I create stress for myself now when I travel to the Formula One races in my job as a journalist, not because of all the work I have to do for the newspapers, but because I have set myself the goal of playing in an open mic or jam session wherever I go. And when, as with Singapore on Wednesday night, I succeed in playing somewhere, but the evening is not the most exciting or I don’t get the most appropriate or exciting video footage for my film or story for this blog, the stress piles up higher.
So although on Wednesday I did play at the Actors bar and I did speak to people on camera for my film about open mics and jams around the world and I did get a few words for this blog, I was still very frustrated that I had not really hit the jackpot. Last night I did, in the most unexpected way!
Walking back to the hotel from the racetrack near midnight I saw a busker on a bridge leading to Clarke Quay, a very lively nightlife area of the city. He was an American from Chicago and he was singing and playing very well and his guitar case was full of Singapore dollars. It was a very festive and cool scene. So I filmed him playing, and afterwards I introduced myself and he asked if I was a musician too. I said I was, so he offered me his guitar and asked if I wanted to play a song. So I did.
It turned out he has been in Singapore for a few years, and knows the music scene well, as he is a professional musician and has played in the bars and hotels. So I interviewed him for my film. Having said that, he was very wary about me putting up the video on the internet, as he said that it was necessary to have a license to busk in the streets of Singapore, and he did not have one. So I have decided not to put up the video, out of respect for him. He’s about to get another job in a bar, by the way, so he’ll not likely need the busking – unless he does it for the love.
I then went on to the Actors jamming bar again and as I approached to enter I saw an old friend stepping out the door. It was Clement Imsong, a very cool musician who lives in Singapore – and who has a music company that works with young musicians – and with whom I had played at the Actors bar in the last two years I have been here. “Hey, Brad!” he said. I asked if he was leaving for the night – it was after 1 AM – and he said no, just going for a break. So we went to the food court next door and had a Tiger beer together.
I took the opportunity in the food court of interviewing Clement for my open mic and jam documentary, as he plays in the jam every Friday and Saturday. He plays a mean, mean lead guitar, and his singing is pretty cool too. From the food court we returned to the Actors bar and played until 3:30 AM. He played some stuff with other people, he also joined me on bass and lead guitar with some of my songs.
There were some talented musicians there last night, a very good crowd, and a great celebratory feel to the whole evening. So it was exactly the kind of thing I had been looking for, and henceforth on my remaining couple of days in Singapore I no longer feel the slightest bit of self-imposed stress or frustration! In fact, I think I’m going out to Actors bar again tonight, just for the fun and nothing else – having got all I needed for the film. Of course, if there is anything interesting happening, I’ll film it and blog it….