Published on: Friday, January 11, 2013
Kota Kinabalu: Grammy award winners Cathy Fink, Marcy Marxer and Barbara Lamb grabbed the hearts of an overflowing audience at the first American root country folk music concert at Wisma Wanita, Jalan Tuaran, Wednesday night.
They kicked off the night with inspired and amazing Blue Grass harmony to score a first impression triumph that celebrated the human voice in its most natural state. Backed by equally stirring, distinctive strings of the unique banjo, guitar and the fiddle, they started the one-and-half-hour show with a popular 18th century American folk song 'Shady Grove!'
The 300-year old Shady Grass composition reflects probably the communal and maybe the democratic roots of traditional American Blue Grass country folk music in their most original forms.
The curious audience, some of whom sat on the floor throughout, erupted into applause as they rendered a dozen numbers. These were One really Good Day; Girl Django; Airship; Somewhere over the rainbow (Violin solo from Barbara); Yodel; Caravan, featuring local acoustic guitar master Roger Wang; If I had you (Ukulele solo from Marcer); Bo Don't Bite the Mailman; Sayang Kinabalu; Angelina baker; Banjo Pickin' Girl, culminating in an Encore 'I don't mean a thing.'
The audience included State Culture, Tourism & Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun, who showered the Americans with Orangutan dolls in appreciation and Youth & Sports Minister, Datuk Peter Pang En Yin.
"You are all very lucky because for the first time in Sabah we have two-time American folk music Grammy winners," Cheong Kok Ann, President of the Society of Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu Sabah (SPArKs), told the audience. The US Embassy sponsored the event.
" The turnout was beyond expectations, definitely a unique experience for Kota Kinabalu folks because American root music is not normal here and an exposure to musicians of such musicianship and high musical skills," Organising Chairman Roger Wang, who is also SPArKs Vice President, said. "Blue Grass music is virtually the only kind of country music that features the banjo which can be very loud, very fast and percussive but in the hands of the very skilful musicians like Cathy, Marcy and Barbara, it's very mellow and very soothing and that's what people heard here," Wang said.
"In fact, some said this was the first time they had listened to a Banjo," he said. Wang also joined the trio for an instrumental rendition of 'Caravan'.
Harvey W Sernovitz, Press and Information Officer of the US Embassy, thanked the Sabah Tourism Board (Sri Peloncongan), SPArKs and American Voices.
"This concertÉis just the latest in almost a history of 50 years of famous American musicians touring the world with the support of major partners," he said, citing Johnny Rogers brought here two years ago.
"I am hopeful that we'll bring many more to Sabah," he said, noting that Cathy, Marcy and Barbara as "the best in blue grass, old time music, strings, Americana whose music is just amazing, saying he was equally "excited to hear the special music collaboration with Sabah's own Rhythm of Borneo and Kinabalu Merdu ."