A big welcome to those new to the list. WELCOME!

And thanks to those of you who came down to the launch party last Thursday. In all, I think close to 200 people turned up – way too many for No Black Tie to accommodate – so my apologies goes to those who came and found it too packed to get in. I promise I will make it up to you somehow. Sigh.

Anyway, this launch party thingy had been bugging me for months. The truth is, I have no idea how a launch party was supposed to work. Industry wisdom has it that one must have a launch party for members of the press as a ‘kick start’ to the publicity campaign that follows whenever a record is released. But a ‘kick start’ press event for me would have been weird because my publicity campaign had already been in full swing for a few weeks by the time I considered the launch party in ernest.

“What about treating us to a proper gig as opposed to the half-assed ones you’ve been doing in the last 6 months?”, some of you wrote to say.

Well, that’s a cool idea, but I’ve been working flat out for 10 months and was frankly too tired to deal with a full-fletched gig. Besides, I have several full band gigs coming up in the next few months and doing more of the same would just be overkill. So, instead of a conventional press launch party, I thought it’d be much better to just have a party where people on this list get free entry, free drinks, free music and get pissed out of their heads. Hell, for the support you guys have given me over the last 24 months, that is the least I could do. But don’t get me wrong – this was not going to be just another garden variety drunken sprawl – it had to be the mother of all drunken sprawl. The sort that involved dancing girls. Naked ones.

And so there I was, innocently organising the sprawl. I called No Black Tie to book a date. Done quicker than a flash. Then I called a bunch of Songwriters’ Round alumni to talk them into playing covers of my songs on the night. No problem there too. Then I called Heineken and pleaded like a dog for 24 cases of free beer. They relented in the face of my masterful groveling. Smirk. Then finally, I took out my sinister little black book and called Ah Chong in order to procure some naked dancing girls…

Now, a nice person like you wouldn’t know who Ah Chong is. That’s just as well – guys like Ah Chong are better off mysterious and blurred – and anyway, upright citizens like you would not want to be seen consorting with him. But it’s different for me, you understand? A Tequila swigging piss-head with a dubious reputation always has use for Ah Chong’s talents. You see, my friend Ah Chong has a life-long affinity for mobile phones that had fallen off the back of trucks. He’d also know exactly where you could get a perfectly good pair of Versace trousers for the price of a Pagoda T-shirt. Why, just last month, he offered me a carton of Ginseng Viagra Cream that is supposedly all the rage in Korea right now. Put simply, Ah Chong is the man to call if you ever need a troupe of dancing girls cheaply and at short notice.

“Budget?” Ah Chong growled.

“Zero” I replied.

“Go fly kite.”

“What about if I gave you back those Ginseng Viagra Cream?”

“Go fly kite.”

Ah Chong doesn’t have a big vocabulary. But he sure does have a weakness for beer. So I played my ace.

“What if I gave you 12 cases of Heineken for 6 dancing girls?”

“Don’t piss about Pete. 12 cases gets you only 2 dancing girls.”

And so it was I traded half of Heineken’s beer sponsorship for 2 naked dancing girls. Okay, I know 2 dancing girls is kinda pathetic – any self-respecting Nero wannabe would procure at least 4 of them for a piss-up, one for each direction of the compass. But then beer don’t grow on trees, you know – and long time associates of Ah Chong’s will tell you that the man does not bargain. Besides, I had other things on my mind – such as – I had no idea what the girls looked like, whether or not they danced, or indeed, if they were girls at all. On top of this, I was also worried that if Heineken ever found out about my trade, the stern Miss Yap Swee Leng Overseer Of The Heineken Brand would surely cut my balls off. So I closed the deal quickly and arranged for an appropriately clandestine exchange of merchandise…

Wait a sec.

Those of you who came down on Thursday night must be wondering what the hell I am on about – there was no dancing girl present that night. Sure, there was Julian Mokhtar bravely covering Rhapsody In Blue; there was Singletrackmind doing a rock-out version of Marianne Called; there was Jerome Kugan doing Sabah proud with his version of Jesselton Tonight; there was Shanon crooning beautifully to Budapest; there was Sara Lo sweetly whipping up a storm with Arms Of Marianne; there was Dain Said and Joe Kidd singing Lost Highway; there was me fumbling about onstage with Kum Loong and Lewis Pragasam; there were flirty ladies and free flow of beer and assorted merry making; there were even intoxicated ladies screaming out for me to sporn their sprog – but none of these people could remotely be mistaken for naked dancing girls.

“So where were they?” said the little birdie to the bishop.

I had no idea – so I called Ah Chong when I re-gained consciousness 3 days later.

“Where were my naked dancing girls?” I barked into the phone.

“Too crowded. Couldn’t get in.” He grumbled.

“But you took my beer. I expected 2 naked dancing girls.”

“Not my fault they couldn’t get into the place.”

“But I…”

Now, I won’t bore you with the rest of our conversation. Suffice to say that the dancing girls were indeed there, but No Black Tie was so crowded they literally couldn’t get in. Result? It was a launch party without the desired naked dancing girls. Okay, so we all had a great time anyway. Good music was made, a lot of people got very drunk and a great time was had by all. Hell, I got so drunk I can’t remember how I got home that night. But I can’t help thinking that it would have been a far better party if those dancing girls had made it through the door. Still, it wasn’t all bad. Ah Chong did not get to where he is today by pissing off customers unnecessarily – so he gave me another carton of Ginseng Viagra Cream by way of compensation for the missing dancing girls. I now have enough of that stuff to fill a pharmacy. I know that you might be thinking – that I got scammed – but I honestly bear no such dissatisfaction. Alright, the cream is pretty dodgy when used for its stated purpose, but it is undeniably great when used as hair gel. So that explains the spikiness of my hair in recent days. Shrug.

At this point, I remain baffled as to why I told you that story. It was neither especially funny or particularly readable. I guess I was bored. All I really wanted to say was that we had a great party and I wanted to thank everyone for coming down to celebrate with me. And if you were one of those who couldn’t get in, please accept my apology and take consolation from the fact that at least there were 2 thinly clad ladies out there with you – all dress up and no where to… er… go. Better that than a lobotomy, that’s what I say.

Anyway, so here we are. Three weeks after the release of the record. Jesselton Tonight is sitting at number 4 of the Hitz FM Malaysian Top 10 charts. The record has received enough publicity to choke on (thank you Miss Sodhy and Tee) and is doing reasonably well in the shops. I’m preparing for a series of concerts in KL and Japan in August / September / October as well as thinking about the next album. 10 months of frantic work came to a watershed last Thursday at the party. I had a great time. Thank you so much for your support. Please come down and see me again. I’ll make sure the dancing girls get through next time.