For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on this project for work. I have to start my own band, play a gig and write about the whole experience.
To be a working musician was something I had always dreamed of, but to be honest, it’s been a nightmare at times.
There’s just so much to worry about – finding the right band members, arranging rehearsals, getting a venue, doing publicity, all the way down to finding an available practice studio. On top of that, I’ve got my day job.
But then again, I have to admit, it’s been really fun. My bandmates have been absolutely amazing, and practicing in the studio has reminded me of just why I wanted to be a musician.
My band members have been coming for rehearsals straight after work (at 10:30pm, most of the time) – and they’re not even getting paid! Our guitarist Steve Lam plays for local indie outfit Eve, and drummer Aaron Chew is an International College of Music graduate. I’ve played with both of them years ago for some church events, but they both have day jobs now, and still they’ve been kind enough to help out with my project.
And our lead singer, local R&B artiste Liang, has been fantastic as well. The funny thing is, when we were looking for a lead singer, I actually called him to ask if any of his vocal students wanted to sing for our band, but he just went “I don’t mind doing it” – even though our gig and rehearsals were smack in the middle of the run of his musical, Follow The Light, at the PJ Live Arts Centre.
Anyway, I decided to make us a Stevie Wonder tribute band, because for me, he’s one of the greatest artistes of all time, but there aren’t many bands here in Malaysia who play his kinda music.
Some of my bandmates have since cursed me for that decision, because his songs aren’t the easiest to play. But at the end of the day, we’ve all really enjoyed the challenge. It’s all worth it when the whole song comes together, even if it sounds only like 10% of how Stevie did it.
Thanks to local singer-songwriter Ray Cheong and his partner-in-crime Sharmila Naidu, I also have a venue. I interviewed Ray once, and someone told me he could help out if I needed a venue cos he and Sharmila also organise gigs for indie artistes.
In just a couple of phone calls, Sharmila was able to get me a spot at Artista Restaurant and Bar in Tropicana City Mall, Petaling Jaya.
So finally, this Sunday, Dec 12, at 8:30pm, I’ll be playing my first proper gig at Artista, and all of you are invited. Free admission, and free ice-cream from Nestle Drumstick, the sponsors who suggested this challenge to me in the first place.
I’ve also been working on getting some guest performers for the gig, and so far guitar whiz Rithan from Deja Voodoo Spells is trying to work out his schedule to play some of Stevie’s heavier tracks like Higher Ground and Superstition, and 8TV Quickie host Naqib will most probably be hosting the event and showing off his rapping skills with the band.
It’s gonna be Stevie Wonder-ful. Hope you guys can make it 😉
And oh, guess what our band name is? =P