful study of these teachings and of others connected to them shows that what is being spoken of is a fundamental power of the mind to separate itself from the confusion and disorder of the egoistic reactions that drive our lives around and around.
In fact, the teaching, if looked at carefully, tells us that it is actually through separating from these emotional reactions that we begin to approach the real power of the mind, not only to see clearly but to love truly, to care truly, and even, in a sense, to hate truly - by hate, it means to hate what is truly evil and not merely what goes against our subjective desires or which provokes our subjective fears.
Sounds like Greek, well, that's what I thought when I started reading on the subject myself.
Everyone's a winner
What does this mean in practical terms? As a place to begin, it means the cultivation of a certain orientation of thought during the periods when our emotions are less agitated.
The human mind never stops amazing me and could go on for days talking about it, so this seems a good place to end for now.
The next time you are depressed and feel you are a loser, just think a minute and remember that everyone has a winner in them.
Developing will power and self discipline
One way to develop and improve this ability is to practice doing disagreeable things in your daily life. Your mind and feelings may oppose this action, nevertheless, do it. By doing something you do not like or are too lazy to do, you overcome your subconscious resistances, train your inner powers and gain strength. Muscles get stronger by
resisting the power of the barbells. Inner strength is attained by overcoming inner resistance.
Here are some exercises:
1) You are sitting in a bus or train and an old man or woman, or a pregnant lady walks in. Stand up and give up your seat even if you prefer to stay seated. Do this not just because it is polite, but because you are doing something that you are reluctant to do. In this way you are overcoming the
resistance of your body, mind and feelings.
2) There are dishes in the sink that need washing, and you postpone washing them for latter. Get up and wash them now. Do not let your laziness overcome you. When you know that in this way you are developing your will power, and if you are convinced of the importance of will power in your life, it
will be easier for you to do whatever you have to do.
3) You come home tired from work and sit in front of the T.V. because you feel too lazy and tired to go and wash yourself. Do not obey the desire to just sit, but go and have a shower
4) You may know your body needs some physical exercise, but instead you keep on sitting doing nothing or watching a movie. Get up and walk, run or do some other physical exercise.
5) Do you like your coffee with sugar? Then for a whole week decide to drink it without sugar. You like to drink three cups of coffee each day? For a week drink only two.
6) Overcome your laziness and your habits. Convince yourself of the importance of what is to be done. Convince your mind that you become stronger when you do things, even when you are reluctant, too lazy or believe you are too tired to do.
7) Sometimes, when you want to say something that is not important, decide not to say it.
8) Don't read some unimportant gossip in the newspaper, even if you want to.
9) You have a desire to eat something not too healthy. Refuse the desire.
10) If you find yourself thinking unimportant, unnecessary, negative thoughts, try to develop lack of interest in them by persuading yourself of their futility.
Never say that you cannot follow the above exercises, because you certainly can. Be persistent no matter what. Think and rethink about of the importance of performing the exercises and the inner power and strength they will give you. Believe me it helps. It helped me and it can help you.
Trying to attempt too many exercises immediately at the start may end in disappointment. It is better to start with small and not so important actions at first, and gradually increase the number and difficulty of the exercises. Practice will improve and increase your power, giving you a lot of satisfaction.
Remember, these exercises develop both will power and self discipline, as they are strongly connected. Strengthening one strengthens the other.
Keerthi: life in the limelight
By Nirmala Kannangara
Charity comes first in Keerthi's life. Versatile singer Keerthi Pasqual says that he is committed to help the needy in whatever way he could, as he likes to see smiles on the faces of those who are underprivileged.
"My late parents helped those who came to them seeking help. They were never sent away empty handed. From my childhood I witnessed how my parents being devout Buddhists gave alms to the clergy as well to the needy. I suppose I have inherited their qualities."
Speaking about his parents Keerthi said, "My father died when I was 10 years old. As my father died when I was very young I do not have a good memory of him, but my mother was with me right throughout, thick and thin. My mother's fullest blessings were with me and I think that is the secret behind my success today. She passed away in May 1994 leaving untold sorrow as I was very close to her until her
"My mother wanted me to become a doctor, but life changed my mind. I was mad over music. Though I studied in the biological stream for a few months I could not concentrate on anything other than music. I left school and learned to play the guitar from my brother Padmasiri Pasqual who was a talented guitarist. He died in Italy a few months ago."
Keerthi studied at Dharmaraja College Kandy and took part in the music field even in school on several occasions.
