AkashA in JB

AkashA performing 100th show in 9th JB Arts Fest
AkashA marks 100th show in JB

AkashA, probably one of the most hardworking Malaysian bands, performed their hundredth show on Sept 7, at the 9th Johor Baru Arts Festival.  Fresh from the Colombo Music Arts Festival 2012 with shows from Aug 24 to 26 in Sri Lanka to a Merdeka Day show at Wawasan Open University in Penang, the indefatigable AkashA was unstoppable in Johor Baru for a one-night show jam-packed with fans.  Being back in the JB Arts Fest for the third time says a great deal about the popularity of this all-Malaysian 7-piece band that first took the Rainforest World Music Festival by storm in 2008.

Kumar Kathigesu, the sita man
The fusion music, that is the result of the members’ virtuosity on an eclectic assortment of musical instruments, has since captivated audiences throughout the region. 

In JB, fans rocked, no less enthralled by their brand of music from various cultures with Sivabalan Sundram on mridangam (Indian drums), Kumar Kathigesu on sita, Vicknesh Ramakrishnan on tabla, Greg Henderson on bass guitar, Mohd Shah Nizam Azis on percussion and Eric Li on the keyboard.  While the absence of acoustic guitarist and composer, Jamie Wilson, was conspicuous, fans welcomed his substitute Sallehuddin Arab, who also plays a mean guitar!

AkashA presented an engaging repertoire of original pieces like the Irish Joget and Indian Bossanova and thrilled the audience with an Indian Jazz Zapin piece dedicated to Johor entitled, ‘Zapin for Mariam.’  

Sivabalan Sundrum on mridangam
The raw appeal of AkashA’s brand of fusion music kept the audience in breathless awe and took them to a musical high as the acoustic guitar and sita exchanged impressive riffs and the djembe complemented with an exciting tempo.  At the end of their final piece, the audience was reluctant to release them and cheerfully demanded for an encore – which the band graciously obliged.

After the band took their well-deserved bow, band members met their fans and signed autographs on the CD covers of their music.  While many were loyal fans who were pleased to be at AkashA’s 100th show, there were first-timers who became instant fans and went home happily with signed CDs of AkashA music. 

Tabla man, Vicknesh Ramakrishnan [Right] and Greg Henderson on bass guitar
AkashA taking a bow at the end of their show in JB
Members of AkashA meeting fans and signing autographs
For more info, the calendar of free shows and tickets to shows in the 9th JB Arts Fest (till Sept 29), visit www.jbartsfest.com and the JB Arts Festival Facebook page. 

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Johor Streets on 12 September 2012

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