Band Blog

A Russian Music Legend – Igor Butman

admin : February 28, 2014 1:41 pm : Band, Feature, Johnny Only, News

Saxophone great and jazz orchestra leader Igor Butman welcomed me to his jazz club last night in Moscow. What a fun night of music!

Igor Butman and Johnny

Igor Butman – Saxophone Legend

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JRB : February 26, 2014 8:30 pm : Band, News

After and early flight to KK we met our SPArKS friends at the airport and headed to the hotel before heading to our workshop at the Sabah Art Institute.

This was our second time coming back to the Art Institute and it was so great to see our old friends and to meet some new ones. We started the class off with a rhythm workshop where we layered some rhythmic vocalizations and worked on developing inner pulse while walking and clapping in time.
Once the ice was broken and they were all warmed up, Michelle did a workshop on country dance and clogging. The band played Wagon Wheel while Michelle taught everyone the steps.
We then showed how the rhythm section worked in concert during different styles of music.
The students were great and we spent a lot of time with them talking and taking pictures.

The director presented us with some beautiful art work from the students and a banner from the institute.

We went straight from the Art Institute
to the sound check from the Museum for the evening show. The building was designed in the shape of a traditional local basket.

I was able to take a walk around the museum and even got a chance to see the photos of one of our friends from SPArKS.

After the sound check we had about one hour to go back to the hotel and get ready for our concert, I walked around by the waterfront and took some pictures. Since this was our third time in KK and my third blog about the area, I’ll post a few pics, but refer you to my past blogs about KK on this same site;)

I got back to my hotel room and had about 30 minutes to get ready. I closed my eyes for a minute and the next thing I know it’s 7:00 and I’m supposed to be downstairs for our pick up.
We got to the venue about 30 min before the concert and luckily there was some Old Town white coffee in the green room. The venue looked beautifully lit and the museum/gallery was the perfect setting for an intimate concert. The sound was wonderful and the audience was made up of so many of our friends from previous trips to KK.

The concert was wonderful and after we were presented with a copy of the book Sabah Songs, Contemporary Music In Sabah by our friend Joanna Funk. We are featured in the book along with other contemporary musicians and there are pics and interviews from our second trip to Sabah.

We signed autographs and spent some time with our wonderful friends from SPArKS and the US Embassy. Of course we celebrated with them over an amazing KK meal;)

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Highway 40 Blues

JRB : February 18, 2014 9:12 pm : Band, News

Danny; Labuan Malaysia, Day 3.

We woke up very early to go to the Miri airport and checked in to take the short 30 min flight to Labuan.

We were met by Roger Wang the current Vice President and incoming President of SPArKS; Society of Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu Sabah. This is our third time working with Roger and SPArKS. He is a great guitarist/ composer and we have been lucky to perform with Roger on a number of occasions.
After we got checked in to our beautiful hotel on the waterfront, we had a quick lunch before going to the workshop we were giving at the International school.

Roger had set us up with some nice car rentals for the day;)

Just kidding;)

On the way to the school, Peter who is Rogers drummer, took me to his home to show me his mini drum kit inventions. He is a great musician and mad scientist inventor;)

The students at the workshop were very shy during the class, but as soon as we invited them up to talk with us on stage, they opened up and played song after song for us.

We love doing workshops and master classes for the students and we’re so happy that we were able to work with the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and SPArKS to make this happen for the third time in Borneo.

We went straight from the workshop back to the main venue to do a sound check for the evening concert.

The concert was so much fun and by the end of the night, Johnny and the band really had the place shakin.
Next stop, Kota Kinabalu;)

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Whole lot of Shakin

JRB : February 15, 2014 11:36 am : Band, Feature, News

Danny; Miri, Malaysia, Day 2
Last night after we got settled in the hotel in Miri, we began our first day of the festival activities. The organizers had set up a meet and greet cocktail hour for all the bands and staff. There was also a preview in the lounge of two of the bands that would be be performing on the main stage tonight.

