RWMF 2012: Highlights

The 15th Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) has ended, but apart from the fact that the Festival was (and always is) AWESOME – see and listen for yourself:

Video source-superadrianme1 : intro by Le Trio Joubran followed by Danyel Waro playing the kayanm/kayamb or as I described it – “winnowing” 😉 , Diplomats of Drum, Le Trio Joubran playing the oud, the String Sisters, Khusugtun‘s throat-singing, Raiz de Cafezal, Cankisou, Mamadou Diabate’s Percussion Mania, Kanda Bongo Man and ending with the Finale!

 it’s also the experience and memories made there that make people come back year after year.

I had expectations (and for the record, every single one was met! 😉 ), but personally, it’s the unexpected that made the sweetest of memories! 😀

Like when meeting new people and they end up being good friends:

(L-R) Fiqah, Fatimah, me [Photo c/o Ben]

The @SWKBLOGS media team! I know who to look for the next time I’m in Kuching! 😉

Or bumping into/meeting old friends you hadn’t seen in a while, mainly by chance:



Fab & Domi

I was at RWMF with Fab 4 years ago, and it was good to see him again on Day 2. Apparently, he has never missed a single RWMF for something like a decade! WOW! Au contraire, this was the first time for his friend whom I just met, who was involved in the Capoeira Workshop.

Other first-timers included:

My own sis-in-law (and bro who took this photo)

And Ben, who went with me this year:

By the looks of it…

…it won’t be his last either. 😉

There were a few others like my ex-colleague, friends from Brunei and friends-that-are-practically-family, but I forgot to snap a photo with them. Heh.

But the most unexpected and most memorable experience happened on Day 3.

I had just arrived at the Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) and was waiting in the performers’/media van to take me to One Hotel Santubong (OHS). A few minutes later, a performer climbed into the van and he sat beside me. It was a Hey-I-Just-Met-You moment. 😉

As the van brought us the short distance to OHS, I managed an unofficial interview with him. I was gushing about how talented a sape player he was and he was very humble about it. He shared how “someone” had brought a sape back to the States and how he had learned to play it and that it is not played like a guitar and that these instruments should not be played as if they were one and the same. Care to guess who he was?

Meet David – incredible sape player and Zee Avi‘s bandmate! 😉

And he was so kind to introduce me to the “someone” who had brought a sape back to the States – Zee Avi herself! 😀

As you probably know already from Day 1, I really enjoyed their performance so it was quite an honour to meet her in person. Fondly referred to as Zee, this Mirian singer-songwriter, guitarist & ukelele player is a Sarawakian treasure, putting Malaysia (and especially Sarawak) on the musical map – all the way from the United States where she is based.

Zee & her “sapelele” (sape-designed ukelele)

Apart from a photo with her, I also got her autograph. 🙂

And if that ain’t enough, I was even able to chat with her for a bit – she’s such a sweet lady!

Prior to the RWMF, she was in Miri for a Homecoming Concert but before that she said she’d been away for 13 years!

Zee Avi & JC, her bass player

Those few minutes spent with her was priceless.

“Balit sitok gik kelak. Iboh tunggu 13 tahun…” I said as I left her to enjoy her privacy. 🙂

*in the local Sarawak Malay language, meaning, “Do come back again. Don’t wait for 13 years…”

Thus, I would like to thank Sarawak Tourism Board and Sarawak Bloggers again for making the experiences of the 15th RWMF a possibility for me!

While going for all 3 days was nothing impossible in itself, the media pass really opened up a whole new side of the Festival for me.

Perks of the “job” – I LIKE!

Too bad I wasn’t able to claim the free drinks from Day 1

Then I’d get 3 of these instead, but 2 is cool. 🙂

The only photo taken inside the Heinekebana apparently. 😉

For a more in-depth coverage of the 3 days (and a behind the scenes look), do check out my RWMF 2012 series of posts and for videos, do drop by my youtube channel. Last but not least, here’s a photo that I think says a lot about the spirit of the RWMF:


Photo source: Travillion’s FB compilation album


RWMF 2013 anyone? 😉

Note: ALL photos/videos in my RWMF 2012 series of posts are those taken by me, unless otherwise stated as that from the Sarawak Tourism Board, the @SWKBLOGS Media Team or other sources.

