Archive for the ‘ROUNDS’ Category


Monday, January 12th, 2004


The Songwriters’ Round performance format was made famous at the legendary Blue Bird Cafe in Nashville. It subsequently spread outside of Nashville, and has now become a popular means of showcasing works of songwriters all over the world.

The idea behind the Songwriters’ Round is simple: four performers sit on stage at the same time and take turns to play. The performer is encouraged to chat a little about his or her work before s/he performs each song. After the song ends, the next performer would follow, and so on. Thus, round and round it goes, as original songs are performed in an environment that is more reminiscent of a chatty living room than a concert stage.

Planned as a series of concerts, the Songwriters’ Round is a platform for local or visiting songwriters to showcase their work. The selection criteria of the producer will not be based on reputation or genre, but only that the music performed should be good original compositions, and that people would have a good time listening to them.

In the 11th concert of the Songwriters’ Round series, we are proud to present to you:

Sara Lo

I don’t really need to say much about Sara. But this blurb needs to be filled or I’ll break a practice that started 2 years ago – i.e. an entertaining blurb for each performer. So I’ll just say this: she is one of a few singer songwriters working the scene who has the talent and drive to go all the way. When she first played open mike at the Round early last year, she had flaming orange hair and songs which blew me away. She has gotten rid of the hair color since but has added to her repertoire. She has also embarked on a fairly regular gigging routine in KL, where she often covers ‘Arms Of Marianne’ in a way that (I believe) is better than the original. Her songs are as pretty as they are dark, and her voice is, in my humble opinion, one of the most intriguing I’ve heard. She will be backed on the guitar by Mr. Fahmi – long of hair and modest of demeanor. So, come down and do the right thing – tell Sara she’s made the right choice by going for it.


About 18 months ago, I received an email from a Malaysian student in Australia by the name of Reza. He asked permission to open mike at the Round when he came back home for holidays. I told him there is no need to ask my permission – “just come”. And when he did play a few months later, I was shocked by what I heard. No, I don’t mean he was crap or anything. In fact, quite the opposite – I loved what he did. Here’s a man who has a unique vocal delivery and an intensity of persona that is both unsettling as well as musical. Not your typical hip-cat angst merchant, this one – something much more – he’ll stun you into silence. Still, floored and amazed, I’ve been trying to feature him in the show ever since. But dear old Reza only comes home once a year; and when he came home this time last year, it turned out we didn’t put out a show. Damn. This year is different though – and much as cream will always rise to the top in time, so here he is. He’s good. Clap loudly.


The first time Jam played the Round, I spewed in the blurb that she’s talented and pretty. As a result, a lot of lechers came down to ‘check her out’. They weren’t disappointed. To a man, these dribbling gentlemen went home smitten and bewitched by a young lady with a sweet voice and the cutest smile this side of Japanese manga. And Jam isn’t like most of us unsigned grunts who play at the Round – she’s signed by Rock Records – one of the top Chinese record labels in the region. Further, if you were present at the sound check for Round 7, you’d have noticed that she is a musician who knew exactly what she wanted, and has the required steeliness to get it. I know for a fact that the release of Jam’s debut record has been delayed by her label due to the current mess in the industry over CD pricing – but instead of sitting around moping like a dishcloth, she’s gigging everywhere like a mad lady. Hugely admirable. Come and salivate. Bring your own hanky.

Pete Teo

Yeah, that’s me.

Before you bin me, I will say in my defense that I wasn’t going to play originally. I mean, I’ll mainly be doing the same old stuff you’ve seen me do before (because none of the new stuff are ready to be shown), and I kinda keep to the rule that, unless I have new stuff to play, I’d rule myself out of the Round. But having thought about it for a bit, I decided to make an exception this time by inviting myself to play despite the lack of presentable new material. I will also make another exception – by writing in my section of this blurb far more voluminously than what I’ve written on my performing peers. Both for good reasons.

You see, Evelyn called last week to say that No Black Tie will be closing after January. Those of you who know the local indie scene, or have been on this list for a bit, will know that this is really crap news. More than any place, NBT has been pivotal to the growth of the KL independent music scene in the last couple of years. Sure, she has her quirks and eccentricities, but she has also been an unwavering ally to us indies. And if you’re one of those who’ve enjoyed the rise of a community-based ‘live’ music scene in KL, then you owe thanks to NBT for hosting not only the Round, but numerous other indie gigs that had served as platforms for our musicians to express themselves. Personally, I think the latest development is a massive blow for all of us. Ok, there are some vague talks that Evelyn simply needs a break, and will re-open at a different location later. I certainly hope so. Whatever it is, Round 11 is very likely the last Songwriters’ Round to happen at NBT as we know it. Even if NBT should reconstitute itself in another location, any musician who’s ever played at the current venue will tell you that the ambience and brilliant acoustic environment of the place will be missed.

And so it was I decided to play this one. At a personal level, this is where everything started (or re-started) for me. I am indebted to it in ways I couldn’t possibly express. For me, Round 11 will be a tribute; the same for all of us who has ever found in there moments of magic to keep our winters warm. I have never been one for sappiness – but I am sure you’d agree that this one is justified. So, please come down and tell Evelyn how much that smoky little bar will be missed. I will miss it for sure.

Open Mike: How would you like to perform your original songs at the Round? We welcome new, old, or otherwise non-professional songwriters, and will open the floor to those who wish to play after the featured acts are done. Please bring your own instruments if you can, and talk to me ahead of time on the night. You can also contact me in advance at [erased]. Unfortunately, due to logistic limitations, the open mike is for acoustic solo performers only and we are not able to accept bands.

Contact Info & Road Directions:

27 Jln.Mesui Off Jln.Nagasari (behind the Istana Hotel), Bukit Bintang, KL. TEL: 03-21488110 Email:

[Make a left at the slip road right after the Istana Hotel on Jalan Raja Chulan if you are heading away from Shazhan Towers. Then the second right turn takes you to Jalan Mesui. Its the building with loads of plants growing all over it on the left.]