Archive for June, 2002


Saturday, June 1st, 2002

A huge thank you to those who came down to the Songwriters’ Round on Thursday. To have packed the house on a Thursday night is no mean feat – but to have packed it and be as fantastic as you guys were was just awesome. No other word for it. You guys were brilliant.


Also, a big welcome to the forty-one new list members who joined last night.

It is always a great pleasure to play at No Black Tie. It is even more so on nights when the room is packed with folks who know exactly when to be a good natured and noisy rabble, and when to be respectful to the performers by staying silent. It is even more rare that the performers should have enjoyed themselves as much as the audience obviously did – but last night was just one such night. I would like to thank all of you on behalf of Julian, Sei Hon and Rabbit for letting us have a good laugh. I speak for all of us when I say we had the greatest of time onstage, and hope that future Songwriters’ Rounds will be as exciting.

For those who missed the show (boo), I’ll start from the beginning:

The day started at 4.30pm. All the performers were at soundcheck except for Julian, who had to teach in the afternoon, and could only get to NBT at 9.00pm. Rafique the sound engineer was as professional and brilliant as usual, and we soundchecked without problem. The sound that Raf manages to get from what is very modest equipment never ceases to astonish me. The only incident of note during soundcheck was Raf’s inventive use of coasters to cover up the sound holes of my guitars in order to counter a strange and annoying hum. To those of you who wondered why we had coasters taped over the sound holes of the guitars – now you know.

After the soundcheck, we lounged around trying to decide whether to end the evening with an ensemble rendition of something or other.

“Good idea,” Raf chirped.

The easiest way was to do some classic song that everyone knows. So we had a go at ‘Hey Jude’ – but no one was wearing tight enough jeans to reach the high notes at the end of the song where Paul goes berserk. I guess ‘Hey Jude’ is not it then. What about ‘Always On My Mind’? Hm – nah – its easy to do but too sweet. ‘Blue Bayou’? – Naaaaah. Shivers. How about ‘Suspicious Mind’? How intriguing. Raf had a go on the guitar. Oh dear. He could not remember all the words. For those of you who are not aware, aside from being a brilliant sound engineer, Raf is also a brilliant musician with an extensive repertoire and natural musical ability to match. So when he does not remember lyrics, we knew it was time to huddle. Group hug time. Whisper hush hush. We decided it would be too sacrilegious to make up the words. Too risky – Elvis may still be alive. Schtumped. Put five musos together and they still couldn’t put together ONE cover song to sing. Shameless charlatans. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

After some moments of head scratching, it was decided that we should try to write something original there and then. After all, we’re all supposed to be songwriters, no? Anyway, Sei Hon just happened to have a very nice chord progression that he hadn’t put melody and words to – so we worked on that. I wrote some words to it and came up with a passable melody – all in 20 minutes over beer and cigarettes. It was going to be a classic beer drinking ‘you don’t love me anyway’ song. But by the time it was ready, everyone was starving, and it was already time for dinner. We ordered some chicken wing, fried rice and veggie. Then we wolfed down the grub and bantered like boys. Then we drank some more beer. Then we bantered some more. Then before we knew it, Julian arrived as the crowd started to trickle in. A glance at the watch. Shit, its already 9.00pm. Hm, I guess we wouldn’t have rehearsal time for our ensemble piece then. Scrap the group-sing idea?

Someone burped. Everyone else shrugged.

It was thus that our collective masterpiece didn’t see the light of day. It could have been an instant beer hall classic – but oooh no – we had to run out of time and energy. I guess that’s why we’re still indie musos as opposed to Mariah ‘Virgin paid me USD25mil NOT to make records’ Carrey. Oh well. A life of plastic surgery and screaming groupies vanished in an instance. Perhaps just as well – we’d never look the part even if we had her breasts anyway.


The show started as the house filled to standing room only. We started with a song by Julian, followed by Sei Hon, then Rabbit – with me coming on as the last guy in the round. We did three rounds per set in a two set show. Julian is an experienced old dog and played some wonderful stuff – including his famously raunchy ‘Wolf Woman’ – which brought the house down. Sei Hon was visibly nervous but very charming and refreshing. He also ran out of songs in the second set but everyone was such good sport they let him do a cover to atone for his sins. He attempted to do Counting Crow’s ‘Mr Jones’ – but gave up half way. He had a great laugh though – so did everyone else. He promised to write more stuff for future Rounds. Rabbit? He was funny, serious, chatty and professional at the same time. God knows how he did that. Given that this was his first ever acoustic live performance, it was brilliant to see him so relaxed and confident onstage. What can I say? This man is a gifted and charismatic natural. Me? Well, I was my usual self, walking the thin edge between sobriety and mucking about. I remember having to re-start ‘Near Or Far’ three times because I couldn’t keep a straight face singing the line ‘here am I sitting next to you all in vain’ whilst sitting next to Rabbit. I also had a chance to fool around with some improvised lead guitar playing – its nowhere as good as Julian’s chops of course – but I had a great time anyway. Now, if I get run over by a bus tomorrow, I can die saying that I’ve traded lead lines with Julian Mokhtar. Yum.

“Phoeeey!”, Julian grumbles and shakes his head as he trots off to seek trauma therapy.

Anyway, it was well nigh 1am before we finished. And just as you thought it was safe to return home, on came the open mike folks. First came Jerome – who started softly then launched into a wild fit of angst and passion for all of two songs. A primeaval Bjork except wilder. Those of you who haven’t experienced Jerome’s vocal stylings must try it next time. Its wild and superbly brave. A true believer. Then Daryl came on. A nice and modest looking young man on the surface but a rogue beneath. He sang some sweet innocent stuff to start with. Then, amidst the sweetest melody, these postmodern and lovestruck lines suddenly fell out of his mouth – “my cooking sucks, and I don’t wanna make you sick…”. After that, wave upon wave of brilliantly funny lines came. The house fell about on the floor in stitches. The master of reflexivity, old Daryl. Wicked. Cameron came on next and charmed us with his polished compositions of love and redemption. He also played so hard he left blood on Rabbit’s guitar. Loved that. Finally, the night was appropriately rounded off with a beautiful half-improvised piano piece by the lovely Lisa. She did spill drinks on Evelyn’s piano whilst doing that, but I am told she has been forgiven. Next time, boys and girls, no beverages on stage for you open mike folks. Otherwise, the axe wielding serial bar owner Evelyn would have my head on a platter before the intro is done. Really.

All in all – a wonderful night. I don’t think I’m wrong when I say that a great time was had by all – performers included. I hope that future Rounds will feature more open mike guys doing their stuff, and continue to attract the best professional and emerging talents we have to offer. You see, my friends, the Songwriters’ Round is conceived to be a platform for all kinds of songwriters within our community to perform – regardless of professional experience and standing. That’s the way music should be.

Anyway, thank you all again for being such a great audience. The next Songwriters’ Round should be in late June or early July. We expect to feature the legendary Rafique Rashid and a few others in the same format. Please spread the word.