Reminiscing about his college days Keerthi said, "From time to time I was in the limelight as I was the only boy who could sing very well in school. Once there was a talent contest and I was asked to train the children who wanted to take part in this contest because of my music talents. For that particular contest I sang Victor Ratnayake's Adwan Desin and all the other children who learnt from me became winners
but I was not selected. That made a big change in my life and I decided to become a good singer one day and today I am happy as could achieve my goal."
"Even very recently I was asked to judge the Sirasa Super Star talent contest. There I witnessed how talented girls and boys had to leave the contest as they were not chosen. There I solaced them telling my about own pathetic experience at the Dharmaraja College contest and hope they too will come up to a good standard one day despite their setback at this contest. I decided to give a chance to one of them,
Anupama Shyamalee Gunasekere from Kegalle whom I think has a very bright future. She will sing a duet with me at my musical show."
Keerthi says that music runs in his veins. "My mother was a good singer. I can remember my father playing the serpina. Even all my family members including my children can sing very well."
Speaking about his first day on stage Keerthi said, "Twas way back in 1970 in Kandy. I was very young and wearing a pair of shorts, I got on to the stage and sang Sanath Nandasiri's Mahada Veena where I was given a rousing applause."
"After leaving school I played for Galaxy under veteran musician Stanley Peiris. Rookantha Gunatilleke and Mahinda Bandara too played for the band. At my mother's request I applied for the army band and I was lucky enough to get selected, but at the request of Stanley Peiris I had to give up that and remain in the group and since then I am still in this field. I remember Stanley aiya with the greatest gratitude
today as if not for him I wouldn't have come such a long way in music."
Speaking about his upcoming Keerthi Gee Kandula 2 musical evening which is to be held on January 29 at the BMICH, Keerthi said, "I am very punctual and I like to stick to it at each and every show. As scheduled, the concert will start off at 6.45 and my latest CD Kandula 2 will be released on that day."
Keerthi had been domiciled in New Zealand for a couple of years and upon his return Kandula 2 will be his third show here. "I planned to hold the first show in February 2005 and then came the tsunami. I dedicated it to the children who became orphans. I did not sell tickets and had it free of charge. I got down 100 orphans from tsunami camps and they were entertained. In fact I sang Nil Ahas Thale Api with these
children on stage. It was a memorable day in my life."
This was followed by another show which was held at the Bishop's College Auditorium last May to raise funds for his alma mater swimming pool fund. The show on January 29 will be his third in a row and he will be celebrating his birthday on the same day as well.
According to Keerthi since 1988 he has being doing something important on his birthday and this year he had decided to hold the musical show.
This time Keerthi has decided to sponsor two elders who do not have anyone to look after them. "I picked two elders from an elder's home. All their expenses will be borne by me and I look forward to continue this in future as well. They will come on to the stage during my show on January 29. Out of several homes I selected 60 elders
and invited them for my musical show. The Kandula 2 CD will be presented to them as a token of gratitude to parenthood."
Neela Wickramasinghe, Deepika Priyadharshini Peiris, Dammika Walpola and Anupama Shyamalee Gunasekara will help Keerthi in his duets. A special musical dance item will be performed by Ravindra Randeniya and Damitha Abeyratne and a 17-member orchestra will provide music while Channa Wijewardhana will provide the dance troops.
Keerthi says that he gives guitar lessons to the inmates at Welikada Prison. "The prisoners are very keen to learn music. They are really talented and they pick up the basic lessons very quickly. If I can rehabilitate at least a few of them then I could be happy as I would have done some thing useful to society by reforming people who have gone astray."
Keerthi will hold his Keerthi Gee 2 show at the Welikada prison on January 26 as well and 5,000 prisoners will be able to watch a one man musical show - the first of its kind to be held at the prisons.
Talking about his children Keerthi says they can enter this field after doing their higher studies. "Until then I will never encourage them to enter this field. All my four children are talented singers."
Son Kasun looks after Keerthi's travel firm in India. Eldest daughter Dinesha is working at Nations Trust Bank while Charuni and Natalie are still studying at Louver International School in Nugegoda.
Talking about the most memorable day in life Keerthi said it was the day he heard his first song over the radio in 1984. Keerthi entered the music scene in 1976 as a guitarist and got the opportunity to sing for a cassette in 1984. Upto now he has released 15 cassettes and 6 CDs. He has 300 songs to his credit.
According to him he has a special place in his heart for the songs Kandula Ithin Samaveyan and Neela Ahase which became very popular instantly. Those who would like to know more about Keerthi can log on to his website, www.keerthigee.com.