MOMAIN BLUES — that’s the Jiaja brothers [guitarist Nazri Ji and bassist Naza Aja] plus guitarist Sonny Bahari and drummer Ahmad Aziz — played their first gig within the verdant grounds of Sabah Golf & Country Club [SGCC].
It was a perfect Sunday afternoon, and you know how it is; Momain played extemporaneously for 30 minutes to tune their instruments and fix their settings, and even their soundcheck was classy.
At 5pm, the Uncle crowd was unwinding at the Clubhouse, with frosted mugs of cold beer or clinking glasses of scotch-on-the-rocks to relax those muscles after a game of 9 or 18 holes. At this hour, maybe about ten people were around.
SGCC Coordination & Event Executive Mervin Liew took a punt on Momain Blues as part of his drive to bring more live music into the Clubhouse. Mervin was definitely in the money with our boys, as they went from their soundcheck into their opening instrumental: Black Magic Woman [Santana].
Recognition of those opening guitar riffs landed gently on the patrons; the noise level went from Rowdy – to Hushed – to Rowdy again now with claps and whistles! By the time Momain Blues moved onto Oye Como Va [Tito Puente], they had this crowd in the palms of their hands.
This is because when Momain Blues do a cover, it’s not just a cover, it’s the cover. Their ears hear everything, and their covers of the greatest and most difficult-to-play rock classics of our time, are simply flawless.
Momain Blues found the heart of its audience, and fed it Sunshine of your Love [Cream], Cocaine [Eric Clapton] and the Jimi Hendrix version of Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower. Lead guitarist Nazri Ji is peerless. There are no limits to what he can play, his timing is impeccable, and he has all the space and all the feeling in the world. Watching Ji is to witness a person who was simply born to make music.
Guess what? Full house.
Stairway to Heaven [Led Zeppelin], Smoke on the Water [Deep Purple], and then Sonny Bahari was trying to end the set, but the crowd kept shouting, “One more! One more!” I even heard, “One bottle of whisky for you! Play more!”
Sonny appeased them with a promise to be back soon, and Ji wound everyone down with the beautiful Still Got The Blues [Gary Moore].
They came back to a pile of requests! A wad of paper napkins with song titles written on them dangled from the music stand. Sonny laughed and said, “We’re all Sold Out on requests now!”
Time for some Beatles. Don’t Let me Down, Hey Jude, Come Together, Day Tripper.
Have you Ever Seen the Rain [Clearance Clearwater Revival] was next, and then these consummate musicians drove home the glory with Sultans of Swing [Dire Straits] and Brown Sugar [Rolling Stones].
Bassist Naza Aja’s face was one of sheer joy, as he strutted around Jagger-style. [I recalled what he said to me once, after a gig at the Jesselton Hotel: If I had the energy, I think I would never stop playing.]
In the last set, drummer Ahmad Aziz let rip for one drum solo, never losing his whimsical smile!
SGCC Acting General Manager Chau Soon Pai was singing, scotch in hand, when they played Wonderful Tonight [Eric Clapton]. The boys paid homage to Hendrix with Foxy Lady and Hey Joe, and I heard Soon Pai saying appreciatively, “Man, these are really hard songs, you know?”
The President of SGCC Willie Ng shook hands with the musicians, and Mervin was very happy with Momain Blues!
The first impression starting with instrumentals was exhilarating. The members who heard them cheered like high school boys, reminding them of their young golden times!
Our general committee members namely Victor Lim, Ngui, Jayson Sim, SS Anand and even the President Mr. Willie Ng were clapping and wondering from where did this band come from? Our member Mr. Michael Chiu said they were magnificent, playing the songs he likes such as Beatles, Santana, blues, and many more 70’s songs. Many other members who were there were impressed by their performance and gave the band many great compliments.
Mervin Elmer Liew. SGCC Coordination & Event Executive.
As Mike and I we were leaving, we heard another member running over and enthusiastically saying, “Next week you can play these…”
Back by popular demand, then? Ha ha! My friend and club member Danny Goh ask Ji, “Sign contract sudah?”
Many people went home with smiling faces that night, the result of great music. With Momain Blues, everyone’s a winner baby, and that’s the truth.
- CD review: GAYA STREET by Jiaja
- EP review: BLUES KITA by Momain Blues
- INTERVIEW MOMAIN BLUES | What comes out of a Sabahan’s mouth, it goes into a song
- INTERVIEW JIAJA | To have your own music, that is what to reach for
- EVENT You say Goodbye  and I say Hello . Momain Blues, Jiaja at Bella
- Music at Bella! 5 pages in Sabah Property Magazine