The second day at the Rainforest World Music Festival on Saturday, July 11, started with the daily press conference at the Santubong Kuching Resort. The artists represented included Sarawakian acts Kinabalu Merdu Sound and Lan-E Tuyang, Hungarian group Muzsikas, Chilean legend Inti-Illimani, Chinese string ensemble sensation Red Chamber and the mesmerizing musicians from Bali, Sekaa Jaya Jengala. Later in the afternoon, the festival performers carried out more fascinating workshops, focusing on mouth organs, strings, Maori culture, drums and lots more.
The Visitors Information Counter (VIC) in Kuching had run out of the Saturday tickets a few days earlier, meeting the expectations of the organizers of the 12th edition of the Rainforest World Music Festival. The economic downturn and the H1N1 flu concerns did not scare away the public, although Malaysian authorities asked concert-goers to stay away from the festival if they had flu-like symptoms. As a precaution, masks were handed out to the public at the festival entrances.
West Malaysian band Asika appeared on the main stage shortly after 7 pm. The extraordinary Kuala Lumpur-based band is part of the new generation of Malaysian world music bands, who combine traditional music with modern elements. Asika incorporates Malay genres such as as Zapin, Inang, Canggung, Asli, and Joget. All the musicians in Asika are multi-instrumentalists and they use an impressive array of Malay drums, rebab, violin, accordion, drum set, electric guitar and electric bass.
Next came a repeat performance by Lan-e Tuyang traditional sape (Borneo lute) ensemble. The group is now led by Matthew Ngau and they paid as tribute to Uchau Bilung, who passed away five days before the festival.
The next band on the main stage brought the crowd to their feet. Oudaden is a legendary group from Agadir (southern Morocco). They had concert goers dancing with their infectious energy and Amazigh (Berber) trance music and acrobatic dancing. Oudaden scorching mix includes bendir (frame drum), karkabas (metal castanets), banjo and electric guitar.
Things quieted down considerable with Finnish quartet Jouhiorkesteri. The mesmerizing ensemble consists of four jouhikko players. The jouhikko is a bowed lyre that was played in Estonia and Eastern Finland until the beginning of the 20th century. The members of Jouhiorkesteri span three generations of players and have played an important role in the revival of this northern European drone instrument. Some of the musicians are also musicologists and build their own instruments. Rauno Nieminen is writing a PhD about jouhikko at the Sibelius Academy.
Moana and the Tribe, a large Maori band from New Zealand (Aotearoa), appeared on the main stage. The band is led by Moana Maniapoto. The group’s sound borrows from American traditions such as rock, R&B and funk, as well Jamaican reggae. The Maori culture is present in the form of two male warrior dancers, who provide exciting Haka and other forms of Maori dancing throughout the show.
Moana and the Tribe’s high energy was followed by American bluegrass performed by Jeff and Vida on the smaller stage. The group specializes in traditional bluegrass, Americana and other forms of American folk music.
The night ended with one of the loudest bands in the festival, Dazkarieh. The group incorporates Portuguese folk music and musical instruments such as the bagpipe and Portuguese guitar, but their powerful sound is as loud as that of a rock band and the audience appreciated that. The high volume distorted the instruments at times, but the concert-goers enjoyed every minute of it.