Monday, May 11, 2009


The Small Stones, with Johnny's elder brother Lawrence (far left).

12 hours of great non-stop music, from 2.00pm to 2.00am. That was what the organisers promised, and that was exactly what they delivered. (Click on the banner for a close-up view of the line-up.)

I am talking about “A Tribute to Johnny” held yesterday at Ol' Skool Bistro, Jalan Gasing. Musicians from some of the country’s best-known bands came together to perform and pay tribute to fellow musician Frederick John David who passed away on 14 February this year. Judging from the huge turnout, both in terms of patrons and performers, Johnny was much loved and deeply missed by his family and friends.

When I got to the bistro at 4.00pm, the Yellow Jackets were playing. They were in their element and had the crowd shouting for more. As the evening continued, bands like Vernon and Fats, Albert Sirimal and Friends, the Jetliners, Cliff and the Shadows 2 served up a cocktail of heady retro hits that got the crowd all revved up for more. More than 20 acts took the stage, and what a musical feast it was for baby boomers like me who grew up on a diet of 1960s-70s billboard hits.

Roy Gomez (far left) looks on proudly as sons Roeshan, 17, and Chrishen, 15, showcase their musical talents.

If you listened with eyes closed, you would think THE SHADOWS were playing. The band was that good.

As a self-confessed pub-crawler in the good old days when it was still safe for single ladies to venture out at night in search of good live music, I was certainly soaking up the nostalgia as each band brought on more happy memories. In between sets, the organizers screened music video clips of the era. We were treated to classics like "Superstition", "Jump!", "I Want To Break Free", and "Band on the Run". The crowd was lapping up every bit of it. The small dance floor was packed to capacity as the young and the not-so-young showed off their hot dance moves.

The Jetliners wowed the crowd and got them on their feet.

The Yellow Jackets have been around for decades, and they are true vintage.

Albert Sirimal and friends needed no introduction - the crowd couldn't wait to hear them.

The atmosphere was charged with so much love and camaraderie. Not only were Johnny's friends out in full force, but also his family members. I lost count of how many of Johnny's nieces and nephews were there, helping out behind the scenes and upfront. Lawrence, a member of The Small Stones, got all teary-eyed when he spoke of his younger brother Johnny. In thanking everyone for their support, he singled out Ol' Skool Bistro co-owner, Calvin Adelrick Guneratne, for sponsoring the event. Part of the proceeds from ticket sales as well as the wine auction would go towards helping Johnny's family.

Johnny's daughter Michelle reads out a tribute to her father with her mom, Angie Pereira, by her side.
The Family Jam featuring some of Johnny's nieces and nephews.

You may well wonder why I am gushing about this particular musical event. In times like these when all we hear or read about is mostly depressing, any event that brings together people of all ages, colours and religions in a spirit of love, joy and celebration deserves highlighting over and over again. There is also something about Ol' Skool Bistro that makes one feel among friends.

Three of the lovely ladies I met at the event.

I enjoyed myself thoroughly at the event, and so did all the hundreds of people who turned up. It was certainly a fitting tribute to Johnny. I am sure he would have approved and applauded.
Some of Johnny's family members and friends, including Lawrence (4th left) and Calvin (2nd left).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for that write up! I missed the event........ :( circumstances beyond my control. Sounds like it was an amazing tribute to the gentle Johnny. He could not have imagined it happening in life. It was so well deserved that everyone had a terrific time. Cheers.