About Ramesh

Ramesh Shotham-Biography ‘All music is, in some sense, a journey, but some musicians travel further than others. Percussionist Ramesh Shotham is one such. Originally a rock drummer with one of India¹s most successful bands Human Bondage, he underwent something of a conversion in the mid 1970s and was drawn back towards the music of his homeland. He has been steadily clocking up yet more miles in this musical journey, collaborating in the 1990s with jazz visionaries like saxophonists Steve Coleman and Charlie Mariano, composer Carla Bley and oud player Rabih Abou Khalil. Then came his own group, Madras Special, which may be a summation of all that he has learnt and discovered along the way.’ (Cormac Larkin in the Irish Sunday Tribune, 23.07.06) Based in Germany, since the early 1980s, Shotham chose to live permanently in the city of Cologne around 1990, and became a German citizen in the year 2000. Nowadays, Shotham¹s arsenal includes a bewildering array of percussion Instruments, ranging from diverse Indian traditional drums to selected pieces of the modern drum kit. He has been, over the years, working closely with companies such as Meinl Percussion, Wahan Drums and Anatolian Cymbals in developing, enhancing and endorsing their products. Shotham’s use of traditional Indian drums in Orchestral and Big Band settings is quite unique. His work with the Carla Bley Big Band (Escalator Over The Hill), the WDR Big Band (Sketches of Bangalore/Karnataka College of Percussion, Niedecken’s ‘Deutschlandlieder’), BujazzO (Tour of India during the German Cultural Year 2011) and Phoenix Foundation (Indian Tour 2013), is well documented. He has been closely associated with the Renga project of the LPO (London Philharmonic Orchestra), playing original ‘World Music’ compositions with some of the finest classical musicians from London. His forays into the Western Classical world also saw him playing percussion in Nationaltheater Mannheim’s production of the Baroque Opera ‘Alessandro’, directed by the famous Günter Krämer. Besides fulfilling his busy touring and studio schedules, Shotham has been active in the field of music education. He has created special concepts for teaching rhythms to musicians (as well as to lay people), based on the unique drum language and mathematics of the music of South India. ‘GlobalTala’ and ‘Talking Rhythm’ Workshops represent these concepts. Shotham has conducted workshops at music conservatories in Weimar, Cologne, Nürnberg, and Rostock. During the last 3 years, Shotham has been involved in ‘Kultur und Schule’ projects, working with children. He is currently a regular member of the World Percussion Academy’s annual meetings at the Landesmusikakademie in Heek.


The year started off with another workshop for children: Riehl-Kids. My idea to sow the seeds of rhythm in young minds seems to be panning out:) Look forward to more such projects during the course of this year. In January and March there were a couple of more ‘Alessandro’ performances at the Nationaltheater Mannheim. According to general consenus, this opera should make its appearance again during the next season! In March I played 3 Mandala concerts with Sigi Schwab and they were all sold-out as usual! End of the month I went on a 4-day trip with the group Fisfüz, who presented their new CD ‘Ashure’, on which I appear as a special guest. I love their music! I flew to India on April Fool’s Day to attend my niece Ashmita’s wedding…..it actually took place:) I was back in the midst of family and tradition, and enjoyed everything immensely. In May Madras Special came together again to play at the Colours of Percussion festival in Freistadt in Austria. Looking forward to a nice summer, the blackbirds on my balcony, and the new Timid Tiger album:))

Tour in India

KCP4 and Renga (10 musicians from the London Philharmonic Orchestra), toured India from the 31st of March to the 8th of April. We played 3 sold-out concerts in Mumbai at the NCPA, in Bangalore at the Chowdiah Memorial Hall, and in Delhi at the Kamani Auditorium. The LPO musicians also gave workshops for school children in these three cities, which were very popular with the kids!

