Monday, March 07, 2005

Good gig...bad gig...

Friday 4 March:

The good gig....

I was to do a charity show with Sean Ghazi and Friends for the Special Children Society of Ampang. It was a fund-raiser for the society to build a new complex for their "special children". It was held at the Sentral KL Hilton Hotel. The Sultan of Selangor as well as the Raja Muda of Perak attended the function as well.

The players included myself on sax and flute, Charles Wong on drums, AJ on his spanking brand new SWB Aria electric upright bass, Vivian Chua on violin, David Gomes on piano and vocals, and singers Sean, Salamiah Hassan, and Junji Delfino-Gomes.

We were to do excerpts from the Sean Ghazi "I Have Dreamed" (IHD) show we did last year at the Actor's Studio Bangsar. But the first problem Sean's production team (Baby Grand Productions) was the absence of Aura Deva. They managed to get Junji Gomes to sing, so that was okay. But the main problem we encountered was the fact that Adam Farouk (who played piano and sang) couldn't make it back to KL to do the gig.. and he was the musical director for the whole thing! Secondly, Izlyn Ramli was in Washington for work and couldn't do the show either... and our bass player Wan also had to pull out due to family commitments he had that weekend! In the end, we managed to rope in David Gomes to play piano and sing, AJ to play double bass, and the effervescent Salamiah Hassan to sing the other female part.

The gig went exceptionally well, despite the fact that it involved new people to play previously arranged material. The rehearsals themselves were initially shaky (with the new additions to get used to the music and the arrangements), and it eventually fell into place just enough to get through. Despite a couple of generally unidentifiable mistakes, we had a ball of a time on stage and just played our butts off. We played tunes like The Way You Look Tonight (not the Elton John one!), The Prayer, Can't Take That Away From Me, Sway, Hujan Di Tengahari, Singing In The Rain, Getaran Jiwa, and some others from the show and other additional tunes which were not included in the IHD show.

Kudos to Baby Grand Productions (with Deborah Michael and Sean being the producers) for really, REALLY taking care of the musicians and artists (we got rooms and good food.. IN THE KL HILTON!) as well as other aspects in making the show really happen, despite some problems in dealing with the event management team for that charity event. We were all pleased that the show pulled through very well. We all had really good fun.

Saturday 5 March:

The bad gig...

Slept a little late the night before (almost 2am) and woke up early around 6:30am to go for a short easy run with my saxophone sifu Greg Lyons and his wife at the Lake Gardens. It was a short run for me just to get my body in tune to run the KLIM 10K the next morning. Then we had a good breakfast and I hung out at their apartment a little while before my soundcheck at Sunway Convention Centre.

The show today was for the birthday of the chairman of Public Bank, Tan Sri Teh *something* Piau... can't remember. It's an annual big event they have, and it's done in a very grandeur fashion (even more than the one I did yesterday at the Hilton!). The Chinese just have a knack for these kinda things.


Note: My plan was that I was to do the soundcheck, go into the room and maybe sleep for an hour or two, just to get as much rest as possible, for the race.

I decided to go later than the stipulated time (1pm) for our soundcheck, as I know it will usually never start on time. I reached Sunway around 2:30pm and when I went up to the Convention Centre, the guests and employees of PBB were still having their lunch! If I knew that I would've come even more later. When we finally DID start.. it took such a long time for the sound people to get things sorted out, that the artists didn't even have time to finish rehearsing their songs with the band (it's Ning's usual band, Sunday Lollies, with Ning's M.D, Alywin... horn sections: me on sax and flute, Eddie on trumpet and Roger Chee on trombones).

When we finished our soundcheck at about 6:45pm, we were told that we had to standby for the opening gambit for the the Tan Sri's arrival at 7:30pm!!! That left us with SOOOO little time for dinner (catered food.. but it was crap!), rest, shower and get changed. So in the end, we had to use the restrooms to change.

okay, fine... slight change of plans. We could go to the room after the opening gambit, get some shut eye the do the show with the artists at about 10:30, 11pm.

Next thing I knew, I was told that we had to play the DINNER set...TWO of them! And I had no prior knowledge or information to that before. I hate surprises like that. That left me with no hope of getting to the room to shower, sleep, change and get ready! One of the worst things about this night was that I was getting hungry very often! Maybe it's my body's signal to eat and carbo-load up for the race! And due to the fact we had to be on standby pretty much a large portion of the time, I couldn't eat. And for Julian Chan, a hungry Julian always usually means an easily p-o'ed Julian! And true to that, I was! I was p-o'ed throughout most of the sets, and even up to main artistes show! Due to the nature of the way the event company was coordinating the event (which was bad!), getting bottled water was already a bitch.

By the time I got a chance to go out and eat, it was already past 10pm... the shops in Sunway Pyramid would've been closed. Even the Coffee Bean kitchen was closed... no way I could get a pasta dish then. Even the order I made for a Brownie Cheese Cake came out as just a Brownie! Patience... patience... I told myself.

When we finally started the artistes shows... I found out my mic was not working. So basically I cannot be heard. But I had to continue playing. The sound guys eventually changed the mic to a working one. The show went on longer than I expected (at least 1.5 hours!). When the show finally finished, I just proceeded immediately to pack my horns and leave, before the leaving crowd does. The employees' choir and the artistes were still singing the Birthday Song on stage, when I left (then again, a whole bunch of guests also left with me... like they really wanted to stick around to listen to them, puhlease!). Didn't bother with hanging around and saying goodbye. I was already p-o'ed with the fact that it was almost 1am in the morning, and I am not asleep yet! And I had a race the next day, dammit! I was p-o'ed the whole night.
When I finally reached home I slept at about 2:30am in the morning.

Post-comments: It was definitely the WORST gig I've ever done for year 2005. It's one of those gigs, and one of those days, that every situation that's happening at the time, brings out the worst in me! The pay was less than last year... and the treatment we get was also worse (event management fault.. will not reveal which company is that)! I didn't even STEP FOOT into the hotel room. So you could imagine how much sleep I really got (zilch!). I dread times like this because I felt that it would bring down my performance on race day (even though it was only 10K).

If you were to compare how the two gigs, two days back-to-back, fared against each other.. it's like comparing almost two extreme circumstances of my weekend work situation. Bottom line: I wouldn't know if I'd do this gig next year, if they didn't pay us more and treat us musicians a little better. It's just not worth the trouble.

SMS-ed Alywin that night... told him: Your Public Bank gig tops the Year's Award for the Worst Gig of The Year 2005 Award!

Next: the KLIM '05 10K report! Stay tuned...

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