Abandoned club musicians take care of one another

Abandoned club musicians take care of one another

KUALA LUMPUR: It was a freeze-frame moment: not having taken centrestage for 10 months, club musician Gerard Adam Yong was beset by nerves as he walked up to the podium at Hard Rock Café.

Thick with tension, Yong, who performed with his wife Seri Aidil Fitri in pubs and clubs for decades as the duo, Alexis, appeared almost stage struck.

Yong’s neck muscles strained, not because he was about to launch into a song, but because he was overcome with emotion.

The keyboardist-guitarist was among 36 performers in the live music scene who received between RM500 and RM1,000 from the newly-formed Club Artistes’ division of the Malaysian Artistes’ Association (Karyawan).

It was a unique show of caring – helpless musicians taking care of one another.

The Club Artistes’ division initiated the ‘Lend a Helping Hand’ endeavour through the generosity of financial institution, ICAP Sdn Bhd, that donated RM30,000 toward the cause.

Said Yong: “I am grateful to my fellow pub musicians for their kind gesture as the Alexis duo has not had a gig since March. I have not been able to find a job while my wife works as a daily paid packer at a factory.”

Both Yong and Seri Aidil are medically unwell and have two school-going children to look after.

The other recipients whose income has been in peril had similar heart-wrenching stories.

Singer Intan Baidury Ayub of the Own Style band hoped the spirit of solidarity across the live music community would be deeply rooted.

“Honesty opens the heart, and the pure emotional expression heals,” said Intan whose band last performed at a hotel near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport before the lockdown last March.

Filipino singer-guitarist Allan G, who is married to a local, said: “When club artistes who are in trouble embrace each other, there’s some hope for a foreigner like me who has made Malaysia home over the last two decades.”

Allan said it was touching that there are people who care about the wellbeing of musicians.

Singer Michelle Pereira of the Wild Roses, a female group helmed by her mother Angie, said: “Finally, something is being done for club artistes after a tumultuous 10 months when we were abandoned and left with nothing.

“The caring spirit that has come about now is invaluable as we can expect more emotional punches this year,” said the single mother to two children who resorted to busking and online teaching when venues shuttered.

Club Artistes’ head, Jude Singho, said he hoped the big heartedness of ICAP will encourage corporations and captains of industry who love music to extend a helping hand to make “our worthy cause of helping musicians in the live circuit workable and meaningful”.

“We are not asking for monetary handouts but to provide us with opportunities to continue playing music in order to enjoy a decent standard of living,” said the leader of Malaysia’s foremost country and western band, Os Pombos,

He said the ‘Lend a helping hand’ initiative was for the benefit of club artistes and deejays, including foreigners married to Malaysians.

Singho said while certain segments of the entertainment sector benefitted from government aid, these performers had to fend for themselves since the Covid-19 pandemic bore down on pubs and nightclubs in March last year.

The struggles of musicians and venues would be more pronounced in the coming months as the extension of the recovery movement control order (RMCO) until March 31 spelt further ruin to their existence, he added.

Singho thanked ICAP, Karyawan president Freddie Fernandez; events specialist Denne Singh who mooted the idea of ‘Lend a Helping Hand’; general manager Hard Rock Café Kuala Lumpur Ranjit Singh; and celebrity deejay Phat Fabes for coming together to capture the essence of the power of love, caring and hope among the devastated pub performers.

Clearly, the worst soundtrack of the worst year, 2020, was the sound of scarred musicians. For those in the live circuit it was hell.

What musicians give to society is love. Right now, love is what is most needed in their society.

A verse from the Lynyrd Skynyrd song, ‘Lend a Helping Hand’, that Singho summed up in his speech should ring loud:

When you see somebody who’s down and out

Lend a helping hand/Lend a helping hand, if you can/ Do it if you can.

-Source : https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/highlight/2021/01/05/abandoned-club-musicians-take-care-of-one-another/

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