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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

MIGFEST 2013 - My personal experiences

All-star jam, Superstitious

MIGFEST is indeed a catchy term that can stick in people's heads. To those who don't recognize this abbreviation, it stands for Malaysia International Guitar Festival. It was held in Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia's cultural iconic center for promotion of Arts, the Krafttanga Center from 26 March to 29 March 2013.

Taken from:

The road to the show wasn't easy. There were eleventh hour surprises and changes which resulted in the initial proposed date to be postponed from November 2012 to March 2013. It was likely linked to the volatile political situation in Malaysia then. Such events can only happen when sufficient funding is guaranteed. The effort to secure funding was nothing short of summiting Everest. After numerous moments of finger-biting, the show finally materialized.

This festival wouldn't be possible with the invaluable support from Malaysia's Ministry of Communication, Information and Culture. Not forgetting Nik the main anchorman, who was passionately guiding the show in the background as well. In the foreground, Jeffrey Yong was handling the main operations. He was certainly one of the anchormen of the festivalas well. I was fortunate to be invited to provide my assistance in areas where things might have been overlooked. So I was pretty much like a jackknife, pluggin gaps as the show unfolds.

MIGFEST website:

The festival has 4 eventful days. It was driven by three key activities, i.e. concert, exhibitions and artists showcases. Each day MIGFEST 2013 @Krafttanga Center opened its door to guitar enthusiasts at 1000hrs. The exhibitors were all ready for businesses then. After lunch from 1400hrs onwards, at every hour an artistes will be featured in the daily showcase. The showcase allows the artistes to interact with the audience informally where they discussed a wide range of subjects. In the evening at 2000hrs, the nightly concert will round up the entire day with the exception for day 4 because it ended at 1500hrs.

The MIGFEST was boosted by a strong international artistes line up (see below for the full list). Not only they were great guitar players, they were in every way splendid performers as well. The sheer diversities in musicality and style was able to satisfy the varying preferences of the audience.

For three nights, the international artistes have given their best. The concerts were nothing but spectacular. On the final concert, it was an all-stars night. Most of them performed in duo formats. The wrap up the all-star concert night, every artiste was called to the stage and they showcase their rendition of Steven Wonder's classic, Superstitious. The crowd was fully entertained. To bring the performance to another level, Shun invited Nik to the stage, joining them in the jamming session. It was splendid indeed!

Shun inviting Nik
Nik is natural!

The exhibitors are made up of Malaysian retailers, music educational establishments and regional guitar makers. MIGFEST has provided a platform for these stakeholders to interact freely. Much ideas and learning were exchanged. Above all, the acquaintances made were most invaluable. The regional guitar builders were against many odds to keep their guitar building passion alive but they didn't stop. Mostly self-taught, they hone their guitar building skills in environment where content resources are limited and accessibility to quality equipment support isn't straightforward.

My personal perspective on the Malaysia acoustic guitar circle, and it doesn't represent the entire picture; it was clear that the acoustic guitar circle was still emerging, much like Singapore. There was no lacking in enthusiasts however they could enhance their awareness in areas like differentiation of tonal quality, finer points in playing techniques and the essence of performance. The local heros form the critical mass in supporting and sustaining the growth in this area, invariably they determine the survival of the retail and services businesses of acoustic guitar and consequently the standards of playing. These local heros are contributing from various facets like retailing, repair services, guitar teachers, guitar makers and performers. The MIGFEST has certainly helped in raising the awareness among the guitar enthusiasts in Malaysia. I was glad to be acquainted with some Malaysia guitar heros that form the critical mass in influencing the scene. Picture of myself and them are below.

Wen Wei, Reeve I, and Ray
I and William Kok
I, Hady and Aki Tanaka

As like any events, nothing is perfect; MIGFEST was no exception to this. The venue was suitable, there was no lacking in manpower, food was catered for the crew, ample spaces were allocated to logistics, and good amplifications were provided for the artistes. As the festival moved into higher gears, signs of disconnection were evident. Nonetheless the passion to drive it prevailed.

The most invaluable moments for me must have been the informal interactions I had with the artistes. We traded stories of other festivals of the good, bad and ugly, we stayed up late to enjoy each other's company, walking from hotel to the nearest 24-hour food joint, cracking jokes, etc. There was no ending… I will surely cherish the friends I have made in this festival too.

Overall, my participation in this festival has strengthen my awareness in events organization. My capability in evaluation has been sharpen as well. However nothing beats the friends I have made in this show.

For more information regarding artistes and exhibitors, goto:

For pictures galore, goto: Facebook - MIGFEST 2013

International Artistes line up,
1. Akihiro Tanaka
2. Don Alder
3. Dan LaVoie
4. Shun Ng
5. Adam Del Monte
6. Grigory Novikov
7. Huang Chia Wei
8. Roger Wang
9. Kelvin Loh
10. Sham V Trad

Malaysian Artistes line up,
1. William Kok
2. Ray Cheong
3. Andy Ngew
4. Faridian Jazz Trios
5. Az Samad
6. Hady Afro
7. Reeve Jia Ming

Exhibitors line up
1. Jack Spira Guitars
2. Jeffrey Yong Guitars
3. Secco Guitars
4. Maestro Guitars
5. The Guitar Store
6. Naga Guitars
7. Fusion Guitars
8. Music@u
9. L Luthier
10. William Kok Music
11. Farid Ali Jazz Music
12. Capen Music
13. Chanta Guitars
14. Wiroon Guitars
15. Parekh Export
16. Edward Hiew Guitars
17. Tarrega Guitar House
18. Morrison Guitars
19. Guitar Empire
20. Ray's Guitar
21. Bas Guitars

Thanks for reading!


  1. For the 2013 MIGFEST, no entry fees to visit the exhibition but for concerts, there were charges. Do check out MIGFEST 2014. It is going to be bigger.