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Goin’ With the Flow at the “Music Flow” of the Cafenine in Kuala Lumpur

March 28, 2014

Cafenine Kuala Lumpur

Cafenine Kuala Lumpur

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – I was sitting in the Cafenine in Kuala Lumpur last night having had a nice meal of noodles and beer, when after an hour or so of hearing DJ music, seeing some musicians go up and play drums and bass and other instruments along with the electronic DJ music and having it explained to me that that was kind of the flow of things at the “Music Flow” night at the Cafenine, when I decided to get up and go. I couldn’t see myself going with that particular flow, with my guitar and vocals with no mic apparent.

But just as I stood, another musician, a woman named Jan Yuen, stood up with her ukelele and asked me to play some of my music, and she’d play some of hers – or we could play music together. That was it. The flow had just changed, and the flow night turned into a real, free-wheeling, moving, fun open mic cum jam session.

And as the bar/restaurant filled up with more and more musicians from that point on, I was told that that, in fact, is just exactly how things generally work out happening at the Cafenine on Thursday nights. They started off holding a regular open mic a few months ago, but they found the format too strict, and they decided they would no longer call it an open mic – even though it is that, and more – and they would call it the Music Flow night.

One of the other big goals of the Music Flow night, though, is to feature Malaysian musicians doing Malaysian music. And while there were pretty much ONLY Malaysian musicians last night, most actually played the regular Western canon of pop music. But Jan did some traditional Malay songs, and there was definitely a Malaysian theme elsewhere. The jam turned into a free-for-all, and I ended up taking to the mic twice and doing what amounted to two short sets, having others join in on both my own songs and cover songs.

It was amazing how quickly it all turned into a generally fabulous celebration of free-flowing, free-form whatever you wanted, with DJ sounds, drums, kazoo, guitars, bass, multiple vocals, and air keyboards. And I may have arrived after 9 PM and it may not have started until after 10 PM, but it was still flowing madly when I left at 1 AM!

I had been intending to go to the fabulous Warehouse open mic that I attended on the same day in KL last year, but I learned that it no longer exists – the Warehouse itself was closed down. I was enormously disappointed, because as I wrote in my post about the Warehouse open mic last year, it was insanely great. But it was one of the organizers of that former venue who told me of the existence of the Cafenine open mic, and it turned out to be about a 20-minute walk from my hotel. So I went. And I have Jan to thank for stopping me on my way out and changing the flow of the soirée!!!!

PS, I must add, that once again I have found that Malaysians have a very high share of wonderful young singers with amazing voices. I don’t know what the phenomenon is all about, but I’ve noticed it every year I’ve played here now – going back five years….

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