Blues from unexpected quarters


Mt D Sunday night jam

Often, on a Sunday night, I make the trek up the Olinda Mt Dandenong Tourist Road to the Mt Dandenong Hotel for a bit of a jam with a few like-minded blues jam desperado mates – see the t-shirt here.

One of those mates, Ryan, had some of his old mentors from Singapore staying with him. Lucky for me I happened to be there on the Sunday that he bought them to the jam for a play, and lucky for me I got to play with them.

I had no expectations, although they did look kind of cool – but you know, you can’t judge a book…

Well, from the first bar we just locked right in, it felt right and sounded like Chicago! We played a really enjoyable set. Chatting to the boys over a beer after the set, all they would say was “yes we had a band back in Singapore”. I told Ryan if they are playing anywhere, let me know because I’m playing too – PLEASE!

Singapore blues royalty

They didn’t mention that they are widely regarded as Singapore blues royalty – and even work internationally.

Ryan quickly organised a full gig on Wednesday night, a day before their flight home. This line-up comprised of international guests, Francis on bass & vocals and Danny on guitar; as well as locals, incredibly tasteful guitarist (and owner of Little by Little Cafe in Berwick) Ryan Lim on guitar; the maestro of decibel distribution and every lick known to mankind, Dr Rick MORE guitar; and myself on drums.

from left: Dr Rick, Francis, Drew, Danny & Ryan

It was a privilege to share a stage (public bar floor near the pool table) with them.

These international legends gave us all a lesson in humility, generosity and attitude. At an impromptu gig, on a Wednesday night with no advertising, which found us playing to the staff, Ryan’s family and a couple of punters (who stopped for a beer after work and stayed to stumps).

There we were playing to a virtually empty public bar and it was the type effort you would expect at an international blues festival. Such was the mood, standard and professionalism.

I was so happy to be a part of it and was humbled by the generous praise from these talented pro players who must have played with a multitude of excellent musicians over many years.

The truly surprising take-out for me however, came from meeting and observing Francis and Danny together with Ryan and his extended family.

Strong, loving bonds

I witnessed such strong, loving bonds, bonds which I have always associated with older European families. My wife’s family history is Greek and Macedonian. The older generation have all but passed on now, but always displayed love in a free and open celebration of family.  I don’t know why, but I did not expect it from these Chinese musicians.

This mutual respect and closeness was beautiful to be around. Thank you Ryan and Dr Rick and to a couple of Singapore’s most prominent musicians Danny Loong and Francis Chan (formerly of the critically acclaimed Ublues) because you made a truly special night possible, mid-week, out of the blue.

I really hope that we play together again someday.

Peace, out.

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