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A tribute to Dubai's guitarist: Aldo

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On July 21st, Dubai favorite rock music venue, the Music Room, will witness a first of its kind event with makers and shakers of the Dubai rock joining forces to pay tribute to the county’s guitar legend, Aldo Rock.

Aldo ‘Rock’ D’Souza, originally from Mumbai, India, lived in the UAE for over 20 years. He passed away in Dubai on May 24th. Aldo was a full-time musician, playing covers as a duo or in the band Aldo and the Footprints, at the local go-to places for the ‘no-frills’ places such as Seafarers Club, Cactus Jacks, the Music Room and private gigs. Aldo also backed international artists doing gigs in the city. He re-engineered guitars of the likes of signature and custom made styles, either fixing or setting them up for speed style playing. As well he was a teacher loved by several students in the city.


While Dubai attracts people from all over the world and provides a platform for one to showcase their talents, it’s a few to really stand out for their raw talent, passion, and dedication to being a musician. Being a music veteran, Aldo was known for his exceptional playing, but moreover for his down to earth nature. This is especially felt by the outpour of tributes given by his fellow musicians, who have known and worked with Aldo during his tenure in the city.

Aldo came to Dubai in the Early 90s, where Indians playing English music was not very common. We caught up with Ryan Noronha, Singer, and Songwriter of Moonshine, who knew Aldo from back in the 90s, to talk about how musicians from back in the day made it in the city.


Can you mention some difficulties people like you and Aldo had overcome from the 90s to now when it comes to playing gigs?
Musically nothing has been difficult, but when you have to earn a living playing music it becomes a challenge. In the late 80s, we played in Mumbai, where there were no issues of race or color it’s was just petty politics in the music scene which was easy to overcome if you were good and easy to work with. That’s how we got our first contract to Djibouti in 1990 and played 3 clubs there in a span of 1 year. We came to Dubai after that wherein being an Indian musician playing Western music was not a good career choice. We compete against western musicians in terms of image and having the right connections. The music scene is such that you cannot blame anyone for how it is. You could hardly ever find any Indian bands playing western music doing residencies coming out of India in the 90s or even now. Aldo did loads of work as a duo and other bands playing corporate and private events. There were a lot more opportunities and lesser competition. These days with the advancement of technology you don’t need too many people to form a band and there are so many musicians out there that the supply is more than the demand hence the payout is way less. I have been playing in cover bands and mainly doing private events. Over the past 3 years, it has become increasingly difficult surviving by just playing music in Dubai, with new rules and extra fees hotels are become very choosy and want the maximum they can get out of you.

Aldo 2

Flashback from the 90s Ryan Noroha singing and Aldo Rock on guitar (right)

Do you prefer to play music in Dubai rather than back home (India) and why?
A difficult question to answer, as I have been here for over 20 years. The music scene has changed a lot in India and Bollywood is an industry by itself. Depending on the genre you play, now you can make a good living playing music. India is a much bigger platform than Dubai so it would not be fair to compare the two. In Dubai, you have the clubs and the corporate events that help professional and semi-professional musicians. For passionate ones, you have the open mics, concerts and community events that give them a platform.

What lessons can be learned from the seasoned musicians in Dubai?
Learning is an ongoing process, as a musician, your job is being out almost every night of the week which means you don’t have much time for your family. At all festive occasions, you are entertaining others so no family time again. It takes a lot of effort if you are in a contract to get on stage every day and give it your all. Even soccer players have at least 2 days break between games but musicians have to be on stage 6 days a week. As a musician, you would rather do this than not have a gig and wait around as no work means no pay.

Aldo 3

Anything you like to add?
Just like to add that its guys like Aldo never want their name in the news or on social media, they did it for the love of music. Aldo, through his guitar classes and repairing skills, encouraged so many musicians to keep playing. I still remember the days when he worked at Mozart and we would all go there and sit with him. I have seen loads of people pass through just to spend some time with him. He never made a big deal of it. We spent a year together and had our fair share of fights and disagreements but what stayed with us was our respect for each other and we accepted each other for who we were, never tried to change each other. I and many more will miss him.
Be prepared for a special and emotional night featuring Ryan and fellow Dubai Rock music veterans, coming together as musicians as organizers to rock out in Aldo’s memory. Tickets are priced at AED 50 and according to the event page on Facebook, all proceeds will go to his family.
The event, Aldo Rock Festival, will be co-hosted by Rock Nation UAE, JoScene Events, Mainstage Events, Metal East Records, Go Play the World and Musicians United

The line-up on July 21 will include the following bands: Core 304, Moonshine, As per Casper, Up The Ante, Angmar, Point of View and Vin Sinners.

Rest in Peace, Aldo.

Written by: Natsky D.


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