Welcome to Darkside Daily

When I'm not writing about my experiences in this journey called 'life', I'm singing and uploading my own interpretations of modern music. Click on "Cover Songs" to hear them, or on the YouTube logo on the right to see my YouTube channel.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Homegrown Talent (Featuring Asela Perera)

"I've heard some international standard original material from our little island the last few years. Support your local artists and music. Support original music. You'll be surprised how good it has got here."
The above quote was posted on Facebook by Salvage lead singer (and Melomanic's own) CC, and it got me thinking about the local music scene. Lately I've been lucky to be exposed to a lot of local musicians and singers, and it's beautiful to see what gifted and talented artists we have in our island. We don't see them though, because most of the time they are working in our banks, teaching in our schools, studying in our colleges. Rarely do they find opportunities to perform, and almost never are they recognised for it.
Which brings me to my friend Asela Perera. I remember the first time I heard him sing was through word of mouth, and eventually one day at work I listened to "Eyes Wide Open", a beautiful duet (with Isuri, another talented local artist) from his earlier work "Paper Boy". At that time I had never heard anything as good by any other local artist, and it was just so refreshing to me. Above all, it was original, and his style and personality permeates every song he sings.
I have been lucky enough to watch him perform several times now thanks to the Melomanic Sessions, and I've also had the fortune to hear several budding local artists perform as well, from rock bands to ukulele players, from teenagers to seasoned veterans. It's beautiful to see people expressing themselves so eloquently through music, despite limited opportunities to perform or for coaching. It makes me wonder what we could do if we actually nurtured these homegrown musicians, and supported them by giving them the audience and the applause that they so richly deserve.
Despite listening to "Paper Boy" before, there was one track that I had somehow missed. I discovered it today for the first time while going through his official site (click here). I'm not sure what it is about this song, but it somehow connected with me. Asela is quite the lyricist, but it's strange how even in this instrumental song, he has managed to communicate so much emotion and describe so much without saying anything at all really. That is no easy task; it takes skill, talent, and soul. Perhaps I'm reading it wrong, but the message it conveys to me is beautiful, and it resonates deeply.
This is 20:55.


Today he released "Once", his first single from his upcoming EP titled "Evenings In The Sun"; an EP that I am itching to get my ears (?) on. So go on, give Asela a listen, and look out for more local artists. They may not be on a stage, in front of the big lights, but they could be in your break room at work, or providing the ambiance for your Friday night drinks. Acknowledge them, speak to them, encourage them. They need it, and in my opinion, they deserve it.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Free Fallin' At The Colombo Music Festival 2012

As some of you may know, I took part in the Spirit singing competition which was part of the Colombo Music Festival 2012. The finals were last Sunday, for Rock, Pop & RnB, Gospel, Fusion and Instrumentals. While there were a few technical glitches, the show was, in my opinion, of very high standard. I myself was extremely entertained with the talent that was on offer, on that day and even the day prior when the finals for Musical Theatre, Jazz and Classical was held.

There have been several poor reviews of this Colombo Music Festival, and most of them have been more than justified, but I must say that the singing competition went off pretty well. The show opened with Gospel and Rock, with some very memorable performances. One of the competitors for Rock solo opened with a great acoustic rendition of The Police's "Message in a bottle". Another played a soulful piano rendition of Aerosmith's "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing". I had decided (rather quickly I must add) to go with "Adrienne" by The Calling and "Free Fallin'" by Tom Petty for my song choices, and in hindsight with more time I probably would have picked a more popular song than "Adrienne". However, limited time and a rushed schedule meant I had to stick with my choices. We went with The Calling first, and sat back in the audience to listen to the other categories as they all finished their first song choices in sequence.

Those of you that came for the show will know that there were a few people that really stood out from the pack, showing some amazing soul and character vocally. Dave, Mayanthi, Dominic and recent Onstage winner Melissa were to me the cream of the crop, far outdistancing themselves from the rest, despite the high standard exhibited by the contestants overall.

There were some performances that were not so great as well, but not because of a lack of talent. Despite years of reality singing shows, the simple rule eludes most of us, myself included: pick the right songs! I felt that a few contestants in the pop category really suffered here, choosing songs that were a little too old fashioned (honestly, no one sings Bonnie Tyler's "I Need A Hero" voluntarily). On top of that, some people  ended up incorporating a huge band, complete with backup singers, drums, lead guitars and a horrendous keyboard player who seemed determined to drown out everyone and everything all by himself. This was really unfortunate, because I had heard their previous performances, and they have some serious talent. However I am not at all surprised that the eventual winners of the genre were accompanied by a maximum of two instruments.

Speaking of instruments, I can't say enough about the two contestants in the Contemporary Instrumental category. You couldn't find two more contrasting styles for such a category, yet they both blew the roof off the place. Joshua is a young piano maestro, putting together an entire composition made up of popular movie themes, while Nisal is a guitar genius, playing John Petrucci with ease. Their combined four pieces were a treat to the ears, and the judges decided to award them as joint winners, and deservedly so. 

Anyway, by the time I sang my second song, I somehow had a sense that this was probably the last time I was going to step on a stage like this with a full band behind me for a while, and so I decided to really soak in the atmosphere while I could. "Free Fallin'" went of pretty well, if I do say so myself, and I was quite proud of the way we had engineered it despite the limited hours we had to rehearse. Many thanks to Nishan and the band for that!

Unfortunately, the judges decided not to place me when the results came out, and so I remained simply a 'finalist'. I'll admit, I was pretty disappointed, but at the same time I had learned so much about myself musically, as well as pushed myself to sing songs that I normally would have been hesitant to. My main learning though? I need vocal training; pronto!

Without much further ado, here's "Free Fallin'" - probably one of my better live performances (narrowly edging out "Roxanne"). I hope you enjoy it.

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