My Story Christmas Special, it’s a real big event!

Jonathan Tse’s ‘My Story’ concept to showcase local talent started July 2009 at Halo Cafe, City Mall. Then, one guy took video, and Jon gave someone his camera and asked them to take pics.

December 2010, ‘My Story Christmas Special‘ hit Starbucks in City Mall, but it’s now a full-on media event. Revolution-On-Motion’s 6-strong team was on-hand to shoot: photos, audio, video – you name it, they got it. Jonathan also thanked venue host sponsor Starbucks for its support, as well as Purpose Records (recording studio), BandWidth (music and entertainment magazine), MegaBoogie (sound engineering), Revolution On Motion (photography, audio and video), and SabahSongs (blogger).

Inside was now packed, and a larger audience sat alfresco next to the external speakers, watching the musicians through the studio-like glass panels. The venue location was perfect!

Alvin MY was also there in his DJ capacity, so our local musicians could pass him their CDs to play on radio station KKFM, which is on 91.1 MHz as well as online.

It was busy, busy, busy; happy anticipation in the air from musicians, friends, fans and family filling up Starbucks and settling in for a good show.

Singer/songwriter Jennifer Julius was first up. She sang an original song ‘No Like No Fear,’ which is from her new album, and two Christmas songs, supported by guitarists Marc Elvin and Reuben Raymond, and bassist Del Aldo, with Gavin Nicholas on alto sax. Jennifer’s an architect, who sings in church and at dinner functions. She described her album as a testimonial to her faith.

Next on was saxophonist Gavin Lawrence Nicholas, an SIA and UMS graduate who majored in clarinet and sax and who also teaches at SIA. Gavin told me later that the saxman he admires is Eric Marienthal, so no wonder that his first song was ‘Night Rhythm’ by Lee Ritenour. He had solid support from Marc Vai (yes it’s the same guy Marc Elvin, but that’s just what he’s known as) and bassist Aldo.

Gavin sure has been working on his chops, and was playing a new alto sax as well. He filled up his lungs, and out came confident, fluid solo runs, with his very mellow tone. Other songs were ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ and Herb Alpert’s ‘Tequila!’ which a lot of people shouted! I heard melodious warbling and triplet riffs throughout. Gavin looked happy, and when he finished and said, “So? How was it?” everyone whooped and let him know that it was just great!

An unscheduled performance was next. Clinton Liew sang an original song ‘Destiny’, and Wham’s ‘Last Christmas.’ He played guitar and was accompanied by Frieda, who is his best friend and a singer with a strong voice. He’s studying music in KL.

Rock band Jon Paradise took the stage. What a year 2010 has been for them: winners of TUBS 2010 and clinching a recording contract with Purpose Records. They’re making a new album, and the future is lookin’ so good. With their talent, I’m not surprised.

Their first offering was a cover, Edwin McCain’s ‘I’ll Be’. Cyriljon Jawing [vox/acoustic guitar] has that excellent country gravel in his voice, evoking images of the Big Outdoors; horses, mountain landscape, worn cowboy boots, denim and leather. I could hear keyboardist Elyna Peter Amandus’ bold accompaniment throughout, and Innocentclair Malim was great as second voice, although he had to compete with a large part of the audience, who were singing along now.

‘Dark Street’ is their great original song; a commentary on life in the harsh shadows of our modern world. There’s a lot of thought in their work – both the lyrics and the music; I heard Elyna double up with Innocentclair on certain riffs, and her solo break was a crossover of rock and classical styles.

They really strive to make their sound an individual voice to stand out among bands, with riffs which take new musical paths. They were drawn together and supported by Patrick Martin Visperas Esteva (Drums/Percussion), and ‘My Story’ was grooving to their version of ‘O Holy Night’, after Elyna’s happy church bell intro was followed by the bassist setting a thumping pace. Innocentclair and the others built up a crescendo of harmonies into the chorus, it was a powerful and moving delivery.

By the time they played David Cook’s ‘Always Be My Baby’, Jon Paradise had a full house singing with them, arms raised and swaying. They were relaxed, radiating warmth and the happiness of sharing great music with everybody.

Experimental rock band Dang Bandangs saw out the night. Lead male vocal Emmanuel Christo said they are a band of Hope, and there’s plenty of that coming from their sound, as they played ‘You’re Not Alone’. Guitarists Gordon Chin and Richard Rickrodriques are skilful and tight; together with bassist Greg Olsen they are Intense Musicianship Unleashed.

Someone else totally uncontainable is drummer/percussionist Valentine Arthur a.k.a. KARUK, playing the cajon, whose voice hits the back of the room along with Emmanuel’s, with or without a mic.

Dang Bandangs has a rock chick of the first order, Nina Zalikha a.k.a. Nenett. She sang the second song, Paramore’s ‘Pressure’, and personally I think she has a better edge on her than the original singer. Nenett has a Take-No-Sh*t presence, power in her voice, and really looks the part. No fluff on this babe!

Dang Bandangs drove the night home with their original song, ‘We Care No More’. They were fired up; intensity etched in their faces, complexity entwined in their notes, and they took the crowd with them. Long hair tossed wildly about – and I’m talking about the guys. Emmanuel’s voice took on that throat-killing Death Growl, and it drove me to sip my latte. Ow!

Jon Tse asks if we wanted more, then sat down again, knowing the answer.

Dang Bandangs delivered up a fantastic, rock version of ‘Joy To The World’. Is it possible to have furious Joy? It is, and they did it. Glorious, furious, passionate, full-on harmony; there had to be joy in their hearts, as they raised and rocked up the beautiful lyrics of this Christmas hymn into the night air. Absolutely…utterly…awesome.

So, just how much Sabahan talent can you take in a night? Test yourself at the next ‘My Story’, and be prepared to be FLOORED.

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