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Borneo Leisure

Local talent aplenty

by Jerry Kamijan, New Sabah Times

Hot and Spicy Band

Names like Hot & Spicy, Golden Angels, Hotline, Dancing Queen, Eyes on Fire, Hot Chocolate may not ring any bell other than, maybe, a figure of expression or a product.

Products they are, as these are actually names of bands – discovered and made in Sabah. They are our home-grown bands from the music to the voice.

The ‘manufacturing plant’ happens to be Sabah’s very own Borneo Events Productions, led by husband-and-wife team, Peter Dicky Lee, an entertainer and singer himself, and hotelier, Minah Hong.

Under its stable, there are eight bands and most of them, if not all, are performing beyond the state’s shores – from Penang to Brunei and Sarawak.

Years back such thing was unheard off, as Sabah was flocked with Filipino bands at hotel lobbies, entertainment outlets, pubs and even private dinner functions.

"The local entertainment scene has changed… it is unlike before when we had foreign bands, mostly from the Philippines.

"The mindset of most audiences has also changed as local talents are on par with their Filipino counterparts, if not better," says Peter.

"The demand for local bands is there…from hotel establishments to private parties. Given a chance, our local bands can shine."

He recalls when Sabah used to have talented bands in the heydays but ‘apparently poor marketing, coupled with a lack of demand’ did not put where the bands should be.

Peter points out that an important criteria which singers need to have is discipline.

"Gone are the days when a bad apple spoils the name of the industry. The bands under my company do not have that problem," he points out.

But what about having to compete with peninsula-based bands that seem to get the upper-hand compared to their Sabah counterparts?

Peter says the bands across the sea have the back up from the media, get better publicity than their counterparts in Sabah, which is normally by word of mouth or a witness’ account.

"We don’t really get that treatment here and therefore many talented singers remain relatively unknown," he adds.

Under Borneo Events, Peter says, they hold talent search like karaoke contests and the successful singers will be trained and guided and of course, will be taught the etiquette of stagemanship.

"Those potential ones will be coached, trained and guided and the dos and don’ts of stage etiquette will be spelt out to them," he adds.

"With all the proper training along with a large repertoire of songs, we can compete. Actually we have the capacity to compete not just in the Malaysian music scene but abroad as well.

Talent aside, there is a huge market in the entertaining business as demands for bands come pouring in.

For instance in Sarawak, bands remain a popular showcase for pubs, lounges and hotels to attract more customers.

For a town like Sibu, there are no less than five bands performing and there are few more nightspots seeking such bands with members vary from a trio to a full-band.

"Sarawak is one market where bands are in demand. The same goes with other places like Brunei, Labuan and of course peninsula. And then, we have the overseas market," says the veteran singer whose experience in the field spans over 20 years.

"What I have acquired and experienced, I’m now imparting on my singers. They have to earn their respect first before they can look beyond the horizon.

"Singers need to broaden the repertoire of songs from different languages with strength in the English numbers," he adds.

"We don’t need five years to have a full-fledged Sabah band to perform overseas," he reckons confidently.

Only time will tell. For the moment, for anyone who cares to see an all-local band performing, that is the Hot & Spicy band, can do so at the Yaaha Cowboy Bar at Asia City.

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