Kuala Lumpur Open Mic Adventure Consolidated:
A micro trailer from the film: From the Kuala Lumpur segment of “Out of a Jam.”
A song from the album:
A podcast: with an open mic MC during my year of podcast making with MCs of open mics in 2012. This is Russell Curtis, the owner, musician and MC of Rockafellas bar and music venue in Kuala Lumpur:
The Thumbnail Guide: Thumbnail Guide to Kuala Lumpur Open Mics, Jam Sessions and other Live Music
A link to a favorite blog item from the past: A REAL SCENE AT THE WAREHOUSE IN KUALA LUMPUR
A favorite video: Andy Flop Poppy playing my Seagull Guitar in 2011 at Senyap:
An excerpt from the Book: from the Kuala Lumpur chapter of OUT OF A JAM: An Around-the-World Journey of Healing and Rebirth Through Music:
This trip was also a personal quest into a world of music that I had spent a lifetime avoiding. It was a trip into a musical world that I had loved all my life but feared had no place for me. It was a trip of self-discovery, musical discovery and personal revitalization and realization. It was a trip of looking at music scenes around the world and comparing them. But also of seeing how I as a musician stacked up in those scenes. And of how I might change my life after tragedy. It was about getting out of my hotel room and playing music!!! An adventure in spending time in each location where I attended a race in doing something other than work, in my newfound freedom from the new deal with my newspaper due to the recession. Playing at the Urban Attic, even if it was not in its open mic, could definitely be considered a score.
Another thing that interested me in the Urban Attic, was that it looked on the Internet site much more up-scale than the majority of the venues I had attended in Paris, Shanghai or Melbourne. It looked hip and architecturally interesting. This attracted me but also sent a shiver of fear through my system as I worried that the crowd might be too up-scale for my music. Even just the name of the place – like the Lizard Lounge in Paris – led me to worry about how well I might fit in. This adventure was also a trial in pulling myself out of myself and facing fear and “coming out” into social situations I had previously ignored. I had to go to the Urban Attic.
But it was threatening. The various descriptions of the bar used all the hip selling language to describe the place: “The Attic is your chill out gallery bar in Bangsar, serving up captivating cocktails, comforting soul food and riveting live music. From funky jazz to swinging broadway, the Attic has featured accomplished musical divas Ida Mariana, Rachel Guerzo and Zalina Lee, and also acts as a springboard for talented new artistes. Featuring over 100 specially designed attic cocktails to keep you in high spirits, including creative cocktails that have been concocted by our celebrity guest bartenders who have included Elaine Daly and Carmen Soo, the Attic conjures captivating magic that keeps you entertained throughout the night.”
“Oh man,” I thought, “designer cocktails, celebrity bartenders, divas…what kind of musicians and what kind of expectations might the audience have?!?!?”
And it got even scarier: “Urbanattic at Capsquare is your urban entertainment hub with an edge,” another description read, “in KL’s city centre, emanating The Attic’s creative charm in the big city. Reflecting the raw charm of a converted New York city loft, Urbanattic dishes out contemporary urban sounds with live performances by indie songwriters, funky blues bands, emo-acoustic ensembles, and also acts as a springboard for new talented artistes.”
It was only a 10-minute taxi ride from my hotel. I did not this time elect to take my baby Stratocaster. Knowing that it was acoustic night, I was certain that the group would have an acoustic guitar available. But also, I did not want my guitar to blow my cover since, in fact, I had decided to show up quietly and sit down and check out the place incognito before introducing myself to Luna. I wanted to make sure I was not going to a highly inappropriate venue – especially if a band had been booked to play that evening.
My hotel was located in the center of the capital; about 7 minutes walk from the Petronas towers. My previous experiences of KL, although I had been there at least four times, were limited to the walk between those twin skyscrapers and the metro in the shopping mall beneath it, and the Formula One track near the airport, to which I commuted via the KLIA Express. I had walked through a few streets in the Chinese quarter for about an hour the year before, but other than that, I knew nothing of KL. My impression was that it was a city of little character, boring. This was typical of a journalist on assignment for almost anything, but even more so for a sporting event at a stadium: If you had not business going outside the work area, you didn’t. You are programmed as if you are still in your own city, going from home to office each day without learning anything about the host city outside the story subject matter.
Now, thanks to my open mic adventure, even just taking the taxi through the streets off the beaten track to my music venue, I suddenly discovered that KL was an interesting, pulsating place with lots of nightlife. It was an enticing mixture of old colonial buildings and new towers and shopping centers, restaurants and nightclubs, most of which open into the streets through vast front windows and terraces, due to the extreme heat and humidity. The sidewalks and roads were in poor condition, but that added to the ramshackle charm of the city.
This international nightlife aspect of the city and its restaurants and clubs suddenly swept up my mind and senses with a completely different idea of what the place was like. For once, I had stepped outside the regularly trodden path from hotel to circuit and back and I suddenly truly felt that I was in a different part of the world from my native Europe or North America….