RWMF 2012: A Sarawakian’s Pride

The Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) may be held in Kuching but it’s fame is not just confined to the borders of the Cat City.

The long queue at the departure hall of Miri International Airport – without a doubt, I wasn’t the only one flying off for the RWMF! 😉

Fresh off the plane in Kuching at 3pm that Friday, I wasted no time in getting to the Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) where the RWMF was held. But first I had to report at One Hotel Santubong (OHS) to get my media pass and goodies at the Media Centre, met up with fellow Sarawak Blogger, Fatimah, and from there took the public shuttle provided (as I was with my bro and sis-in-law) for RM5/way to the SCV.

Arriving at SCV, we separated: them to check out the booths and stalls etc; me on the hunt for some friends. 😉

By 7pm, my friends and I were already “camped” right in front of the main Jungle Stage…

…only to run to the smaller Tree Stage at 7.30pm when the darkness was shattered by the Iban warrior cry, followed by the Sape & Warrior Dance of Sarawak from that stage.

We were pretty much running between stages all night, not wanting to miss out on the best view possible. 😉

The opening act for the night was Nading Rhapsody, whom I am proud to say hail from Sarawak!

They were the winners of the RWMF Talent Search Competition 2012, and rightly so!

They were simply amazing!

“Tum Ketumba” is a traditional Iban folklore

I never heard our traditional songs (Iban/Bidayuh/Orang Ulu) sung in such a way before…further making me proud to be a Sarawakian. 🙂 They also sang their version of Burung Kakak Tua, a Malaysian children’s song, which I thought was pretty cool.

Next up were siblings Le Trio Joubran from Palestine.

Photo courtesy of the Sarawak Tourism Board

3 brothers playing the oud accompanied by Youssef Hbeisch on the percussions.

Photo courtesy of the Sarawak Tourism Board

This was followed by the gorgeous String Sisters (Scotland, Norway, Ireland, Sweden, USA) and their equally handsome “String Misters/Brothers”.

Singing from their hearts about their love for their country, of their culture and of life. Music surpassed language, and although I didn’t understand a word of any of their songs, I truly enjoyed them.

Especially the Celtic sounds of the latter with songs in Gaelic & Creole among others.

Rythm of Borneo, winners of the previous year’s RWMF Talent Search Competition, came up next with some local flavours like the joget. It was interesting to note how young this band and its members were – leader Ainal Bustari made his debut at the Rainforest not too long ago, when he was just 6 years old! Here’s a video (not mine) of them. You could really tell that they were enjoying themselves in their music.

Second to last was La Zikabilo from France.

Sorry the photo is from afar…no photographer pass for this assignment =/

Fancy gypsy music? Or rock & roll? Or jazz? Or reggae? This band has it all covered! Here’s a link to a video (not mine) of them performing – don’t you just feel like dancing? 😉

And last, but most definitely not the least, was the final act of which many people (myself included) were waiting for – Zee Avi!

Photo source:

Fondly referred to as Zee, this Mirian singer-songwriter, guitarist & ukelele player made a special appearance courtesy of the Sarawak State Government, a first time in the 15-year history of RWMF (and maybe the first of many more?). Her bandmate opened up with a strong sape piece, playing the traditional instrument oh-so-naturally. It was nothing short of impressive!

Click here to see the sape intro (prior to the video above).

I must admit, before this, I only knew 3 of her songs and while she didn’t perform Bitter Heart 😦 she did perform the other 2 🙂 :

Kantoi – a Manglish word for busted or caught doing something wrong

This is a unique song as it combines Malay, English, and Manglish. The song is about a guy busted for cheating on his girlfriend – with a twist at the end of the song. Click here for the full lyrics.

Concrete Wall

You can drop by my youtube channel for these and other videos:

For those without song titles, do help name the title of the song(s) in the video comments too yaaa… 😉

Need I say that by the end of Day 1, I was truly looking forward to the next 2 days of the RWMF 2012?! 😀

Note: ALL photos/videos in my RWMF 2012 series of posts are those taken by me, unless otherwise stated as that from the Sarawak Tourism Board, the @SWKBLOGS Media Team or other sources.