Winter/Spring 2009/2010

Well I didn’t have the good fortune to escape this winter! It was intense, with temperatures around -12°C being the norm. So much snow all over, unbelievable for us in Cologne, but somehow spectacular!
Musically, a quiet period. The recession, slowly but surely caught up with us musicians. Did we hope to escape? But 2010 is already looking promising but, who knows?
I have a new CD ‘On Stage’ with Sigi Schwab out on the market and we will be performing quite a few live gigs this year. I’ve also been invited to be part of the team involved in a project called ‘Heimat-re-invented’ for Mukutathe Werkstatt and MusikTriennale in Cologne.
End of March I leave for India on a 2-week tour with Renga (10 musicians from LPO) and KCP4. We will perform in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi.
Meanwhile, the Barock opera ‘Alessandro’ is still on at regular intervals at the Nationaltheater Mannheim, and each of the performances has been a sell-out!!


This year was full of surprises! For the first time in my freelance career as a musician I made myself available for a couple of long-term teaching projects. This involved working with school kids aged 11-13. I was part of a team of guest teachers to work with children in two schools in Zollstock and Porz, in Cologne. The motto was ‘Heimat-Re-invented’ and it was co-sponsored by the Musik Triennale Köln, with a public perfromance on the 11th of May. Well, the group of kids I was involved with from the school in Porz received the NRW cultural prize! My work in this area continued in the school at Porz together with two wonderful dancers Benadetta and Andre Jolles. We worked with the kids starting in October up until December, with a performance on the 21st of December. Concert-wise 2010 was a busy year. The Barock Opera ‘Alessandro’ continued to play to sold-out audiences at the Nationaltheater Mannheim. Then there was the tour in April with KCP4/Renga (LPO musicians) to India. And, of course a bunch of gigs spread over the year with my regular projects like Mandala, East West Wind, Raga West, KCP4, etc. During the first week of July I was invited to present a lecture demonstration at the IRSA (International Rhythm Studies Association) in Dublin. In August I travelled to Taiwan once again, this time to the city of Tainan, to conduct workshops during the ‘Youth Creativity Week’. This was followed by performances with Pipa virtuoso Yu Feng and indigenous singer Inka Ming. After a flying visit to India, spanning 5 cities in 6 days, to setup the BujazzO tour of India in November 2011, I travelled to Poznan for a World Percussion Meeting where met many interesting young percussionists. End of September I was invited to play with the WDR Big Band and Wolfgang Niedecken. The project was titled ‘Deutschland Lieder’, songs about Germany, written by Wolfgang and arranged by Mike Herting. Following the studio production there was a grand open-air performance on the 3rd of October at the Brandenburger Tor, in front of some 30,000 people to mark 20 years of ‘Deutsche Einheit.’ The very next day I flew to Dakar along with Mike Herting to perform two concerts there, one at the German Ambassador’s residence, and one at the Goethe Institute. It was my first trip to West Africa and the feeling was just great:) Winding up activities for the year I was in the studio recording with the wonderful musicians from the group Fisfüz. I will be performing live with them during the spring of 2011. Look forward to seeing all my friends and relatives during the course of this year:-)

Summer/Autumn 09

I spent almost the whole of June in Chennai. I had almost forgotten what a real summer feels like: 42°C and no relief except for the incredible variety of mangoes on the market….finger-licking good!

In July I recorded some tracks with the group Pilgrim. Later in the month I performed at the Palmengarten Jazz Festival in Frankfurt with East West Wind. In August I was invited to teach Kanjira at the Tamburi Mundi Meeting in Freiburg and got to meet, hang and jam with some of the finest frame drum players like Glen Velez, Scott Robinson, Murat Coskun, etc.
In October I went on a 10-day duo tour with Stepanida Borisova, driving through Poland, Slovenia, Austria and Germany. This was followed by a short Kadim tour in Switzerland.
Then in November I was back in Sofia to play with the second edition of Balkan Horses. Lots of pieces in 11/8!!
Probably my last trip outside of Germany for this year was to Santa Cruz de Tenerife, where I was once again part of the incredible Global Perfussion Ensemble. It was great to be on an Island enjoying sunshine and temperatures of around 22°C before gearing up for the long winter-haul!