Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Memories of the 18th Rainforest World Music Festival

Wow, the Rainforest World Music Festival is 18 years old this year.  This festival really started from very humble beginnings.  The RWMF started with one stage, can you imagine that just one stage.  At the time the number of people who attended the festival was around maybe 300 plus.  I was told that most of the audience were the crew.  Today the festival has grown by leaps and bounds.  From one stage, there are now three stages namely Jungle Stage, Tree Stage and the new addition Theater Stage.  Theater Stage was added just last year.  From 300 festival goers, the number has increased significantly, how many you might ask?  Well, I was told that on Saturday night, the tickets were sold out!  That's a huge difference.

I was fortunate to be a part of this festival again this year.  I feel a certain pride when I say that, mainly because this is an International Event that's held here in my home town.  Each year the RWMF brings together different musicians and bands from all over the world for a three day festival.  Over the three days, we all get a chance to listen, enjoy and experience the music and culture of each band.  As they take to the different stages, they share with us their music, some passed down from their ancestors, some they fused with modern compositions and many with the hope that their music will continued to be enjoyed for years to come.  This is something I've mentioned many many times leading up to this festival, about how unique this festival truly is.

I usually try and take as many shots as possible during the festival but this year the festival was a little busier than usual for me.  I did take a few shots here and there but I think the majority of the shots came from Theater Stage.

However, I did have a few minutes to take in the beautiful view that greeted me every morning before the day got underway and I have said it before, it's not a bad way to start your day.
This is the view that greeted me each and every morning.  I loved it.  Truly lovely.  Like I mentioned, it's not a bad way to start your day.
Yeah one could get really comfortable with all this but I had work to do, after a quick breakfast, I was off to meet the bands and interview them.  I had a few short hours to talk to the bands and then get ready to go to Theater Stage.  Theater Stage was first introduced last year to give festival goers a concert hall performance, a more intimate experience, different from the Jungle and Tree Stages.  Theater Stage would be the stage for you if you wanted to really soak in an afternoon of music in a more intimate atmosphere, hence the concert hall setting.

The first band to perform at Theater Stage this year was a family band led by by multi-instrumentalist Jan Mailsz. The band is inspired by the traditional music of Beskid Niski and Pogorze, in South Poland.  For their performance Jan was joined by his children Casper who is 16 years old and Zuzanna who is 12 years old.  Together they are Kapela Maliszow.
Now you may be wondering, why am I using a pic from the RWMF website?  Well, this is what happens when you become enthralled with a performance, yep you forget to take pictures.  For the entire performance I was a festival goer and I sat down with the audience that Friday afternoon to enjoy the music from this very talented family and to see such young musicians on stage performing traditional  music from their homeland was quite an experience.  
The second band to perform on Theater Stage that Friday afternoon was from Georgia. This band was founded in December, 2014. Consisting of four members, the ensemble is specialized in authentic Georgian traditional folk music. They are also members of ethno jazz band Iriao, and independently they work as conductors and leaders in different male folk choirs.

The ensemble repertoire includes traditional musical masterpieces and church chants from different regions of Georgia, starting from the very east to the west, and differs significantly according to its complication. Besides, the ensemble performs on the most traditional folk instruments including string, wind and percussion instruments.

To listen to Alaverdi was just mesmerizing.  For their performance all four members were impeccably dressed in what I would guess is their traditional Georgian wear.  They looked regal and their performance was just absolutely mesmerizing.  Before they went on stage, I mentioned that Georgian Polyphonic Singing was one of the items included in a Capsule launched into space a few years ago.  If there are other lifeforms out there, one of the many things they will experience first will be Georgian Polyphonic Singing from Alaverdi.
That afternoon, apart from the workshops taking place throughout the various houses ie: The Iban Long House, The Malay house and so on, the Theater Stage was packed almost to capacity.  You could tell that the people who came to Theater Stage really enjoyed the performances from Alaverdi and Kapela Maliszow.  When you're sitting in a crowd, immersed in beautiful music and you forget to take pictures, then you know you're listening to something..special.  Each performance ended with the crowd showing their appreciation with a thunderous applause and shouts of Bravo! Bravo!  It was a unique afternoon on the first day of the 18th Rainforest World Music Festival.  

It was a really surreal experience for me to be sitting in a concert hall setting in the rainforest listening to such beautiful world music and that was just the start of Day 1.  The evening performances would start later that Friday at 7.30pm on the Jungle and Tree Stages.  

