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The Open Mic Story Continues to Layer on Itself, at Laila’s Cafe & Lounge Kuala Lumpur

April 7, 2011

I mentioned in a post in Australia a couple of weeks ago how cool it was that after two years of doing this open mic adventure I was finding that I was developing a little network of people and places. That the story was building on itself and growing and becoming a multi-faceted world of its own, through an inexorable momentum in the third year of the adventure. The same thing happened last night at the open mic in Kuala Lumpur at Laila’s Cafe & Lounge.

Kuala Lumpur has always been a moving target for me, as the open mics have come and gone, and there are not that many to begin with. There are some, however, but unfortunately they often land on days or weeks when I am not in the country. But in 2009 I did manage to play at a very cool place called “Urban Attic.” Although I had not played there during an open mic evening, they were about to start their open mic a few days later, after I left the country. But they let me play on an acoustic night during the band’s break.

Last year when I returned there, I found that the Urban Attic had closed down. I thought it had to do with the economic crisis, but now I think it had to do with a problem obtaining a license for alcohol and music. In any case, I had booked a half-hour slot at Laila’s Cafe & Lounge for last night, after finding the open mic on the Internet and writing the organizer, Ramesh Vadiveloo. He invited me to play a half-hour slot from 10:30 to 11 PM, as that is the way they do their system.

It turned out that Laila’s is located quite far out of the center of town in a suburban mall that looks like something out of Blade Runner – access via taxi through rear garages demarcated by building blocks. But when I stepped into the door of the place I saw not only Ramesh, whom I recognized from his photo on the Internet, but the familiar face of another Malaysian woman.

“Hi Brad, I’m Juliet, remember me? From the Urban Attic?”

I did indeed. Juliet Thor was part owner of the Urban Attic and now she is full owner of Laila’s!

I immediately felt wonderful and at home. I sat down and ordered a very good chicken meal and an unusual desert called something like a chocolate mud cake. I was intrigued by the mud idea – couldn’t find the mud, but the chocolate was great.

It was far from jam packed last night, but the atmosphere was very comfortable and homey, and there was a nice mixture of Malaysian musicians and foreigners. Four or five acts in all. A couple from New Zealand opened the evening, and I admired the guy’s songs and his Cole Clarke guitar, and the woman’s voice. The Malaysians varied from Jonathan Ng with the unusual voice and some risky vocal acrobatics to Alya and another woman who had more mainstream, folk rock sounds.

At the end of the evening – or rather, when I had to run out to catch a ride and I dropped and broke my Seagull S6 as per yesterday’s post – Juliet introduced me to the musical director of what is apparently a very hip and interesting musical venue in Kuala Lumpur. In fact, it is apparently one of the best. So I will be dropping by that place – called Backyard Pub & Grill – in the coming days, and will write about it. In the meantime, I’m also looking forward to Saturday’s gig opening for a local band in a Tex-Mex restaurant.


  1. Hey Brad it’s Em. A Malaysian guy who plays at my open mic session said he used to run a few sessions in Malaysia. How long are you there for? He says he knows of quite a few, you might be able to do more performing while over there. Let me know and I’ll get in touch with him 🙂

  2. Hi Emily, YES PLEASE! I am playing a gig on Saturday, but otherwise I have nothing slated for tonight, or Sunday or Monday or Tuesday. I catch a flight at nearly 2 AM Tuesday/Wednesday. So if there are more venues he knows about, I want to know about them! I’ve only found the two things so far on this trip.

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