Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Part 2 - The Thong Thing

Okay... I took quite a while to publish part 2 of the Miri escapade as I've been very busy. I've also got some raised eyebrows in the process. LOL.

So let's pick up where I left off... David & I got up on the 2nd day of the festival to go meet the boys for breakfast. Imagine our surprise when, as we opened the door to our room, a greyish/blackish thing dropped on the floor. After two simultaneous whadahellizzat's from the both of us, we kicked it around some and realized that someone had hung a pair o' thongies on our door knob! I can't imagine what she must've been doing outside our door. Well, actually, I can. Eeww! Jun Lin remarked that we must've been so hot on stage the night before and someone must've put that out there, as a token of gratitude perhaps? Well, thongs are generally not my thing. I'd much prefer cash, diamonds or a recording contract. Heck, even a simple, "hey, I really enjoyed your performance. can you please sign my programme!" would've been sufficient.

Anyway, having recovered from that strange morning surprise, we went down to catch the last half an hour of the breakfast spread [um... those of you who were there would know it wasn't much of one]. After breakfast, Day 1 festival performers were due for their press conference. So after rounding up 6 of 7 band members [you know who you are that slept through it but i will be kind enough to not mention your name on this post! but everyone can IM me and i'll tell you.], we went to the function room assigned for the event. There in the room were the members of KCP4, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Lluis Coloma himself, plus me, David & the boys in the band [the ones who actually got up for it. you can tell i will never live this one down.].

There were some 15 or so members of the press in attendance and, MIJF Organizing Chairman, Sarawak Tourism Board's Michael Lu wasted no time in opening up the press conference. The bandleaders/spokespersons were asked to speak a little bit about themselves and their bands.

Our turn came after Lluis Coloma's and David's preamble will go down in MIJF history as a classic anecdote. Somewhere in his intro, he makes reference to me and says... "For those of you who do not know, Junji & I are a little bit of a couple". Gulp! Five kids down and he still thinks we're a little bit of a couple! I dread to think how many kids we'd end up having then if we were a bit more than that. Well, needless to say, that little bit of a booboo sent the rest of the room into fits of laughter. Later on in the night, them folks from DDBB were asking him if he was out of the doghouse yet! Fortunately for him I'm not vindictive. Well, maybe just a little bit [all pun intended].

Anyway, after the initial introductions were made, the floor was handed over to the press and the first few questions were directed at The Dirty Dozen. I guess being from Amerika Syarikat, they were more interested in them. Biasa. Then some questions were thrown at Lluis Coloma. Also biasa. Then KCP4. Triple biasa. By this time, Jezza, probably feeling that the homegrown talents were being ignored, started asking David some questions like what he thought of the local jazz industry... has the jazz industry grown or improved in the last few years... etc. As a result, I think the press got more information than they bargained for as they got a dose of the local jazz muso sentiment in the process. Can't help it folks! We've not been known to dwell in grey areas. Black is black, white is white. We call a spade a spade.

In fact, as it turns out, the sentiments raised were shared by some of our foreign counterparts as well. I won't go into any more details but, suffice to say that, the ties that bind got tighter between us, festival participants, and by the end of that press con, there was a oneness for our common purpose. A respect and a sincere hope for one another's continued success in all their endeavours.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and exploring the town in search of some decent local fare. Our Liaison Officer, Aline Jee, was a bright & cheery Kuching lass who really went over and above her call of duty by taking charge... from arranging [or should I say, fighting for, our shuttle ride] to patiently taking us to town, helping us order at the restaurant, the handicraft centre, to Bintang mall for coffee and some miscellaneous buys and then [again] fighting for our ride back to the hotel. What is it with hotel shuttle service in Miri??

The shuttle finally came and we reached the hotel just as sun was setting and the hotel grounds were once more teeming with people antsy for the festival to begin. We decide to go back to our rooms to chill & cool down before heading out to the Pavilion.

By the time we made it out of our rooms and into the Pavilion, Orak Naa Naa were just about 2 songs away from the end of their set. They were a gentle duo and I found the music spiritually moving & immensely calming.

Next up was The George Washingmachine Quartet. From the first time I saw him, I kept thinking that he reminded me of someone. It was needling me no end. I finally realized it when I came back home and was uploading the pics. He's like a better-looking Drew Carey! He was pretty comical too. During their performance, he quipped that their cd's were available for sale outside and that theirs was special because they were re-writable! Funny.

Their set was followed by the robust sounds of Habana Sax from Cuba. It made me feel like I was in the set of The Buena Vista Social Club [minus the singing]. You could feel their sound all the way down to your bones and cartillage. So full. So rich. Then, the boys danced too! Baila, baila! And they got the women in the audience to get up & do their thing on stage. Did they ever! You can search you tube for some clips. Am too tired to copy links for you. Sorry la.

The DDBB finally closed the night with a powerhouse of a set that even included their version of Stevie Wonder's Superstition! By which time, everyone was on their feet and grooving to the beat. Even my little bit of a husband was moved to git up & git down!

After that last performance of the night, everyone went to grab some grub and, either we were extremely famished or the cook was feeling better and consequently, the food wasn't too bad. Can't say the same about the music from the lounge band right upstairs though! Really choke-inducing proportions. David couldn't stand it much longer so he went up to the room with a faint promise to join us once that band stopped and the jam session got started. "Call me when it starts", said he.

So after we finished our food, Julian & I made our way up and the George Washingmachine dudes were already in the thick of things. Unlike the previous night when there were a handful of people, that night the lounge was packed and Julian & I managed to get a seat right at the back. Needless to say, the crowd that was there was loud & mostly in a drunken stupor. No one was really listening. You could tell because in between solos, no one clapped. I was getting annoyed. The last straw was watching one of the go go girls from the band pulling on her already skimpy top to show one of the foreign musos the sequins that "she herself sewed on". As a matter of course, she also showed her boobies in the process. I thought of finding the thongs from the morning and giving it to her so she can sew on some more sequins. Ish!

Anyway, that just about spoiled the rest of the night for me. Julian and I moved up closer to the stage to appreciate the band's efforts. But the crowd was even louder there than they were at the back and a short while later, the guys themselves decided to get off stage and drink instead. It was the better choice for that given time.

Meanwhile, I decided that I was heading up so Julian did the same. Lucky for me as David had, by then, fallen asleep and if I had taken any longer, well, I may have been in, ahem, a little bit of trouble getting in. And that would've been, err... a little bit of a problem.

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