The performances on Day 1 started with the traditional Miring Ceremony from the Iban Community of Sarawak.  The ceremony is a traditional blessing ceremony followed by a performance from the Sarawak Cultural Village.  It was a great start to the evening, just wish I had taken more pictures of the whole thing but I was a little busy.

The evening performances, the workshops, all the side events were all highlights of this truly unique festival but when I walked out of the Theater Stage that afternoon, I felt they did the right thing, which is adding another highlight to this festival.  I was looking forward to the performance at 7.30 the next evening but also the Theater Stage the next day.

Many thanks to the Sarawak Tourism Board for the use of some of the pics featured here on the Borneo Broadcast.  for more on what took place this year for the RWMF, go to

Sunday, 16 August 2015

A Sarawak Original

It is good to be back.  I've been away from the Borneo Broadcast. Again. But I have a good reason, I had a great experience being at the 18th Rainforest World Music Festival.  This festival is just an experience that is just describable.  You have to be there in order to know what I felt in the seven days I was there.

The festival was held at the Sarawak Cultural Village from the 7th to the 9th of August.  I was there earlier because I was hosting the performances for the festival.  It was a great experience enjoying music from around the world and this year the bands were just outstanding, I'm going to share my experience with you in my next post but for this post, I wanted to share something with you, something I call A Sarawak Original.

A few days leading up to the festival, I met up with an old friend of mine named Ricky Sia.  It had been a while since we last met but it's always a pleasure seeing old friends again.  When we met, he was wearing a really unique T Shirt.  I thought that it was different and it really had a local Sarawak design and motif.  A real Sarawak Original.  It had slipped my mind that earlier this year Ricky had told me that he was printing and selling these T Shirts.

It occurred to me that since I was going to be at the RWMF this year that having these T Shirts would be cool.  If nothing else, it would be a great way to promoting Sarawak and Borneo to people at the Festival.  So we arranged to meet up and I bought 2 from Ricky.  Ricky also threw up a few other T Shirts as well.  (Thanks Ricky)  Through out the entire Festival, I wore these T Shirts with pride, being someone from Sarawak, from Borneo.  Here's a look at the various designs Ricky has.

There you have it, the T Shirts from Amazing Borneo.  If you're wondering, yeah they also come in white and grey as well.

While I like the black T Shirts, I think the white ones are cool as well.  I guess what I really like about T Shirts like these is the simplicity of the design and also how original they are.  The fact that Ricky thought of using the famous Empurau, the orangutan and also other motifs that are uniquely Sarawakian makes these T Shirts a must have for me.  I'm glad I bought these T Shirts, they're another unique way of introducing Borneo to the world.

 I like this one, a friend of mine on the RWMF Production Team noticed this shirt and said: "Really Cool Design.  I like it."  Often times, you get a lot of generic shirts being made out there but these are definitely not generic.  They're comfortable and they look really nice.
I wore this one to the RWMF preview show that was held on August the 5th.  I really like how it looks and the fact that the word BORNEO is boldly written on the T Shirt made it really stand out.  Again a nice design which attracts attention and it is indeed a Sarawak Original.  I'm particularly happy and proud of Ricky for designing and producing these T Shirts.  

If you'd like to know more about Amazing Borneo and their beautiful T Shirts, then just visit their facebook page, just look for Amazing Borneo, you won't miss it because you'll see all their T Shirts on display.  They also have posters for sale and remember all their T Shirts are all handcrafted.  
That's Ricky right there hard at work with another T Shirt design featuring the Orangutans of Borneo.  Go visit their facebook page and you'll be able to keep track of what Ricky is doing with his T Shirts and what other Unique Sarawak/Borneo Originals he's got coming up.  Thanks Rick for these great T Shirts, I love them.

Now that the RWMF is over, will I stop wearing these T Shirts?  No way, they're too cool not to wear.  See you again next time for another Borneo Broadcast.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

The Music of Africa at the Rainforest World Music Festival RWMF 2015.

We're getting closer and closer to the Rainforest World Music Festival in Borneo.  The dates are August 7th to the 9th 2015 at the Sarawak Cultural Village!

The Rainforest World Music Festival has always been a favourite of festival and music lovers for bringing the enchanting music from Africa that has all these years mesmerize thousands of weekend revelers.

This year, the festival will parade the uniqueness of the group calling themselves Ndima which represents the people of the Aka Pygmies from Congo Brazzaville.

