Acoustic Entertainment

Bonjoza Acoustic in action at Danga Bay
Four young men who call themselves Bonjoza Acoustic have been delighting fans of good acoustic music in Johor Baru for the past four years.  Performing a repertoire of songs in its rich, rock bluesy, sometimes funky sound with “unplugged” versatility, this acoustic band has certainly won the hearts of an appreciative audience.

Romal Mohd Melvyn, who plays percussion instruments like tambourine, maracas and the blues harmonica, explained that it takes a greater skill to succeed as an acoustic band. 

Unlike electric bands where sounds are amplified, the acoustic band does not rely on electricity to amplify sound.  In the acoustic genre, unconventional instruments are often used and it’s the combination of instruments that create an intimate soundscape.

Wan [Right] and Romal [Left] provide vocals
“Music is so distinct that every little mistake will be noticeable and that’s why acoustic music must be perfect,” explained Romal.  Rhythm guitarist, Syazwan Tamini Md Shah and Romal provide lush vocals, singing soulful solos and delightful duets.  Their passion for music is evident in every performance that comprises music ranging from slow rock, rhythm & blues, soul, jazz to dangdut.

When Syazwan better known as Wan, was in school he learnt to play the angklung and kolintang, a traditional instrument that resembles a xylophone.  Incidentally, his father is Md Shah, former keyboardist of Heavy Machine, renowned as Johor Baru’s most successful band that has the proud reputation as the “Chicago of Malaysia.”  His father now plays with the jazz band of Yayasan Warisan Johor or Johor Heritage Foundation. 

Wan is modest about his famous father but aspires to attain the success that his father had with Heavy Machine.  From his self-taught guitar skills to exquisite vocals, Wan has a special talent in singing in English and Chinese languages.  He attributes his ability to speak in Mandarin to his Chinese mother and appreciates her help with his Cantonese.

Joy on his djembe
Drummer, Dzulfiquar Md Nor, otherwise known as Joy, plays a djembe, an African hand drum shaped like a goblet.   With the djembe slung across his shoulders by straps, Joy plays adeptly to create a highly percussive rhythm for the band.  Besides playing with Bonjoza Acoustic, Joy a versatile drummer, also plays with “Conflict Prankster,” a punk rock band.

The fourth band member, affectionately called Angah, is Rohaizad Agil who plays lead guitar.  He joined the band two and half years ago to replace original lead guitarist, Ronie Hj Borhan.  With skills in playing keroncong music, he was a natural who quickly blended in and completed the 4-man band.

The young talents in Bonjoza Acoustic have already made their mark in a circuit of small clubs, hotels and private events in Johor Baru but one of their most memorable gigs must be performing at the Annual Dinner of the Singapore Norwegian Expatriates Club. Held on a beautiful beach on Tioman Island, the exotic island setting and the evening’s excitement was enough to carve this special outing into their memories forever.

Bonjoza Acoustic rocking it out at a private event
This versatile band performs in English, Malay, Chinese, Spanish and Tagalog, mostly covers of current top hits as well as hits of yesteryears but fans would be thrilled to know that they are writing their own music and an album can be expected by the end of this year. 

With an average age of 24, pure passion and raw talent, this group of young men still has a way to go but for now, they are simply enjoying themselves doing what they obviously love.

Bonjoza Acoustic has been entertaining in different gigs around the city and they perform and accept request from their enthusiastic audiences.  Recently they were performing on Friday’s and weekends at an alfresco bistro in Danga Bay. 

Set under the stars to a backdrop of the Johor Straits and glittering fairy lights festooned on the docked Danga 8 cruise ship, it’s the ideal setting for a night of blissful music. 

There are many acoustic bands with their own sounds and following but listen to Bonjoza Acoustic and then decide for yourself.  Performances begin between 9.30pm and 10.00pm and ends around 1.00am.  If your feet can’t stop tapping and your body can’t help grooving, then Bonjoza Acoustic certainly has something special going on.

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Johor Buzz in April 2009

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