Chapter One of White Canvas Arrives!
Last Saturday, Penang was witness to the first chapter of the White Canvas Music in Art expose of local arts at Talk Talk Wine Bar.
White Canvas is an event designed to showcase the talents of local artists. The venue of choice being Talk Talk wine bar, it’s been a while since the fun people of Penang have had the chance to appreciate original local art and music while getting drunk and making good memories.
The day started with the Festival’s Kick-Off Ceremony at 4pm followed by ” Dexter’s Drum Lab Feat. Moses” A drum workshop conducted by Dexter and Moses Chuah. . Later in the day a workshop on dissecting and appreciating jazz was also held by Wilson Quah, one of Penang’s most renowned jazz pianists who would be also be playing later that night with his band Tonal Alchemy along with guest vocalist Cydney.
Upon arriving at 6.30pm in anticipation for for the performances later that night to begin I was disappointed to find that I would not be able to view or consider purchasing the works of Urban Cr3atures, Ammar Khalifa, Liza Nichols and Sharon Kow as they were displayed in the VVIP lounge and I was not on “the list”. With not enough “V”s to my name and the knowledge that the pieces would only be displayed for one day I resigned myself to mingling with the crowd and eagerly awaiting the performances to come. Though I was later informed that the art exhibition was only closed for an hour between 6pm to 7pm for a VVIP wine reception and was actually later opened to public from 7pm onwards til late, it would have been nice to have the artworks for a few more days just to enjoy them a bit longer as people like me would have been enjoying the music too much to look at artwork as it would have also distracted me from fully appreciating the paintings.
The night music started off slowly with Alvin and Jon warming up the crowd. Alvin’s rich voice setting the mood for the night as I nursed my drink and let the sound of their 2 man show fill the air, however soon another of Penang’s very own :Volatile took to the stage and showed us the night is never too young to rock. With hardrock originals filled with hard hitting drum beats, searing guitar lines and a big voice, Volatile was the first of many acts that night to turn the small stage of a winebar into a place of their very own, a hall of rock. And rock they did.
As the night progressed Malaysia once again proved ourselves to have a not only active but very much talented and capable art scene. Moving seamlessly from musical act to musical act with the help of emcee Gaik Lyn, Talitha Tan took to the stage as the first performer from KL here to represent. A light soothing voice with finger picked guitar arrangements, Talitha captivated us with her intimate performance and made us sigh (yes, sigh) as she serenaded us with songs about heartbreak and love coupled with stories about herself as well as a touching song about a mother’s love for her children, but the night would not stay this innocent forever. As Cats In Love plugged in their guitars and introduced themselves this quaint little winebar was transformed into a crowded bar filled with cigarette smoke and who know’s what else. It was 1972, Zeppelin IV had just released and rock and roll reigned supreme. Keyboard solos, Gibson Les Pauls and Fender Telecasters. The age of rock and roll may be gone, but Cats In Love brought it back just for us.
As the night matured and glasses emptied Tonal Alchemy was left to carry us forward. Haters of Kenny G rejoice! This is “real jazz”. At this point in time I confess that I although I am not well versed or familiar with Jazz music, the skill of which the musicians of Tonal Alchemy performed with is difficult to deny. Led by Penang’s own jazz virtuoso Wilson Quah on piano accompanied by their guest vocalist Cydney, Tonal Alchemy showed us that jazz is everyone. Playing a mixture of jazz standards as well covers of pop classics of various periods such as If I Ain’t Got You by Alicia Keys and Ticket To Ride by The Beatles, I was sad to see them leave the stage after their jaw dropping set.
After a display of such musical skill and talent it seemed only fitting for the next act to be Ocean of Fire. An instrumental band playing what they call “Happy Metal”. Bringing to the table fun,quirky melody lines and cheeky arrangements to the normally morbid and intimidating genre of metal, Ocean of Fire showed the crowd that they too had chops. A flurry of notes with dynamic breakdowns followed by flaming hot guitar solos to fill their ocean with, Ocean of Fire ended their set with “the song with the most notes” also known as Reach For The Stars. No strangers to the local music scene, Ocean of Fire proved to us why their name carries the weight it does.
Last but not least, Fazz was left to close the night. Having not heard of them till earlier this year, I am still surprised at the amount of energy they’re able to bring to any venue they perform at. Performing a “ blend of pop, blues & swing by infusing characters of vaudeville & cabaret-ish elements into their music and performance” Fazz bring cabaret and musical theatre styled music to the next level. Think singing tea cups and furniture from Beauty and the Beast, now kick it up a notch. There you go! Almost always a crowd favourite and leaving us all dancing and singing along to their fast paced dancey tunes, Fazz left us with fond memories of jumping and singing. A fitting end to a flawless night filled with only the best local music.
As the crowd cleared and people tried to sober up Wilson Quah surprised us all by initiating a jamming session for anyone to come up and play which many did, and so began another round of performances to accompany people as they departed.
Pictures courtesy of :White Canvas and Tonal Alchemy