Ndima, representing the native African tribe, will present their traditional African music allowing audience to have an insight into their unique endangered culture. This nomadic tribe which lives in the forests of Africa between the Atlantic Ocean and the big Lakes, particularly in Baka, Bambuti, Batwa, Babongo, Efé and other regions, can be easily recognised by their physical stature.

Their language is called the Aka language and their life is consistently altered due to the increasing influence of the modernization within their natural habitat in the forest which are being continuously destroyed by farmers and foresters.

As the life of the Aka people centered on the natural surroundings, the tribe takes great care of their environment for their daily source for food and medicinal purposes.
Apart from their surrounding influences, music plays an important role in the life of the Aka Pygmies with song dedicated to the spirits of the forest and events associated with their surroundings. The characteristics of Aka Pygmy music are complex and the interspersed with the “jodel”, which is describes as the change between the “voice of head and of the breast”.

The varied rhythmic formulae supported by traditional Pygmy dances is also an evidence of their rich culture of the endangered tribe.  

Joining Ndima taking the stage is Sona Jobarteh from Gambia bringing with her traditional “Kora” virtuoso.  Sona is considered to be a modern pioneer rebelling against the male-dominated hereditary tradition between father and son playing an instrument which is exclusively designated to men.  The “Kora” is a 21-stringed African harp which is one of the main musical instruments of the Manding peoples of Gambia, Senegal, Mali, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.

It can only be played by male members of West Africa family, thus making Sona an exception for being the first woman in her family to break the ancestral line of playing the sacred musical instrument.  

The music style of Sona Jobarteh differs from other West African music genres due to her innovative stance singing about social issues, cultural identity, gender, love and respect that roots herself in her traditional cultural heritage of her people.
Sona’s ability to captivate audiences around the world with her expressive voice, catchy melodies and strong rhythms that allows her to represent her African culture and tradition.

The artist developed her singing ability when she featured her vocals in the Hollywood blockbuster movie “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” which was released in 2014.

On top of that Sona is the composer of the film score to the Multi-Award winning documentary film “The Motherland”, and released her latest album “Fasiya” in 2011.

To join the festival, you can now book your entrance tickets online and for more information on the festival, please log on to its website at

Event-presale Tickets are priced at RM 110.00 for single adult  and child is priced at RM 50.00 while the three-day entrance is priced at RM 300.00 for adult and RM 130.00 for a child.

Family package of two adults and two children entrance is also on sale at RM 220.00.

See you at the RWMF 2015!!

The Rainforest World Music Festival: Caribean Calypso at the RWMF 2015

The RWMF 2015 is coming soon, this award winning festival takes place from the 7th to the 9th of August 2015.  If you're looking for a difference in this years’ Rainforest World Music Festival, then you're in for a treat as you will be able to dance to the tune of the Caribbean Calypso music which will be staged at the Rainforest World Music Festival on August 7-9 at the Sarawak Cultural Village.

Kobo Town from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago will be featuring the Calypso music, a trademark of a cheerful and relaxing musical composition on the laid back Caribbean setting.

Drew Gonsalves, the founder of the group Kobo Town, traces its origin from the easy-going historic neighbourhood city in Port-of-Spain thought to be the origin of Calypso music.

The artist grew up in Diego Martin where he was surrounded by Calypso music from an early age and he moved to Canada but returning back at the age of 18 when he started writing his own songs.

The band’s debut album ‘Independence’ was released in 2007 and was nominated for several awards including the Indie Award. Drew describes the band’s music style as a mixture between the traditional Calypso, big bands’ style and jazz music, expressing musical theme of present events in its lyrics.

Their new album ‘Jumbie in the Jukebox’ contribute to the musical heritage of the Carribean that tries to give the people of the present generation a voice to speak up and express themselves in this special  music. Gonslaves in describing his music style said, “We made a conscious effort, but one that was quite natural in its own way, to make the music different, a bit more intense”  Admitting that the  album is a  small, heartfelt tribute to the spirits – both remembered and forgotten – who have gone before us, the  songs and sounds, he said had never lost their power to enchant.

To join the festival, entrance tickets are now available on sale at and for more information on the festival, please log on to its website at

Event-presale-tickets are priced at RM 110.00 for single adult  and child is priced at RM 50.00 while the three-day entrance is priced at RM 300.00 for adult and RM 130.00 for a child. Family package for two adults and two children entrance is also on sale at RM 220.00.

I hope to see you at the RWMF 2015.