The bands sounded great and it was so nice to meet everyone from the festival. After the meet and greet we went to the main stage to do our sound check. We are one of 8 bands from all around South East Asia, Britain and the USA. The longest day finally came to an end and we had to sleep fast because we had to wake up for a 9:00 am press conference, 10:00 rehearsal and then a workshop.

Well we woke up on time and we’re at the press conference, hearing from the Cultural minister of Miri.

This is the first country festival in Malaysia and he believes that Miri is the perfect city to promote music, dance and the arts. This festival is interested in becoming an international festival like the KK or the Penang Jazz festival. Miri will be full of events and become a big tourist destination, but this is just the beginning. There is such a rich culture here that spans thousands of years. Miri has a rich biodiversity and it actually has has the worlds largest cave which is a world heritage site. This cave called Mulu has wall paintings dating back to the Stone Age. Miri is working on developing an urban nature park, because of the many protected species that are all around the area.

Michelle presented the cultural minister with his own official cowboy hat.

We ended the press inference with an unplugged version of Tex William’s Smoke, Smoke, Smoke.

Before our workshop this afternoon we met up with our US Embassy liaison Shannon Phang who will be traveling with us to tomorrow Labuan and KK.

After our workshop we were able to spend some time with the participants who had some great questions about how to get a more authentic country sound.

There was a line dancing workshop after us this afternoon and I was impressed how fast everyone picked up the steps!
The big concert is going on right now and there are 8 bands. We are on in a couple of hours, so it’s time to start getting ready;)

A shot of the stage from the wings before we took the stage.

Well our set was quite a success and considering it was the first time we played this music with Michelle, it seemed even more impressive to me;) She really got the audience going and it is so much fun to have some three part harmonies in the band! My favorite is the two accapella verses at the end of Wagon Wheel!
There was a big encore Jam session with many of the bands coming together on stage at the end of the night, there was a Whole lot of Shakin Goin on, and if you ignored the palm trees and moon lit ocean, you could swear you were in Nashville;)

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By the Time I Get to Phoenix

JRB : February 14, 2014 10:39 am : Band, Feature, News

Danny; NY, Tokyo, Singapore, Miri Malaysia. Day one.
It’s hard to believe that we are on our fifth trip as musical ambassadors bringing American music abroad and that this is our third trip to Malaysia.
Our last trip this summer was for the US Embassy in Russia which brought us to Moscow, Tomsk Siberia, Tula, Kaluga and Sochi, the home of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
This time we are working with the US Embassy in KL Malaysia and also in partnership with our good friends at SPaRKS, a wonderful arts organization in KK. We will be traveling to Miri for their first ever Country music festival and then on to Labuan and finally KK. We will be playing concerts and giving workshops for students and local musicians.
Although we have some country music influences and have recorded some songs that live within it’s borders, this is our first real country set. We’re playing selections by George Jones, Ricky Scags, Buck Owens, Johnny Cash, Hank Garland and more. The JRB has invited special guest, Nashville native Michelle Lambert who is a great fiddler and vocalist. Johnny who also lives in Nashville now, chose tunes that weave a path through the heart of the country music tradition, they really fit the band and highlight everyone’s talent.
We’re on the first leg of our journey that takes us from NY to Tokyo which is a 14 hr flight and after a layover there, we fly 7 hrs. to Singapore and have 12 hrs to rest before flying to Miri Malaysia for the Country Festival.

After a few hrs. in the hotel in Singapore, we are back on the plane heading to Miri for the Country Festival. Our total flying time will be about 23 hrs, 15,000 miles and 38hrs of travel just to get to our first concert.

Morning in Singapore.

Well we made it to Miri and it feels great to be back in Malaysia. Miri is right on the coast and the lush green land, blue sea and the beautiful golden sun made for a wonderful arrival. Today is the last day of the new year and it’s Valentines day, so there is a lot of good vibes all around.
We were met at the airport by the festivals liaisons and they brought is and another band from Singapore called the Super Band back to the hotel. On the way there were stories about great food, music and travels.
When we got to the hotel, I was able to go out to the beach and relax. After 38 hrs of travel, it was good to put my feet up;)

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